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20th Jul 2020
Locks of Admiral Horatio Nelsons hair estimate 2000 3000

Two locks of hair from the head of Norfolk hero Admiral Horatio Nelson will go under the hammer in Aylsham next week – part of an astonishing collection of Nelson-related lots which is exciting interest amongst collectors all over the world.

The extremely rare locks are part of the renowned Nelson collection amassed by the late Ron Fiske of Morningthorpe Hall in south Norfolk – an inaugural member of the Nelson Society, and its chairman for nine years.

Other Horatio-related items to go under the hammer at Keys Auctioneers and Valuers as part of their two day Summer Fine Sale on Wednesday 29th and Thursday 30th July include medals from campaigns when Nelson led the fleet, rare contemporary porcelain – including a cup and saucer which may have belonged to the admiral – pictures and books.

More than 100 items from the Fiske collection are up for auction at the sale, with extensive interest already being shown by collectors throughout the UK and beyond.

Highlights from the sale include:

  • Two paper packets containing locks of Nelson’s hair, the first packet inscribed in ink ‘The hair of Horatio Lord Nelson, given me by Horatia, 22 May 1818’ and the second ‘The great Lord Nelson hair cut off when he left off tying his hair’.  The pre-sale estimate is £2,000-£3,000.
  • An important early 19th century English porcelain cup and saucer, probably Coalport, decorated with the arms of Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson, Viscount Nelson of the Nile, KB. A similar example is in the British Museum; it is thought the piece was commissioned for a banquet in Nelson’s honour, and may have been presented to him.  The estimate is £2,500-£3,000
  • Various naval medals dating from campaigns in which Nelson led the fleet, among the earliest medals issued by the Royal Navy.  Included are a Naval General Service Medal, clasp Copenhagen 1801, to Gunner Henry Harms, HMS Zephyr (estimate £3,000-£3,500); and a Naval General Service Medal, clasp St Vincent, to John Smith (estimate £2,000-£2,500)

“Despite some recent controversy about historical figures, interest in Nelson remains very high,” said David Broom of Keys.  “He was perhaps Norfolk’s most famous son, so it’s appropriate that these items are going under the hammer in his home county, but we expect interest from throughout the UK and overseas.”

A Fellow of the National Heraldry Society and a member of many local and national societies, Ron Fiske started collecting in the 1960s, with a particular interest in local history and extra illustrated books.  He was an inaugural member of the Nelson Society, and its chair for nine years.  He was very much in demand as an expert in the county’s history, and his library at Morningthorpe Manor became a magnet for academics and researchers.  He died in 2018.

Keys Auctioneers and Valuers Fine Sale takes place on Wednesday 29th July and Thursday 30th July online at bid.keysauctions.co.uk.  the full catalogue is available online now.