The stand is engraved respectively with the crest of Dickens, and inscriptions: "To CHARLES DICKENS ESQ. MARCH 1870" "BY ONE WHO HAS BEEN CHEERED AND STIMULATED BY HIS WRITINGS AND WHO HELD THE AUTHOR AMONGST HIS FIRST REMEMBRANCES WHEN HE BECAME PROSPEROUS"
In March 1870, George Holme, a prosperous Liverpool timber merchant, presented Charles Dickens with a check for £500. Mr. Holme credited the celebrated author's inspirational works with helping him to amass a large fortune. Dickens refused the check, and requested instead a piece of silver, writing Holme on March 14, 1870:
"I do not want money. If I did, I would take it, so offered. Emphatically, I do not. But I should deem it a most precious heirloom, if you would give me something for my dining table or sideboards, which would bear upon it the record that it was presented by one who had been cheered and stimulated by my writings, and who held them among his first remembrances when he became prosperous. No gift could be more acceptable to me; and I should live in it at my usefullest and best, not only among my children, but among their childrens' children, generations hence. I should regard it as my most valuable acquisition in life, and should be correspondingly proud of it."
On April 1, 1870 Dickens wrote again to Mr. Holme that "Messrs. Hunt and Roskell sent to my house yesterday, the two most beautiful objects which you ordered of them as a present to me." Holme selected this epergne and a silver basket. The epergne was set with the figures of Spring, Summer and Autumn, with Winter omitted as Holme found it "dreary and sad", although Dickens admitted that "I never look at it that I don't think most of the Winter".
The centerpiece, with original presentation case, marked C. Dickens Esq. descended to Dickens's son Henry, who wrote to Holme's son J. Ronald Holme in 1926 that "It was not until some time after my father's death that we, of the family, knew who the donor was - but I know that the incident touched my father very deeply." (see: Madeline House, Graham Storey and Kathleen Tillotson, The Letters of Charles Dickens, 1965-2002)
Some family correspondence accompanies the lot.