The Property of a Lady
Post Lot Text
This magnificent seal is typical of the flamboyant pieces associated with Lord Nelson at around the time he was created Viscount and purchased Merton Place in 1801. The heraldic dolphin is a symbol which appeared on Nelson's coffin and in the decoration of the sword presented to Nelson by the City of London in 1798. One possible clue to the seal's origin lies in the chased gold band depicting the emblems symbolising the three kingdoms, whilst this a national symbol, it was also the favourite device of George, Prince of Wales and often appears incorporated into the design of pieces he commissioned or presented. It is therefore possible that this was a gift from the Prince to Nelson when he was raised to Viscount. How Thomas Graham came to possess the seal is unclear but it is certain that he knew Nelson and Lady Hamilton well. In a letter dated May 7th 1799, Nelson writes to Graham" we often talk of you as (without compliment) one of the most respectable characters in the world, your obliged and faithful servant - Nelson. Graham could of course have purchased the seal from one of the early auctions of Nelson's effects or it could have been used by Lady Hamilton to raise money during her time of poverty in Calais - Graham's brother and sister-in-law were two of Lady Hamilton's executors and visited her during this time.