Lord Nelson 1799 manuscript letter brings $32,372 in Derby, UK, sale

You might be aware that we're big fans of Admiral Lord Nelson here at Paul Fraser Collectibles - the man who, just moments from death at the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar, uttered the immortal line "Thank God I have done my duty."

Today, Nelson's legacy on the collectibles markets befits his heroism. Among the items we have in stock - and are currently for sale - include a flag from the HMS Victory aboard which Nelson died.

Elsewhere, Lord Nelson's hair is highly-collectible. Lord Nelson's hair is highly collectible. In January 2011 a London auction house sold a small locket of hair for a record price of £44,000 ($71,000) - in doing so smashing the auction estimate of £2,000-£3,000. 

And now Hansons Auctioneers of Derby, UK, has continued the trend with its sale of a letter by Admiral Lord Nelson.


Nelson's letter dated August 2, 1799, brought £20,200 ($32,372) 

The correspondence, dated August 2, 1799, brought an £20,200 ($32,372) at the city's Mackworth Hotel. It is addressed to William Frederick Wyndham, then the British minister for Florence.

"The Government would not pay £10 for me for any news, however interesting" writes Nelson - two years after he lost his arm in Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. "I am anxious to hear of any movements of the armies."

The result is even more impressive considering it more than doubled the letter's original £8,000-12,000 presale estimate. It sold to an anonymous buyer described by the auctioneer as being a "big Nelson enthusiast."

We would consider £8,000-9,000 a typical market value for a Nelson letter of this calibre. At Paul Fraser Collectibles, we presently have our own letter in stock priced at £8,500 - a brief note from Nelson to an unnamed admiral dated 18 August 1801, two years after Hanson's letter.

Paul Fraser Collectibles has an autographed letter by Nelson to an unnamed admiral. It was written two years after the note sold at Hansons Auctioneers for £20,200. Ours is priced at £8,500


But Hansons' sale demonstrates that these letters can sell for significantly more than £8,000 on the markets when offered to bidders. Considering that the average value of a Nelson autograph has gone up by 6.15% over the last 12 months, the benefits of these collectibles are plain to see.

"I'm delighted to celebrate Nelson this way," auctioneer Charles Hanson told the BBC. "It's gone beyond what we expected it to make."

The letter was apparently discovered in a home in Lichfield, Staffordshire, and was once owned by Mark Berry, William Frederick Wyndham's distant relative. This provenance helped guarantee the £20,200 letter's addition to Nelson's strength as a 'blue chip' of the collectibles markets.


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