HMS Victory flag fragment sells for $411,000

A fragment of the Union Jack flown above HMS Victory during the Battle of Trafalgar almost trebled its estimate in London yesterday.

The lot sold for £297,000 ($410,878) against a £100,000 ($138,343) valuation. 

Battle Trafalgar flag

This flag flew above HMS Victory during the Battle of Trafalgar 

That’s a major increase on the £120,000 it sold for at Sotheby’s in 2005.

All of the ships in the British line flew a St George Ensign and a Union Jack as they sailed into the fray on October 21, 1805.

Despite being heavily outnumbered (41 to 33), the British routed the combined forces of the French and Spanish.

Admiral Horatio Nelson’s groundbreaking tactics were behind the result.

Rather than lining up in formation and exchanging broadsides, he decided to sail directly towards the enemy line, breaking their resilience.

But Nelson never lived to celebrate his triumph. He was killed during the battle.

This flag was carried by Nelson's men at his funeral. While the majority was placed in Nelson's grave, a large fragment was torn off and distributed amongst them.

At 86cm by 92cm, the present lot is one of the largest pieces of that fragment.

Sotheby’s explained prior to the sale: “Most of the surviving fragments of the Victory's flags are much smaller than the current piece.

“Small fragments of white and blue bunting, no more than 12cm in length, have appeared at auction... and other similar fragments are found at the National Maritime Museum and other institutional collections.”

We have a remarkable collection of pieces from the Battle of Trafalgar for sale.

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