Horatio Nelson is one of the most fascinating military leaders in history.
He made his name for himself as a commander during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783).
But it’s Trafalgar, his final decisive sea battle, that he is most associated with.
Nelson’s autograph is hugely popular among buyers everywhere, but from the UK in particular.
Let’s take a bird’s eye view of the market.
He’s a major British hero
Nelson holds a unique position in British history.
Not just a gifted military leader, he was also a tragic figure.
His relationship with Lady Emma Hamilton and his death on the battlefield mean he’s remembered as a romantic figure.
For Brits, the Battle of Trafalgar is a moment of huge significance. It was an affirmation of the idea that the Royal Navy was the best in the world.
This has led to a healthy demand for Nelson’s memorabilia.
In fact, it’s so healthy that quality autographs are relatively rare on the market when you consider how much Nelson wrote.
This is because there’s a large market among non-collectors who simply want to own an item associated with someone they admire.
Quality autographs are rare
Demand is highest for letters addressed to Lady Emma Hamilton.
That’s because they reveal a different side to Nelson and provide a window into what was a hugely controversial relationship.
One very intimate note sold for £117,000 in 2003.
But interest in these items are restricted to top end collectors. For the most part buyers are looking for letters that reference Nelson’s naval career and Trafalgar in particular.
Competition is fierce.
You can expect to pay upwards of £10,000 for a specimen with quality content.
Nelson’s signature changes over time
Although this has little to no effect on price.
In 1797, Nelson lost his right arm to a Spanish musketeer.
From that point on, he had to write with his left hand.
This affected both the length of the letters he wrote and the way he signed his name.
There’s a clear distinction between these two periods.
You might expect the earlier style to be more in demand.
However, as Nelson achieved many of his greatest victories in the eight years after he lost his arm collectors will gladly pay for both.
PS. I have an Admiral Nelson signature from June 1805, just five months before Trafalgar. Click here to take a look.