Horatio Nelson

Swatch of the main topsail of Lord Nelson’s flagship H.M.S. Victory – “at the battle of Trafalgar … it was directly below this sail, and in its very shadow that Lord Nelson received his mortal wound…” – with impeccable provenance!

Swatch of the main topsail of Lord Nelson’s Flagship, H.M.S. Victory, approximately 3” x 2”. Accompanied by an Autograph Letter Signed “Henry W. Carpenter / Captain U.S. Marines / U.S. Flagship Olympia,” two full pages, 7” x 9.25” visible, separate sheets. U.S.S. Olympia, Marine Guard, January 7, 1903. Framed together under glass with a turn-of-the-century vintage 5” x 3” photograph of H.M.S. “Victory” in Portsmouth Harbor. Overall size, 24.5” x 14”. Mat burns at perimeter of lightly foxed letter. In apparent fine condition.

On official letterhead with, in the upper left corner, a small vignette of an eagle perched on a globe in front of an anchor holding “Semper” and “Fidelis” banners in his beak. In full, “This is to certify that during the month of June 1902, while paying a mess call from the U.S.F.S. Illinois, then representing the United States Navy at the Coronation Naval Review at Spithead, England, I went on board H.M.S. Victory, the flag ship of the late Admiral; Horatio Nelson R.N. at the battle of Trafalgar, and was presented with a small piece of the main topsail, used during the battle, and which received over one hundred and four tears and rents from shot. It was directly below this sail, and in its very shadow that Lord Nelson received his mortal wound. The fragment of sail, was torn from the remains of the canvas just as it had been stored in a case when the ship was brought to Portsmouth England. It was given me by Lieutenant Roper R.N. who assured me it was absolutely genuine and who tore it from the large piece with his own hand in my presence.”

The U.S.S. Illinois, flagship of Rear Admiral Arent S. Crowninshild, commanding the European Squadron, represented the American Navy in the naval review in the Solent, the channel between the Isle of Wight and the mainland of southern England, in honor of the coronation of King Edward VII. Spithead is an area of the Solent off Gilkicker Point in Hampshire, England. The Fleet Review is a British tradition that usually takes place at Spithead where the monarch reviews the Royal Navy. In 1812, H.M.S. “Victory” was retired from frontline duty and anchored in Portsmouth Harbor.

Captain Henry W. Carpenter (1866-1926) was Commanding Guard, U.S. Marine Corps, and the highest ranking officer on the U.S.S. Illinois. In 1901, Capt. Carpenter had served as Provost Marshal of the Court of Inquiry called to investigate charges leveled against Rear Admiral Winfield S. Schley of negligence and misconduct in the Battle of Santiago in the Spanish-American War. Admiral Dewey was one of the judges of the Court. The Washington Post reported on September 10, 1901, that “it will be Capt. Carpenter’s especial province to preserve order and proper decorum on the part of the spectators in the courtroom. He will also exercise immediate command over the small squad of marines detailed to various duties in and about the courtroom.”

On September 28, 2004, a small piece of cotton fabric torn from the flag that flew on Lord Nelson’s Flagship HMS Victory sold at Bonhams’ auction in London for $86,600. There have been only a few reported sales of pieces of the HMS Victory flag at auction. To our knowledge, this is the first piece of the sail of Lord Nelson's flagship, with impeccable provenance, ever to be offered for sale.

Item: 58304

Price: $25,000.00
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Horatio Nelson
Horatio Nelson
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