Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Hardy (1769-1839) served as Admiral Nelson’s flag captain and was with Nelson aboard the ‘Victory’ at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 on the occasion he was mortally shot. As Nelson lay dying on the deck, consoled by the Vice-Admiral, he made the famous utterance “Kiss me Hardy”.
Hardy’s Cuban mahogany writing cabinet is enclosed by a velvet-lined fall that opens to reveal two sliding shelves and six small drawers, with a further two secret drawers concealed behind the two upper small drawers. Brass carrying handles are attached to the sides.
The small escritoire was used by Hardy – placed upon a table – when he was at sea. The associated and incongruous pedestal was presumably added some time after Hardy’s retirement from service.
Vice-Admiral Hardy’s escritoire. (National Maritime Museum)
Looking at Hardy’s writing cabinet the question came to my mind was he left handed?
I can find no reference to Hardy’s dexterousness, however, based solely on the wear on the escritoire’s velvet writing surface, I would hazard a guess that he was right-handed.
The stop-chain may have been added at the time the box was mounted on the stand as the fall would normally be supported when on a table top (albeit with the aid of a suitable book).