Picture This XXXIII

So popular was Admiral Nelson – in England, at least – that all manner of souvenirs and toys[i] were produced to commemorate his Naval victories and ultimately, his death.

The Staffordshire potteries churned out fairings, jugs, mugs and tea wares with rousing slogans and effigies of Nelson (figs. 1 & 2).

pearlware_bust_of_Nelson_c1800-10_01aFig. 1. Pearlware bust of Nelson, circa 1800-10. (Bonham’s)

creamware_Nelson_commemorative_jug_c1805-10_01aFig. 2. Staffordshire creamware Nelson commemorative jug, circa 1805-10. (Bonham’s)

Meanwhile the Birmingham toymakers set their presses to work stamping out brass handles. The brass drawer knob in figure 3 has a stamped face, spun onto a cast body. The legend reads “NELSON • LORD • OF • THE • NILE” and would have been produced following Nelson’s victory at the Battle of the Nile in August 1798.

Nelson_brass_knob_c1798_01aFig. 3. Stamped and cast brass drawer knob, circa 1800.

At 11:45 on October the 21st, 1805, off Cape Trafalgar, Nelson engaged the French and Spanish navies, famously signalling to his fleet: “England expects that every man will do his duty.” The brass backplate in figure 4 portrays Admiral Nelson in a central roundel within the legend “ENGLAND EXPECTS EVERY MAN TO DO HIS DUTY • TRAFALGAR OCT: XXI MDCCCV”.

Nelson_backplate_19c_01aFig. 4. ‘Admiral Nelson’ brass backplate, circa 1805.

backplate_Trafalgar_Sacred_To_Nelson_02aFig. 5. ‘SACRED TO NELSON’ brass backplate, circa 1805. (Jason Clarke)

Trafalgar_pressed_backplate_c1806_01aFig. 6. ‘TRAFALGAR’ brass backplate, circa 1805.

The Greek key border around the backplates in figures 5 & 6 is also seen in furniture of the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-centuries, either as inlay (fig. 7), or in the friezes of chest-on-chest and bookcase entablatures (fig. 8).

Regency_rosewood_table_c1820_01aFig. 7. Regency rosewood table with Greek key inlay, circa 1820. (Box House Antiques)

Geo_III_mahogany_linen_press_c1780_01aFig. 7. George III linen press with Greek key entablature, circa 1780. (Thakeham Antiques)

Jack Plane

[i] ‘Toy’ was a contemporary name for small personal and domestic metalwares such as buckles, buttons, commemorative medals, corkscrews, furniture handles and fittings, toasting forks, watch cases and in the nineteenth-century, pressed metal novelties and playthings for children.


About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
This entry was posted in Antiques, Cabinet Fittings, Picture This and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Picture This XXXIII

  1. hughjengine says:

    No, the French (or the Danish, for that matter) weren’t so keen on him!

    Lovely handles, do you know if anyone is making reproductions?



  2. Joyce Black says:

    Lovely linen press but which came first, the armoire or the linen press? Just wondering who inspired whom.


    • Jack Plane says:

      Armoires are French and linen cupboards are English. Armoires are the French equivalent of the British clothes press, but being French, the armoire is somewhat outside my area of expertise.

      I can’t really say which came first. Either way, clothes presses and linen presses are by far the more handsome!



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