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A Nelson Era Royal Navy Seaman’s Talisman
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A Nelson Era Royal Navy Seaman’s Talisman

Circa 1805

Measurements: Height: 13cm (5in)

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Brass. In the form of a fouled anchor with an integral brass portrait medallion of Admiral Lord Nelson. The Nelson portrait Admiral’s profile bust in full uniform, hair en queue, cloak gathered round just below the epaulettes. Signed ‘M&P’ beneath the Admiral’s shoulder for Nathaniel Merchant, R.A. (1739-1816) and Lewis Pingo (1743-1830).

A similar talisman was part of the collection of Thomas, 4th Earl Nelson of Trafalgar (1857-1947). Another example was recorded among the Nelson Relics in the Painted Hall, Greenwich. According to the Lord Charles Beresford ‘These charms were popular among sailors in the early part of the century – a unique testimony to the reverence and affection with which Nelson inspired under him.’ (See Beresford, Rear-Admiral Lord Charles, & Wilson, H.W., (n.d., c.1920), Nelson And His Times, Harmsworth, London). A third example is in the McCarthy Collection, Royal Navy Museum. Portsmouth.

Merchant was noted as a sculptor of intaglios, medals, and poetical designs for cameos. His subjects included copies from the antique, adaptations of famous paintings and portraits of his contemporaries. He held several appointments, including Assistant Engraver to the Royal Mint, Gem Sculptor to the Prince of Wales, Engraver to the King and from 1800, Engraver to the Stamp Office. He was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1791 and a full Academician in 1809. Lewis Pingo was also an Assistant Engraver to the Royal Mint who succeeded his father in the post in 1776.

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