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St. Helena - A William IV Silver-Gilt Snuff Box, 1832
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St. Helena - A William IV Silver-Gilt Snuff Box, 1832

Measurements: Length: 7.6cm (3in)



Of rectangular form with engine-turned decoration, the hinged cover with applied gold panel inscribed ‘S. Solomons Esq of St Helena / Sir Edward Owens / thankful acknowledgements of hospitable kindness’; the hinged lid opening to a further inscription, 'Presented to George Moss. Esq. By the Executors of the Late S. Solomons Esq., St. Helena 1853'. Maker’s mark of Charles Rawlings & William Summers. Hallmarked London 1832

Saul Solomon (1776-1852) was a store and lodging house keeper at Jamestown on St. Helena during Napoleon’s captivity on the island (1815 to 1821). He reached the island in 1790 when put ashore in a condition close to death from an East Indiaman sailing from London to the Far East. Upon his recovery he quickly established his businesses with the help of his brothers whom he he summoned to assist him. He also established a newspaper the St Helena Register through which he aired his personal views. In 1810 he was ordered by the island authorities to cease printing objectionable remarks. When Napoleon arrived at Longwood in 1815, Solomon happily traded with and even took advantage of the deposed emperor’s entourage - on one occasion charging 1400 gold francs for funeral of Napoleon’s valet.

According to 'Who’s Who of St. Helena During the Captivity of Napoleon' (1914), Longwood’s clandestine correspondence passed through Solomon’s hands. The island Governor Sir Hudson Lowe reportedly listed the Solomon along with his clerk, an ex-soldier George Bruce, as the chief suspects in aiding Napoleon in an escape attempt, in which Solomon was rumoured to have smuggled a silken ladder into Longwood in a tea chest to help Napoleon clamber down a cliff into a waiting boat. In 1840 Solomon was appointed French Consul and in this capacity to accompanied Napoleon’s coffin aboard the 60-gun French Frigate Belle Poule, when the Emperor’s remains were returned to Paris. Solomon was also the official consular agent for Holland, Spain, Belgium, Hamburg, Lubeck, Bremen, Austria, Portugal and Oldenburg.

Admiral Sir Edward William Campbell Rich Owen (1771-1849) joined the navy at fifteen at was  promoted to Lieutenant at the start of the war with Revolutionary France, whence he joined H.M.S. Hannibal and thereafter served with the blockading fleet off Cadiz. His loyalty during the Mutiny at the Nore in 1797 resulted in his promotion to Post Captain in 1798. He was given command, successively, of H.M.S. Nemesis, the captured French frigate H.M.S. Immortalite (1802) and H.M.S. Clyde in March 1806. Later he commanded Inconstant and Dorset. In 1811 he was active in the Gulf of Mexico. In 1813 he served in the North Sea and in 1814 on the Great Lakes. On his return (1816) he was appointed to the command of H.M.S. Royal Sovereign and was knighted that year. He became Commander-in-Chief, West Indies in 1823 and, following promotion to Rear Admiral in 1825, he was appointed a member of the Lord High Admiral's Council in 1828 and was made Commander-in-Chief, East Indies in 1829. In this capacity he had to contend with pirates and considered the use of steam ships to pursue them. Promoted to Vice-Admiral in 1837, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean with his flag in H.M.S. Queen. Owen Sound in Georgian Bay was named after him by his younger brother.

Arnott, A. (1919), ‘A St Helena Who’s Who, or A Directory of the Island During the Captivity’, New York.