Admiral Lord Nelson’s Baltic Service Coffee Cup, 1802
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Height: 6.2cm (2.5in)
Paris porcelain decorated in London. Of cylindrical form with gilt decorated handle, the body decorated with gilt borders, oak leaf and gilded acorn decoration to the sides and a fouled anchor to the front within laurel branches tied with blue ribbons. The fouled anchor surmounted with the gilt inscription ‘Nelson’ and flanked to the left and right of the shank ‘2nd’ ‘April’, and beneath the anchor crown, ‘Baltic’ in commemoration of Nelson's destruction of the Danish fleet at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801. The sides further inscribed to the left, ‘14th February’, commemorating the Battle of Cape St. Vincent (1797) for which Nelson was knighted and promoted, and to the right, ‘Glorious 1st Augt’ in commemoration of Nelson’s annihilation of the French fleet at the Battle of the Nile in 1798.
The Baltic Service was part of a presentation of chinaware given to Nelson in 1802 by the Ladies of the City of London. In that year Nelson was invited to ride in the Lord Mayor's Coach at his inauguration procession and to attend a banquet in his honour. Nelson's niece, Charlotte Nelson accompanied him and described the excitement of the event ...
'... I wish you could have seen all the people jumping up to the carriage to see my uncle and thousands of people round him looking up at him... All the ladies had their handkerchiefs out of the windows when my uncle passed, they and the people calling out "Nelson for Ever"'
The Baltic set is one of five named services listed in the inventories of Emma Hamilton's ceramics at Merton that were compiled in 1813 and 1814. Only three can be named with certainty today. These are the 'Baltic Set’ which was a tea service and a dessert set of Paris porcelain and Coalport decorated in London with acorns, oak leaves and victories. The other two sets were the 'Nelson set’, a dessert service of Paris porcelain and a tea service of Coalport all decorated with Nelson's arms; and lastly the the Horatia (or Nile) service decorated in the Worcester Factory’s Old Japan style.
It is understood the Baltic and Nelson Services were created in some haste ahead of the Lord Mayor's inauguration causing the London decorating workshop to use the only blank porcelain available to them, a mixture of Coalport and Paris porcelain. The wider Nelson family also received elements of the 'Baltic Set' these included Nelson's sister Catherine 'Kitty' Matcham, It having been given to her by her brother because it was surplus to Nelson's needs.
Porcelain from both the 'Nelson' and the 'Baltic' Services was inherited by Nelson's niece, Charlotte Nelson, Duchess of Bronte. She received many of Nelson's possessions after his death. Charlotte may even have had a Baltic tea set of her own as she had accompanied her uncle to the Lord's Mayor's inauguration. Charlotte married Samuel Hood, Baron Bridport and Nelson's porcelain and many other relics were inherited by his son Alexander Nelson, Viscount Bridport. Lord Bridport's sale at Christie's in July 1895 featured many pieces of the Baltic service. Other pieces are in the Nelson-Ward Collection bequeathed to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich in 1946 by the grandson of Horatia, Nelson and Emma Hamilton's daughter.