Nelson’s telescope in buyer’s sights

A telescope that once belonged to Lord Horatio Nelson and used on HMS Victory during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 is set to be sold at a Derbyshire auction house.

Lord Horatio Nelson's telescope
Image – Hansons

The telescope has been unearthed in Australia and its 88-year-old owner, Audrey Burns, who can trace her ancestry back to the Battle of Trafalgar, has decided to sell the rare piece of naval history.

Hanson auctioneers has estimated its value at £6,000 to £8,000, along with a bucket which also belonged to Nelson, estimated at £2,000 to £3,000.

Jim Spencer, valuer at Hansons Auctioneers, said: “The story of the telescope is quite astonishing and we do know items like this are highly sought after. Last December we sold shoe buckles worn by Nelson for £5,000 and we have sold Nelson letters, penned during the Napoleonic wars, for thousands of pounds.

He continued, “However, this object is particularly iconic. There are several paintings of Nelson looking out to sea with his telescope. Legend has it he deliberately put it to his blind eye when told to retreat. He’d then decline to do so saying he could not see a signal. This telescope is so rich in history it sends a shiver down my spine to hold it.

Audrey, who lives in Southport, Queensland, with husband Bill, a retired master builder, explained how her family came to own the telescope: “My great, great, great grandfather was William Thomas ‘Cookie’ Cook. He was the cabin boy and personal servant to Lord Nelson and Captain Hardy of HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar and was present during the great battle.

“He was hurt on the deck where Nelson fell mortally wounded and was given Nelson’s telescope by Captain Hardy in recognition of his service.”

The sale takes place on July 2.

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