Admiral Nelson’s snuff box – which helped start his affair with Lady Hamilton – for sale for £45,000

Admiral Nelson’s snuff box – that helped start his affair with Lady Hamilton – has been put up for sale for £45,000.

The tortoiseshell composition snuff box was originally owned by the Battle of Trafalgar hero, and features a miniature watercolour scene of the Amalfi coast on the top.

The box was gifted by Nelson to his personal secretary George Unwin, during a dinner party in Sicily in late 1798 or early 1799.

The party was also attended by Nelson’s mistress – Emma, Lady Hamilton.

Lord Horatio Nelson's (pictured) snuff box that helped start an affair with Lady Hamilton has been put up for sale - for £45,000

Lord Horatio Nelson’s (pictured) snuff box that helped start an affair with Lady Hamilton has been put up for sale – for £45,000

The tortoiseshell composition snuff box was originally owned by the Battle of Trafalgar hero, and features a miniature watercolour scene of the Amalfi coast on the top

The tortoiseshell composition snuff box was originally owned by the Battle of Trafalgar hero, and features a miniature watercolour scene of the Amalfi coast on the top

Nelson had first met Hamilton in 1793 and the pair were reunited in 1798 following the Battle of the Nile.

Having been severely injured, Nelson recuperated in Naples, during which time he was nursed back to health by Lady Emma and her elderly husband, Sir William Hamilton.

It was during this period that Nelson and Hamilton began their famous love affair, which lasted until Nelson’s death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

It is believed Nelson may have given this gift to Unwin as a show of generosity, in an attempt to impress his mistress over dinner.

A hugely rare and intimate piece of British history – the snuff box is now on sale for £45,000 courtesy of Paul Fraser Collectibles.

The item is being offered along with a manuscript letter by Unwin’s son, George.

It reads: ‘My Father had either lost his own snuff box on going ashore or in some shop in Palermo and upon mentioning the circumstances at Lady Hamilton’s table where Lord Nelson was one of the party his Lordship handed over to him this identical box and desired him to keep it until he could get a better one.’

The box was later passed down to Unwin’s own son George, then via his wife Anne Oxenham to her brother Rev. William Oxenham, and by descent through the family for several generations.

Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson is one of the most celebrated figures in British history, best remembered for his heroic efforts during the Napoleonic wars.

Nelson’s career as a naval officer saw him lead the British fleet to several victories, during which he suffered injuries, including the loss of his right arm and the sight in his right eye.

The box was gifted by Nelson to his personal secretary George Unwin, during a dinner party in Sicily in late 1798 or early 1799

The box was gifted by Nelson to his personal secretary George Unwin, during a dinner party in Sicily in late 1798 or early 1799

Nelson had first met Lady Hamilton (pictured) in 1793 and the pair were reunited in 1798 following the Battle of the Nile

Nelson had first met Lady Hamilton (pictured) in 1793 and the pair were reunited in 1798 following the Battle of the Nile

His most famous victory came in October 1805 at the Battle of Trafalgar, in which the Royal Navy decimated the combined fleets of the French and Spanish navies.

Prior to the battle, Nelson sent out the famous message ‘England expects that every man will do his duty.’

Tragically, he was shot by a French sniper and died on board his ship the HMS Victory mid battle.

His body was returned to England where he was granted a state funeral, and numerous monuments were erected in his honour, including Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square.

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