Pick of the week
After being intrigued by Col Mckean’s Maltese silver pot last week, my eye has been snagged by other military presentation pieces in silver sales. In July, Woolley & Wallis took £608 for a 1764 silver-gilt salver possibly by Hannan & Mills of London, engraved with arms and ‘Dear Old Rowdie’ on the front. The rear was inscribed ‘Arthur Grenfell to Ronald Lane XI April 1893 his Wedding-day with affectionate good Wishes’ (above).
Maj-gen Sir Ronald Lane (1847–1937—not as catalogued) earned his nickname in South Africa, as explained in the caption to his Vanity Fair portrait. The original ‘Spy’ drawing was sold for £1,680 at Christie’s South Kensington in 2005 (right).
The caption reads: ‘A certain war correspondent of assurance and reputation had declared that if the Zulus were crushed, that they would not fight again. Lane held a contrary opinion, and a bet of a tenner was the result. The battle of Ulundi followed. The firing had been a trifle wild. The Zulus were within two hundred yards and coming on fast. An order was given to resume volley firing. In the few seconds pause Lane was heard to call out cheerily to the correspondent, “I say, as we don’t seem likely to get out of this square, I’ll trouble you to hand over that tenner now”… he is now Lieutenantgovernor of the Chelsea Hospital and his old friends still call him “Rowdy Lane”.’