Pick of the week

Country Life Every Week - - Art Market -

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”.’

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