Friday, 12 December 2014

Nelson's Silk Purse

On the anniversary of Nelson's death, I published a post detailing the last hours of the legendary Admiral's life. Today though, my eye has been well and truly caught by this green silk purse, still containing 21 gold coins. The purse is far from pristine though and is stained with Nelson's blood, as this is the purse he had with him on the last day of his life.

Nelson's silk purse
Image from

The purse was kept by Nelson's close friend, Alexander Davison, and passed through his lineage until 2002. In that year, it was sold at auction as part of a large collection of more than one hundred lots related to Lord Nelson, all of which had once been owned by Davison's family.

Nelson had this purse on his person when he suffered the wound that would prove fatal. Although it was expected to sell for £80,000 the winning bidder paid £270,650 to own this unique artifact, over £390,000 today. The coins had been placed in the purse on the fateful morning of the Battle of Trafalgar, but they would certainly not have been enough to match the winning bid on this particular bit of Nelson memorabilia!


  1. What an amazing thing to own. Personally I would rather own the purse than have its monetary equivalent. Great story though!

  2. Candice Hern has some pictures if other purses in her web site. Of course , no other one can have the connection and sentimenet of Nelon's. How much money was in the purse? That is what were the 21 coins?

  3. I have the book that goes into a lot more detail about this story - see