Highly esteemed British admiral (1758–1805) best known for his participation in the Napoleonic Wars, during which, in the Battle of Trafalgar, he lost his life. Full free frank, measuring 12.5 x 8, with the address panel measuring 5.75 x 3. Addressed in Nelson’s hand, “London, February Nineteenth 1803, George Matcham Esq., 19 Kensington Place, Bath,” and franked in the lower left of the panel, “Nelson & Bronte.”
The frank appears on the reverse of the second integral page of a letter written on Nelson’s behalf to his brother-in-law George Matcham by his secretary, F. Oliver, Nelson’s librarian. The letter, three sides on the two adjoining pages reads, in part: “I have been every day once or twice with Sir George Shee. Yesterday morn he gave me a copy of part of yr. patent to Ct. Starhemberg. His Excy tho very busy received me & took the paper told me that he had scarce time to finish his own dispatches…that he had much to say in justice to Yr. invention…Sir George told me what the Engineer said to yr invention & am happy tis no more than what I myself remarked to you…He says he will have a long leather made of 20ft & we are to try it in deep water…My Lord could hardly see to frank this which is the reason he don’t write to you this paper.” In very good to fine condition, with intersecting folds, with one vertical fold passing through address panel, paper loss to edges from wax seal, light “May Fair” postmark to panel, and scattered light toning and creasing. Lord Nelson used his librarian to convey written news to his esteemed brother-in-law, who had married his beloved sister Kitty in 1787.
On January 20, 1803, Nelson’s brother-in-law, George Matham, received a patent for a “mechanical power for raising weights” that prevented ships from sinking or raised them after they had been grounded or sunk; the machine also made it possible for rendering ships capable of entering rivers and moving in shallow water. In this letter, the enthuastic Nelson reports to Matham that he has contacted Sir George Shee, a rich Indian nabob and the pro-British ambassador Court Starhemberg, for feedback on the salvage equipment, and based on positive feedback decided to have his engineer build Matcham’s machine to field test in deep water in England.
At this time, tensions in France were rising and Napoleon would send a menacing message to the British legislative body on February 20, opening the doors for war; two days later Minto confidentially revealed, “One measure in contemplation has been to send him [Nelson] to the Mediterranean, by way of watching the armament and being ready if wanted.” On May 6, Nelson received his orders for departure on the H.M.S. Victory and sailed for France fourteen days later as England declared war on France. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.