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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 22 October, 2002, 06:43 GMT 07:43 UK
Nelson artefacts make 2m
Nelson's sword
The 'Nile sword' fetched four times its estimated value
Horatio Nelson fever swept a packed London auction room as a collection of the admiral's belongings were sold at sky-high prices.

"The atmosphere was electric, and there was very aggressive bidding both in the room and by telephone," a spokeswoman for the auction house Sotheby's said.

The 93 lots, which had been expected to fetch more than 1m, sold for 2.1m.

Star item was Norfolk-born Lord Nelson's sword from the Battle of the Nile, which reached 336,650 - far more than the pre-sale estimate of 60-80,000.

Sea captains

The sword was believed to have been presented to Nelson by Sultan Selim III, after the admiral's victory against the French in 1798.

Close behind was a blood-stained silk purse Nelson was carrying when he was killed at the Battle of Trafalgar, on 21 October 1805, which went for 270,650.

The purse was part of a collection which had belonged to Nelson's friend Alexander Davison and had remained hidden from the public for almost two centuries.

The items were found by descendents of his Northumberland-born friend Davison.

A 'Nile sword' made for sea captains who fought in the Battle of the Nile also fetched 270,650.

Nelson's purse
Nelson's purse sold for 270,650
The sword carries an engraving of the destruction of the French flagship L'Orient and has a gilt crocodile-shaped hilt.

The sums were far in excess of their pre-sale estimates.

The Nelson Museum in Great Yarmouth failed to buy a letter written by the naval hero.

The museum's best offer of 4,000 was well short of the 24,000 winning bid.

Sotheby's jewellery director Martyn Downer uncovered the collection last year after he visited descendants of Alexander Davison, Nelson's friend and banker, to research a diamond brooch.

A collection of 72 letters from Nelson's wife Frances was acquired by the National Maritime Museum.

The collection, amassed during Nelson's life by Davison is being sold by his descendants.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC London's Cordelia Kretzschmar reports
"These long lost treasures belonged to one of our greatest national heroes."

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21 Oct 02 | England
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