c1805 Admiral Nelson Funeral Memento Mori Bone Patch Box


A very rare and nice condition Napoleonic War period French Prisoner of War made bone Patch Box.

It commemorates the death and funeral of Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson, who died commanding the British forces, at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The box is cylindrical with a screw on top lid. The lid is decorated with an inset tableau representing the tomb at St Paul’s cathedral, with the name NELSON underneath it. It has been further decorated with painted green palms and highlighted in gilded twist and straight wires, most likely removed from an officer’s tunic. The whole is protected by a circular domed glass lens. We are unaware of any other similar example.

French (and American) prisoners from the Napoleonic Wars and the War of Independence would supplement their meagre rations by making objects that they would trade with their captors for more food. The items were made with materials at hand, which were mainly bones from the rations and thread from the uniforms. A cottage industry resulted which allowed the quality of the objects to become larger and more ambitious, with some of the best craftsmen remaining in Britain after the Wars.

Size: 2.6 x 1.8 cm (1 x 11/16 inches)
Weight: 9 g