Victorian Great Exhibition Commemorative Aide Memoire

NATHANIEL MILLS, Birmingham 1850
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A fine Victorian silver Great Exhibition Commemorative Aide Memoire, the cover engraved with a view of the Crystal Palace on an engine turned ground framed by scrolled foliage, the reverse inscribed ‘Annie / 9th July 1851’ against a geometric patterned ground, containing six ivory note sheaves, the first with contemporary inscriptions, attached contemporary Propelling Pencil.

The obverse of the 1st ivory sheaf inscribed in pencil: ‘with M Beachcrofts best love 10th July 1851’ and in smaller script between lines: ‘ to annie hunter’, the reverse inscribed : ‘Anna Hunter Beachcroft 21 Orsett Terrace Hyde Park’ and to side: ‘Left Aps? 10th July 1851’.

Anna (or Annie) Hunter Beachcroft, nee Wood, was married to Robert Beachcroft on 6th July 1851 in her home town of Ayr, Scotland. She must have come down to London shortly afterwoods, staying in her father-in-laws house in Orsett Terrace and visiting the Exhibition on the 9th and / or 10th July. Her husband was a solicitor becoming a partner in Maberlys & Beachcroft, some time of 17 Kings Road, Bedford Row, Holborn. It would appear that the Aide Memoire was a sweetly topical wedding present or memento from her new brother-in-law, Matthew Beachcroft.

(National Archives PROB 11/2238, National Archives, PROB 11/2259, and the International Genealogical Records).

Something like 6 million people visited the exhibition (a thirds of Britain’s population at the time) – they had never seen the like and Charlotte Bronte describe the awe felt by many in a letter: ‘Yesterday I went for the second time to the Crystal Palace... It is wonderful place – vast, strange, new and impossible to describe. Its grandeur does not consist of one thing, but in the unique assemblage of all things. Whatever human industry has created you find there, from the great compartments filled with railway engines and boilers, with mill machinery in full work, with splendid carriages, with harness of every description, to the glass covered and velvet spread stands loaded with the most gorgeous work of the Goldsmith & Silversmith, and the carefully guarded caskets full of real diamonds and pearls worth hundred of thousands of pounds. It seems as if only magic could have gathered this mass of wealth from all the ends of the earth – as if none but super natural hands could have arranged it thus, with such a blaze and contrast of colours and marvellous power of effect. The multitude filling the great aisles seems ruled and subdued by some invisible influence. Amongst the thirty thousand souls that peopled it the day I was there not one loud noise was to be heard, not one irregular movement seen: the living tide rolls on quietly with a deep hum like the sea heard from the distance.

Although items could not be bought at the Exhibition itself, there was an emporium specially open on Regents Street for the purpose and memorabilia must also have been available from other outlets. Vinaigrettes and Card Cases were also produced by a number of Birmingham firms before the Exhibition opened, showing similar views of Crystal Palace.

Sold - £950.00

In fine condition with no damage or repair.
38 mm (1.50 inches)
72 mm (2.83 inches)
Stock Code