Steppes Hill Farm Antiques Newsletter #2 - July 2011
Hot on the heals of our first monthly Newsletter in June comes my second offering for July 2011. The London Summer Fairs have now ended, with mixed fortunes for the participants from what I can gather, but judging from recent auction results the demand for fine and or rare items is still very strong and acquiring rather than selling interesting stock remains to be the problem for both dealer and collector alike.

You will appreciate therefore how pleased I was to secure this months 'Featured Item', which as far as I am aware is an unrecorded example of the highly prized series of silver and enamelled Sentry Box Vesta Cases produced by Sampson Mordan & Co in the late 19th century. They depict soldiers from various English Regiments standing inside a sentry box. All are uncommon, but some regimental uniforms appear more than others. This example depicts a trooper from 'Prince Albert's Own' 11th Hussars Regiment. I can not find any previous record of this regiment, with their distinctive cherry red breeches, appearing on a Mordan case before now.

Perhaps the most famous 11th Hussar was James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan, who commanded and led the infamous Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaklava, during the Crimean War (1854-1856). Lord Cardigan's "Cherry Bums" were paraded proudly around Horse Guards parade in London before departing for the Crimea. The Times saw their colourful costumes differently, arguing that the shortness of their jackets and the tightness of their cherry-coloured pants made them "ill equipped for war." It turned out the costumes worn were the least of their worries.

The Crimean War was entering its second year when British and French forces prepared to besiege Sevastopol. Ahead of the siege, the British forces under Lord Raglan moved into Balaclava. Ragland had insufficient troops to defend his flank, a weakness exploited by the Russians. The British line was held by the Scottish 93rd Highland Regiment - what was to become known as "the thin red line".

However, a misinterpreted order from Raglan led British cavalry to charge into the North Valley and into the path of Russian shell fire. Half of Lord Cardigan's men of the 17th Lancers and 13th Light Dragoons were dead before the guns were reached. They were supported by the 11th Hussars and others, but the 'heavy brigade' had been withdrawn when Lord Lucan realised the charge was doomed.

Although Cardigan bravely galloped many yards in front of his men and was the first among the Russian guns, during the subsequent melée he turned back, giving no further orders and left his men among the enemy without direction. After some fighting, the remnants of the force returned along the 'Valley of Death' (as described in Albert Lord Tennyson's famous poem - see below;), under continued fire.

Some 670 men were involved in the charge, of which 110 were killed, 129 wounded and 32 wounded and taken prisoner; 375 horses were killed.

The Charge Of The Light Brigade

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Memorializing Events in the Battle of Balaclava, October 25, 1854
Written 1854

Half a league half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred:
'Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns' he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

'Forward, the Light Brigade!'
Was there a man dismay'd ?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Some one had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do & die,
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd & thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack & Russian
Reel'd from the sabre-stroke,
Shatter'd & sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse & hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wonder'd.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!

I have added some new Wine Labels to the web site which include some very interesting and perplexing examples with marks that I have not been able to attribute or place. I would welcome any suggestions or enlightenment on the provenance of these labels.

Other recent finds include a fine Barr, Flight & Barr Worcester Vase painted with flowers, a good collection of novelty silver Bookmarks that include some of the rarer and most desirable 'figural' types, a First Period Worcester "Blind Earl" Sweetmeat Dish and a really nice pair of Flight Barr & Barr Worcester miniature Inkwells.

As far as upcoming events are concerned, we are thrilled to be able to announce that in conjunction with Christopher Buck Antiques, we are conducting a selling exhibition in the sumptuous setting of the Godmersham Park Mansion, Godmersham, Nr. Canterbury, Kent CT4 7DT.

Over the weekend of Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th August 2011, we will be occupying some of the main reception rooms of this magnificent and historically important manor house and furnishing them with beautiful antiques of a befitting style and period.

I do hope that you will find this Newsletter informative and helpful and will allow us send it to you on a regular basis. I would welcome any feedback you may have, both positive and negative.

David W.A. Buck.
Steppes Hill Farm Antiques


Unrecorded Sentry Box Vesta Case 'Prince Albert's Own' 11th Hussars Regiment
A fine and rare Victorian silver and enamel Vesta Case of Sentry Box form, the hinged peaked lid with attached suspension ring, the face enamelled with a trooper from 'Prince Albert's Own' 11th Hussars Regiment. The cover stamped with the Registration Number 38283. The side of the case stamped - Goad, Westbourne Grove.

By Sampson Mordan, London 1886. Marked on lid and body.

This is one from a series of silver and enamel Vesta Cases depicting 'Soldiers of the Queen' produced by Mordan around the time of Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887. It was originally thought that the Sentry Box Vesta was limited to a series of perhaps 10 or 12 different examples made specifically for the Jubilee. Around 25 (?) different Regiments have now been recorded and photo no:13 illustrates a collection of 20 different named examples. As far as I am aware however, this example depicting a soldier from the 11th Hussars has not previously been seen on the open market.
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