London Auctions. Fraser’s to Auction a Presentation Sample of the Coronation Dress of Elizabeth II, Letters from Nelson, Byron and Dickens and Aleister Crowley’s Occultist Robe and Dagger on 11 December.
The magical robe and dagger owned by the famous occultist Aleister Crowley and immortalised in the 1934 Press Association photograph of him will, for the first time, be offered at auction. Further highlights of the sale include a stunning and museum quality sample of the coronation dress of Queen Elizabeth II, a beautiful signed photograph of Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako of Japan and letters from, among others, Admiral Horatio Nelson, Lord Byron, Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle.
Aleister Crowley (1875–1947) was an English occultist, ceremonial magician, poet, painter, novelist, and mountaineer and was responsible for founding the religion and philosophy of Thelema.
The ritualistic magical robe and dagger was worn by Crowley in the celebrated 1934 Press Association photograph and comes with impeccable provenance from the family of Deirde Patricia Maureen Doherty, later MacAlpine (b.1915), mother of Crowley’s son Aleister Ataturk, aka Randall Gair Crowley (1937-2002). Family tradition has it that Crowley gifted the set to Deirdre Doherty to provide for her and their son should the need ever arise.
The Middle Eastern Magical dagger is housed in the original scabbard, dates from the late 19th / early 20th century and is a most enchanting item [Lot 69] Est. £10,000 – 15,000. The set of robes consists of an impressive black and white striped waistcoat with white buttons, matching jacket and knickerbockers, all with embroidered decoration. It is without doubt a truly mesmerising item for any keen student of magical lore [lot 70] Est. £5,000-8,000.
A stunning presentation sample of the coronation dress of Queen Elizabeth II, designed by the renowned English couturier Sir Norman Bishop Hartnell will offer collectors the chance to own a rare, highly collectable and undoubtedly museum quality piece of royal history.
The sample offers a splendid detail of the intricate embroidered decoration on white satin of the coronation gown. It features the floral emblems of the United Kingdom and of the Commonwealth countries. The Tudor rose, Scottish thistle, Welsh leek, Irish shamrock, Canadian maple leaf, and silver fern of New Zealand, the Australian wattle flower, South African protea, Indian lotus flower and the three floral emblems of Pakistan. Also included in the lot is an annotated pictorial key to the floral emblems, with an explanation of their significance and a concluding note written and signed by Norman Hartnell: “To Madame Isabelle (Mrs Fowler). I inscribe this memento of the dress I designed and made for the Coronation of the most Gracious Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Abbey on June 2nd 1953. With gratitude Norman Hartnell”. The coronation dress took eight months to complete and the Queen declared it “glorious”. The item comes from the family of Isabelle Fowler (Madame Isabelle), who assisted Hartnell in making the dress [lot 218] Est. £4,000-6,000.The selection of signed photographs on offer to buyers is particularly impressive, with many rare items already receiving a lot of pre-sale interest. Of note is a lovely black and white full-length photograph of Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako, it is beautifully signed in thick black ink in Japanese by the Emperor and Empress. Hirohito (born 1901) was emperor of Japan from 1926 to his death in 1989. Following the devastating result of the atomic bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima in World War II, he renounced his divinity in favour of a democratic constitutional monarchy [lot 133] Est. £6,000-8,000.
Two small photographs signed by Leo Tolstoy are also of great interest due to their fine condition. The first, a cabinet card portrait of Leo Tolstoy shows him looking directly into the camera and is clearly dated and signed in Russian “Leo Tolstoy, March 6, 1901” [lot 88] Est. £700-1,000. The second, another cabinet card portrait, dated and signed in Russian below the picture “December 2, 1892, Leo Tolstoy”, is contained in its original mount of the photographer Scherer and Nabholz in Moscow and is an excellent signed portrait of Russia’s most famous novelist [lot 87] Est. £700-1,000. A fine wartime photograph of Winston Churchill taken by Cecil Beaton in Churchill’s cabinet at 10 Downing Street on November 20, 1940 is signed in ink “Winston Churchill” on upper margin [lot 122] Est. £3,000-5,000.Of the many rare and impressive letters and documents on offer in the sale, this letter from Admiral Horatio Nelson to his relative Lord Horatio Walpole is a particularly interesting document as it eloquently illustrates the family relationship between Nelson and the Walpoles. The one page letter (written on both sides) from Nelson to Walpole is dated at the head “Victory off London, Dec. 29th 1804” and signed at foot “Nelson & Bronte”. Despite its age, Nelson’s signature remains clear and crisp. The letter was sent from the HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
Nelson writes: “… I do assure you that I have the very highest Res. and Esteem and, if I might be allowed the expression, affection for you and every part of your family. Young [Nevil] is a very excellent young man and his good conduct has not escaped my observation and you may rely, my Dear Lord Rev. Honorable Lord Walpole, not only upon him but upon any occasion which may offer that. I shall be truly happy to meet your wishes for I haver shall forget the many favours, kind help and …you have shown me and many parts of our family”. The title “Bronte” was given to Nelson for his support in maintaining the King of the Two Sicilies Ferdinand III on the throne by repressing the revolutionary riots in Naples in 1799 [lot 112] Est. £3,000-5,000.
Further documents of note include a letter from Lord Byron dated April 14th 1823 and signed (“N.B.”), to Charles Gardiner, the Earl of Blessington [lot 68] Est. £2,000-3,000, A correspondence card headed “From Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Bignell Wood, Minstead, Lyndhurst, Hants”, signed “Arthur Conan Doyle” and dated “Jan 30” [lot 73] Est. £500-700 and a note from Charles Dickens reading “Faithfully yours, Charles Dickens, 1 Devonshire Terrace, York Gate Regent’s Park, Fourteenth April 1846” [lot 72] Est. £400-500.
Fraser’s Autographs – ‘Autographs, Manuscripts and Documents’ sale will be held at Bloomsbury Auctions’ Mayfair saleroom in London on Thursday 11th December 2014. The catalogue is available to view online at www.frasersautographs.com and www.bloomsburyauctions.com.