Fine Jewellery - 15 Jul 2021


An early-mid 19th century jewelled and enamelled gold presentation snuff box, with provenance

£10,000 - £15,000 £12,000

An early-mid 19th century jewelled and enamelled gold presentation snuff box, possibly French, of shaped rectangular form and with fine blue and black enamel foliate decoration overall, the hinged cover later applied with diamond-set initials CA for Carlo Alberto, King of Sardinia, and surmounted with the Crown of Savoy within elaborate foliate borders, unmarked, 8.5cm wide, red leather case

PROVENANCE: Formerly the property of Colonel Sir Thomas Reade CB (1782 - 1849) and thence by descent to the current owner.

Colonel Sir Thomas Reade CB was born in Congleton. Aged sixteen he ran away from home and joined the Army. Following campaigns in Europe, Egypt and America, and by then a much-decorated Colonel, he was knighted aged just 33.

In 1816 Reade set sail with Admiral Sir Hudson Lowe for St Helena with Napoleon Bonaparte. Reade was Deputy Adjutant General to Lowe the commander of the garrison guarding Napoleon in St Elena. Reade became the 'chief go between' since Napoleon and Lowe famously did not get on. Following Napoleon's death on 5 May 1821 Reade returned to England and on 5 June 1824 was appointed Consul General in Tunis, a post he held until his death in 1849.

Reade was a collector of Islamic manuscripts. His important collection is now in the British Library following its sale at Sotheby & Wilkinson in 1852. Buried in Tunis, there is a fine memorial to Reade in St Peter's Church, Congelton.

Accompanied by the draft of a diplomatic letter prepared in Chancery 4th Division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Turin dated 8 August 1846, for signature by the Secretary of State, together with the final, and shorter, version of the letter which was issued. This letter accompanied the snuff box, a diplomatic gift to Reade, at the time the British Consul General in the Regency of Tunis from 1824 until his death in 1849.

Also accompanied with two volumes of 'Napoleon in Exile - A Voice from St Helena' by Barry O'Meara - Napoleon's surgeon, which record Reade's dealings with the Emperor.

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