The Prince and the Plunder

A book on how Britain took one boy and piles of treasures from Ethiopia

Category: Possible gifts

The Bonhams sewing box

Published / by Andrew Heavens / Leave a Comment

What: A sewing box inscribed ‘Abyssinia 1867’, possibly a diplomatic gift, sold for £305 by Bonhams on 14 Dec 2005.

Where: Last in the hands of an unnamed buyer

The auction page, which has two pictures, describes: “A mid-19th century French ivory necessaire of rectangular curved end form, the lid engraved and black filled with a crest, motto and inscription ‘Abyssinia 1867’, the interior with a full complement of silver gilt tools, comprising; stiletto, bodkin, scissors, needlecase and thimble, all with matching dot engraved decoration, case 10.5 x 5.5cm.”

A footnote says: “Baron Napier of Magdala was appointed in May 1867 to command the British expedition to Abyssinia, however, the motto here is not his, but that of two other members of the family, namely Kilmachew and West Shandon of Dumbartonshire.”

Lot 729
Sale 14 Dec 2005, 10:00 GMT at Bonhams, Knowle

Curved scissors

Published / by Andrew Heavens / Leave a Comment

What: Curved scissors taken by the British Museum’s expert on the expedition, Richard Rivington Holmes

Where: The British Museum, Great Russell St, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3DG

Provenance: Maqdala referenced at length in the museum’s acquisition notes.

The catalogue entry reads: “Scissors with curved blades, made of iron.”

Museum number: Af1868,1001.31
Height: 10.80 cm
Width: 5.70 cm
Previous owner/ex-collection: Sir Richard Rivington Holmes
Acquisition date: 1868