The Perfect Family Picture . . . And the Wet Nurse?


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The Perfect Family Picture . . . And the Wet Nurse? Mar 22 2016 Stamps

SPINK LONDON | This Spring, Spink are delighted to be offering another instalment of our Philatelic Collector's Series sales on the 26th - 28th April 2016 in our London auction room. In this sale the discerning collector will find there is a fine selection of Rhodesia double heads, admirals, & Great Britain, and it is from amongst the Great Britain where we find a stunning little piece of British history and a truly cultural oddity!

Lot 1862 is a cover bearing a plate VIII 1840 one penny black tied by red Maltese Cross cancellation, dated 28 Nov. 1840 from London to Coupar Angus. Its appearance is modest and unassuming to the layman's eye; however the contents of this letter are astounding! It contains a very interesting insight into the anxieties of the young Queen Victoria over her first child. This confidant, regarding the birth of Queen Victoria's first child, exclaims:

.....I hope you are loyal enough to be glad to hear that the poor little Queen was getting over her trouble so well. I am glad she is getting so well over it but I cannot see any such great matter for rejoicing in the birth of the little affair, for whose maintenance this unhappy country will be still more heavily taxed - Did I tell you that the Wet nurse is to have £1000?- The Queen was very anxious to have a surgeon's wife but, not being able to meet one willing to undertake the office, who had the - in her majesty's eyes - necessary qualification of Black hair & black eyes, she is obliged to put up with a music master's wife. I wonder if she fancies the wet nurse's eyes will colour the child's, for undoubtedly the infant princess has no title to Black eyes from either father or mother…….

A very damning letter indeed from someone employed by the Royal household! The history and taboo that continues to surround breast feeding is not something you would expect to see in a stamp auction! But it is a fine and a most interesting letter.

Victoria 's Baby

Lot 1862, estimated: £800 - 1,000

Slightly before this startling lot, is lot 1805 to ease you into the Victoria theme! It is an 1842 (31 May) R.W. Hume Envelope number 75 "the queen's own" exceptionally fine used from Edinburgh and bearing 1841-53 1d. red-brown. It is addressed to "The Hon Lady Dunfermline, Follington House. This illustrated envelope depicts Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort with infant in arms on the front (the adhesive covers the Royal Coat of Arms) and has the national anthem printed on the inside and a Crown printed on each of the flaps. A superb envelope of great rarity. One of only two known examples and probably the finest and most desirable of all the Pictorial envelopes. Suffice it to say the envelope does not show the appointed wet nurse so the speculation on her hair colour can continue!

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Lot 1805, estimated: £10,000 - 12,000

For more information, please contact Dominic Savastano:

Tel: +44 (0)20 7563 4094 | Email: dsavastano@spink.com

SPINK LONDON | 69 Southampton Row | Bloomsbury | London | WC1B 4ET

About Spink

Spink is the world's leading auctioneer of stamps, coins, banknotes, medals, bonds & shares, autographs, books and wine.  Since its foundation in 1666, the Spink name has become synonymous with tradition, experience and integrity. Holder of royal warrants and numerous records for prices achieved at auction, Spink offers an unparalleled range of services to collectors worldwide.  Headquartered in London, with offices in New York, Hong Kong, Singapore and Switzerland, Spink holds over 70 auctions a year.  Catalogues can be accessed through the Spink website (www.spink.comor via the Spink App for iPhone and iPad.