Admiral Nelson and Florence Nightingale letters net £30,000

Nelson's letter and portrait
Image caption Nelson was born in Norfolk in 1758 and joined the navy at just 12 years old

A collection of letters written by historic figures, including Admiral Horatio Nelson, Florence Nightingale and Charles Dickens, has sold for more than £30,000 at auction in Essex.

The 75-strong lot, including cards and autographs, was amassed by a Billericay collector over 30 years.

The letter by Nelson, written while on HMS Victory in 1804, was to Sir John Acton, prime minister of Naples.

It sold for £7,000 at the auction in Colchester on Saturday.

It was thought the letter would sell for between £4,000 and £6,000.

The letter was signed Nelson & Bronte, which refers to the fact he was made Duke of Bronte by King Ferdinand of Sicily.

It also mentions the Reverend Dr Alexander Scott, Nelson's chaplain who was with him on the Victory when the Norfolk-born naval hero died at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Dr Crippen

The private collection was released for auction by the family of the late Captain A.S. Court, who spent much of his life in Romford.

A captain in the former Essex Regiment, he was a "collector by nature" said his family.

The £30,000 raised by the sale was double what had been expected.

Michael Bowles, from auctioneers Reeman Dansie, said interest in the autographs had been worldwide.

"It was a lovely auction of one-off autographs of famous people," he said.

"It's very rare to get such an accumulation [of autographs] and very nice to have."

Other items in the auction included letters signed by English poet William Wordsworth, which sold for £700 after being given an estimate of between £100 and £200; one from Hawley Harvey Crippen of Dr Crippen notoriety, which was sold for £240 - more than double its estimate - and a letter signed by Florence Nightingale which went for £500.

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