A Metamorphic Seal of Approval

A Metamorphic Seal of Approval

Our Fine Jewellery & Watches auction on November 30 includes a metamorphic desk seal once belonging to Lady Sophia Macnamara (nee Hare) (1836-1912). The fifth child and fourth daughter of the 1st Earl of Listowe, Lady Sophia married Arthur Macnamara at Ballyhoole, Cork in 1854 and later settled in Hertfordshire becoming a lady in waiting to Princess Louise (later Duchess of Argyll).

9 November 2021

The seal, fashioned in 15ct gold with a carved white agate pommel handle, was made around 1860 when Lady Sophia and her husband Arthur Macnamara settled in Flamstead.

 

Metamorphic Seal Lady Sophia Macnamara

Lot 45 | A ladies' gold metamorphic desk seal, c.1860

Estimate £2,000-3,000

 

When ‘closed’ a bloodstone matrix with the family seal (the arms of Macnamara impaling Hare) is visible. However, a hinged base opens to reveal a smaller cornelian matrix engraved with a monogram and a third banded agate intaglio engraved with the name Sophia. It comes for sale with an estimate of £2,000-3,000 from the collection of the late Peter Crofts (1924-2001), a Cambridgeshire antiques dealer whose own story was extraordinary.

 

Lady Sophia Macnamara

 

 After schooling at Wisbech grammar, Peter Crofts, the scion of a local farming family, had volunteered to serve in the Fleet Air Army and subsequently went to the US to train as a pilot. Tragically, on March 25, 1945, a month and a day before his 21st birthday, the engine of his Corsair F4U burst into flames during take-off at US Naval Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida. Both his legs were amputated and he had spent three and a half years recovering in hospital. 

It was under the guidance of the Stamford dealer Major Bernard Edinburgh that he became an antiques dealer and by 1958 was elected a member of the British Antique Dealers Association. Despite his disability, he was a keen sailor, owning an 88-year-old clinker-built Norfolk beach boat.

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