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English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations, including The Garrett Herman Collection: The Age of Darwin

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Lawrence, D.H.
GOLD SNUFF BOX PRESENTED TO HIM BY THE PUBLISHERS OF THE BLACK SUN PRESS, PREVIOUSLY A GIFT FROM NAPOLEON'S SISTER CAROLINE,
Léger-Fortuné-Alexandre Ricart, Paris, circa 1810, rectangular, of oblong section, plaid engine-turned within wide borders of chased neo-classical scrolling foliage on a matted ground, raised thumbpiece, the interior with two inscriptions, firstly on the lid "Presented on board H.M. Ship Tremendous at Trieste to Mr Jn. Selby Master by Caroline Buonaparte Ex Queen of Naples the 7th of June 1815", later engraved on the inner base "for D.H. Lawrence from Henry and Caresse [Crosby] | 'The new Trees greet the Sun' | Paris 1928", maker’s mark, Paris grosse garantie and 3e titre (18ct) for 1809-1819

[with:] two autograph letters signed and an autograph note, by Frieda Lawrence, to Laurence Pollinger, the first on matters relating to the Lawrence literary estate and informing him that she has willed him the snuff box, the second informing him that she is sending the box, with the note that finally accompanied the box, altogether 5 pages, 4to, New Mexico, 16 November 1946 and 11 February 1951, creasing 


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Catalogue Note

A FINE GOLD SNUFF BOX WITH A REMARKABLE HISTORY. This piece was produced in Paris under the first Empire (Ricart entered his mark for bijouterie on 21 May 1808 from his premises at 33 rue de l’Arbre-Sec, Paris) and was presented as a gift by Napoleon's sister Caroline, who married Marshal Murat and had been elevated to the throne of Naples. Murat was overthrown after coming out for Napoleon during the Hundred Days and Caroline fled Naples on the British battleship HMS Tremendous on 21 May 1815. She evidently gifted this snuff box to a sympathetic British officer shortly before disembarking in Trieste.

More than a century later, this snuff box was given by the poet and publisher Henry Crosby (1898-1929) and his wife Caresse to D.H. Lawrence. Lawrence wrote to the Crosbys on 25 May 1928 with embarrassed delight at their generosity in sending him "the Queen of Naples' snuff-box and three pieces of gold, to my utter amazement ... I hope to heaven that you're quite quite rich, for if you're not, I shall feel really bad about it". The gift was in payment for the manuscript of Lawrence's story 'Sun', which was published by the Crosbys' Black Sun Press later that year, and also for Lawrence's introduction to Crosby's Chariots of the Sun. Both manuscripts had been sent to Crosby at the end of April. Lawrence was somewhat bewildered at Crosby's generosity: the poet-publisher had already paid him $100 in gold coins for his manuscript at the beginning of April, and Lawrence had stipulated when he sent his manuscripts that he did not expect any further payment. 

Crosby was obsessed with the symbolism of the sun - it is certainly no coincidence that he chose to pay Lawrence in gold, with its symbolic association with the sun - and his generosity reflected his keenness for the Black Sun Press to publish something by the author of The Plumed Serpent. The letters between the two men are full of solar references, and he also inscribed his obsession into the gold box itself, with its  quotation from the closing stanza of Dante's Purgatorio as translated by C.E. Wheeler (1911):

"From that most holy wave I came anon Re-made, as when at end of
winter's wars, With newborn leaves the new trees greet the sun, Pure
and made ready now to reach the stars."

English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations, including The Garrett Herman Collection: The Age of Darwin

|
London