Admiral’s letters bring admirers, but they’re all at sea about dates

AUCTION ... Lucy McKelvey administration Boldon Auctions with Admiral George Deleval letters.
AUCTION ... Lucy McKelvey administration Boldon Auctions with Admiral George Deleval letters.
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HISTORIC naval documents from the 18th century have been sold after a bizarre bidding battle.

The 26 items, detailing correspondence in 1718 between two British admirals while fighting against Spain, failed to sell at auction last week.

The estimated £1,500 minimum price was not met, partly because one interested bidder mixed up the day of the auction and failed to attend.

Bosses at Boldon Auction Galleries then entered into negotiations with him and another party.

But both fell out of the running, before a third buyer stepped forward to seal the deal – for just £1,200.

A spokesman for the Front Street gallery refused to reveal the buyer’s identity but said they were North East-based.

He said: “One man who had shown a lot of interest got his days totally mixed up. He thought the auction was later in the week.

“We then started talking to him and another potential buyer and were confident something would come of that.

“However, nothing did but they have sold anyway.”

The documents were sent by Admiral of the Fleet Sir George Byng to Admiral George Delaval, and span March to October.

They detail battle instructions, list food and drink orders and reveal how on-board supplies were to be distributed.

One shows that pork, oatmeal and other foods were rationed during war manoeuvres. The only item to escape was sailors’ beer.

An anonymous woman whose family have owned them for generations put them up for auction.

Described as in “delicate” but very good condition, they had been expected to sell for up to £2,000.

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho