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Chorley’s Auctioneers to Sell John Peel Hunt Buttons in March Sale

In their sale on March 20th Gloucestershire based Auctioneers Chorley’s will be offering a set of 18th century silver hunting buttons connected to the legendary English huntsman John Peel (1776–1854). The buttons provenance is that they were gifted by John Peel’s widow Mary Peel, to her housekeeper, Sarah Bean and were then passed down through generations of the Bean family, until they were sold by her Great-Great Grandson in 2003.

Lot 561 John Peel Hunt Buttons

John Peel, the subject of the famous 19th century song D’ye ken John Peel, was a farmer from Cumbria in the Lake District. John Peel had a large family of 12 children and a farm to manage, but all of his spare time was devoted to hunting. Peel hunted in the traditional Lake district manner at the time, which was to ride to the hunting area, dismount, then hunt on foot.
His relationship to his horse is believed to have been extraordinary, with the animal knowing his master’s quirks so well, that at the end of each day’s hunt the horse would find its own way to the finishing point, to wait for Peel

Peel owned a large pack of hounds, which became highly renowned, with some featuring in the later verses of the popular song. His names for them were: Lively, Britain, Charmer, Burthwaite, Stormy, Welcome, Dancer, Crafty, Bellman, Towler, Delly, Drunkard, Glory, Lifter, Bowler Lucy, Merry, Lilter, Royal, Lofty, Melody, Leader and Ranter.

Detailed image of John Peel Buttons

Some of the seven buttons in the set feature names of hounds, such as Rockwood, Thunder, Dashwood, Blossom, Ringwood and Lady and one of them is engraved with a mounted huntsman. In silver and with maker’s mark believed to read BB, the set will be offered in Chorley’s Hunting Sale, Books & Manuscripts March 20, 2024  and carries an estimate of £3,000-£5,000 (lot 561).

Also included in the sale is a historic button pattern book, from London firm Firmin & Sons, containing its original 268 hunt buttons, which were added by the book’s late owner. In 1958 Firmin & Sons, the oldest manufacturers of military ceremonial buttons, badges, accoutrements and uniforms sold their 86 civilian uniform button pttern books to collectors and dealers in the United States, with at least three containing hunt buttons. This pattern book is one of two which have been brought back to the UK and represents an important resource for the identification of 19th Century hunt buttons. This important slice of British history carries an estimate of £3,000-£5,000 (lot 502).

Among other hunting buttons being offered in the same sale are buttons from Ireland, Wales and Scotland, the Otter hunt (Staffordshire, Wye Valley, Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and Culmstock), Surrey Staghounds, 8th Hussars Staghounds and Gloucester Staghounds, Seavington Harriers and various others, with Auctioneer’s estimates ranging from £30 up to £350.

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