I may (and it’s a b-i-g may) have stumbled across something rather interesting to collectors of hunt buttons, and those with a wider interest in the history of hunting in the UK.
This is a recently found 19th century button, which I was asked to identify, if I could. Because of the encrustation the lettering is not easy to read, but it is definitely NDH in Old English typeface. See Below:
I wonder if this might be a ‘first iteration’ button for the North Durham Hunt? The backmark of Hardman and Iliffe dates it before 1863. Our ‘Fox-Hunting Directory‘ of 1897/98 states that:
“The North Durham Hunt dates from Ralph Lambton’s time, and has existed in its present form since 1870, when the Durham County Hunt was divided into North and South Hunts. Ralph T. Lambton is listed as Master of the Durham County 1804 – 1838. So, if I’m reading this correctly, it was in existence before the Durham County. (see button below)
If the Durham County was split and the N & S Durham Hunts re-established and the mysterious button was made prior to 1863, is this a button from the hunt’s earliest time?
What also leads me to my speculation is the undoubted similarity to other relevant buttons: Take the better known North Durham Hunt button – it features a running fox and note the identical ‘Old English’ typeface.
Then there are the buttons from two other packs from that very country:
The relatively short-lived Durham Farmers’ Hunt –
And, of course, the long-standing Braes of Derwent Foxhounds.
We may never know if I’ve got this right, unless anyone has documentary evidence, but my feeling at the moment is that the odds are pretty good in its favour.
NB. Featured image is a detail from ‘Run to Ground’ a print of the North Durham Hunt by John Charlton.