Sporting connections - from Byron’s dog to a legendary greyhound

Amongst the one thousand lots of Fine Art and Antiques in Tennants Auctioneers’ Autumn Fine Art Sale on 18th November, are a number of intriguing lots to pique the interest of collectors of British Sporting Art and memorabilia.

One of the most fascinating lots in the sale is a wide brass dog collar which once belonged to Lord Byron’s favourite Newfoundland dog, Boatswain, who died in 1808. Inscribed ‘Rt. Honble LORD BYRON’, the collar has a jagged toothed edge; several of the teeth are missing and according to accompanying provenance the damage was done by a bear which Lord Byron kept at Newstead Abbey, and with which Boatswain had many severe encounters. Boatswain died of rabies after being bitten by another dog in Mansfield; the grief-stricken Byron erected a monument at Newstead Abbey and composed the famous ‘Epitaph to a Dog’. The collar is being offered with an estimate of £3,000-5,000.

Sporting dogs are represented too, with an impressive painting of two legendary coursing greyhounds. The painting, by John Charlton (1849-1917), depicts the greyhounds Fullerton and Bit of Fashion who were bred and trained by Edward ‘Neddy’ Dent, the most renowned greyhound trainer of his day. Dent, of Shortflatt Tower, Northumberland, won the Waterloo Cup – the Grand National of the greyhound coursing world – with Fullerton a record breaking four times between 1889 and 1892. Indeed, such was his fame that Fullerton’s body was preserved, and it is now on display in the Natural History Museum in Tring, Berkshire. This painting is a wonderful character study of dogs, and indeed the painting was exhibited in the 2003 ‘Sporting Art in Britain’ exhibition held by the British Sporting Art Trust to celebrate their 25th anniversary. The painting is estimated at £7,000-10,000, and is being sold alongside a further painting of Dent with Fullerton, and silver trophies won by Dent.

The winner of the 1922 Doncaster St Leger Stakes, Royal Lancer, is immortalised on a reverse intaglio Essex crystal brooch, which is being offered with an estimate of £200-300. Royal Lancer was the first horse to win both the Doncaster and Irish St Legers. The brooch was presented by owner The 6th Earl of Lonsdale to his jockey B. Jones, the vendor’s great uncle, after he won. A similar pair of crystal oval cufflinks, each painted in extraordinary detail with a jockey on a galloping horse, were also given by The Earl of Lonsdale to B. Jones (estimate: £600-800).

An impressive Victorian silver candelabrum depicting a fox hunting scene with huntsmen, horses and hounds surrounding a naturalistic oak tree is being offered with an estimate of £2,500-4,000. Made by Robert Hennell of London in 1853, the candelabrum was presented to keen huntsman John Stapylton Sutton Esq, of Elton Hall Co. Durham, by the members of the Hurworth and Durham County Hunts ‘in Consideration of His Disinterested Preservation of Foxes’!

There will also be a good range of tradition sporting art on offer by artists such as Lionel Edwards, John Cyril Harrison, and Thomas Weaver.

A full illustrated catalogue will be available online leading up to the sale at Alternatively, please contact the auction house on 01969 623780 or

John Charlton ‘Greyhounds Fullerton and Bit of Fashion outside Shortflatt Tower (Estimate: £7,000-10,000)
(top left) The collar of Lord Byron’s favourite dog, Boatswain (Estimate: £3,000-5,000)