Guest Post: An Antique Find With A Phenomenal Story

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Ahoy there shipmates! It's been a while!

I have a special 'Blog Post Monday' for you this week. It is in fact a guest blog post written by some very good antique dealer friends of mine, Matt and Val.

They told me recently of a find they had and the story which unfolded around it. After picking my jaw up off the floor we all agreed that the story should be heard by more people, so I've given them the 'Blog Post Monday' stage to tell it.

So, as always, get that kettle on, sit back and enjoy this story of an antique find, an intriguing signature and the phenomenal story of one man's mission to fight back against slavery.

Matt & Val:

"One of the joys of being an antique collector is discovering the story behind an object.

Sometimes, the story is fairly straightforward, as you are a collector of that type of item. Some items have inscriptions which tell you a lot or little of their history, maybe a book or a medal for example.

We have all been in situations where we like an item but are not exactly sure why, it just speaks to us and we just have to own it. Sometimes in this situation, an item can in the first instance, withhold its story and only by researching it, can we reveal the history it is waiting to share with us.

Image:  The Framed Drawings


Image:  The Framed Drawings


A year or so ago, I came across two little original drawings of two male musicians from the mid to late 1700s. Still in their beautiful old and original frames, the musicians are caricatures and an inscription reads “drawn from the life”. What followed the inscription, was a series of symbols, resting on five horizontal lines. On the rear of the pictures, a handwritten note told me that the drawings were by G sharp.


Image:  The Back Of The Framed Drawings


Image:  The Back Of The Framed Drawings

Further research by Stephen Wells of Source Vintage Antiques, confirmed that the symbols resting on the horizontal lines were in fact the musical note G sharp.

Image:  Granville Sharp

A few hours of research on the internet introduced me to a gentleman called Granville Sharp. Interestingly, Granville signed letters to his friends using the musical note G Sharp. He had to be the artist who produced these drawings. The images have a great resemblance to both Granville and the Sharp family.Granville came from a large family of eight and his Paternal Grandfather had been the Archbishop of York. His father was the Archdeacon of Durham Cathedral.

Image:  The Sharp Family

It appears the family were very musical and Granville along with his two brothers and two sisters played in an orchestra on the Thames from a barge between 1775 and 1783. George the Third heard Granville sing and confirmed that his was the finest voice he had ever heard.  The whole Sharp  family were known to the King.That was when things started to get a lot more interesting for me.A further search on the Internet for Granville Sharp produced a number of very important paintings featuring Granville and referring to the Abolition of Slavery. The following emerged.Whilst Granville was visiting his brother in 1765 (he was Physician to George 3rd), they heard a banging at the door. On opening the door, a black man stumbled in to the house. He was terribly beaten about the body, head and face. This man was called Jonathan Strong. Jonathan was a slave who had been badly beaten by his master and told to leave his masters house.It was Jonathan’s good fortune that he had gone to the physicians house for help and that Granville Sharp was there. Granville was appalled by what he had seen and heard and as a result of this, working to abolish slavery became his life’s work.

When Granville later heard that Jonathan’s master was attempting to sell him back into slavery in the Caribbean, Granville took a successful case to the Lord Mayor and Jonathan was freed. Over the next few years, Sharp devoted his professional life to creating a Legal Ruling on the question of whether a slave could be compelled to leave Britain.He was heavily involved in securing the famous 1777 Ruling by the Lord Chief Justice which established that slave owners could not force slaves to return to the Colonies once they were in Britain. This Ruling was regarded by many, as the first move towards the abolition of slavery in Britain .As well as his campaign for the abolishment of slavery, Sharp also campaigned for Parliamentary Reform for better wages for labourers.In 1776, he resigned his Civil Service position in disagreement with the British Government’s War with the American Colonists.In 1787, Sharp and his friend Thomas Clarkson formed the Society For The Abolition of the Slave Trade. They later persuaded the MP William Wilberforce to become their spokesperson in Parliament.The Slave Trade was finally abolished in 1897 but Sharp and Clarkson continued to work for the complete abolition of slavery.

Image:  Granville Sharp's Grave


Image:  Granville Sharp's Grave

Sharp died in London on the 6th July 1813. Many of his letters and correspondence are preserved in the York Minster Archive.

His drawings survived and whilst their specific journey through time remains a mystery, their existence has revealed much about the part their artist played in that very dark period of British and much wider world history.If you are interested in buying these pictures please contact Stephen here at Source Vintage Antiques".

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Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did. A huge thank you to Matt and Val for taking the time to tell us this story. As always, let us know what you think in the comments section below, it's always a pleasure to hear from you.

Thanks for reading and until next time, stay safe, keep buying those antiques and keep spreading that Source Vintage love!



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