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Statue of ‘Greatest Black Briton’ Mary Seacole to be sold at auction

The terracotta bust of the nurse voted the Greatest Black Briton could fetch £1,000 when it is sold in Gloucestershire.

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Mary Seacole helped injured soldiers during the Crimean war (PA)

Mary Seacole helped injured soldiers during the Crimean war (PA)

Mary Seacole helped injured soldiers during the Crimean war (PA)

A bust of a heroine of the Crimean War who was voted the Greatest Black Briton is to go under the hammer.

Mary Seacole, who rivalled Florence Nightingale for her feats in the war, was the daughter of a Scottish soldier and Jamaican mother and born in 1805.

She later went to England and when she heard of the plight of the soldiers in the Crimea she volunteered to help but was turned down.

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The terracotta bust of Mary Seacole could sell for up to £1,000 (Dominic Winter Auctioneers/PA).

The terracotta bust of Mary Seacole could sell for up to £1,000 (Dominic Winter Auctioneers/PA).

The terracotta bust of Mary Seacole could sell for up to £1,000 (Dominic Winter Auctioneers/PA).

Undeterred, Seacole funded her journey and remained in the Crimea until 1856.

When she returned to England destitute, commanders in the Crimea raised money for the nurse, who was awarded the British Crimean medal, the Turkish Medjidie and the French Legion of Honour.

She died in 1881 and was voted Greatest Black Briton in an online poll in 2004.

The 30cm-high terracotta half bust, in which Seacole wears her war medals and a row of pearls, was modelled by the Victorian artist Count Gleichen in 1871.

The bust, which was part of the Collection of Jack Webb, will be sold at Dominic Winter Auctioneers in South Cerney, Gloucestershire, on July 30 and is estimated to fetch between £700 and £1,000.

Auctioneer Henry Meadows said: “We all think of Florence Nightingale but Mary Seacole’s efforts are often forgotten.

“I think there is likely to be bidders from institutions, museums and private buyers who appreciate the significance of this bust.

“I like this bust because we should all remember Mary Seacole as a selfless individual, that even though she was rejected in the medical profession in the UK, financed out of her own pocket her way to the Crimea to help wounded and dying soldiers.

“I really do believe this bust should be in a museum for all to appreciate.”

Also going under the hammer is a finely carved Battle of Trafalgar ostrich egg depicting half-length busts of Admiral Lord Howe, Admiral John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent, Admiral Duncan and Admiral Lord Nelson.

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The finely carved Battle of Trafalgar ostrich egg depicting famous Royal Navy commanders is also being sold (Dominic Winter Auctioneers/PA).

The finely carved Battle of Trafalgar ostrich egg depicting famous Royal Navy commanders is also being sold (Dominic Winter Auctioneers/PA).

The finely carved Battle of Trafalgar ostrich egg depicting famous Royal Navy commanders is also being sold (Dominic Winter Auctioneers/PA).

The artist left the work unsigned but it is thought it may have been made by a French prisoner of war not long after the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. It is estimated to sell for between £700 and £1,000.

A Victorian plaster diorama of the champion rat catcher, Jacko the black and tan bull terrier, is predicted to sell for between £300 and £500.

PA