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Vice Admiral Archibald Duff's Leather Filing Case

Category: Other Travel Items

Subcategory: Desk Items

A large leather Filing or Attache Case with 6 numbered, divider boards to the interior.

The black leather is ornately tooled in gilt to both the exterior and interior with tramlines, floral motifs and fleur de lys etc. The large, unmarked silver lock is also elaborately engraved and can be locked to 8 different positions depending on the contents. The interior and the divider boards are covered in a faded red silk. The dividers have leather tabs to their tops numbered to both sides between 1 and 6. The concertina action of the leather sides have a red cord threaded through the folds to prevent the case being over expanded.

Although it has natural wear, there is no doubt as to the quality of this case. The maker has even gone to the trouble of decorating the interior of the serpentine shaped cover flap. The key is also ornate and the lock sophisticated. It is a design seen on a number of French Porte-feuille cases.

This case was owned by Archibald Duff, an officer in Nelson's navy. It was originally sold with a number of other items from Duff's estate including 3 log books (dated 1807 and 1808) from his time as Captain of HMS Muros. According to the Naval Biographical Dictionary Duff entered the Navy on 29th June, 1788, as a Boy, on board the Champion. Duff served on a number of ships as he rose through the ranks. He was at the blockade of Malta, with Nelson in 1800 and also in the Egyptian Campaign for which he received the Turkish gold medal. Whilst serving as a Lieutenant of the Foudroyant in September 1799, he received a gold medal from the Royal Humane Society after recommendation by Nelson and the Foudroyant's captain. He jumped into the sea, at night to save the life of a man who had fallen overboard. He progressed to Rear-Admiral of the Blue in 1840 and Vice- Admiral of the Red in 1849. He lived at Braemoriston, near Elgin and then, in 1848 he rebuilt Drummuir, which he inherited and even built his own harbour at Hopeman, near Elgin.

This form of wallet or filing case seems to have been used mostly by French officers and politicians of the Napoleonic era. Similar Porte-feuille used by Napoleon and Baron Fain are in Parisian museums. This is a fine example. Whether Duff purchased it in England or France or perhaps relieved a French officer of it, is not known. Early 19th Century.

  • Dimensions:
    H 36cm x W 49cm x D 18cm
    H 14" x W 19¼" x D 7"

  • Period: Early 19th Century.
  • Medium: Leather & Silver
  • Country: Probably French
  • Style: Despatch Case
  • Exhibition: Departure of the 6th
  • Condition: Generally good, some wear as to be expected to corners etc.
  • Reference Number: 82351