Jacobite banknote auctioned for £6,250 in aid of Fort museum expansion

The framed print, pictured, which made over £6,000 at auction last week. Photograph: Lyon and Turnbull. NO F35 Framed Print 1 of 22 sold Lyon & Turnbull 18.08.2021
The framed print, pictured, which made over £6,000 at auction last week. Photograph: Lyon and Turnbull. NO F35 Framed Print 1 of 22 sold Lyon & Turnbull 18.08.2021

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A Jacobite banknote print made £6,250 when it was sold at auction last week, with the proceeds going to the West Highland Museum in Fort William.

The print was created by Edinburgh Printmakers in April on behalf of the museum, from from an original 1746 copper plate etched by Robert Strange.

This contemporary print continues the Jacobite tradition of fundraising for their ‘Cause’, yet this time all proceeds raised will help fund West Highland Museum, which is raising money to help it expand its premises.

The museum is aiming to expand into 40 High Street, a building it bought in 2018 with the help of the Scottish Land Fund.

This print is the first of 22 in total, produced by Edinburgh Printmakers, to mark the 100th  anniversary of the museum in 2022.

Museum curator Vanessa Martin told the Lochaber Times: ‘We are absolutely delighted with the outcome of the auction and the funds raised far exceeded the final total we had anticipated.

‘This has been exciting project to work on over the last 18 months and I am grateful for all the expert support we have received that enabled us to produce these beautiful prints.’

Dating back to the days preceding the Battle of Culloden in 1746, this particular plate has an interesting and eventful history.

Commissioned directly by Prince Charles Edward Stuart at the height of his campaign, and indeed only a few days prior to the fateful Battle of Culloden, it was necessitated by the shortage of funds owing from an expensive crusade through 1745-6 and the loss or theft of various shipments of gold from France and Spain.

The notes were intended to pay Jacobite troops and continue to fund the campaign.
Over the course of two personal meetings in April 1746, Robert Strange, an engraver and a member of Prince Charles’ Lifeguards regiment, was commissioned by the prince to create the engraving plates for the banknotes.

However, the commission was not without issue as Strange could not find paper of significant quality or a working printing press in Inverness.

After sourcing copper to make the plate, he discovered its quality was not up to standard and he had to convince a carpenter with a mechanical understanding to work on the sabbath and build him a printing press.

Ultimately though, this press would not be used. With the disastrous outcome of Culloden, Prince Charles and his supporters fled, together with the plate and other valuables, towards exile.

Colin Fraser, consultant specialist at auctioneers Lyon and Turnbull, said it had been a delight to see such spirited bidding for an amazing object.

‘The buyers found the history and research not only enigmatic but fascinating and the added bonus of supporting such an important museum, its collections and ambitious plans for its second century proved a perfect recipe for a wonderful result,’ added Mr Fraser.

‘This is a real testament to everyone involved in the creation of a unique piece of what now must be considered part of Scotland’s Jacobite and paper money history.’

Great care has been taken to ensure the preservation of the plate while working with it and specialist advice has been taken at all turns.

The print sold at auction, the first from the run, has been framed using wood from the famous ‘Beech Avenue’ at Achnacarry, planted at the time of the uprising in 1745 and now reaching the end of its natural life.

The wooded avenue, alongside the River Arkaig, was planted by Donald Cameron of Lochiel, 19th Chief of Clan Cameron, without whose eventual support the ’45 campaign would never have taken place.

Lochiel had been in the process of planting the tree-lined avenue to Achnacarry House when the call to muster at Glenfinnan came in. In his haste to join the prince, the seedling trees were swiftly planted in groups rather than in a planned avenue along the drive, where they grew to full maturity.

The recently harvested wood has been turned into a fitting frame for such an iconic print, with tradition at the very heart of the work.

The frame was crafted by cabinet maker Peter Davis and glazed by Gillian Sloan of Fort William. A second frame was created for print 22/22 and will remain in the West Highland Museum collection.

Further prints will now be sold by the museum with the sale price to be announced shortly. To register an interest, contact the museum, email: info@westhighlandmuseum.org.uk or call 01397 702169.

One print will be raffled on September 7. Tickets are £10 each and can be bought in the museum shop or on the museum’s website using the ‘donate’ button.


The framed print which made more than £6,000 at auction last week. Photograph: Lyon and Turnbull.

NO F35 Framed Print 1 of 22 sold Lyon & Turnbull 18.08.2021