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Original British Napoleonic Wars Named Naval Telescope of HMS Superb Captain Keats

Regular price $1,795.00

Item Description

Original Item: One-of-a-kind. This is a fabulous single draw brass rope bound brass marine telescope. It measures 33 overall when fully extended and 26 when closed.

The small cylinder is finely engraved:


H.M.S. Superb

Offered in working condition showing only moderate wear for over 200 years of age!

Admiral Sir Richard Goodwin Keats (16 January 1757 – 5 April 1834) was a British naval officer who fought throughout the American Revolution, French Revolutionary War and Napoleonic War. He retired in 1812 due to ill health and was made Commodore-Governor of Newfoundland from 1813 to 1816. In 1821 he was made Governor of Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich, London. Keats held the post until his death at Greenwich in 1834. Keats is remembered as a capable and well respected officer. His actions at the Battle of Algeciras Bay became legendary.

HMS Superb and the Battle of Algeciras Bay:

By March 1801 Keats was placed in command of the ship with which he is most associated. HMS Superb was a 74-gun third-rate ship-of-the-line ordered in 1795 and completed in 1798.

In July 1801 she was stationed off Cadiz and took part in the second Battle of Algeciras Bay. During the French and Spanish retreat Admiral Sir James Saumarez hailed the Superb and ordered Keats to catch the allied fleets rear and engage. The Superb was a relatively new ship and had not been long on blockade duty. As a consequence she was the fastest sailing ship-of-the-line in the fleet. As night fell Keats sailed the Superb alongside the 112-gun Real Carlos on her starboard side. Another Spanish ship, the 112-gun San Hermenegildo, was sailing abreast, on the port side, of the Real Carlos. Keats fired into the Real Carlos and some shot passed her and struck the San Hermenegildo. The Real Carlos caught fire and Keats disengaged her to continue up the line. In the darkness the two Spanish ships confused one another for British ships and began a furious duel. With the Real Carlos aflame the captain of the Hermenegildo determined to take advantage and crossed the Real Carlos’ stern in order to deal a fatal broadside that would run the length of the ship through the unprotected stern. A sudden gust of wind brought the two ships together and entangled their rigging. The Hermenegildo also caught fire and the two enormous three-deck ships exploded. The Superb continued on relatively unscathed and engaged the French 74-gun St. Antoine under Commodore Julien le Roy. The St. Antoine struck after a brief exchange of broadsides. The action came to an end with the intervention of Captain Amable Troude aboard the Formidable. Troude placed his ship, which had been damaged in the earlier engagement and could not keep up with the main allied fleet, between the escaping allied fleet and the British. He fought off four ships before escaping into Cadiz.

Both Troude and Keats were highly praised by their commanders and the general public. Troude received an audience with Napoleon. Nelson said of Keats in a letter to the Duke of Clarence: Our friend Keats is quite well in his own person he is equal in my estimation to an additional Seventy-four; his life is a valuable one to the State, and it is impossible that your Royal Highness could ever have a better choice of a Sea friend, or Counsellor, if you go to the Admiralty.

After the Treaty of Amiens in 1802 Keats and Superb remained in the Mediterranean under Admiral Sir Richard Bickerton. When Nelson relieved Bickerton and took command of the fleet in the Mediterranean Keats remained with him off Toulon and accompanied the fleet to the West Indies in 1805 in the famous chase of Admiral Villeneuve that culminated in the Battle of Trafalgar. After the fleets return to the European waters Superb was sent to Portsmouth to re-fit. Unfortunately she did not rejoin the fleet off Cadiz until November 1805 missing the Battle of Trafalgar by less than a month.

On 9 November 1805 Keats was made an honorary Colonel of Marines, received the thanks of Parliament and a presentation sword from the Lloyd's Patriotic Fund.

This is a classic Naval rope bound officer's telescope of a known Captain and Man-o-War of the British Navy during the rise of Napoleon and the closing of the Revolutionary War!

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