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Culture Minister defers export of a rare mid-eighteenth century army officer’s cap

10 October 2012

Categories:
Museums and Libraries

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary export bar on a rare mid-eighteenth century officer’s embroidered grenadier cap. This will provide a last chance to raise the money to keep the cap in the United Kingdom.

The Minister’s ruling follows a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, administered by Arts Council England. The Committee recommended that the export decision be deferred on the grounds that the cap is of outstanding significance for the study of Anglo-Irish military history.

The cap dates from around 1750 and would have been worn by a grenadier officer of the Enniskillen Regiment in the mid-eighteenth century. The Regiment had fought both in Ireland and Flanders under William III, and was at the final defeat of the Jacobite cause at Culloden in 1746.

It is thought to be unique, and is made of coloured cotton velvet with gold and silver thread. It is decorated with emblems of the Castle of Enniskillen, flying the flag of St George, and the White Horse of Hanover, both of which are surmounted by an embroidered royal crown. This highly decorated cap, known as a Mitre cap after its shape, was issued to grenadiers, who were the elite soldiers of their age, in order to distinguish them from other soldiers.

Lord Inglewood, Chairman of the Reviewing Committee said:

“This rare and decorative item would have been expensive to manufacture, and is a rare survival from this period. Although belonging to an unknown army officer, this cap brings to life an important time in the relationship between the British Army and Ireland”.

The decision on the export licence application for the cap will be deferred for a period ending on 3 December 2012 inclusive. This period may be extended until 3 March 2013 inclusive if a serious intention to raise funds is expressed with a view to making an offer to purchase the cap at the recommended price of £44,000.

Offers from public bodies for less than the recommended price through the private treaty sale arrangements, where appropriate, may also be considered by Mr Vaizey. Such purchases frequently offer substantial financial benefit to both parties through the sharing of tax advantages.

Notes to editors

1. Anyone interested in making an offer to purchase the cap should contact:

The Secretary

The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest

Arts Council England

Great Peter Street

London

SW1P 3NQ

Tel: 0845 300 6200

2. Anyone interested in making a matching offer and who requires further information about the cap from the Champion should contact The Secretary to the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest at the above address.

3. For enquiries on the operation of and casework arising from the work of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA) please contact the Enquiries team on enquiries@artscouncil.org.uk or 0845 300 6200

4. The details of the cap are:

An officer’s embroidered grenadier cap (c.1751-68)

27th (Enniskillen) Regiment of Foot

Cotton velvet

Embroidered with gold and silver wire, sequins and coloured threads

31cm high, 26cm wide

5. The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest is an independent body, serviced by Arts Council England, which advises the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on whether a cultural object, intended for export, is of national importance under specified criteria. Where the Committee finds that an object meets one or more of the criteria, it will normally recommend that the decision on the export licence application should be deferred for a specified period. An offer may then be made from within the United Kingdom at or above the fair market price.

6. Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2011 and 2015, we will invest £1.4 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. www.artscouncil.org.uk