SIR WALTER SCOTT: A LEITH BANKING COMPANY CHEQUE SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR
For the sum of £50, dated Abbotsford 2nd May 1825, the recipient's name, Peter Matheson, inscribed verso, care of George Craig Esq. of Galashiels, housed in a modern gilt frame measuring approx. 30cm x 17cm externally.
Peter Matheson (1771-1854) - Sir Walter Scott's coachman and trusted companion for just shy of three decades. Scott referred to Matheson as Automedon, the name of Achilles' charioteer in Greek mythology. He was also brother-in-law to Tom Purdie, Scott's forester and great friend.
It would be fair to assume that this cheque is for Matheson's wages, likely paid annually, as £50 was a rather large sum of money in 1825. For context, in 1829, Purdie received a quarterly wage of £11.
George Craig (1784 - 1843) - Baron Baillie of Galashiels and factor to John Scott, eighth Laird of Gala. Craig served as legal and financial agent for clients including Sir Walter Scott and fellow author James Hogg.
Sir Walter Scott, a Scottish novelist, poet and historian whose works had an immense impact throughout Europe and America, was the worlds first international best selling author.
It is significant that this cheque was written in 1825, the year of the UK Financial crash.
As partner in the collapsing Bannatyne publishing company, Scott was liable to debts of £130,000.
Rather than declare himself bankrupt and avoid his debtors he sought to write himself out of debt and his novels became global blockbusters.
Our thanks to Claudia Bolling of the Abbotsford Trust for her assistance in cataloguing this lot, which will be up for sale in our Winter Fine Art & Antiques Auction. Highlights can be viewed here.