A BRITISH flag believed to be the only surviving Union Jack from the Battle of Trafalgar has sold for a staggering £384,000 ($680,368) at auction in London.
The standard, put up for sale by its Australian-based owner, was expected to fetch in the region of £15,000 ($26,576) at the auction, which coincides with Trafalgar Day, the anniversary of the battle 204 years ago.
Auctioneer Charles Miller of Charles Miller Ltd said he was delighted with the price the flag achieved.
"I am absolutely lost for words, but what a victory," he said. "This demonstrates that this is a unique and charismatic artefact linked to both Nelson's greatest triumph and the greatest naval battle of all time - the Battle of Trafalgar, which took place exactly 204 years today."
Mr Miller had described the flag, marked by shot and still bearing a faint scent of gunpowder, as extremely evocative.
"Any artefact from Trafalgar is significant, but the national emblem, battle-scarred to boot, is going to be in the next league," he said.
On October 21, 1805, 27 British ships under Admiral Lord Nelson's command squared up to 33 French and Spanish vessels west of Cape Trafalgar, on the southwest coast of Spain. Nelson's forces sank 22 enemy ships without losing one of his own.
The victory confirmed Britain's naval supremacy and ended Napoleon Bonaparte's hopes of invading the British isles.
The flag flew above HMS Spartiate in the sea battle. Its 540 crew had stitched it together from 31 panels. After the conflict, they presented it to their Lieutenant, James Clephan, in recognition of his bravery.
The flag was put up for sale by one of his descendants, who lives in Australia.