A man who picked up a unique Dundee artefact at an American estate sale has launched a bid to reunite it with its rightful owner.
Jason Hauptman found the antique silver presentation plate, which was gifted to a Dundee Sheriff Court bar officer in 1888, at a yard sale in Long Island last year.
The plate, created by former city-based jewellers and silversmiths Rattray & Co, had been given to Peter McGregor for the “urbanity and courtesy displayed… in the discharge of his duties”.
An Evening Telegraph article published on December 22 1888 read: “Today Mr Peter McGregor, who for upwards of 21 years has acted as Dundee Sheriff Court bar officer, and his wife, were presented with a handsome silver salver and a purse containing 30 guineas by the members of the Sheriff Court Bar.”
And now Mr Hauptman, who lives in the Roslyn Heights area of New York, is keen to see the antique back in the hands of its true owner.
He said: “I tried my best to find any information about the individuals that this was presented to, to no avail. I would make every effort to ensure that it gets in the right hands.
“I’d love to see this in the hands of a family member, with the caveat that I would ship the item once the world officially opens up again.”
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service said: “This is such a fascinating story and we are intrigued to learn more about how this piece of Scottish history made its way from Dundee to Long Island, New York.
“We’ve been looking further into the life of the man who received the plaque, Mr Peter McGregor, who worked at Dundee Sheriff Court, as bar officer and court house keeper, for more than 21 years.
“Impressively, his obituary tells us he had an ‘unwavering devotion to duty, implicitly carrying out to the letter the command of those under whom her served’ and that behind his ‘gruff exterior, beat a kindly heart’.
“We are hopeful the buyer in America can find it a good home, possibly back here in Scotland.”
Mr Hauptman listed the plate on eBay at $1,000 in the hope that it would draw attention to the artefact.
He said: “I listed it on eBay at the price I did to attract interest and to draw attention and feedback in terms of research.
“I’m not so interested in financial gain at this point as it’s just sitting in a box in my house without any personal attachment.”
At the request of the Tele, he removed the listing from eBay with the hope that it could one day be returned to its rightful owner.
Who was Peter McGregor?
He was the courthouse keeper and bar officer for Dundee Sheriff Court from 1867, until his death on June 22 1909.
For 42 years, he had been “responsible for the decorous behaviour of the lay element that attend the sittings”.
A native of Kirkmichael, he had a lifelong association with the police force joining the Forfarshire Constabulary as far back as 1837.
He was first stationed at Broughty Ferry where he remained for a couple of years, before becoming in charge of the Brechin district.
He reached the status of inspector, before leaving the police and joining Dundee Sheriff Court as a caretaker.
In an obituary published in the Tele the day he died, Mr McGregor was described as “quiet” and “unassuming”.
It read: “He showed a degree of firmness and decision in his character at times which carried the weight of authority.”
When Mr McGregor and his wife were presented with the silver salver and purse, he remarked that he felt “very grateful to the members of the Bar for the very high honour they had done his wife and himself”.
He thanked them “very much” for their kindness, and also for the “very great consideration” which had been extended to him since he came to Dundee. He said he had never spent a happier time in his life.
Mr McGregor performed his duties at the court right up until the Friday before he died and his son, Dan McGregor, was appointed as interim bar officer at the court shortly after.