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Thomas Del Mar Ltd to offer a rare pair of cased Napoleonic Duelling Pistols in London sale
A rare pair of cased Duelling Pistols by London maker John Twigg circa 1785.

LONDON.- A rare pair of cased Duelling Pistols by London maker John Twigg circa 1785 which belonged to Captain Coghlan of the Royal Navy are expected to fetch £10,000-14,000 when offered for sale in Thomas Del Mar Ltd’s auction of Antique Arms, Armour and Militaria which will be held at 25 Blythe Road, London W14 on Wednesday, June 26, 2013.

Jeremiah Coghlan (1775-1844) had a long and distinguished Naval career, and in 1815 was nominated a Companion to the Order of the Bath, in recognition of his service during the Napoleonic wars. His most notable achievement occurred in June 1800 while watching the French at harbour in Port Louis, Mauritius. He took a small ten oared cutter and 18 men and a midshipman, and proceeded to board and after a hard fight, capture the French gun-brig Cerbere. This all occurred within pistol shot of three French Gun batteries, several armed craft and less than a mile from a French 74 Gun battleship and two Frigates. Wounded himself, he proceeded to take the French ship out of the harbour under heavy French fire. For effecting such a daring enterprise he was awarded a 100 guineas sword, a high honour and achievement.

The sale comprises 368 lots ranging from swords to muskets to helmets from all corners of the globe. Elsewhere a fine and rare Chinese decorated helmet, dating from the 17th/ 18th century and likely to have been made for a member of the Imperial Household is expected to fetch £10,000-15,000.

Also included in the Auction is a single owner collection belonging to Anthony de Reuck. Tony de Reuck for many years assisted with the editing of the Journal of the Arms & Armour Society and when he finished he full time career in the world of physics – focussing on atomic power, both military and civil, which drew him, among other things, into into the circle of physicists gathered around Joseph Rotblat at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, formerly at the Manhattan Project that created the Atom Bomb. He retired from lecturing in 1988 and began work as a volunteer at the Tower in the Royal Armouries, where he cast a technical eye on the shifting 16th century balance between offence (fire-arms) and defence (armour) and several pieces in the sale reflect this interest.

Comprising over 100 lots, notable pieces among the collection include – some of the earliest pieces in the sale – a medieval sword from the 12th century which is estimated at £3,000-5,000, while a Viking bearded axe from the 8th century is estimated at £300-400. A fine and rare South German ‘Gothic’ breastplate and backplate, circa 1480-90 – similar to one in the former arsenal of the City of Vienna - each decorated with an alternating pattern of notches and incised lines is expected to fetch £15,000-20,000 and a very rare and important late 16th century English Close Helmet, made in the royal armour workshops at Greenwich under the mastership of Jacob Halder (1576-1607/8) and is one of only three recorded examples of its type, carries an estimate of £12,000-18,000.

Among the firearms is a fine and rare 80-bore Thuringian wheel-lock sporting rifle, circa 1590, which is estimated at £20,000-30,000. Decorated by a grotesque, an engraved dog formed as a scaly monster rising from a scroll of foliage and exotic birds, it was once part of the Collection of Lord Astor of Hever and is identical in manner to one preserved in the Royal Armouries, Leeds.

The final section of the sale includes a good selection of English 18th and 19th century pistols. A 22 bore flintlock over-and-under pistol by Joseph Egg and Henry Tatham, who were in partnership between 1801-14, dating from 1810 is estimated at £3,500-4,500, while a pair of 18 bore flintlock holster pistols by Birmingham maker Theophilus Richards - father of William Westley Richards - dating from 1800 carries an estimate of £3,000-5,000.

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