The 31st July Antiques Arms and Armor auction at Bonhams
Knightsbridge saw the sale of a Royal Dragoons helmet and a sailor prince sword achieved £11,000 and £19,000, exceeding their presale estimates. The entire sale made a total of £513, 263, selling in excess of 90% of the lots by value.
Made by the manufacturer to Her Royal Highness and awarded by the Duke of Clarence to Admiral William Carnegie, Lot 469, an 1805 Pattern Naval Officers sword was snapped up by a buyer in the salesroom for £19,000 amidst a speedy war between keen bidders.
The weapon has a tapering 82.5cm blade that is double-edged at the point, engraved with the crowned arms of the Duke of Clarence within the belt of the Order of the Garter, and on the other side with a gilt plaque engraved with the arms of the recipient incorporating Trafalgar, in an original black leather scabbard.
The Duke of Clarence, who later became King William IV, joined the Navy in 1779 and had reached the status of Captain by 1786. Known as the Sailor Prince, the Duke was prone to giving out swords to naval officers who had proved themselves at battle. The first set of swords he gifted were similar to those carried by cavalry regiments from the early 1790s, referred to as coffin pommel swords. The later set followed the style of the 1805 and 1827 patterns, which had gilt plaques set into their grips engraved with the arms of the Duke on one side, and the recipients on the other.
Admiral William Carnegie, 7th Earl of Northesk, was awarded his sword after his brave efforts in the Battle of Trafalgar. Carnegie was heavily engaged with the enormous Spanish 130 gun ship in Santissima Trinidad, and was the third most senior officer after Nelson and Collingwood. He is now buried alongside Nelson and Collingwood in the St. Pauls cathedral crypt, where his tomb can be seen today.
Also among the top lots, Lot 445, a First Royal Dragoons helmet was secured by a bidder in the salesroom for £11,000, more than doubling its estimated price.
The distinctive Dragoons helmet, in its gilt-copper and leather finery, was designed in the 19th century for combat purposes. Wartime Helmets made in the Victorian era were usually covered in leather, copper and brass as they were deemed strong, durable materials. The added feather plumes, ribbons and metal emblems were merely for decoration.
The piece of headgear was worm by an officer in the 1812-1818 1st Royal Dragoons, although it was not worn in any of the battles during those six years. The Royal Dragoons were a mounted infantry regiment of the British Army. Between 1812 and 1818, the soldiers served in the Spanish Peninsular, the Hundred Days campaign in France, and were part of the Battle of Waterloo where the French were defeated, 20 miles south of Brussels, ending Emperor Napoleons career.
The highest selling in the sale, Lot 522, a fine pair of 17th century bronze cannon went out with a bang after being purchased by a bidder for £22,500. The stunning piece of weaponry bears the coat of arms and battle cry Gavre Au Chaplet of the Counts de Gavre, who were awarded the title of Princes of the Holy Roman Empire and served under the Crusader Kings in Jerusalem and Cyprus in the 11th century.
Other highlights of the sale included Lot 419, a 19 century Turkish Shamshir that sold for £12,000 to a buyer in the room after exciting competition. The sword holds significance in the inscriptions on the blade, reading: Siraj al-Din Pasha and there is no youth but Ali, no sword but Dhu lFiqar. The first inscription refers to controversial character Siraj al-Din Pasha, who served in Wafd political party in Egypt in the 1950s. The second comes from a Muslim story about Umar.