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Thomas Del Mar Ltd announces the sale of the armoury of the Princely House of Hohenlohe-Langenburg
English cased percussion sporting gun made for Prince Alfred as a small boy in about 1850.

LONDON.- Schloss Langenburg is the ancestral seat of the Princes Hohenlohe-Langenburg in Southern Germany and is today the family home of Princess Saskia and Prince Philipp zu Hohenlohe- Langenburg. The historical arms and armour from the Schloss Langenburg armoury will be 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, December 3, 2014.

As Thomas Del Mar explains: “The decision to sell a portion of the armoury from Schloss Langenburg has been taken with sole intention of raising funds for the ongoing conservation of the historic architecture of this impressive castle and to expand the public display of the interior of Schloss Langenburg and the castle museum. The majority of the pieces included in this auction have never been on public display and after consideration it has been decided to make these pieces available to those who would best appreciate them and be in a position to have them correctly restored.”

A notable historical characteristic of the Hohenlohe-Langenburg line is the families’ close links with Europe’s Protestant ruling dynasties especially their close relationship with the British Royal Family. This began in 1828, with the marriage at Kensington Palace of Prince Ernst zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg to Princess Anna Feodora zu Leiningen, the half-sister of the future Queen Victoria.

In 1896 Princess Feodora’s grandson, Ernst II zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg, married Queen Victoria’s granddaughter Princess Alexandra of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Princess Alexandra was the third daughter of H.R.H. Prince Alfred, son of Queen Victoria and H.R.H. The Prince Albert, she was also the grand-daughter of Tsar Alexander II of Russia. An English cased percussion sporting gun made for Prince Alfred as a small boy in about 1850 - by Westley Richards of London and Birmingham, Gunmaker to H.R.H. Prince Albert - possibly the gift of his father, is included in this sale, having descended from Alfred to Princess Alexandra at Schloss Langenburg. H.R.H. The Prince Alfred was born on 6th April 1844, the second son and fourth child of H.M. Queen Victoria and H.R.H. The Prince Albert. Prince Alfred Ernst Albert was second in line to the throne, and as such from 1866 he was entitled The Duke of Edinburgh. The gun descended from him to his third daughter, H.R.H. The Princess Alexandra (1878-1942), the wife of Ernst II, Prince zu Hohenlohe- Langenburg; the gun has remained at Schloss Langenburg. The gun and its case each bear an escutcheon engraved with a coronet of the British Blood Royal. The proportions of the gun are in keeping with those of a young boy (84.5cm; 33 in. overall) and carry an estimate of 5,000-7,000.

The family link between the Windsors’ and the Hohenlohe-Langenburgs’ remains a strong one. H.M. The Queen visited Schloss Langenburg during her German State Visit in 1965, together with H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh and his sister, H.R.H. Princess Margarita. The original Mercedes 600 in which they toured is today preserved in the Car Museum at the castle.

The collection comprises 158 lots, of which 89 are antique firearms ranging in date from 1525-1860, the core of the firearms collection is formed of wheel-lock and flintlock firearms, including 19 pairs of holster pistols such as an exceptional pair of Bohemian silver-mounted examples by Paul Poser in Prag, circa 1725 which carry an estimate of 18,000-20,000.

A fine and very rare Nuremberg wheel-lock sporting carbine stocked by the so-called “Master of the Castles”, dating from circa 1600 which is estimated at 25,000-30,000. The barrel and the lock are etched with scrollwork, while the stock is veneered in ebony and profusely inlaid with finely engraved contrasting plaques of white horn and mother-of-pearl in the style characteristic of this unidentified but highly celebrated stockmaker. A very rare two-shot superimposed-load wheel-lock pistol that was also made in Nuremberg, circa 1585 carries an estimate of 12,000-14,000.

Many of these pistols and sporting guns are of luxurious quality in keeping with a princely Gewehrkammer (chamber) and others combine technological systems only very rarely seen on the international market. A French bronze mountain howitzer and its carriage captured in the war of 1870 would be a striking addition to any setting and is estimated at 6,000-8,000.

Also included are a broad historical range of swords, notably a group of 17th century dress-and hunting-swords with carved ivory hilts. A German Town Sword with a finely carved ivory memento mori hilt, dated 1656 is estimated at 6,000-8,000. The entire hilt is carved in relief as a series of serpents entwined with toads and human bones and the pommel formed as skulls. 1656 was the year in which a plague epidemic killed 145,000 in Rome and 300,000 in the Kingdom of Naples. The balance of the Langenburg selection is made up of elements of armour, a further tangible link with the history of the castle.

A rare and exceptional South German heavy bronze wallgun (Doppelhaken), dated 1525, with a barrel measuring 145.4cm; 57 1/4in. is expected to fetch 6,000- 7,000. Hand-ignited guns of this large size were intended to be fired from a stand or tripod carriage and served by two men as a piece of light artillery.

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