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A Superbly Attractive, Native American Indian 'Spontoon Head' Style Tomahawk with Studded Haft, Glass Beads, and Eagle Feathers.

Great Lakes style. Rarely seen in Europe, a large spontoon trade style tomahawk axe head, with 2 large hook quillons on either side of the head. The head itself is a work of art, engraved with four spontoon heads at north south east and west, and nail point stamped create a circle. Possibly forged by an [unknown] blacksmith. The blade and head show a nice natural patina, and old brass tacks along the handle. They are domed head brass tacks set in an ash wood haft. The haft has a hole drilled for attaching an old beaded drop and eagle feathers with a piece of thin buckskin cord, the eagle feathers have been cut across the top, this is an old Lakota symbol of 'cutting an enemy's throat'. In excellent condition, It somewhat reminds us of the late 19th century spontoon head tomahawk of Chief Iron Tail of the Oglala Lakota Nation. He was a famed late 19th century celebrity Sioux, but it was as a star performer in Buffalo Bill's Wild West in the 1880s that brought this Sioux to the attention of world leaders and American audiences; as many as 12,000 people attended the live shows each day. It was the quintessential last vestige of the American West and passing century of discovery. When performances went overseas, Iron Tail was still Buffalo Bill's lead performer, and also his avowed best friend. He nicknamed Bill "Pahaska" or "Long Hair." In the West they hunted; in Europe, they toured historic sites, often hosted by royal aristocracy, traveling together until 1913.The spiked tomahawk, made along the lines of medieval European battle axes, had either a straight or curved spike projection at the top of the hatchet’s head.

The Missouri war axe, a large, thin-bladed hatchet with a short handle, was favoured by tribes along the great bend of the Missouri River.

The spontoon tomahawk, with its dagger-like blade and curled or winged-like appendages, suggested a fleur-de-lis-shaped battle axe.

Although least practical as a cutting or chopping tool, each one of these tomahawks made formidable hand weapons and held some favour with Indians because of their graceful and artistic shapes.

Regardless of style or shape, like the Indian’s bow and lance or the white man’s rifle and revolver, the tomahawk was as important a practical tool as it was a weapon of combat. Whether left plain or adorned with tacks, beads, coloured cloth, feathers, animal parts or even human appendages, the tomahawk also served as a symbol, representing the choice between peace or war, when white and red men met. While the first iron hatchets and tomahawks in America came from British and French sources in the northwestern territories and the Spaniards and French in the south and southwestern regions of the frontier, the first American tomahawks probably appeared in the Far West during Meriwether Lewis and William Clark’s 1804-1806 expedition. Nevertheless, by the early to mid-19th century, the iron tomahawk had become a standard trade item and fighting implement of frontier Indians. This tomahawk is not an authentic 18th century or early 19th century example, today those examples are now valued in the tens of thousands of pounds, and furthermore should never now leave American shores. This axe is likely late 19th century or later, possible a reservation style piece. Surface pitting to the iron and small blackened staining to the iron on one side

Code: 23398

1695.00 GBP


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A Very Good Napoleonic Cavalry Sabre Russian Double Eagle Crest.

Probably 18th to early 19th century from the era of Catherine the Great to Czar Alexander Ist. In the cossack sasqua style, worn with the blade cutting side up. With wlrus tooth hilt and engraved quillon bearing the Russian Romanov double crowned twin headed eagle crest with two cyrillic letters [English equivalent M E] within a shield. Leather scabbard with chequered decoration and wire decorative seaming at the throat.

The 895 mm long overall. A little known fact about the Napoleon's campaign into Russia is that Napoleon?s army actually lost more men on the way to Moscow than on the way back. The heat, disease, battle and desertion meant that by the time the Russian capital was seen on the horizon he had lost half his men. Nevertheless, what was important to the Corsican General was that he had reached the city. Battles at Smolensk and Borodino along the way had been costly and hard-fought, but nothing Tsar Alexander had done had been able to halt the Imperial juggernaut in its tracks ? though he had managed to extricate most of the Russian army intact from the fighting. In September the exhausted and bloodied Grand Arm?e reached Moscow with its promise of food and shelter, but it was not to be. So determined were the Russians to resist the invader that they burned their own old and beautiful capital in order to deny its uses to the French. Camped in a burned and empty shell, Napoleon dithered about whether to remain over the bitter winter or claim victory and march home. He was mindful of earlier campaigns into Russia ? such as that of Charles XII of Sweden a century earlier ? and made the fateful decision to return to friendly territory rather than face the snows without adequate shelter.

When it became clear that the Russians would not accept a favourable peace, Napoleon marched his troops out of the city in October. It was already too late. As the once-great army trudged across the empty vastness of Russia, the cold set in, as early as the French generals could possibly have feared. And that was the least of their worries. The horses died first, for there was no food for them. Then after the men ate them they started dying too, for all the supplies in Moscow had been burned a month earlier. All the time, hordes of cossacks harassed the increasingly bedraggled rearguard, picking off stragglers and making the survivor?s lives a constant misery. Meanwhile, Alexander ? advised by his experienced generals ? refused to meet Napoleon?s military genius head-on, and wisely let his army dribble away in the Russian snows. Astonishingly, by the time the remnants of the Grand Arme? reached the Berezina river in late November it numbered just 27,000 effective men. 100,000 had given up and surrendered to the enemy, while 380,000 lay dead on the Russian steppes. 89.5 cm long overall

Code: 20830

1995.00 GBP


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A Beautiful Pair of Original Antique American West Frontier Gauntlets

A Beautiful Pair,19th century from the early 'Wild West Frontier' period. Treated at some time with some form of water proofing agent. All the embroidery is incredibly technical micro stitching of amazing beauty and intricacy. These stunning and fringed gauntlets are beautifully embroidered with flowers, florid patterns and a western monogram, and were likely from the Cree, or the Lakota Sioux tribes of North and South Dakota. It is more usual to see beadwork as opposed to stitched embroidery. The most famous members of the Lakota Sioux were Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. In yellow hide [likely buckskin] with long fringing. Excellent condition, small split in base of finger. The style of Gauntlets worn by 'Kit Carson' and his contemporaries. Superb, charming and highly collectable pieces from the old, American, Wild West Frontier. Gauntlets are protective gloves that have a flared cuff. For centuries, these cuffs protected European and Asian bow hunters and military archers from being snapped on the wrist by their bowstrings. Medieval soldiers and knights began wearing chain-mail gauntlets during the 1300s, and armoured gauntlets appeared in Europe during the 1400s. Four hundred years later and halfway around the world, leather gauntlets appeared in the American West as military uniform accessories. They were soon appropriated by Indian artists, embellished with diverse ornaments, and incorporated into the civilian wardrobe. Here they became intrinsically linked with Western people, history, and landscape, and a symbol of the frontier. The original European form was reworked with a wild American veneer. Former mountain men -- Jim Bridger and Kit Carson among them -- occasionally worked guiding emigrant trains and military units through little-known country. They also helped track renegades of diverse stripes. These scouts were colourful characters, highly skilled, and not required to maintain a military dress code. Their attire was subsequently functional, comfortable, and drawn from a variety of media and cultural sources. By the 1870s, long and abundant fringe was in style and pinked edges provided decorative flair to leather clothing that was by nature quite showy. A similar pair [though later] of Lakota Sioux gauntlets can be seen in the Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art in the Fenimore Art Museum NY. The inner lining is some kind of quilted cloth.

Code: 20890

1900.00 GBP


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A Beautiful Antique Fijian 'Snake Club' Gata Waka With Skull Splitter

18th to 19th century. Early 19th century Fiji battle club. Excellent condition with fabulous natural patina. So called because of their resemblance to the butt of a gun, they are actually have no relation to rifles or muskets, and predate their appearance. This Gatawaka or gunstock club is around 37.5 inches long and an absolute beauty. It could be described as a dueling club as it could be used to parry, and then bring the bladed end down on its victim. Another trick the Fijians would use is to pin them down by the neck with the crook of the club and then snap. Probably nokonoko wood. These clubs are made from the buttress roots of an uprooted sapling that has been planted and deliberately and carefully trained to produce the desired shape. The heavy two handed war club in all its various forms is regarded as being the favourite arm of the Fijian warrior. To slay an enemy with a club brought the warrior more prestige than to kill with any other weapon. Sometimes in order to gain ?Koroi?, killer status, a detained prisoner would be speared and then administered a killing blow by a warrior to the head with a club. The fact that the club shattered that part of the body held most sacred by Fijians; the head, accounted in some degree for the special psychological aura surrounding it and distinguishing it from every other weapon in the Fijian warrior?s armoury.
A tally of kills made with a club was often kept by a means of nicks or notches on the head or handle, by boring small holes in the shaft. A 19th century Fijian Gata Waka [snake club] of dark brown patina, the heavy gunstock head the main section with raised medial ``skull splitter`` ridge, the tapering oval section haft with swelling butt. The role of the craftsman in Fijian culture was a much-valued skill and the woodcraftsmen in Fiji formed a distinct group in the community, with their own chiefs and specialists in making various items. Clubs were lovingly crafted and some clubs required years to make. Club carvers ?matai ni malumu? were highly skilled in selecting the correct type of wood for making the club and experienced enough to experiment with design as the variation in design and ornamentation on Fijian clubs attest to. According to Rod Ewins, "This type of club is notable for the cheeks that were pounded with rocks while the tree was growing. The ridges running across the cheeks are typical." (Traditional Fijian Artefacts, Just Pacific, 2014, p. 89, fig. 6.34(i)) A small rounded ridge is located at the base of the spur at the head of the club. It is called the Tere Tere after the frill of an iguana. Small defensive wood cut in the haft midsection.

Code: 20893

1950.00 GBP


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A Fabulous & Most Rare Griffiths ‘Jacob’s Type’ Double Barrel Rifle Carbine Circa 1848

The gun is the very inspiration for the famous Military Jacob's Rifle, used by the Sinde Irregular Force, Jacob’s Rifles, in the early 1850's. Possibly commissioned for an officer of the regiment. Apparently experimental versions of the rifle were manufactured for Jacob by George H. Daw, and we are told, Griffiths, who (among others) later advertised these sporting models of the piece. A writer of the period described shooting a gun made on this pattern:
“The recoil is by no means pleasant. [Jacob recommended a powder charge of some 2 drams 68 grains of gunpowder!] This rifle does not seem to have any advantages at sporting ranges; but for military purposes it has been strongly recommended. Especially in reference to the explosive shells which are used with it.the shells require a short stout barrel, and cannot be used with a long thin one, like the Enfield [still, Enfield-style rifles were actually manufactured with Jacob rifling, and seemed relatively popular]. For killing large animals, like the elephant or rhinoceros, they are particularly qualified; and I should strongly recommend elephant hunters to examine the merits of this rifle. This rifle was made to accompany the howdah pistol as the big game hunting rifle to be equally at home on foot, on horseback or while standing in a howdah on one's elephant. But also for perfect use in Indian irregular cavalry by gentlemen officers. The brass mounts are superbly engraved throughout, including a Bengal tiger and lion below mount Kilimanjaro, and profuse, highly accomplished decorative scrolling. This is a finest gentleman's hand made double rifle, circa 1848, made by Griffiths of England, is also bearing Queen Victoria's crown mark to both locks, which would further indicate government military service. By comparing the Jacob's Rifle by photograph, to this fine rifle alongside each other, one can easily see where the inspiration came from. This gun also bears influences from the design of the earlier British military Baker and [contemporary] Brunswick rifles, with a near identical patchbox arrangement to Jacobs rifles but rectangular. The Jacob's rifle was designed by General Jacobs of the Honourable East India Co. who was so admired and respected by all who knew him, for his intelligence and skill of command, he had a city named after him, in modern day Pakistan, called Jacobabad. He had spent 25 years improving rifled firearms, carrying on experiments unrivalled even by public bodies. A range of 200 yards sufficed in cantonments, but at Jacobabad he had to go into the desert to set up butts at a range of 2000 yards. He went for a four grooved rifle and had numerous experimental guns manufactured in London by the leading gunsmith George Daw and completely at his expense. Jacob, like Joseph Whitworth, was renowned not only as a soldier but as a mathematician, and his rifle was as unconventional as its designer. Rather than using a small .45 caliber bore Jacob stayed with more conventional .57-58 caliber (Bill Adams theorizes that this would allow use of standard service ammo in a pinch). In any case his rifle used four deep grooves and a conical bullet with corresponding lugs. Though unusual the Jacob?s rifle, precision made in London by master gunsmiths like George Daw, quickly gained a reputation for accuracy at extended ranges. They appealed in in particular to wealthy aristocratic scientists like Lord Kelvin, who swore by his. Jacob wanted to build a cannon on the same pattern, but died early at age 45. A few Jacob?s were used during the American Civil War, and those were privately owned, usually by men able to afford the best. There is one account of one of Berdan?s men using one (the chaplain, Lorenzo Barber), who kept one barrel of his double rifle loaded with buckshot and the other with ball. Jacob's Rifles was a regiment founded by Brigadier John Jacob CB in 1858. Better known as the commandant of the Sind Horse and Jacob's Horse, and the founder of Jacobabad, the regiment of rifles he founded soon gained an excellent reputation. It became after partition part of the Pakistani Army, whereas Jacob's Horse was assigned to the Indian Army. A number of his relatives and descendants served in the Regiment, notably Field Marshal Sir Claud Jacob, Lieutenant-Colonel John Jacob and Brigadier Arthur Legrand Jacob, Claud's brother. As commander of the Scinde Irregular Horse, Jacob had become increasingly frustrated with the inferior weapons issued to his Indian cavalrymen. Being a wealthy man, he spent many years and much money on developing the perfect weapon for his 'sowars'. He eventually produced the rifle that bears his name. It could be sighted to 2000 yards (1 830m), and fire explosive bullets designed to destroy artillery limbers. It also sported a 30 inch (76,2cm) bayonet based on the Scottish claymore.

Jacob was an opinionated man who chose to ignore changing trends in firearm development, and he adopted a pattern of rifling that was both obsolete and troublesome. Nevertheless, his influence was such that during the Mutiny he was permitted to arm a new regiment with his design of carbine. It was named Jacob's Rifles.

Orders for the manufacture of the carbine and bayonet were placed in Britain, and all was set for its demonstration when Jacob died. In the hope the East India Company would honour the order, production continued for a little over a year. This gun is overall in super condition with excellent action. A most rare and highly desirable gun indeed, a super gentleman and officer's example. We show in the gallery a photo of a most similar Jacob's military rifle [in it's case with accessories] to compare the two side by side, this is for comparison information only. As with all our antique guns no license is required as they are all unrestricted antique collectables

Code: 20842

5750.00 GBP


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A Rare WW1 Russian Romanov Era Poster of Czar Nicolas IInd Period

With stunning artistry. Showing a monoplane crashing into a Zeppelin and the men jumping for their lives. Published date of 1914. Early Russian posters are now becoming extraordinarily collectable. Another poster for the Battleship Potemkin Russian movie, designed by the Stenberg brothers in 1925, sold in November 2012 for 103,250 Pounds Sterling at Christies Auction in London. It arranged class elements into a powerful design of revolutionary upheaval. Approx 21 inches x 15.75 inches sold unmounted, but shown framed

Code: 18204

475.00 GBP


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A Very Good WW2 Japanese Kaiten Tanto With Fine Hamon

A traditional seppuku [suicide] dagger in shira saya [standard wooden mounting]. With a very good notare hamon and good kissaki turn back. Full hi to one side, and typical yakideshi hamon end. Nicely aged tang with early hand punched mekugi ana. The very type as were given to the WW2 Zero pilots on their Kamikaze suicide missions, and also given to Kaiten pilots, [the Japanese navy's one man human torpedoes]. Blade wartime period, traditionally made period. A must have piece, for collectors of fine Samurai edged weapons, who have yet to gain one of these most interesting daggers for their collection. Photo in the gallery shows a WW2 'Kamikaze' pilot being issued his suicide Seppuku tanto in the Kaiten ceremony. Originally they would have had an exterior brown leather cover and neck strap. The pilot had the choice whether to commit suicide, or not. It was not an order, nor directive and if the pilot missed the ship he had the option of killing himself to ask forgiveness of the honourable ancestors for his failure, as many of the planes had only enough fuel for a one way trip. Because the Zero pilot was belted into a very narrow seat and wearing many layers of his cold atmospheric pilot's flying suit with the addition of his life vest; it would be impossible for the aeronautical pilot to commit traditional ritual seppuku. It is said the procedure was to pull the knife out from it's neck sheath and thrust it straight into the throat much like the ladies form of seppuku. Blade has pewter habaki and plain shira saya. Very small pitting area at front tip one side 6.25 inch blade from hilt to tip

Code: 20164

895.00 GBP


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A Superb & Rare Royal Naval Officer's Sword 1805 Pattern

Particularly rare Nelson period Royal Naval junior officer's sword as it was commissioned for its officer in Jamaica, for an officer that served from Port Royal, the Caribbean Royal Naval port, in Jamaica, the centre of the Royal Navy in the Caribbean from 1713 to 1905. Jamaican made Royal Naval swords from the era of Nelson are as rare as hen's teeth. Port Royal has an incredible maritime history, possibly the most famous of the maritime world, and at the very heart of the notorious piracy conducted in the Caribbean, Port Royal provided a safe harbour initially for privateers and subsequently for pirates plying the shipping lanes to and from Spain and Panama. Buccaneers found Port Royal appealing for several reasons. Its proximity to trade routes allowed them easy access to prey, but the most important advantage was the port's proximity to several of the only safe passages or straits giving access to the Spanish Main from the Atlantic. The harbour was large enough to accommodate their ships and provided a place to careen and repair these vessels. It was also ideally situated for launching raids on Spanish settlements. From Port Royal, Christopher Myngs sacked Campeche and Henry Morgan attacked Panama, Portobello, and Maracaibo. Additionally, buccaneers Roche Brasiliano, John Davis and Edward Mansvelt used Port Royal as a base of operations.

Since the English lacked sufficient troops to prevent either the Spanish or French from seizing it, the Jamaican governors eventually turned to the pirates to defend the city. By the 1660s the city had, for some, become a pirate utopia and had gained a reputation as the "Sodom of the New World", where most residents were pirates, cutthroats, or prostitutes. When Charles Leslie wrote his history of Jamaica, he included a description of the pirates of Port Royal:

Wine and women drained their wealth to such a degree that [...] some of them became reduced to beggary. They have been known to spend 2 or 3,000 pieces of eight in one night; and one gave a strumpet 500 to see her naked. They used to buy a pipe of wine, place it in the street, and oblige everyone that passed to drink.

The taverns of Port Royal were known for their excessive consumption of alcohol such that records even exist of the wild animals of the area partaking in the debauchery. During a passing visit, famous Dutch explorer Jan van Riebeeck is said to have described the scenes:

The parrots of Port Royal gather to drink from the large stocks of ale with just as much alacrity as the drunks that frequent the taverns that serve it.

There is even speculation in pirate folklore that the infamous Blackbeard (Edward Teach) met a howler monkey, while at leisure in a Port Royal alehouse, whom he named Jefferson and formed a strong bond with during the expedition to the island of New Providence. Recent genealogical research indicates that Blackbeard and his family moved to Jamaica where Edward Thatch, Jr. is listed as being a mariner in the Royal Navy aboard HMS Windsor in 1706. Port Royal benefited from this lively, glamorous infamy and grew to be one of the two largest towns and the most economically important port in the English colonies. At the height of its popularity, the city had one drinking house for every 10 residents. In July 1661 alone, 40 new licenses were granted to taverns. During a 20-year period that ended in 1692, nearly 6,500 people lived in Port Royal. In addition to prostitutes and buccaneers, there were four goldsmiths, 44 tavern keepers, and a variety of artisans and merchants who lived in 2,000 buildings crammed into 51 acres (21 ha) of real estate. 213 ships visited the seaport in 1688. The city's wealth was so great that coins were preferred for payment over the more common system of bartering goods for services.

Following Henry Morgan's appointment as lieutenant governor, Port Royal began to change. Pirates were no longer needed to defend the city. The selling of slaves took on greater importance. Upstanding citizens disliked the reputation the city had acquired. In 1687, Jamaica passed anti-piracy laws. Consequently, instead of being a safe haven for pirates, Port Royal became noted as their place of execution. Gallows Point welcomed many to their death, including Charles Vane and Calico Jack, who were hanged in 1720. About five months later, the famous woman pirate Mary Read died in the Jamaican prison in Port Royal. Two years later, 41 pirates met their death in one month. From 1735, Port Royal once more became the focus of the Admiralty's attention. New wharves and storehouses were built at this time, as well as housing for the officers of the Yard. Over the next thirty years, more facilities were added: cooperages, workshops, sawpits, and accommodation (including a canteen) for the crews of ships being careened there. A Royal Naval Hospital was also established on land a little to the west of the Naval Yard; and by the end of the 18th century a small Victualling Yard had been added to the east (prior to this ships had had to go to Kingston and other settlements to take on supplies)

Code: 23397

2650.00 GBP


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A Very Fine 9mm US Civil War Period Presentation Quality Revolver

High deluxe quality engraved and ivory mounted examples of this form of revolver were more often the revolver of choice when presented to American Generals, of both protagonists, in the American Civil War. General Stonewall General was known to have had at least two. The 12mm revolver features total coverage of intricate vine and leaf motifs. The revolver is finished with its original two-piece ivory grips featuring escutcheons around the screws and a lanyard ring on the butt.
Lovely condition for age with aged polish patination throughout. The cylinder and frame are fully engraved to match. The grip strap and trigger guard are similarly engraved. The grips are good and have taken on a pleasant mellow aged patina. This is without doubt the revolver for an officer of the highest possible status. This revolver uses a "pinfire" cartridge developed by Casimir Lefaucheux in 1823 from Paris. The then-innovative design called for the hammer to strike the pin from above, to which the pin would ignite the internal primer and powder, thus discharging the projectile ball. This action, in effect, closed the breech. Pinfire revolvers went on to see extensive use throughout Europe until being replaced by more centrefire-types. The Lefaucheux's cartridge became the first efficient self-contained cartridge. Continental import pinfire revolver pistols were very popular indeed during the Civil War and the Wild West [but very expensive] as they took the all new pinfire cartridge, which revolutionised the way revolvers operated, as compared to the old fashioned percussion action. In fact, while the percussion cap & ball guns were still in production [such as made by Remington, Colt and Starr] and being used in the American Civil War, the much more efficient and faster pinfire guns [that were only made from 1861] were the fourth most popular gun chosen in the US, by those that could afford them, during the war. General Stonewall Jackson was presented with two deluxe pinfire pistols with ivory grips, and many other famous personalities of the war similarly used them. The American makers could not possibly fulfil all the arms contracts that were needed to supply the war machine, especially by the non industrialised Confederate Southern States. So, London made guns were purchased, by contract, by the London Arms Company in great quantities, as the procurement for the war in America was very profitable indeed. They were despatched out in the holds of hundreds of British merchant ships. First of all, the gun and sword laden vessels would attempt to break the blockades, surrounding the Confederate ports, as the South were paying four times or more the going rate for arms, but, if the blockade proved to be too efficient, the ships would then proceed on to the Union ports, [such as in New York] where the price paid was still excellent, but only around double the going rate. This pistol is holster size, and is the very type that was so popular, as a fast and efficient personal revolver by many of the officers of both the US and the CSA armies and by gamblers and n'ear do wells in the Wild West. 9mm cal. As with all our antique guns no license is required as they are all unrestricted antique collectables. No ejector

Code: 23395

1925.00 GBP


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A Stunning Battle of Trafalgar Period Royal Naval Senior Officer's Sword

A stunning 1805 pattern Royal Naval combat weight sword commonly known as the admiral’s pattern, the very same form of sword as was carried by Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar
Lions-head pommel, wire bound ivory grip symbolising highest naval rank and two engraved traditional fouled anchor langets, fully deluxe engraved with King George IIIrd cypher, plus scrolls.

In 1805, the Royal Navy decided to introduce some uniformity in the swords carried by it's officers and issued it's first regulation pattern sword. It was the hilt was influenced by the 1803 Infantry sabre which started to be used by Naval and Royal Marine officers. However a straight blade was settled upon, along with a cavalry style stirrup hilt. Although officially adopted in 1805 there were certainly numerous examples made in the 5 to 10 years prior to the official 1805 date of its pattern.

Ever at the forefront of military fashion, Lord Horatio Nelson would have been one of the first to adopt the new pattern and after his death in the famous Battle of Trafalgar, his 1805 pattern sword was returned to England with the rest of his belongings. Today his 1805 sword is on display at the Nelson Museum.The Battle of Trafalgar (21 October 1805) was a naval engagement fought by the British Royal Navy against the combined fleets of the French and Spanish Navies during the War of the Third Coalition (August–December 1805) of the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815).

As part of an overall French plan to combine all French and allied fleets to take control of the English Channel and thus enable Napoleon's Grande Armée to invade England, French and Spanish fleets under French Admiral Villeneuve sailed from the port of Cádiz in the south of Spain on 18 October 1805. They encountered the British fleet under Admiral Lord Nelson, recently assembled to meet this threat, in the Atlantic Ocean along the southwest coast of Spain, off Cape Trafalgar, near the town of Los Caños de Meca. Villeneuve was uncertain about engaging the British, and the Franco-Spanish fleet failed to fully organise. In contrast, Nelson was decisive, organising the British fleet into two columns sailing straight into the enemy to pierce its wavering lines.

In a particularly fierce battle, 27 British ships of the line fought 33 French and Spanish ships of the line. Although the lead ships of the British columns were heavily battered, with Nelson's flagship HMS Victory nearly disabled, the greater experience and training of the Royal Navy overcame the greater numbers of the French and Spanish navies. The Franco-Spanish fleet lost 22 ships; the British lost none. During the battle, Nelson was shot by a French musketeer, and he died shortly before the battle ended. Villeneuve was captured along with his flagship Bucentaure. He later attended Nelson's funeral while a captive on parole in Britain. Admiral Federico Gravina, the senior Spanish flag officer, escaped capture with the remnant of the fleet. He died five months later from the wounds he had sustained during the battle.

The victory confirmed the naval supremacy Britain had established during the course of the eighteenth century, and was achieved in part through Nelson's departure from the prevailing naval tactical orthodoxy of the day. Conventional battle practice at the time was for opposing fleets to engage each other in single parallel lines, in order to facilitate signalling and disengagement and to maximize fields of fire and target areas. Nelson instead arranged his ships into columns sailing perpendicularly into the enemy fleet's line. Bright polished blade with areas of old pitting. No scabbard

Code: 23396

1950.00 GBP


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