Swords and knives with Del Mar


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18 December 2018
knife_web-00416.jpg The attractive knife that went big at auction
Thomas Del Mar’s auction on 5 December offered a broad range of material from private sources that attracted the attention of their long standing clients as well as a number of new faces to the pre-sale exhibition.

Thomas Del Mar’s auction on 5 December offered a broad range of material from private sources that attracted the attention of their long standing clients as well as a number of new faces to the pre-sale exhibition.  

There were a many strong results of interest, such as a Siamese niello and silver-gilt mounted sword that achieved a price of £52,088 (including premium) to a private buyer. The sword was both rare and in excellent condition which drove this price up considerably and the comparison made in the catalogue to a similar sword presented to President James Buchannan by King Mongkut of Siam in 1861 almost certainly contributed to its interest. The extremely cautious estimate of £500-£700 was far exceeded and surprised the auctioneers as well as a number of established collectors and dealers of South East Asian weapons.

A Coorg gold-hilted knife (Ayda Katti) with an inscription for Ling Rajender Wadeer, Raja of Coorg, dated for 1808/10 achieved a price of £11,160 (including premium) against an estimate of £6,000-£9,000.  Though it had a somewhat brutal, cleaver-like appearance, the finely worked precious metal hilt was of exceptional form and elegance. The catalogue noted that Lingra Jender Wadeer, Raja of Coorg, was known for his warmth towards the English as the following account of 1815 shows:  ‘... on my return from the Travancore country, I passed through the territories of the Raja of Coorg from whom I met with a very hospital reception. He is extremely fond of the English; assists them in every way in passing through his country and will not suffer them to pay for anything. He has built an elegant house at his capital, and furnished it entirely in European style for their accommodation. He dresses frequently in the English style; and instead of indulging in luxury and dissipation, as Eastern princes are apt to do, he has made it his study to excel in all sorts of manly exercises. He is extremely fond of hunting... rides elegantly and is perfect master of the use of the spear.’

The European section of the sale had some highlights driven, as ever, by rarity and provenance, as was the case with English or Flemish close helmet of c. 1560.  While this was of fairly conventional form it was in completely untouched condition and notably heavier than other examples. Furthermore it had a provenance placing it in the ownership of Sir William ffarington in the 18th century.  A number of collectors were impressed by this and, underpinned by trade bidders, it was sold to a private collector for £13,640 (including buyers premium).

The second part of the collection of the late James D Lavin was well received as one might expect of firearms collected by the pre-eminent specialist on the subject.  The Spanish pistols were very well received with a Catalan miquelet-lock stocked entirely in brass of the late 17th century achieving a price of £3,720 (including premium) and an early miquelet-lock pistol of c. 1645 with iron mounts emulating contemporary Brescian work achieved a price of £4,340 (including buyer's premium).  

Within the English firearms part of the sale a fine cased pair of 16-bore percussion officer's pistols by Westley Richards, no. 189, dating to 1840 from the Peter Wainwright Collection, sold for an impressive £11,160 against an estimate of £5,000-£8,000. They were in excellent, perhaps unfired, condition and were sold together with an Authentication Certificate from Westley Richards and a copy of the original ledger entry stating that they were completed for stock on 30 November 1840.  

Thomas Del Mar commented after the sale, “We were very pleased with the sale overall, internet bidding continues to be lively, as do the more traditional forms of telephone, commission and live bidding. We are looking forward to our next auction on 26 June 2019.”

Thomas del Mar is also pleased to announce the Fourth Antique Arms fair incorporating the Park Lane Arms Fair will be held on 2 March at Pillar Hall, Olympia. Readers wishing to attend can order tickets at www.antiquearmsfair.com

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