A rare silver-mounted sabre that was gifted to a British officer for his success in suppressing a siege in Lucknow during India’s 1857 rebellion is among a series of historic weapons to go under the hammer at an auction in London next month.
The sabre, or a curved sword, has been identified as a gift to a British officer for his success in suppressing a siege in Lucknow during what India describes its First War of Independence and the British underplayed as a sepoy mutiny in 1857.
It is estimated to fetch between £2,000 (Rs 2,0,000) and £3,000 (Rs 3,00,000).
“The sabre features a curved bright single-edged shamshir blade incised with a heart-shaped mark on one side of the forte above an etched panel containing a laurel wreath and inscribed ‘Indian Mutiny’,” a Bonhams auction house statement said.
“The hilt’s form is that of a bearded merman wearing a plumed helmet and armed with a shield and falchion held aloft, the former with a sun-in-splendour within a beaded border, his tunic is carved in dark horn with ivory buttons and engraved silver collar. The sabre is sold with its original wooden scabbard covered in blue velvet,” it adds.
History identifies the sabre as a gift presented to Field Marshal Sir Colin Campbell, 1st Baron Clyde GCB, KCSI (1792-1663), who was commander in chief of the relief operation to free the city of Lucknow from the control of the “mutineers”.
Besides this silver centrepiece, the range of weapons on offer at the Bonhams Arms and Armour sale on July 23 will also include an Indian silver-gilt sabre from Kutch, a 19th century Indian dhaal or shield, a rare Indian calligraphic war helmet as well as a 17th century Indian shamshir.
“These weapons are all of great historic interest and offer all the value of quality, condition, rarity and provenance which will help them to retain their value. And as ever with such weapons the workmanship shows off the art of their makers to great effect. They are as much decorative works of art as weaponry,” explains David Williams, director of Antique Arms and Armour at Bonhams.
A Chinese cannon captured during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900 (by the vendor’s father) is another interesting item in the sale which includes over 400 items from around the world. This Chinese bronze cannon carries an inscription which says it was made in the 21st year of the Daoguang Reign which corresponds to 1841 and is estimated to sell for £2,000 to £3,000.
Image (above): The hilt of the sword shows a bearded merman wearing a plumed helmet and armed with a shield and falchion held aloft. Photograph: Bonhams