A Magnificent Ancient Nambokochu Samurai Tachi, 1375 of The Bessho ClanA simply glorious and ancient sword around 650 years old, and worthy of any museum grade display. Beautiful blade showing a typical early narrow hamon line, and at the kissaki it is at the very edge in the midsection of the curve. Stunning Edo period tachi koshirae [fittings], decorated in fine pure gold lacquer dragon on a black lacquer ground. The fittings bear the clan mon of the Bessho, and one of it's notable heroes was Sengoku daimyo, Bessho Nagaharu who committed seppuku on February 2, 1580. There is a picture in the gallery of Bessho Nagaharu painted by Yosiiku [for information only] Please note he wears over his armour a silk half robe that is decorated with the dragon his favourite symbol as shown on the sword décor. The lacquer dragon on the saya is executed with sublime skill and a fabulous example of the art of the sword makers. The saya fittings are superbly inlaid with pure gold dragons.
Bessho Nagaharu was born in 1558 in modern day Hyogo Prefecture, the son of local daimyo, Bessho Yasuharu. He became head of the clan in 1570 with the death of his father.
Nagaharu was 20 years old when Oda Nobunaga sent his troops to subjugate the region. Under Nobunaga’s orders, Hashiba Hideyoshi (later to be known as Toyotomi Hideyoshi) had taken much of Harima with very little military action, relying on political maneuvering to claim the territory. One by one the daimyo succumbed to Hideyoshi’s charmed offerings, however Bessho Nagaharu’s uncle, Bessho Yoshichika felt greatly insulted at having to bow to the common born Hideyoshi. He convinced Nagaharu to refuse Hideyoshi, and instead allied his clan with the leader of the Hatano clan, Hatano Hideharu of Tamba (modern-day east Hyogo and parts of Kyoto). Bessho and his men soon entrenched themselves in Miki Castle. The Bessho forces managed to repel Hideyoshi at first, and so Hideyoshi ordered the smaller surrounding castles be attacked first, cutting off all supply routes. Bessho had prepared well. Miki Castle was stocked with supplies, and later received further essential supplies secreted in by the Mori Naval forces.
The siege lasted almost 3 years, from May 5, 1578 until February 2, 1580. A number of break-outs were recorded, with Nagaharu’s younger brother, Harusada being captured and killed during one such attempt.
Miki Castle was close to falling when Bessho Nagaharu committed seppuku in order to end the siege and save the lives of the samurai within Miki Castle. Some of the samurai then turned on Nagaharu’s uncle, Bessho Yoshichika, for having caused the siege, and killed him.A tachi was a type of traditionally made Japanese sword (nihonto) worn by the samurai class of feudal Japan. The tachi style of swords preceded the development of the katana — the first use of the word katana to indicate a blade different from tachi appears toward the end of the twelfth century. In later Japanese feudal history, during the Sengoku and Edo periods, certain high-ranking warriors of what became the ruling class would wear their sword tachi-style (edge-downward), rather than with the saya (scabbard) thrust through the belt with the edge upward. The bakuhan taisei was the feudal political system in the Edo period of Japan. Baku, or "tent," is an abbreviation of bakufu, meaning "military government" — that is, the shogunate. The han were the domains headed by daimyo.
Code: 20167Price: 8850.00 GBP
A Late Edo Period Japanese Shikome-Zue SwordstickA strong and stout piece of super quality without being too heavy. In the 1870's the Meiji Emperor disbanded the fuedal samurai order and banned the wearing of the sword. This created much unrest between the samurai and the government and some samurai moved to carrying shikome-zue [a disguised sword stick]. Therefore, via a circuitous route, they still remain armed, but with their katana hidden from view. But by that way they felt, least in part, their honour remained intact. The blade is ken, very straight, somewhat in the ancient Heian style of 900ad. The stick is fully and superbly fully hand veneered with cherry bark to simulate a Japanese cherry tree stem, and so well executed as to appear absolutely natural, using part layers of cherry bark with areas of similated flaking. It is an extraordinary and typical feature of Japanese art and culture, that an incredible amount of time and expense will be consumed in the excecution of an art form, to exactly simulate a very readily found natural product. To have used simply an original tree stem would have been a ten times easier and far less expensive. We have and have had shikome-zue that have traditional but early blades, some over 500 years old. This example though is a 19th century example, and therefore less expensive than the much earlier swords, but still very fine.
Code: 20166Price: 1395.00 GBP
A Silver Mounted Sword With French Napoleonic Blade InscriptionCalled, in the French Napoleonic era, a 'Sabre d'Officier a Monture a L'Orientale'. A delightful Napoleonic wars sword, from the early 19th century, with rare all silver mounts from the Arabian Peninsular. The blade is inscribed Manufacture Nationale, Coulax or Charleville?. It is difficult to interpret the latter inscription as it is now partly too worn. After Napoleon's Egypt Campaign that ended in 1801 many Napoleonic officer's adopted the so-called oriental mounted swords captured from the Egyptian Marmalukes that eventually became part of Napoleons Imperial Garde. These swords, in their turn, were captured by the British and similarly adopted as a form of highly favoured officers sword. In fact the mamaluke sabre became the British General's pattern sword that is still in use today. Several of these swords were part of a Sotheby's Napoleonic Wars auction in Monaco in 1990, titled "Belles Armes Anciennes Casques et Objects Militaires". In 1803, the Mamluks were organized into a company attached to the Chasseurs a Cheval of the Imperial Guard.
Mamluks fought well at Battle of Austerlitz on December 2, 1805…and the regiment was granted a standard.
With the First Restoration, the company of the Mamluks of the Imperial Guard was incorporated into the Corps Royal des Chasseurs de France. The Mamluks of the Young Guard were incorporated in the 7th Chasseurs a Cheval. The Napoleonic period was an extremely complicated time. Moral right and wrong are hard to distinguish: Napoleon was a dictator, but not a particularly evil one. He encouraged many developments we today consider quite positive. The Napoleonic Wars were instigated by France, but each nation fought to protect and expand its own national interest. The wars were punctuated by constantly shifting alliances. Sometimes Prussia fought France, and sometimes it was neutral. Austria, led by the crafty Metternich, tried to improve relations with France towards the end the Napoleonic era. Russia initially opposed Napoleon, then sided with him, and then turned against him again. The only constant through the fifteen years of Napoleon's rule was the continued enmity between England and France. Napoleon—and Hitler—are famously known to have met with the reversal of their fortunes through invading Russia. Yet, in both cases, the wealth and resources of the British played a major role in their downfall. Despite Britain’s comparatively small population and territorial base, it alone among European countries was able to fight Napoleon nonstop (except for the short Peace of Amiens from 1802-1803, Britain was at war with France from 1793-1815 while other states alternated between war, peace, and alliance with France). The blade is covered in old storage grease that should remove nicely. Quillon finial lacking to one side.
Code: 20165Price: 2495.00 GBP
A Very Good WW2 Japanese Kaiten Tanto With Fine HamonA 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: 20164Price: 895.00 GBP
A Simply Glorious Antique Scottish Solid Silver & Gem Stone Mounted Dirk.By R.W. Forsyth of Edinburgh & Glasgow, hallmarked Edinburgh silver, dated 1911. A truly exceptional antique piece from one of the great Edinburgh retailers. The quality of the silver workmanship and engraving is as fine as one would expect, the Celtic etching to be blade, a trademark of Forsyth's finest deluxe grade blades, is in superb condition, and overall is in as near mint an example as one can possibly hope for in a functional, Scottish Highlanders dress weapon. The gemstones set in the dirk are always referred to as Cairngorms, the traditional Scottish quartz mined in the Cairngorms, but are often actually citrines and it can be difficult to tell.? Cairngorm is the traditional name given to varieties of quartz from the mountainous regions of Scotland. Prehistoric peoples must have been aware of these gems and they have been well documented from the medieval period onwards. A quartz crystal, crudely polished and fashioned was often considered to be a talisman, and many Highland clans owned such stones, which were believed to have magical or healing properties.
The colour ranges from clear quartz (crystal) through yellow (citrine) and brown hues to dark brown, and even opaque black (morion) varieties. They were quarried out of the granite and collected from the 18th century onwards for traditional Scottish jewellery, and then mounted by the silversmiths of Inverness, Aberdeen, Perth, Edinburgh and Glasgow. They were set as plaid brooches often mixed with Scottish agates and jaspers in beautiful and desirable designs. Dirks, skean dhus, kilt pins, snuff mulls and other collectables are examples of the work of Scottish craftsmen which may be found. The Highland Dirk was used in combat in conjunction with the targe [shield] and basket hilted sword, and together they made the Scottish Highlander a most fearsome foe of worldwide renown. Dirks in the 19th century became far more fancy with exotic fittings and accessories, but in the original earliest days they had intricate carving and fine blades but overall were far simpler.
Code: 20163Price: 2300.00 GBP
A Most Rare 1770's George IIIrd Royal Naval Officers Sword-HangerThe lion's head pommel hanger made in the 1770's is one of the most identifiable swords of the third quarter of the 18th century. Used in the American War of Independence and the wars against France in the late 1770's, Spain in the 1780's and later with France into the 1790's. However, with the cast anchor emblem within the knucklebow this is one of the earliest Royal Naval swords, depicting the anchor symbol we have seen. We are all too familiar today with British naval swords embellished with traditional anchor symbols but this feature was most rare in the 18th century, and more usually only seen from the 1790's onwards. The grip is covered in sharkskin, in a spiral form, with a stripe of copper within the spiral. Sabre blade maker stamped by Osborne. This is likely Henry Osborn of Birmingham. This sword may easliy have seen service use by an officer during two example battles of it's time of use. The Battles of Chesapeake and St. Vincent. The Battle of the Chesapeake, also known as the Battle of the Virginia Capes or simply the Battle of the Capes, was a crucial naval battle in the American War of Independence that took place near the mouth of Chesapeake Bay on 5 September 1781, between a British fleet led by Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Graves and a French fleet led by Rear Admiral Francois Joseph Paul, the Comte de Grasse. Although tactically indecisive, the battle was strategically decisive, since it prevented the Royal Navy from reinforcing or evacuating the forces of Lieutenant General Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia. When the French were able to achieve control of the sea lanes against the British, the result was the reinforcement of the Franco-American army with siege artillery and French reinforcements—all of which proved decisive in the Siege of Yorktown, effectively securing independence for the Thirteen Colonies. The British fleet's arrival in New York set off a flurry of panic amongst the Loyalist population. The news of the defeat was also not received well in London. King George III wrote (well before learning of Cornwallis's surrender) that "after the knowledge of the defeat of our fleet […] I nearly think the empire ruined."
The French success left them firmly in control of Chesapeake Bay, completing the encirclement of Cornwallis. In addition to capturing a number of smaller British vessels, de Grasse and Barras assigned their smaller vessels to assist in the transport of Washington's and Rochambeau's forces from Head of Elk to Yorktown. The Battle of Cape St. Vincent was a naval battle that took place off the southern coast of Portugal on 16 January 1780 during the Anglo-Spanish War. A British fleet under Admiral Sir George Rodney defeated a Spanish squadron under Don Juan de Lángara. The battle is sometimes referred to as the Moonlight Battle because it was unusual for naval battles in the Age of Sail to take place at night. It was also the first major naval victory for the British over their European enemies in the war and proved the value of copper-sheathing the hulls of warships.
Admiral Rodney was escorting a fleet of supply ships to relieve the Spanish siege of Gibraltar with a fleet of about twenty ships of the line when he encountered Lángara's squadron south of Cape St. Vincent. When Lángara saw the size of the British fleet, he attempted to make for the safety of Cádiz, but the copper-sheathed British ships chased his fleet down. In a running battle that lasted from mid-afternoon until after midnight, the British captured four Spanish ships, including Lángara's flagship. Two other ships were also captured, but their final disposition is unclear; some Spanish sources indicate they were retaken by their Spanish crews, while Rodney's report indicates the ships were grounded and destroyed.
Code: 20162Price: 1650.00 GBP
A Very Good Zulu War, Victorian, British Royal Engineers Officer's SwordThis sword is absolutely beautiful and in superb order for age with just a few hand to hand combat impacts to the hilt, with just a few small combat dents in the scabbard. The same pattern of sword used by Lt. Chard, hero and VC winner of Rorke's Drift fame, of the Zulu War 1879. Chard and his brother engineers officers, from 1857, used this specifically designed Royal Engineers pattern sword, and it is identical to the one shown held by Lt.Chard in the photograph that we in the gallery [for information only]. A very scarce pattern of Victorian officer's sword, it has a pierced scrolling honeysuckle pattern guard, in copper gilt, of immense beauty, and it is, simply, one of the most beautiful swords carried by officers in the Victorian era or of any other era in fact. It has a fine combat weight blade, with full etching of Queen Victoria's cypher to both sides of the blade. After his death, he bequethed his sword to his brother, the Reverend Chard, and the sword was later presented to the Corps of Engineers, and it now resides in the Royal Engineers Museum at Chatham. His medals, subsequent to his death, disappeared. It is speculated, if ever found, his VC medal group, as the joint most famous [alongside Lt Bromhead's] could, potentially, be the most valuable group of medals in the world. For his command and outstanding bravery at Rorkes Drift in the Zulu War of 1879. For his services at Rorke's Drift, Lieutenant Chard was promoted to Captain and Brevet Major. He was also awarded the Victoria Cross. The award citation covered both Chard and Bromhead: 'For gallant conduct at the Defence of Rorke's Drift, 22nd and 23rd January 1879. The Lieutenant-General reports that had it not been for the example and excellent behaviour of Lieutenants Chard, Royal Engineers, and Bromhead, 24th Regiment, the defence of Rorke's Drift would not have been conducted with the intelligence and tenacity which so eminently characterised it. The Lieutenant-General adds, that the success must in a great measure be attributable to the two young officers who exercised the chief command on the occasion in question.
Code: 20161Price: 1595.00 GBP
A Very Good King George IIIrd Brass Barrel Officers Flintlock PistolBy Davidson & Co. of London. All brass engraved furniture including a finely executed pineapple finial trigger guard. The history of the pineapple in British history is most fascinating. It was brought to England through the likes of Capt. Cook and they represented the pinnacle of wealth, status and achievement. They were represented in architecture on buildings, and monuments, used as embellishment in trophies and household silver, and décor on furniture porcelain and flintlocks. They were so valuable in the 18th century that they could be rented for an evening to display [not to eat] on a dining table for the enjoyment and to impress ones dinner guests. Brass barrels and gun furniture was the deluxe option for pistols and guns and were similarly an expensive alternative to regular steel barrels and mounts. The all brass mounted pistols were often the weapon of choice for British naval officer's due to the corrosive nature of sea spray on steel mounted pistols, similarly as Royal Naval ship's blunderbusses tended to bear brass rather that steel barrels. Firearms, using some form of flintlock mechanism, were the main form of firearm for over 200 years. Not until the Reverend Alexander John Forsyth invented a rudimentary percussion cap system in 1807 did the flintlock system begin to decline in popularity. The percussion ignition system was more weatherproof and reliable than the flintlock, but the transition from flintlock to percussion cap was a slow one, and the percussion system was not widely used until around 1830. This is truly a delightful piece. 9 inch barrel, overall 14.5 inches.
Code: 20159Price: 1895.00 GBP
A Rare Elizabethan English Cutlass With Carved Grotesque Head PommelA fine and rare Tudor sword Circa 1590. Carved hardwood hilt with spiral grip and open mouthed grotesque head pommel. A wide grooved bladed cutlass with flower head armourers marks stamped throughout the length of the blade on both sides. Steel downturned quillons with two pomegranate shaped knops. In the form of a stout hunting sword. Some years ago we had an Elizabethan grotesque head sword with elements of similarity from the late Claude Blair Collection, keeper of metalwork to the Victoria and Albert Museum.
In Tudor England swords of this form were dominant in hunting.
Hunting was one of the most popular sports enjoyed by the Elizabethan nobility. Hunting had always been enjoyed and encouraged in England as it provided training for war because of the knowledge of tracking skills, weapon usage, horsemanship, and courage that were all required. Both men and women frequently engaged in hunting together from the earliest days, and quite a variety of animals found living wild in England were hunted. There were different types of hunts which were therefore more suited to either men or women.
'At Force' hunts were the most strenuous form. The 'At Force' hunts were designed for fit, young and very active men, and involved considerable risk.
As the name suggests there were many huntsmen involved and they arranged themselves into teams. Dogs often accompanied the huntsmen. The British wild boar was an extremely dangerous animal and would be the main choice of prey for this type of hunt. The teams would chase the prey to near exhaustion or would corner the animal just before the 'kill', using a hunting sword for the coup de grace. The hunting sword in the next century from the time of King Charles became very popular with senior naval officer's, captains and admirals due its most convenient size when used aboard ship in hand to hand combat during boarding affrays.
Code: 20158Price: 1495.00 GBP
A Fine Spanish 17th Century Bilbo Rapier. Armourers Marked BladeA most attractive rapier of the Iberian Peninsular circa 1660. Most elegant long thin blade with central deep fuller struck with armourers letter marks S. AHC. V.M. plus three armourers stamps. Typical mid 16th to 17th century ribbed egg shaped pommel, somewhat more similar to the form of a guillemot egg than a barnyard fowl. This sword appears to be the direct ancestor of many Spanish Military heavy cavalry swords of the 18th century. There is a fabulous portrait of Fernandez de Velasco, gentleman of Seville, painted in 1659, by the Spanish master, Bartolome Esteban Murillo hanging in the Louvre collection in Paris, wearing his Spanish bilbo rapier. In fact with the appearance of such a near identical example that this could even possibly be the very sword itself. The Rapier or Espada Ropera, is a loose term for a type of slender, sharply pointed sword. With such designing features, rapier is optimized to be a thrusting weapon, but cutting or slashing attacks were also recorded in some historical treatises like Capo Ferro's Gran Simulacro in 1610. This weapon was mainly used in Early Modern Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries. The word "rapier" generally refers to a relatively long-bladed sword characterized by a protective hilt which is constructed to provide protection for the hand wielding the sword. Some historical rapier samples also feature a broad blade mounted on a typical rapier hilt. The term rapier can be confusing because this hybrid weapon can be categorized as a type of broadsword. While the rapier blade might be broad enough to cut to some degree (but nowhere near that of the wider swords in use around the Middle Ages such as the longsword), it is designed to perform quick and nimble thrusting attacks. The blade might be sharpened along its entire length or sharpened only from the center to the tip (as described by Capoferro). Pallavicini a rapier master in 1670, strongly advocated using a weapon with two cutting edges. The word "rapier" is a German word to describe what was considered to be a foreign weapon. The word rapier was not used by Italian, Spanish, and French masters during the apogee of this weapon, the terms spada, espada, and épée being instead the norm (generic words for "sword"). Because of this, as well as the great variation of late-16th and 17th century swords, some like Leoni simply describe the rapier as a straight-bladed, two-edged, single-handed sword of that period which is sufficient in terms of both offense and defence, not requiring a companion weapon.
Code: 20157Price: 3650.00 GBP
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