Rare 18th Century sword sells for £14,000 at Yorkshire saleroom

The rare Indian sword which sold for �14,000.
The rare Indian sword which sold for �14,000.

A rare late 18th Century sword, an Indian Shamshir, sold for £14,000 (plus buyer’s premium) in Tennants Auctioneers’ Militaria and Ethnographica Sale in their North Yorkshire salerooms yesterday.

The beautifully decorated sword had a curved Wootz blade, a jade hilt – the pommel carved as a ram’s head with a ruby and gold eye – and a silver cross guard with enamel decoration in an embroidered velvet scabbard.

Beckwith's pistol.

Beckwith's pistol.

The sword was possibly made under the influence of Claude Martin of the Lucknow Arsenal.

Frenchman Claude Martin was a Major-General in the British East India Company, a self-made man who had risen through the ranks to become an integral part of the ruling elite of Lucknow.

A polymath, Martin amassed a massive fortune and collections of fine art and antiques, whose fortune was used after his death for the benefit and education of the poor.

The sword was part of a Private Collection of Arms and Militaria, which reached a total hammer price of £45,600 for the 42 lots.

Other desirable items for the collection included an 18th Century Indian Shamshir/Talwar, which sold for £4,500 (plus bp), a late 18th Century Persian Shamshir, which also sold for £4,500 and an 18th Century Indo-Persian Matchlock Rampart Gun, which sold for £2,900 (plus bp).

Also drawing much attention in the sale was an early 19th Century Officer’s Flintlock Pistol, which was carried at Waterloo by William Beckwith of Trimdon, County Durham, when he served with the 16th Light Dragoon.

Selling for £3,500 (plus buyer’s premium), the pistol was made by John Prosser of London and was carried by Beckwith into battle.

Both Beckwith and the pistol survived the 1815 battle in which his regiment made four charges against the French forces.

Beckwith was later promoted to General, he served in India, and went on to serve as High Sherriff of Durham for 1857 having inherited Silksworth House from his father-in-law.

The sale resulted in a total hammer price of £158,950 for 480 lots, with an 88% sold rate.

The auction house is currently accepting lots for the next sale of Militaria and Ethnographica on March 8. Contact 01969 623780 or email enquiry@tennants-ltd.co.uk for details.