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Medals, Badges and Decorations

We normally start our auction reports with British orders and decorations. This time it is with a Serbian Order of St Sava, 3rd type, with 2nd Class neck badge and breast star in gilt and enamel. The star pin bearing maker’s initials HF and .925 silver mark, housed in the original embossed presentation case of Huguenin Frères, Le Locle (Suisse). It was good to very fine but the case had a little wear and it sold to a buyer in the room for £500.

There was a large and highly sought after collection of Royal Marines helmet plates, badges, insignia and waist belt clasps offered in the sale. A Victorian officer’s gilt and silver-plated helmet plate (1874-1902) of The Royal Marines Light Infantry. With replaced enamel and the gilding rubbed it still went on to fetch £200. Another example from the Royal Marines was a post-1923 officer’s gilt helmet plate in good condition that went for £190.

There were of course other units represented including a good officer’s gilt and silver plated cap badge of the Hampshire Yeomanry, which was in very good condition and sold for £170.

Helmets

It isn’t often we find a pickelhaube in excellent condition. Over the years all too often a lack of care has meant the leather deteriorates.

However this example of an Imperial German Infantry officer’s pickelhaube was in superb condition. The patent leather skull had gilt mounts, including a Prussian line eagle plate, chin scales, peak rim, circular spike base with star headed rivets, and perlring. The spike was of grey metal with traces of gilt, and with officer’s pattern national and state rosettes. The lining was of lime green silk with leather sweatband and it came with its original field grey cloth cover. It sold in the room for £925.

Edged Weapons

Now we move to edged weapons with a good 19th century Turkish sword yataghan. The blade 25”in length was of traditional form, with narrow fullers along the back edge, deeply struck armourer’s mark at the forte, with silver damascening on one side. On each side was a line of five stylised bud scrolls, in the centre of which was an Arabic inscription in a two-line panel. The carved bone hilt was set with blue and pink stones and it came with its leather-covered scabbard. It was hotly competed for and finally sold for £1000.An ERII officer’s broadsword of the Queen’s Own Highlanders (Seaforth & Camerons) with 32” claymore blade etched with crowned ERII cypher, regimental badge and motto within thistle panels, plated basket hilt with white leather backed scarlet liner, tassels, sharkskin grip, came with its plated scabbard and cotton carrying bag and was in unused condition. It went for £725.

An unusual Japanese police sidearm had a very slightly curved blade, 18” in length. The brass hilt had loops on the end of the crosspiece and pommel cap to take a leather knot and the fishskin grip was wirebound, with a spring stud catch into polished steel scabbard with single ring. With several Internet bidders online and a number of Commission Bidders it finally went to an Australian telephone bidder for £675.

Finally for the edged weapons was a late 17th century Eastern European horseman’s sabre. The broad curved blade, 33” long, with triple fullers along the back edge, straight slender crossguard, long langet on one side and langet with thumb loop on the other. The semi-pistol grip shaped dark wood grip had an oval iron pommel. It was in good condition for its age and went for £800.

Police Truncheons

A good collection of Police related items including a group of early painted truncheons were on offer including two that were worthy of particular mention. First was a Victorian painted truncheon of the Rochester Division, Kent Police with crown, VR, ‘Kent’ in a cartouche and ‘Rochester Division. 20’. The pommel was marked with the maker’s name ‘Parker 233 Holborn’. It measured 18-inches in length and sold for £300. The second example was a Victorian painted truncheon of the North Midland Railway Company Police, Belper. It was decorated in gilt polychrome colours on a maroon ground, with crowned VR and the crests of Derby and Leeds. In addition it was painted on one side with ‘No. 16 Belper’ and on the other ‘NM Rly Co’. Measuring 17½” long it also sold for £300.

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Firearms

Moving on to antique firearms, there was a scarce .577/450” New South Wales forces Henry single shot falling block long rifle by Westley Richards. The 33¼” knox form barrel had Birmingham proofs and was marked ‘Henry’s Patent Rifling’ at the breech, with Enfield type ladder rearsight, the frame stamped ‘Alexr. Henry’, walnut fullstock, the butt stamped ‘N.S.W N60’ and ‘S’ with sold out of service opposing broad arrows. It was bought in the room for £1150 against four other room bidders and several telephone bidders from Australia.

An unusual .360” centrefire Snider action Rook Rifle, by I Hollis & Sons, London, had a 26” octagonal barrel with blade foresight and two folding leaf rear sights, the top flat engraved ‘I. Hollis & Sons, London’ and on the right side ‘Ammunition 360’. The border engraved bar in wood lock engraved ‘I Hollis & Sons’, the walnut fullstock with horn fore end cap, chequered fore end and wrist. It was in good untouched condition and after much bidding went to a buyer in the room for £850.

A scarce .577/450” Martini Henry Artillery carbine was offered, with 21½” barrel, clear Enfield inspector’s marks and ordnance proofs, the frame bearing crowned ‘WVR’ and ‘BSA & M Co 1874 II 2’. There were three sling swivels and bayonet bar on the top barrel band, the fore end additionally secured by pins, the butt bearing clear Enfield store keeper’s mark, ‘II/2’ and government sale mark, and inset with brass disc stamped ‘1894/ V1 A.B.A/ 191’.

The 1874 date suggests that it is a converted rifle, as was common practice. The general issue artillery carbine was not introduced until 1879.

It sold to a telephone bidder against a number of room and commission bidders for £660.

Colt revolvers always seem to fetch high prices and this was no exception. A six shot .36” Colt Model 1851 Navy percussion revolver, numbered 110015 on all parts (except barrel wedge, numbered 4866), with New York US America address and plain walnut grips; it was in good condition and had been reblued overall. The bore was quite useable although there was a little pitting. The barrel markings were faint and there were no cylinder markings visible. There were many bidders in the room and on the Internet but it finally sold to a buyer in the room for £1375.

Finally for the antique firearms was a good pair of officer’s 16-bore percussion holster pistols, by Beckwith, London, circa 1850. Each had an 8-inch browned octagonal twist barrel with single platinum breech line and a swivel ramrod, the top flat engraved ‘London’. The back action lock and flat hammer were nicely engraved with scrolled foliage, each plate also engraved ‘Beckwith’, the walnut fullstock with chequered butt and scroll engraved blued steel trigger guard.

The pistols were in a good quality green baize lined brass bound mahogany case, with later Beckwith trade label in the lid, and containing a good embossed copper three-way flask (R 1274 with common top) and other accessories. They were in good order and after a great deal of competition they finally went for £2950.

Something Special

The final item in this report is an emotive WWI Royal Flying Corps Sergeant Pilot’s Flying Log Book belonging to Sergeant W J Burtenshaw, containing entries between 24th October 1916 and 26th April 1917. The cover was inscribed in blue pencil ‘Killed 28.4.1917’.

The entries start with training flights at Brooklands as a passenger taking part control of the aircraft during take off and landing, and ending on 14th November 1916. There is then a gap until 23rd March 1917, during which time he gained his pilot’s licence, when he piloted FE 2Bs on test flights, practice patrols and practice formations in the Arras, Bethune and Givenchy area, and eventually on flights over the front in the Lens, Arras, Loos area from the end of March until the final entry on 26th April 1917.

Entries include ‘5 Huns attacked us, we shot one down, machine hit by A A Dempsey went down - Fight A/6 H.A. Both guns jambed, machine OK’.

There are several entries which show he had various forced landings with engine trouble. With the log book is Sergeant Burtenshaw’s certificate stating that he has qualified in the Military Wing of the Royal Flying Corps as a First Class flyer, dated February 28th 1917; a letter from the Royal Aero Club stating that Sergeant Burtenshaw of No 19 Reserve Squadron RFC has been granted aviator’s certificate No 3894, dated 5th December 1916; and postcard size photograph of Sergeant Burtenshaw before he qualified as a pilot, inscribed ‘To Grandma from Billie XX’; and a modern glazed wooden frame containing another full length photograph, a set of RFC pilot’s padded wings, a Royal Flying Corps embroidered shoulder title, an RFC brass cap badge, and four buttons. All in very good condition, they sold for £625.

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