Among the highlights of the sale of Important Arms and Armour from prestigious collections is a cased pair of 30 bore silver-mounted flintlock duelling pistols of presentation quality by London-maker John Manton, dating from 1790-1, which have been consigned ‘from the Property of a Gentleman’.
The pistols, estimated at £35,000-45,000, were probably made for Francis Ingram Seymour-Conway (1743-1822), 2nd Marquess of Hertford, whose descendant founded the Wallace Collection.
The saleroom says these pistols have been “associated with a Marquess of Hertford since the early 20th century. What remains of the crest would reinforce this attribution though insufficient detail remains to be absolutely certain of this”.
The attribution of the original owner to Richard, 5th Marquis of Hertford, must be discounted as he was born in 1818. The 2nd Marquess, cited above is perhaps the most plausible candidate, passing to his son, Francis Charles Seymour-Conway, 3rd Marquess and from him to Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess, whose widow founded the Wallace Collection.
Wonderful Wallace works of art
The collection housed in central London at Hertford House, Manchester Square, forms a national museum which displays the wonderful works of art collected in the 18th and 19th centuries by the first four Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace, the son of the 4th Marquess. It was bequeathed to the British nation by Sir Richard's widow, Lady Wallace, in 1897.
Hertford House was one of the family's London properties in the 19th century.
The spectacular array of Oriental arms, armour and related works of art in the Wallace Collection, chosen specifically for fine craftsmanship, Eastern opulence and exotic beauty, were acquired mainly in Paris by the 4th Marquess of Hertford before his death in 1870.
Numerically, the European and Oriental Armoury collections total nearly 2500 objects, by far the largest part of the Wallace Collection as a whole.
Another notable lot in the December 6 sale, held at the auctions ‘hub’ of 25 Blythe Road, west London, is a 54 bore Royal Beaumont Adams five-shot double action percussion revolver by London maker Robert Adams, c.1860, estimated at £8000-12,000.
An engraving with the initial ‘A’ beneath the coronet of a prince means that this pistol was either owned by Queen Victoria’s sons Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1844-1900), or Arthur, Duke of Connaught (1850-1942).
Given their ages it would appear that Prince Alfred is the most likely. Prince Alfred joined the Royal Navy in 1858 at the age of 14. However, on the abdication of King Otto of Greece in 1862, he was chosen by the Greeks to succeed him, but political conventions made it impossible for the British government to accede to their wishes.
Meanwhile, Alfred pursued his naval career. In 1863 he was promoted to lieutenant and three years later to captain. By 1893 he was Admiral of the Fleet and was a highly respected, well-informed and able fleet leader.