When James Grinter, managing director of Reeman Dansie Auctioneers in Colchester, Essex, went on a routine house call he discovered one of the finest collections of swords, medals and militaria he had ever seen.
It had been amassed by Philip Southgate, a scrap-metal merchant who died earlier this year, and included two Lloyds Patriotic Fund swords of £100 and £50 values which will now be offered in the May 18 sale.
“I was amazed on entering a bedroom in Mr Southgate’s house to find the walls were covered with swords, helmets and militaria,” says Grinter.
“We had to search very carefully as he hid the more valuable items around the house, in the loft, under sofas and so on.”
The Lloyds Patriotic Fund was a charity founded in 1803 to assist the many casualties of the Napoleonic Wars as well as awarding prizes of swords, plate or money for acts of heroism.
Lloyds of London provided funds for the presentation swords which came in three values: £30, £50 and £100.
The £100 sword on offer at Reeman Dansie was awarded in 1805 to Captain Henry Lambert RN of HMS San Fiorenzo, for the capture of the French frigate Psyché after a three-and-a-half-hour sea battle. It is estimated at £30,000-40,000.
“Lambert was a brilliant naval officer whose many real-life exploits in battle read like a Horatio Hornblower novel and who died from wounds received in a bitter sea battle against the American trigate USS Constitution on December 29, 1812,” says Grinter.
The £50 sword (pictured above) was awarded in 1804 to Lieutenant James Boxer of HMS Antelope for leading the capture of the Dutch ship Schrik and 94 Dutch sailors on the night of March 23, 1804, near Zeurick Zee. It is guided at £40,000-50,000.
As reported in last week’s International section (ATG No 2286), another Lloyd’s Patriotic Fund sword was being sold this week, on April 11, at US auction house James D Julia of Maine, estimated at $150,000-250,000.
It was one of 23 awarded to captains who fought in the Battle of Trafalgar, belonging to the American-born Captain William George Rutherford.