shasqua and kindjal – £260,000 at Bonhams.

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That praise came in the form of an inscription on a 19th century Caucasian presentation shasqua and kindjal also bearing the date 10/VI/1920 which made a hefty £260,000 hammer price (plus 25% buyer’s premium) at Bonhams’ Antique Arms and Armour sale in Knightsbridge on May 25.

They were consigned from a private UK collection and went to a private buyer. However, the auction house could shed little light on why bidding soared so far beyond a £3000-4000 estimate for what were classic examples of weapons that showed some ornate touches but were “not the very best” with some repairs evident.

The date is significant: 1920 marked a turbulent, complicated but formative period in modern Armenian history, when both the Ottoman and Russian empires collapsed post-First World War. An area formerly ruled by the Russians experienced a brief flourish of independence from 1918-20 but, following Turkish and Soviet invasions, became controlled by the latter.

The Soviet republic was dissolved in 1936 and Armenia became a constituent (union) republic of the Soviet Union.

Independent nations such as Georgia and Armenia suited UK interests after the Russian Empire collapse. Armenian troops fought alongside the British Dunsterforce at Baku in 1918. Some 40,000 British troops were in the Caucasus region by January 1919 but were withdrawn by the summer.

*Author Tom Derbyshire is no relation (as far as we know) to Mr Derbyshire honoured on the shasqua.