Pick of the week
Del Mar’s more usual offerings were headed by mid-16th-century South German field armour at £29,760, closely followed by a rarity, a 60-bore wheel-lock carbine made in the late 16th century a little to the north of Bavaria, at Suhl in Thuringia (above). This was an iron-mining and metal-processing centre and, for several centuries, it was renowned for its cannon and gunsmithing. Just how this elaborately decorated weapon, which has parallels in the Dresden armouries, came into the possession of a Cheshire family, perhaps in the 1890s, is unknown. It was shown to Mark Littler, a general valuer based near Sandbach, who recognised its quality and contacted Del Mar. The barrel was decorated with allegorical figures, birds, animals, monsters and a double-headed eagle and carried a maker’s mark of HB over a bear or perhaps boar. The stock was inlaid with engraved staghorn plaques and the opulence of the whole creation indicated that it was a most important commission.
Another unusual item on offer was a sword cane (right) that had belonged to the 1st Marquess of Anglesey (1768–1854), who famously lost a leg at Waterloo. The blade was 17th century, but, from the coronet and Garter on the gold finial, the cane was made up after 1818 and perhaps before 1827, when he went to Dublin as Lord Lieutenant. However, as Del Mar pointed out, the Marquess habitually walked with two sticks and he might as easily have needed to defend himself in Regency London as in Ireland. I wonder if the black cord and tassels indicated mourning, perhaps one might fancy, for his old commander Wellington. The cane sold for £8,060 against a £1,500 estimate.