Militaria - Napier Presentation Sword


Lot 3514    SESSION 12 (11.30AM THURSDAY 4TH APRIL)    Militaria - Napier Presentation Sword

Estimate $50,000
SOLD $31,000

OTTOMAN EMPIRE, c1840, shamshir style sword presented to Admiral Sir Charles Napier by the Sultan of Turkey, Abdulmejid I, in recognition of his services in the Second Turko-Egyptian War (1839-41), referred to as the Syrian Campaign because most of the fighting was in Syria, the sword hilt has a mameluke sword type grip of brown polished bone and a pistol butt-shaped pommel, the gilt back-piece is decorated with leaves sandwiched between the bone pieces back and front, there is a hole in the pommel for a sword-knot and a gilt chain is attached to the ring set into the tip of the pommel and the curved quillons on the gilt cross-guard, on the obverse of this is a large diamond inset in the centre surrounded by sixteen smaller diamonds and from these, sixteen rows of diamonds radiate outwards in a sunburst pattern, a diamond at the end of each quillon is surrounded with eight smaller diamonds, the reverse of the cross-guard is gilt embossed with leaves and a gilt flower is embossed on the tip of each quillon to correspond with the diamond 'flower' on the other side, the blade is very curved, of Damascus steel, with no grooves and is flat-backed, the scabbard is wood covered with black hide stitched together with wire and there is a long top locket with indentations for the langets of the hilt and a nearly full-length slit at the back to permit sheathing and withdrawal of the blade, and made in one piece with it is an additional locket bearing a ring at the back edge and a mid-locket, very similar to the supplementary one is attached to the back edge, a long chape is fitted with an ornamental shoe and all three mounts are decorated with leaves, lyres and horns, two 1827 pattern sword-knots are attached to the top and mid-lockets. One small diamond missing, otherwise very fine.

Together with original timber case and lockable alloy carry case made to hold the above timber case and also the above sword in a fitted velvet backed holder. The alloy case (approx size 120x32.5x25.5cm) is purpose built and specially made by Image Alloy Cases of Western Australia.

Admiral Sir Charles John Napier KCB, GOTE (1786-1860) was a British naval officer with a distinguished career of sixty years that included service in the War of 1812, the Napoleonic Wars, Syrian War and the Crimean War and in 1833-34 when he commanded the Portuguese Navy in the Liberal Wars. He was honoured with several awards by foreign governments for his war service.

It was for his service in the Syrian Campaign that he was recognised by the Sultan of Turkey. This campaign began in 1840 when the Maronite Christians of Lebanon revolted against the occupying forces of Muhammad Ali, ruler of Egypt, who then sent 15,000 troops under the command of Ibrahim Pasha to burn Lebanese coastal towns and villages. By 1 July 1840, Napier, at that time a commodore, with a detached squadron was patrolling the Lebanese coast to protect British interests. In August he called upon Suleiman Pasha, the Egyptian appointed governor in Beirut to abandon the city and leave Syria however there was little he could do until he was joined by the allied fleet of mainly British but also Austrian, Ottoman and Russian warships under command of Admiral Robert Stopford.

War broke out on 11 September but due to the illness of the army commander, Brigadier-General Sir Charles Smith, Commodore Napier was ordered to lead the land force. He ordered a landing at D'jounie by 1,500 Turks and Marines in operations against Ibrahim who was stymied by the Maronite Christian revolt from doing more than trying to hold the coastal cities. Meanwhile Admiral Stopford claimed his truce flag had been fired upon and proceeded to bombard Beirut killing many civilians.

Commodore Napier then distinguished himself by leading a sea and land attack on Sidon, the Egyptian Army's southern base, resulting in its capitulation on 28 September. The Egyptians then abandoned Beirut on 3 October. While preparing another attack on the Egyptians at Boharsef, Napier was ordered to relinquish command of the army, withdraw and hand the land force over to the now recovered Brigadier-General Smith. This action would have meant giving up the tactical initiative so Napier disobeyed the order and continued with the attack against Ibrahim's army. The ensuing Battle of Boharsef on 10 October resulted in victory and was one of the very few land battles won by a naval officer.

By the end of October the only coastal position still held by the Egyptians was Acre which Admiral Stopford was ordered to recapture. On 3 November the Mediterranean Fleet with its Austrian and Turkish allies pounded the city with devastatingly accurate cannon fire with one shell penetrating the main magazine on the south of the city resulting in the death of about 1,100 men. That night Acre was occupied with minimal losses to the allied force. During the action Napier had manoeuvred independently contrary to Stopford's orders and as a result left a gap in the fleet's deployment. Although this did not affect to outcome of the battle, some captains wanted Napier court-martialled for insubordination although Stopford did not pursue the matter.

The rapid collapse of Muhammad Ali's power could have resulted in bloody chaos in Egypt so Stopford sent Napier to command the squadron at Alexandria to observe the situation. He reached the city on 25 November and once again, acting on his own initiative, he enforced a blockade. Then without reference to his commanding Admiral or the British government he personally negotiated a peace with Muhammad Ali. This peace treaty guaranteed Muhammad Ali and his heirs the sovereignty of Egypt and pledged to evacuate Ibrahim's defeated army back to Alexandria provided Muhammad Ali renounced all claims to Syria, submitted to the Sultan and returned the Ottoman fleet.

When Admiral Stopford heard the news he immediately repudiated the agreement, the Sultan and British ambassador were furious and several of the Allied powers declared it void. However the formal treaty which was concluded and confirmed on 27 November 1840 was essentially a ratification of Napier's original agreement and subsequently Napier was congratulated by his friend, Lord Palmerston.

The magnificent diamond hilted sword in this lot was presented to Admiral Sir Charles Napier (at the time Commodore) by the Ottoman Sultan Abdulmejid I in recognition of his successful raid on Sidon during the Ottoman-Egypt conflict. The Sultan also awarded him the First Class Order of Medjideh with a diamond star. Also in recognition of his services in the Syrian Campaign he was knighted (KCB) on 4 December 1840, included in the vote of thanks by the Houses of Parliament and endowed with the Russian cross of the Order of St George, the Austrian cross of the Order of Maria Theresa and the Prussian Order of the Red Eagle 2nd Class. Another of his awards for services to Portugal was being appointed Grand Commander of the Tower and Sword and also Count of the Cape of Saint Vincent.

Prior to coming onto the open market, this historic sword was displayed in the British Royal Naval College until 1937 and afterwards transferred to the National Maritime Museum.

Napier in New Zealand was named after Admiral Sir Charles John Napier's cousin, General Sir Charles James Napier.
With valuation certificate from Sotheby's, London dated 24 October 2012 for £55,000 and also a letter from Sotheby's dated 16 October 2012 confirming that this sword was once in the possession of Admiral Sir Charles Napier.

Note: Licence to own required in State of Victoria, Australia.

No mail out for this lot, collection only from the Sydney Office, or buyer to make own arrangements.

Estimate / sale price does not include buyer's premium (currently 22% including GST) which is added to hammer price. All bids are executed on the understanding that the Terms & Conditions of sale have been read and accepted. For information on grading and estimates please refer to the Buying at Auction advice.

Quick find

View a lot by number and sale.

Adjacent lots

  • Lot 3512  

    OTTOMAN EMPIRE, early 19th century, kard knife with 23cm wootz (Damascus, watered) steel blade of ...

    Estimate $1,500

  • Lot 3513  

    OTTOMAN EMPIRE, early to mid 19th century, bichaq dagger shaped like a miniature yataghan, single ...

    Estimate $500

  • Lot 3514   This lot

    OTTOMAN EMPIRE, c1840, shamshir style sword presented to Admiral Sir Charles Napier by the Sultan ...

    Estimate $50,000

  • Lot 3515  

    OTTOMAN EMPIRE, mid 19th century, yataghan sword with finely forged blade of twisted steel strips ...

    Estimate $4,000

  • Lot 3516  

    OTTOMAN EMPIRE, mid 19th century, yataghan sword (58cm), mid 19th century, with well forged 58cm ...

    Estimate $3,000