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A most rarely surviving form of European service helmet. The highly distinctive mitre cap was in use by grenadier regiments of three principle nations [mostly British, Prussian and Russian] since the mid 18th century, they were used continually by the Russo-Prussians alone into the Napoleonic wars, in the early 19th century, right though in fact to the early 20th century, but they ceased to be used by the British in the end of the 18th century. The mitre cap is an extraordinary form of helmet that was both elaborate and decorative but also as a form of intimidation, to increase the perception of the height of a grenadier, yet still most functional for defence against sword cuts and slashes. Wih the helmets construction, a combination of cloth and pressed metal, creating a most effective ‘crumple zone’ against a slashing blade impact upon the soldiers head. The rarest of all the surviving mitre caps is beyond doubt the British, as they were in use for the shortest period of time and were entirely made of cloth, and that material survives poorly over 3 centuries. The Russian and Prussian examples had elements of metal within the helmets stamped crest frontispieces and frame, and, they were in use for longer, some into the WW1 period. However, all surviving examples are now very scarce indeed, and complete examples are most especially rare. The 18th and 19th century examples being the most rarest of all. The mitre cap, whether in stiffened cloth or metal, had become the distinguishing feature of the grenadier in the armies of Britain, Russia, Prussia and most German states during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. While Northern-European armies such as Britain, Russia, Sweden and various German states (perhaps most famously Prussia) wore the mitre cap, the southern countries, such as France, Spain, Austria, Portugal and various Italian states preferred the bearskin cap. By 1768 Britain too had adopted the bearskin. By the advent of the Napoleonic Wars, both mitres caps and fur caps had begun to fall out of use in favour of the shako. Two major exceptions were France's Grande Armee (although in 1812, regulations changed grenadier uniforms to those more similar to the ones of fusiliers, except in guard regiments) and the Austrian Army. After the Battle of Friedland in 1807, because of their distinguished performance, Russia's Pavlovsk Regiment were allowed to keep their mitre caps and were admitted to the Imperial Guard. In 1914 the Imperial German and Russian Armies still included a number of grenadier regiments. In the Russian Army these comprised the Grenadier Guards Regiment (L-G Grenadierski Polk) as well as the Grenadier Corps of sixteen regiments (plus an independent reinforced company of Palace Grenadiers, guarding the St. Petersburg Imperial residences). Five regiments of the Prussian Guard were designated as Garde-Grenadiers and there were an additional fourteen regiment of grenadiers amongst the line infantry of the German Empire. In both the Russian and German armies the grenadier regiments were considered a historic elite, distinguished by features such as plumed helmets in full dress, distinctive facings (yellow for all Russian grenadiers) or special braiding. A grenadier derived from the word grenade, and was originally a specialized soldier, first established as a distinct role in the mid-to-late 17th century, for the throwing of grenades and sometimes assault operations. At that time grenadiers were chosen from the strongest and largest soldiers. By the 18th century, dedicated grenade throwing of this sort was no longer relevant, but grenadiers were still chosen for being the most physically powerful soldiers and would lead assaults in the field of battle. Grenadiers would also often lead the storming of fortification breaches in siege warfare, although this role was more usually fulfilled by all-arm units of volunteers called forlorn hopes, and might also be fulfilled by sappers or pioneers. A very similar, near identical example appears illustrated and described in the The Lyle Official Arms and Armour Review 1983, page 261
A wonderfully fascinating Victorian secret society dagger from one of the mysterious mystical cults. Signed blade, twin headed four breasted goddess dagger hilt. The scabbard's belt hook is a hand holding a snake and the scabbard is engraved with symbolic plants and leaves. It would be from one of the cult that existed in 19th century society and the took many forms, such as 'The Decadent Movement'
In Europe, around the mid-19th century, artists began to rebel against the wide eyes, determined naturalism, and apple-cheeked wholesome idealism of the romantic movement. Tired of celebrating "naturally" good humans and unaffected art, they turned to darker themes, heavy symbolism, and a kind of spiritual subversiveness. And they found Satan. These were the people who started toying with Satan as an intriguing, sympathetic, or even heroic figure. Charles Baudelaire was a famous Decadent, and wrote, "The Flowers of Evil," and "Litanies to Satan."
A 19th Century Spanish Fighting knife of Albacete, Spain; The knife measures 28cm in length with an elaborate ornately pierced blade. The blade has two holes and an open panel incised for decoration, with added pin point engraved decoration. The hilt is brass, inlaid with carved bone. The bone has been fluted length ways and further inlaid with decorative brass panels. A Handbook for Travellers in Spain (printed in 1855), by Richard Ford, has a commentary on the knife culture that prevailed in Spain at the time. When we read an account of an exotic land written by an English traveler in 19th century Albacete, Abula, he describes that as owing to its central position, from whence roads and rails branch to Aragon, Murcia, Valencia, and Madrid, it is a place of great traffic, and is a town of locomotives, from the English rail, the French dilly, to the Spanish donkey. . . . "Albacete is called the Sheffield of Spain, as Chatelherault is the knife making centre of France; but everything is by comparison, and the coarse cutlery turned out in each, at whose make and material an English artisan smiles, perfectly answers native ideas and wants. The object of a Spanish knife is to "chip bread and kill a man," "
A hand forged, iron, narrow tanged heavy weight and very powerful dagger with lentoid section triangular blade tongue pierced in two places to lobed pommel. Items such as this were oft acquired in the 18th century by British noblemen touring Northern France and Italy on their Grand Tour. Originally placed on display in the family 'cabinet of curiosities', within his country house upon his return home. A popular pastime in the 18th and 19th century, comprised of English ladies and gentlemen traveling for many months, or even years, througout classical Europe, acquiring antiquities and antiques for their private collections. Depictions of mid-14th-century examples are preserved as part of tomb effigies (figuring as part of the full military dress of the deceased knight). One early attestation of the German form pasler (1341) is from a court document of Nuremberg recording a case against a man who had injured a woman by striking her on the head with this weapon. Several German law codes of the 14th to 15th centuries outlaw the carrying of a basler inside a city. By the late 14th century, it became fashionable in much of Western Europe, including France, Italy, Germany and England. Sloane MS 2593 (c. 1400) records a song satirizing the use of oversized baselard knives as nobleman's fashion accessories. Piers Plowman also associates the weapon with vain gaudiness: in this case, two priests, "Sir John and Sir Geoffrey", are reported to have been sporting "a girdle of silver, a baselard or a ballok knyf with buttons overgilt."
Wat Tyler was slain with a baselard by the mayor of London, William Walworth, in 1381, and the original weapon was "still preserved with peculiar veneration by the Company of Fishmongers" in the 19th century. The point of most weapons was to incapacitate rather than to kill. Prisoners, especially those of high status, could be ransomed for money or leveraged for political influence. But when killing was ordered, as on Henry V?s orders at Agincourt, the daggers came out.
Medieval knights often carried daggers designed not for cutting but for punching through the gaps in armour. These were used against incapacitated enemies, as happened to Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field. Based on Richard?s remains, DeVries believes that his helmet was cut off with daggers, exposing him to the attacks that killed him. This dagger is 15 inches long overall, approx 12 ozs [350gms] in weight, and in fine condition for age, a strong and powerful dagger with just overall aged russetting. Pictures in the gallery of carved stone and marble tombs of medieval knights each bearing a knife such as this or a slight variant. The hilt/grip has long since perished away, as they all are from this era, would have been twin plates of wood, horn or ivory, with small carved quillons or crossguard and rivetted together through the two holes.
Rare complete, Omani Sa'idiyyah khanjar, a Royal Khanjar with the distinctive 7 Rings to denote high status, and all silver scabbard and hilt. Decorated in intricate silver filigree wirework with a pattern similar to the 'tree of life'.
Also known as the Jambiya, daggers of this quality were almost always usually custom made for presentation. Lawrence of Arabia had several very similar ones presented to him, they were his favourite dagger, and he was frequently photographed wearing them. One picture is a portrait of Lawrence with his silver Jambiya, near identical to this one. [Information only not included] Silver, usually more often than not, coin silver, not English hallmarked silver. The jambia, a curved Islamic dagger, is the main customary accessory to the clothing worn by Arabian men. For centuries the people of South Arabia have inherited the their jambiahs from generation to generation. There are several theories about the origin of the Jambia. There are historical facts, concerning the existence of the Jambia revealing that it used to be worn at Sheban times, in the Himiarite kingdom. They take the statue of the Sheban king (Madi Karb 500 bc ) as proof. This statue, which was discovered by an American mission in Marib in the 1950s, was found to be wearing a Jambia.
Since The most expensive and famous jambiya was purchased by Sheikh Naji Bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Sha'if, who was able to pay US $1 million for one prized and ancient piece. This jambiah had a historical importance, belonging to Imam Ahmed Hamid Al-Din, who ruled Yemen from 1948 to 1962. The Imam's most precious possession was transferred to Sheikh Hussein Al-Watari, who in turn sold it to Sheikh Al-Sha'if.
According to Sheikh Muhammad Naji, the son of current owner of the most precious jambiah, his father?s prize is the most expensive and famous one in the country. Its cost was made so high because it is one of the best jambiahs ever made by Al-Saifani, and a piece of history, as well.
The second highest price ever paid for a jambiah was for the one that Sheikh Ahmed Hamid Al-Habari sold to Sheikh Abdullah Bin Hussein Al-Ahmar for £440,000 GBP.
A picture in tha gallery from the 1950's shows a khanjar being given to a British member (Colonel Watson) of the Trucial Oman Levies
for reference see
Ernst Hieke; Zur Geschichte des Deutschen Handels Mit Oastafrika Teil, 1 Wm Oswald & Co, page 40 1939
Robert Elgood; The Arms and armour of Arabia
Approx 27 cm top to bottom
An antique finest quality Chinese export hand gilded Chinoiserie tea chest caddy with hinged lid, and interior lidded pewter container, for the most precious tea, and made for the European market. This is a superlative tea chest, and note that its exceptional size makes it a most rare type of tea 'chest' size caddy. It is hand crafted with hand painted chinoiserie gilt and ebonized black lacquer. It is painted on all sides with multiple figures, pagoda and palace gardens, with additional geometric and floral designs. It retains its original hand engraved pewter lidded tea casket; It has 2 carrying handles on the sides. It weighs a substantial pounds. The lid’s gilding is worn, but all the remaining faces are in excellent condition. The inner lid area contains the monogram, G F, of the gentleman for whom it was commissioned, Captain George Fielding, of the 23rd Regiment of Foot, the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, a veteran of the Battle of Waterloo [wounded], who resided at Startforth Hall, Startforth, County Durham. He served in the Peninsular War from Aug 1811 to April 1814, at Aldea de Ponte, Badajoz, Cuidad Rodrigo, Nive, Toulouse, & Orthez. He died in Bath in 1830.
Chinoiserie, is so called from 'chinois' the French for Chinese, was a style inspired by art and design from China, Japan and other Asian countries in the 18th century. At its height in Britain from 1750 to 1765, this fanciful style relied more on the designer's and craftsman's imagination than on accurately portraying oriental motifs and ornament. In it earliest days the tea it contained would have been valued by today’s standard thousands of pounds so one can understand why its container should be so fine and a superb work of art in it’s own right. In England in the 1700s, tea was an incredibly expensive commodity. To keep it safe, people would store it in a tea Chest or tea box, which eventually became known as a tea caddy (the word caddy is derived from the Malay "Kati", a unit of weight by which tea was sold). As tea was too expensive to risk leaving in the presence of servants, the caddy in which it was stored would generally be kept in the drawing-room. Subsequently, the tea caddy became an important & fashionable accessory for the home. Tea Caddies were made in a huge variety of styles and materials.. 13.5 inches x 9.75 inches x 8 inches
A simply stunning and fabulous quality Victorian double cased surgeon's set, of a renown yet potential suspect in the "Jack the Ripper" case. Made for and named to Dr. Bertram Herbert Lyne Stivens MRCS [Member of the Royal College of Surgeons, Eng], renowned Doctor/Surgeon to the British Royal family of Queen Victoria. Made by world renown instrument makers, L. Mathieu of Paris. A stunning set of superb finest quality instruments, and in excellent condition for their age. A set that would have cost at the time when new a veritable king's ransom. Finest instruments represent the very best in desirable antique collectibles, and this cased set is one of the very finest we have seen. Dr. Stivens esteemed practice was based at Park St. Grosvenor Sq. London. One his other patients and his dear friend, who spoke at his memorial service, was Sir H. Rider Haggard, world famous adventure author of 'King Solomon's Mines' and 'She'. At the time of Dr Stivens practice the world's most famous and notorious killer roamed the streets of Whitechapel carrying out his heinous murders. Among the list of suspects, which was long, were numerous doctors who were the principle suspects in many ways due to the nature of his crimes. Many, if not all, of the royal family's doctors and surgeons were suspected, many were interviewed, and thus many eventually removed from the primary suspect list, and in fact their presence within the list was never officially fully revealed in order not to harm their illustrious careers. It is perfectly possible, if not most likely, that the Royal doctor, Dr Stivens, was among the medical men interviewed, and thus one can stretch the hypothesis to assume that, if he was actually the Ripper, this could, however remote and unlikely, potentially be the actual surgeon's set used by the notorious and world famous ‘Jack the Ripper’. Naturally this must be considered a 'tongue in cheek' conjecture, but what can be stated with certainty, is that we simply cannot say it was not the Ripper's surgeons knives. At least two knives within this set are exactly the kind of scalpel sharp knives believed to have been used by the Ripper. The publicised list of suspected doctors include; Dr. Thomas Neill Cream , who was a doctor born in Glasgow, educated in London and Canada, and entered practice in Canada and later in Chicago, Illinois. In 1881 he was found guilty of the fatal poisoning of his mistress's husband. He was imprisoned in the Illinois State Penitentiary in Joliet, Illinois, from November 1881 until his release on good behaviour on 31 July 1891. He moved to London, where he resumed killing and was soon arrested. He was hanged on 15 November 1892 at Newgate Prison. According to some sources, his last words were reported as being "I am Jack the?", interpreted to mean Jack the Ripper. Another, the most famous, was Sir William Withey Gull who was physician-in-ordinary to Queen Victoria. He was named as the Ripper as part of the evolution of the widely discredited Masonic/royal conspiracy theory outlined in such books as Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution. Coachman John Netley has been named as his accomplice. Thanks to the popularity of this theory among fiction writers and for its dramatic nature, Gull shows up as the Ripper in a number of books. The next was Sir John Williams who was obstetrician to Queen Victoria's daughter Princess Beatrice, and was accused of the Ripper crimes in the book, Uncle Jack, written by one of the surgeon's descendants Tony Williams, and Humphrey Price. The authors claim that the victims knew the doctor personally, that they were killed and mutilated in an attempt to research the causes of infertility, and that a badly blunted surgical knife, which belonged to Williams, was the murder weapon. The next was Francis Tumblety who earned a small fortune posing as an "Indian Herb" doctor throughout the United States and Canada, already notorious in the States for his self-promotion and previous criminal charges, his arrest was reported as connected to the Ripper murders. American reports that Scotland Yard tried to extradite him were not confirmed by the British press or the London police, and the New York City Police said, "there is no proof of his complicity in the Whitechapel murders, and the crime for which he is under bond in London is not extraditable". In 1913, Tumblety was mentioned as a Ripper suspect by Chief Inspector John Littlechild of the Metropolitan Police Service in a letter to journalist and author George R. Sim. Last on the official list was Thomas Hayne Cutbush who was a medical student sent to Lambeth Infirmary in 1891 suffering delusions thought to have been caused by syphilis. In a series of articles in 1894, The Sun newspaper suggested that Cutbush was indeed the Ripper. We show a photograph of Dr Stivens, and of the main Ripper suspects, the likeness is certainly not to be dismissed. The original photograph of Dr Stivens is held in the Wellcome Institute Collection, it was taken by renown Victorian photographer, Vandyke, and autographed by Dr.Stivens at the very cusp of the Jack the Ripper period 1890. The identity of the killer of five - or possibly six - women in the East End of London in 1888 has remained a mystery, but the case has continued to horrify and fascinate.
Between August and November 1888,the Whitechapel area of London was the scene of five brutal murders. The killer was dubbed 'Jack the Ripper'. All the women murdered were prostitutes, and all except for one - Elizabeth Stride - were horribly mutilated.
The first murder, of Mary Ann Nicholls, took place on 31 August. Annie Chapman was killed on 8 September. Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddoweson were murdered 30 September and Mary Jane Kelly on 9 November. These are often referred to as the 'canonical five' Ripper murders, although Martha Tabram, stabbed to death on 6 August 1888, is considered by some 'ripperologists' to be the first victim.
There has been much speculation as to the identity of the killer. It has been suggested that he or she was a doctor, surgeon or butcher, based on the evidence of weapons and the mutilations that occurred, which showed a convincing knowledge of human anatomy. Many theories have been put forward suggesting individuals who might be responsible. One theory links the murders with Queen Victoria's grandson, Prince Albert Victor, also known as the Duke of Clarence, although the evidence for this is insubstantial. Another to Sir William Withey Gull who was physician-in-ordinary to Queen Victoria.
Violence to prostitutes was not uncommon and there were many instances of women being brutalised, but the nature of these murders strongly suggests a single perpetrator.
A quarter of a mile from the scene of Catherine Eddowes' murder, the words 'The Juwes [sic] are not the men to be blamed for nothing,' were found scrawled on a wall in chalk, and it was suggested this was written by the killer. A police officer ordered the words to be removed, fearing an anti-Semitic backlash in an area with a large Jewish population. The murderer is also sometimes thought to have made contact by letter with several public figures. These letters, like the chalk message, have never been proved to be authentic, and may have been hoaxes.
Jack the Ripper was never caught, and any part that Dr Stivers may have played in the investigation, was, and may never be, revealed
Superb antique carved head and body, finely painted, of a pirate type figure, with a long beard a fur cowl and typical piratical type hat. He has a most intimidating and stern scowling expression. It is not large enough to be a bow figurehead, therefore, possibly for a stern, or a masthead etc. The origin of the figurehead or any similar decoration goes back to thousands of years, up to the ancient Greeks or beyond that. The earliest usage of the wooden statue is reported to be by the Phoenicians and later on by Egyptians, though the actual years are unknown. The use of figurehead reportedly came into general practice with the galleons, which are used from the 15th to the 18th centuries. From the Phoenicians and the Egyptians, the tradition passed on to the Orientals and to the Europeans, in the hey-days of the 13th century, continuing up to the tradition’s last dregs in the early 20th century. It is in these times that the actual purpose of the figurehead started to slightly digress and vary. And, during the Baroque era, the elaborately designed carvings were common scene on the high-ranking ships. According to historical documents, the ships constructed by in ancient Greek had eyes painted on either side of the bow and later Romans adopted this idea to put figurehead onto the bow of a vessel. The architectural subtlety of the wood carvers and the resultant beauty of the figureheads led to them being an entity in their own right, where once protection was the only motto of these carvings. For illiterate and uneducated seafarers, these figureheads became the vessel’s pseudonym. Thus in many cases, the vessels came to be identified, tagged and known by the figureheads on ships rather than their name itself. Similarly, the figureheads on the naval ships aimed to show the wealth and might of the owner. Royal Museums Greenwich is one of such places which have a collection of figureheads that traces the history of ship decoration from the 17th to the 20th centuries. According to the museum, there are 93 figureheads in the collection along with 111 numbered items of carving from the Royal Yacht Victoria and Albert III. Moreover, the museum has around 42 pieces of different decorative ship carving such as trail boards, stern boards, stern figures, and among others.
At present, those carvings find a very valuable place in marine museums and repositories, inviting the attention of marine enthusiasts, history students and other researchers. Their place is vital because they help us understand maritime history and success of an altogether different era, about which, we might have had no idea otherwise. Small old repair to his nose.
We show in the gallery a most similar quality carved figurehead that has its all important known history from the Piratenim. The fact that the figurehead of the Piratenim had been removed from the bow and hidden was pivotal to its survival. Without this intentional action, like countless thousands of other figureheads, this historically significant object would have undoubtedly been destroyed with its host vessel or rotted away at the bottom of the ocean. The ability to link it to a specific vessel and know its associated provenance makes this figurehead an extraordinarily rare artefact of maritime history. the ships figurehead from the Piratenim, a slave ship captured by HMS Sharpshooter in 1851. Its figurehead here shown was given to Sir Joseph Bailey at the time, and was later sold in the 1940's. It is probably the only surviving example taken form a slave ship in existence. it sold in auction for £50,000 in 2014. Our pirate ship's head is lacking its specific history as to the ship name from whence it came, it is somewhat smaller than the slave ship’s figurehead, approx 46 cm high, and weighs 11lbs
Signed Cary of Strand London, body with traditional, Royal Naval pattern, string wrapped and navy-tar coated main tube, with Turk's head ends, efficiently and successfully designed for protection of such a valuable instrumentat sea. 'Day' end cover, and concealed, eye piece, swivel open-close protector. In excellent functioning condition. Used in King George IIIrd's Royal Navy by Captains and Commanders, and there is no question that Admiral Nelson and Captain Hardy would both, frequently have likely used one just like it, and very possibly one made by Cary, as his instruments were so fine and universally respected as among the very best of their time. Cary of London was one of England’s, if not one of the worlds, greatest instrument makers, and respected as the equivalent of the Rolls-Royce of instrument makers in his day. Meriwether Lewis of the partnership of ‘Lewis and Clark’ used a Cary on most, if not all, of their world famed expeditions* [see below] . CARY, WILLIAM (1759-1825), philosophical instrument maker, was a pupil of Ramsden, and set up before 1790 a separate business, which he pursued energetically until his death at the age of sixty-six on 16 Nov. 1825. He constructed for Dr. Wollaston in 1791 a transit circle the first made in England two feet in diameter and provided with microscopes for reading off. In 1805 he sent to Moscow a transit-instrument described and figured in Pearson's ‘Practical Astronomy’, for the safety of which Bonaparte provided in 1812 by a special order. A circle of 41 centimetres, ordered from Cary by Feer about 1790, is still preserved at the Zurich observatory. He was, besides, the maker of the 2-foot altitude and azimuth instrument with which Bessel began his observations at Konigsberg, and of numerous excellent sextants, microscopes, reflecting and refracting telescopes. A catalogue of the instruments sold by him at 182 Strand, London, is in the possession of the Naturforschende Gesellschaft of Zurich. His name occurs on the first list of members of the Astronomical Society, and he contributed for several years the Meteorological Diary to the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ The celebrated Cary family of cartographers and globe makers was founded by John Cary (c. 1754-1835), a map engraver and seller. He and his brother, William Cary, a specialist in scientific instruments, produced some of the greatest late Georgian globes. The Cary family is considered the best of English globe makers of the late Georgian period. They used excellent quality paper and printing techniques so their globes often survive in nice condition.
According to Collins and Lamb, "John Cary in partnership with his brother William were one of the foremost London map and globe sellers of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. They built up a thriving and prosperous business, both as instrument makers and map publishers." The Cary firm was continued by sons George and John Cary in the Regency period. Meriwether Lewis (August 18, 1774 - October 11, 1809) was an American explorer, soldier, politician, and public administrator, best known for his role as the leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition carried a Cary telscope on his expeditions.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition from August 31, 1803, to September 25, 1806, also known as the Corps of Discovery Expedition, was the United States expedition to cross the newly acquired western portion of the country after the Louisiana Purchase. The Corps of Discovery was a select group of U.S. Army and civilian volunteers under the command of Captain Meriwether Lewis and his close friend Second Lieutenant William Clark. The expedition made its way westward, and crossed the Continental Divide of the Americas before reaching the Pacific Coast.
President Thomas Jefferson commissioned the expedition shortly after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 to explore and to map the newly acquired territory, to find a practical route across the western half of the continent, and to establish an American presence in this territory before European powers attempted to establish claims in the region. The campaign's secondary objectives were scientific and economic: to study the area's plants, animal life, and geography, and to establish trade with local Native American tribes. The expedition returned to St. Louis to report its findings to Jefferson, with maps, sketches, and journals in hand 34.5 inches length overall.
Originally known as the Company of Royal Adventurers Trading into Africa. With very long octagonal barrel, and the flintlock that was designed based on the India pattern Brown Bess musket lock, is struck with the company mark of the Elephant & Castle of the Royal African Company, and further marked 'Warranted' on the tail. Very good age patinated walnut stock with raised moulding at the barrel tang, brass mounts, and iron ramrod. Birmingham proof marks. Very good, tight and crisp action, and with the highly distinctive oversized trigger guard to facilitate the optional use of gloves by its user.
The Royal African Company (RAC) was an English mercantile (trading) company set up in 1660 by the royal Stuart family and City of London merchants to trade along the west coast of Africa. It was led by the Duke of York, who was the brother of Charles II and later took the throne as James II. It shipped more more goods to the Americas than any other company.
It was established after Charles II gained the English throne in the Restoration of 1660. While its original purpose was to exploit the gold fields up the Gambia River, which were identified by Prince Rupert during the Interregnum. It also extracted other commodities, mainly from the Gold Coast. In 1663, as a prelude to the Dutch war, Captain Holmes's expedition captured or destroyed all the Dutch settlements on the coast, and in 1664 Fort James was founded on an island about twenty miles up the Gambia river, as a new centre for English trade and power. This, however, was only the beginning of a series of captures and recaptures. In the same year de Ruyter won back all the Dutch forts except Cape Coast Castle and also took Cormantin. The treaty of Breda confirmed Cape Coast Castle to the English. After becoming insolvent in 1708, it survived in a state of much reduced activity until 1752 when its assets were transferred to the new African Company of Merchants, which lasted until 1821.
From 1668 to 1722, the Royal African Company provided gold to the English Mint. Coins made with such gold are designed with an elephant below the bust of the king and/or queen. This gold also gave the coinage its name, the guinea.The Royal African Company was dissolved by the African Company Act 1750, with its assets being transferred to the African Company of Merchants. These principally consisted of nine trading posts on the Gold Coast known as factories: Fort Anomabo, Fort James, Fort Sekondi, Fort Winneba, Fort Apollonia, Fort Tantumquery, Fort Metal Cross, Fort Komenda, and Cape Coast Castle, the last of which was the administrative centre. In keeping with the ethos of liberal reform, administrative authority over the African Company's territory was transferred to Governor Charles MacCarthy of Sierra Leone, Sierra Leone having been founded as a refuge colony for freed formerly enslaved people. (Governor McCarthy was subsequently killed in the First Anglo-Asante War.) In 1817, the company signed a treaty of friendship recognising the Asante claims to sovereignty over large areas of the coast, including areas claimed by the Fante.Oval bronze seal-matrix of the Royal African Company with moulded socket at back. A shield of arms, or, an elephant azure, on his back a quadrangular castle argent masoned proper; on the sinister tower a flagstaff and banner gules, on banner a cross, on the dexter corner of the escutcheon a canton quarterly of France and England. Crest, on a ducal coronet or an anchor erect sable, cabled of the first, between two dragons' wings expanded argent. Supporters, two Africans proper vested round the waist with a skirt argent, banded round the temples or thereon feathers erect of various colours; each holding in his hand an arrow or barbed and feathered argent Latin
Inscription content: REGIO. FLORET. PATROCINIO. COMMERCIUM. COMMERCIOQUE. REGNUM
Inscription translation: "By Royal patronage trade flourishes, by trade the realm"or "Business is flourishing due to royal patronage and the kingdom is flourishing due to business". The other pictiure in the gallery is an 1868 guinea with the profile bust of King James IInd and under his bust the Royal African Company symbol of an Elephant and Castle to show the source of the gold for the coinage. 52inch barrel, overall 68 inches long
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