Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria to include a Fine Collection of Napoleonic Medals (25 March 2015)

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Date of Auction: 25th March 2015

Sold for £8,000

Estimate: £4,000 - £6,000

A Cased Pair of 40-Bore Percussion Belt Pistols Belonging to General Sir Charles Napier the Conqueror of Sind. The Pistols by Durs Egg, London, Both Early 19th Century, the pistols converted from flintlock, with rebrowned twist octagonal barrels each signed in gold on the top flat, gold fore-sights, scroll engraved case-hardened breeches each incorporating a back-sight, case-hardened tangs each engraved with a martial trophy, signed engraved case-hardened detented locks each with sliding stepped tail forming a safety-catch, figured walnut half-stocks, chequered butts, blued steel mounts finely engraved with martial trophies, starbursts and foliage, comprising butt-caps, trigger-guards each with applied spur, and fore-end caps, blued set triggers and belt hooks, gold escutcheons engraved with owner’s crest, original horn-tipped ramrods, and some original finish: in original lined and fitted mahogany case with accessories including three-way copper flask, the lid with trade label and flush-fitting brass carrying handle, London proof marks, 38 cm. A manuscript note in the case reads: ‘Caution!! The locks of these pistols are not safe & dangerous! Require to be put in order by a gunsmith Charles Napier Oct 8/14’, good overall condition £4000-6000

Footnote

General Sir Charles James Napier was born on 10 August 1782. He was raised in Ireland and in 1803 was appointed aide-de-camp to his cousin General Henry Fox, Commander-in-Chief in Ireland, and served against the insurgents. He was promoted to a majority in the Cape Colonial Corps in 1806 from which he exchanged into the 50th Regiment and saw action at the battle of Corunna. Napier was effectively in command of the 1st Battalion and was wounded five times before being taken prisoner. In January 1810 he was exchanged and rejoined his Regiment. Following the fall of Almeida he was attached to Wellington’s staff and at the battle of Busaco on 27 September he was shot through the face. In the ensuing years he saw service in Guernsey and Bermuda from whence he took part in various operations against the USA. He returned to England in 1813 but arrived to find the war with France had ended. On Napoleon’s return to France Napier took part in the storming of Cambrai and was with the allies when they marched into Paris. In 1821 he went to Greece with the hope of leading their army and in March 1822 was appointed Resident at Cephalonia. He was an energetic administrator and in particular answering the many demands for advice from Prince Mavrocordato. During 1823 he saw much of Byron, the latter giving him a letter to the Greek Committee in London recommending him as ‘Our man to lead a regular force or to organize a national one for the Greeks’.

Napier was promoted Colonel in the Army 1825 and continued to serve in Greece until 1830 when he returned to England. He was promoted Major-General in 1837 and in 1839 took command of the troops in the Northern District of England. In 1841 he was ordered to take command of Upper and Lower Sind, which he was to conquer by 1843 following his glorious successes at the battles of Meanee and Hyderabad. November 1846 he was promoted Lieutenant General but resigned from the Government of Sind in 1847. Following the defeat of Lord Gough at the battle of Chillianwallah, Napier again assumed command in India where he suppressed the Sikh Mutiny of 1849. In 1850 he resigned and returned to England. He was a pall bearer at the Duke of Wellington’s funeral, where he caught a severe cold resulting in his death on 29 August 1853.