The Baird Jewels and Archive (19 September 2003)

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Date of Auction: 19th September 2003

Sold for £5,400

Estimate: £2,500 - £3,500

A General Officer’s coatee worn by Sir David Baird

A fine regulation scarlet coat, with blue collar-patches, cuffs and lapels, the collar, sleeves, lapels and skirts all bearing loops of “chain -plait” embroidery applied in pairs (as for a Major-General) and fastened with General Officers’ convex, closed-back gilt buttons, by Charles Jennens, the lapels turned back and made to fasten with hooks and eyes, but embroidered on the reverse to show when buttoned across, white cloth lining and turnbacks to skirts, with skirt-ornaments in the form of embroidered knots, plain shoulders and small black silk loop to left cuff; together with a companion waistcoat of white cloth, fastened with small buttons of same pattern as coat (2)


Sir David Baird was promoted to Major General in 1798 and to Lieutenant-General in 1805. Although, following the loss of his left arm at Corunna in 1809, he was not employed on active service again, he was advanced to General in 1814. The well-known portrait by Raeburn shows him in the uniform of the latter rank, with evenly-spaced loops on his coat, a massive aiguilette on his right shoulder, and, of course, his left sleeve attached to a coat button.

The style of coat offered here, and the loop on the left sleeve, indicates that it dates from a period later than 1805, when Baird would have adopted a Lieutenant-General’s coat with loops in threes. The most likely explanation of this is that he wore it in his capacity as Governor of Kinsale, an appointment which he held from 1819 until 1827. This would probably also explain why there is no provision on the right shoulder for attachment of the aiguilette, which had formed part of the uniform of all General Officers in military appointments since 1812.