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Sharp bidding

Eastern swords are at the sharp end of militaria demand. The rise in interest was noted by dealer Runjeet Singh in ATG No 2305 ahead of his appearance at Fine Art Asia 2017 in Hong Kong.

At Salisbury saleroom Woolley & Wallis (22% buyer’s premium) on November 22, a good representation of such lots received a suitable response.

A Persian sword (shamshir) with 2ft 4in (71cm) curved blade, sold for £6500 against a £400-600 estimate, while a fine Persian dagger (jambiya), featuring a 9in (23cm) curved watered steel blade, took £4600 (estimate £1000-1500).

A fine Turkish sword (kilij), with 2ft 4½in (71cm) watered steel blade, also made £4600 (£1000-1500) and an Arab sword (nimcha), with slightly curved 2ft 10in (86cm) multi-fullered blade, took a four-times top estimate £4000.

W&W specialist Ned Cowell says demand for such arms is “healthy, and apparently still growing”. He adds: “Some of the Persian types, such as the shamshir, are of such wonderful quality that they never fail to provoke strong competition.”

Case studies

Cased pistols by well-known high-quality makers are a strong suit of the militaria market and impressive results are being triggered across the country.

A fine example was a cased pair of percussion pistols, by Thomas Jackson Mortimer, St James Street, London, offered at Suffolk auction house Bishop & Miller (18% buyer’s premium) on October 7 which made £12,500 against an estimate of £3000-5000.

“The vendor was an American gentleman who was a collector around 20 years ago but has not collected for many years,” auctioneer Oliver Miller says. “As he is moving back to the US he decided to drop the pistols into us for our specialist arms and armour auction.

“With bidders in the room and internet pushing the price to just over £5500, the phones took over and continued fighting it out until the £12,500 was reached. We understand it was a collector who won the lot.”

Miller adds that the pair of pistols were of “superior quality and by a sought-after maker” and the condition was “quite simply excellent”.

“We feel that this cased pair has achieved a great price thanks to a very strong market and a good pool of collectors always ready to push on the bidding.”