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Boer War Lee-Enfield rifle – £3200 at Lockdales.

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The 2401-lot sale held online by the Ipswich firm hammered a £343,519 total (£417,700 including premium) against a combined a top estimate of all lots of £282,294.

Chris Elmy of Lockdales said: “There was great interest in this auction, being held at a time when collectors and dealers have been unable to attend fairs for a long time due to lockdown.

“The demand for collectables is high, and all sections were fiercely contested. This is a seller’s market for sure.”

Heroic defence

A Boer War Lee Enfield cavalry carbine with an intriguing historical ink made £3200 against an estimate of £1600-2000.

As well as marks for Enfield 1897, the walnut stock had a butt marker disc stamped XVII (for the 17th Lancers) and 92 (the rifle number).

Lockdales said it is possible this rifle was used in the famous stand of C Squadron, the 17th Lancers at Modderfontein on September 17, 1901. Smuts’ Commandos ambushed the lancers in an action immortalised in the painting All that was left of them by Richard Caton Woodville.

Divers’ knives

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British diver’s knife – £560 at Lockdales.

Estimated at £50-60, a British diver’s knife in its special scabbard with leather frog sold for £560.

The handle was stamped C.E.Heinke & Co London, the resharpened blade measured (16cm) and the scabbard stamped London.

A German Kriegsmarine diver’s brass knife, with a WKM marked blade and tiny eagle over M stamp to handle, showed light rusting to the blade and service wear. Estimated at £230-240, it took £460.

Road safety

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Muff pistols – £2000 at Lockdales.

The danger from highwaymen entailed the need for personal protection while travelling. The ‘muff pistol’ provided this, mainly for women. The single-shot flintlock weapons could be concealed in a handmuff, hence the name.

A pair of English high-quality examples, with the frame engraved H Nock and London, sold for £2000 against a guide of £400-500. Henry Nock (1741-1804) produced many innovative weapons.

Manufactured c.1780-1810, these pistols featured finely chequered walnut grips, screw-off 1½in (2.5cm) barrels, drop-down folding triggers and sliding top safety catch.