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Royal Arms Factory, Torre Annunziata, Naples

Robe sword and scabbard 1806-08

Length overall 89.9 cm, length of blade 73.4 cm, width 3 cm (whole object) | RCIN 61170

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  • Robe sword and scabbard. The hilt, which is of frosted gilt brass, consists of a pommel of inverted-pear shape the larger end made to look like a closed crown, with a two-tier tang-button, and a pair of straight quillions of rectangular section, tapering towards their ends where each divides into two small scrolls between which is a large drop- shaped button. There is a pair of elongated ears each shaped like a trapezium tapering towards the blade. The surface of the brass is chiselled and engraved with stylized foliage. It is inlaid with numerous brightly faceted, cut-steel beads and with burnished iron plates and frames. The ear is inlaid with iron flutes radiating from the centre of the quillon-block. The barrel-shaped ebony grip of oval section is inlaid with longitudinal strips of brass set with graduated, faceted cut-steel beads set longitudinally, and with a central belt of gilt-brass discs set with rosettes of similar beads. The gilt-brass ferrule towards the blade has a petalled socket set with cut-steel beads. The straight, double-edged blade of watered steel or it is a remarkably good imitation of mechanical watering. The portion which is of lenticular section is counterfeit damascened on one face with the insignia of the Legion of Honour and N within a laurel wreath all crowned, all within a frame edged with trefoils, and on the other face with the inscription Mre D’armes Rle de Naples within a plain frame. The remainder of the surface is etched with acanthus scrolls and cornucopia ornament bright in reserve against the watered ground. The scabbard, which is lined with wood sheathed in sheets of brightly-burnished iron and framed in gilt-brass, has seven mounts of gilt-brass decorated en suite with the hilt. The locket has a circular frog-button on its front. The chape has a symmetrical trail with wavy edges and a scallop-like finial. The central band is decorated with the letter N on the inside, and with the insignia of the Legion of Honour on the outside, both formed by steel beads. Its aprons each consists of a lotus flower in the centre of scallop-like flutes of iron. Engraved on the spine of the scabbard is Dirigé par le Capitne d’Artilrie Legrand à la Manufre d’Armes Royale à Naples.

    A Royal Collection inventory describes the sword as being presented by Lord Wellington (as the Duke of Welington was then known) to The Prince Regent on 28th August 1813, ‘by the hand of Captain Blanckley of the 23d or Royal Welsh Fusillers’, and adds ‘this Sword did belong to Joseph Bonaparte – Commonly – or latterly known by the Title of King of Spain – it was found among his Baggage after the Battle of Vittoria and sent to The Prince Regent by the Hero The Marquis of Wellington ...’. Bonaparte had created his brother Joseph (1784-1860) King of Naples in 1806 and two years later transferred him to the throne of Spain. His baggage, including his guns and this sword, fell into the hands of the British Army after the battle of Vitoria on 21 July 1813. It is assumed he acquired this sword during his time in Naples. The battle had taken place on 21 June 1813 when a combined British, Portuguese and Spanish army under Lord Wellington defeated the French army under Joseph Bonaparte and Marshal Jourdan near Vitoria in northern Spain; this success eventually led to victory in the Peninsular War. Captain Henry Stanyford Blanckley joined the 23rd Regtiment of Foot as a 2nd Lieutenant on 3rd July 1805; he became a Lieutenant on 31 July 1806, Captain on 21 May 1812 and Brevet Major on 21 July 1817. He served as Deputy Assistant Adjutant-General at the battle of Waterloo. He transferred to the 13th Light Dragoons in 1818 and died in 1820.

  • Measurements

    Length overall 89.9 cm, length of blade 73.4 cm, width 3 cm (whole object)