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Auction Date: September 12, 2014

Lot 1488: Damascus Falconry Dagger with a Golden Hilt

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Historic Damascus Falconry Dagger with a Golden Hilt and Unique Solid Jade Carved Eagle Head Pommel, Gifted to Prince Adalbert of Prussia, Son of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Last Emperor of Germany and King of Prussia - From His Mother, Her Highness, The Empress
Estimated Price: $50,000 - $80,000
Item Views 281 Bid Activity Average
Serial #Damascus Falconry Dagger with a Golden Hilt ManufacturerNone ModelNone
TypeOther Gauge Catalog Page238
Barrel Finish Grip
Stock ClassOther RatingSee Condition
DescriptionThe Emperor Adalbert was born in 1884 to Kaiser Wilhelm II and Kaiserin Auguste Victoria, Adalbert Ferdinand Berengar Viktor was the third son of the Imperial Royal Family. His distant relative and namesake Prince Adalbert of Prussia (1811-1873) was the father of the Imperial Navy and was responsible for the formation of the first unified German naval force, as well as the establishment of what would become Wilhelmshaven, Imperial Germany's chief North Sea base on the west coast of the Jade Bight. Following the path of his namesake, Adalbert also pursued a career as a naval officer and was in inducted into the Imperial Navy at the age of 10 on orders of the Kaiser who publicly announced the appointment both as a demonstration of Imperial faith and goodwill in the Navy and as a component of the Imperial family's duty to the Empire. While getting jumped in at 10 was mostly a propaganda gesture, Adalbert was sincerely committed to the Navy and by the outbreak of World War One, had already achieved the rank of Kapitanliutenant aboard the battleship SMS Kaiser. Adalbert's last posting of the war would be as a Fregattenkapitaen on the SMS Dresden; both Kaiser and Dresden would be among the vessels of the High Seas Fleet scuttled at Scapa Flow as a final act of defiance and/or spite towards the Entente Powers. During the course of the war he developed a reputation as a womanizer, and as he was a married man, it triggered a scandal within the Imperial household. Adalbert was officially banished from the house, never to see his father alive again. Going into exile following the abolition of the monarchy, he took up residence in Switzerland, where he would spend the remainder of his days. This dagger, measuring 18 1/2 inches long, was reportedly a gift to the Prince from his mother, Auguste Victoria, intended as a companion piece to a uniform dagger presented by the Kaiser when he properly entered the naval service. Unlike the naval dagger, which would be bound by various naval regulations and the demands of day to day wear, this dagger was part of a falconry costume, leaving the maker without boundaries or limitations on where they could go with the embellishment of the item. The blade is a fine Damascus pattern, 13 inches in length with a spear point tip, 4 inch false edge and a long ricasso. The merchant marking "M. NEUMANN HOFLIEFERANT BERLIN" is etched into the spine with a gold inlaid "AV" (Auguste Victoria) cipher on the right side as the presenter and "A" (Adalbert) on the reverse as the receiver. Though chiefly meant as an item of dress, a respectable edge and point have been laid into the steel. The hilt is a highly ornate design, consisting of gold plated brass with feather patterns on the grip and clamshell languet and a pair of clenched talons as the guard quillions. The pommel is carved from a single piece of emerald green jade, forming a falcon's head 2 inches tall and 2 3/4 inches wide with finely detailed feathering and a pair of inlaid glass eyes. Out of all the decoration of the dagger, this pommel merits the greatest amount of curiosity. A significant deviation from traditional German edged weapon design, the jade falcon head stands as a unique item among the blades auctioned by this firm; while three-dimensional animal head motifs are often seen (for instance, the traditional lion head on German martial sabers) they are traditionally rendered in a single piece with the rest of the grip hardware. Additionally, jade in this color is a scarce item which would need to be sourced overseas. Reportedly, the elder Adalbert brought back samples of uncut jade following an international journey to Brazil, but this has not been verified as the source. The sheath is constructed from brown leather with a gold plated throat and tip engraved to match the feathered patterns on the quillions.

ConditionExcellent showing a tiny amount of spotting near the tip of the blade and light handling marks overall. If we were to take this dagger and split it up into it's component parts, we would have several one-of-a-kind items: a top rate Damascus blade gold inlaid to two members of the ruling family of Imperial Germany, a hilt and sheath decorated to the highest standards of a presentation dagger and showing off attractive three-dimensional sculpting and detail, and finally, a finely carved jade pommel that quite bluntly has no known equal. Put them together and it's the most attractive and intriguing Imperial German dagger we have ever offered at auction!
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