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Auction Date: September 10, 2016

Lot 1350: Historic Presentation Grade C. Smith & Son Gi

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Historic Presentation Grade C. Smith & Son Gilt Accented Sword, Etched as a Gift from Queen Victoria to Don Rafael Carrera, First President of the Republic of Guatemala, Hero of the Battle of La Aranda, with Two Scabbards, Sword Superb and Important Historic Cased Presentation Saber by C. Smith & Sons, Picadilly, London Presented by Queen Victoria to President Don Rafael Carrera, First President of the Republic of Guatemala
Estimated Price: $30,000 - $55,000
Item Views 253 Bid Activity Average
Serial #Historic Presentation Grade C. Smith & Son Gi ManufacturerNone ModelNone
TypeOther Gauge Catalog Page178
Barrel Finish Grip
Stock ClassOther RatingSee Condition
DescriptionMeasuring 36 1/2 inches overall, with a 30 inch curved blade with false edge that is extensively scroll etched, with the right side bearing the crest of Guatemala and C. Smith's Picadilly address, and the left side bearing the inscription "-FROM QUEEN VICTORIA-/-TO DON RAFAEL CARRERA-/CAPTAIN GENERAL OF THE ARMY, AND PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF GUATEMALA/-AS A TOKEN OF FRIENDSHIP AND ESTEEM-". The guard is gilt silver construction with hallmarks on the left side ("WB", possibly William Barrett II) next to a "RC" monogram, the right side covered with the Seal of the Republic of Guatemala, and a set of fancy scroll sculpted guards. The grip and pommel are carved from antique ivory, with a set of eight blue stones around a central golden flower on the left side, a gold wire portapee and a carved lion head pommel with painted glass eyes. Two scabbards are included with the sword, both with double ring suspension hardware. The first scabbard has a red velvet lined body with gilt silver fittings hallmarked to match the guard, with extensive punched-through scroll decoration and a pair of scroll carved suspension ring holders, and the second is of iron construction with gilt fittings (no hallmarks), with raised scroll and laurel decoration, arrays of arms, and a set of ring holders very similar to the first scabbard. The belt is of red leather construction with heavy gold bullion laurel vinework over nearly the entire face, a gilt Republic of Guatemala buckle, and a pair of matching sword hangers. All items so far described fit in an included hardwood case, which is bound in red leather, with a red velvet interior and a C. Smith nameplate on the lid above an "RC" monogram. Also included with the lot is a copy of the book "Rafael Carrera and the Emergence of the Republic of Guatemala 1821-1871" by Ralph Woodward Jr.. Born to a poor family in 1814, the future President of Guatemala first joined the military at the age of twelve, enlisting as a drummer during the civil war that ensued after the Mexicans gave up on occupying the country. Rising to the rank of Sergeant, he returned to civilian life after the war ended, drifting about a bit before establishing himself as a swineherd in Mataquescintla and "making good" in the classic Horatio Alger sense, earning money, setting up a household and marrying into a prominent local family. Had circumstances in the country not broken down due to political infighting and an outbreak of cholera, he very well might have spent the rest of his life there and stayed out of the path of history, but this was not the case. In 1837 Carrera's home district was quarantined, and Carrera led a two-thousand strong mob to kill a government party sent to distribute medicine in the region, and when the population went into full revolt, they elected Carrera their leader. Operating as a guerilla force, Carrera's men engaged in a mix of hit and run attacks and banditry, before graduating to a full field army and a major force in Central American politics. In 1844 he was elected Governor of Guatemala, and in that same year would declare Guatemala an independent nation, become the first President of the newly minted Republic of Guatemala. Holding onto the big chair for four years, he had to go into exile in Mexico in 1848 due to the growing power of his political rivals, but was back in the country in 1849 in spite of a standing execution order against him, returning to his guerilla roots and fighting his way back into power, culminating in the Battle of La Aranda in 1851, where he prevailed against a numerically superior combined force from Honduras and El Salvador and locked in Guatemala's status as an independent, sovereign nation, comparable to Andrew Jackson's victory at New Orleans at the end of the War of 1812. On the strength of his performance at La Aranda, Carrera would be returned to the presidency, and a few years later declared President for Life, a position he would hold until 1865. While the exact circumstances of the presentation are undocumented, Great Britain under Queen Victoria was a prime trade partner with Guatemala, and a fine sword with an array of equally attractive accessories would be exactly the kind of gift to give to a soldier turned politician like Carrera.

ConditionFine overall. The blade shows some patches of spotting and a few areas of heavier pitting, with a few small edge nicks and very strong etching. The hilt is very good, with exceptional detail in the carving, a crack in one segment of the grip (partially concealed by the left languet), and the start of a fine aged color to the grain. The iron scabbard shows spotting comparable to the blade and a few small spots and cracks on the fittings, and the velvet scabbard shows a few areas of wear and fading. The belt and hangers are good, with one hanger detached, a button absent from the other hanger, and mild handling marks overall. The case shows exterior wear and tear appropriate to age and international travel, with the lock mechanism discarded, a few gaps in the inner lining, and scattered scuffs. A top notch demonstration of the artistry of Victorian England's cutlers, silversmiths and jewelers, attributed to one of the critical figures in the development of the independent nations of Central America.
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