Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1289: £100 Lloyd's Patriotic Fund Sword of Captain Redmill

Auction Date: May 15, 2021

Extraordinary, Historic, Documented Cased Richard Teed £100 Sword, Scabbard, and Sword Belt Presented by the Lloyd's Patriotic Fund in 1805 to Captain Robert Redmill of the HMS Polyphemus for His Meritorious Service at the Battle of Trafalgar

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $275,000 - $375,000

Extraordinary, Historic, Documented Cased Richard Teed £100 Sword, Scabbard, and Sword Belt Presented by the Lloyd's Patriotic Fund in 1805 to Captain Robert Redmill of the HMS Polyphemus for His Meritorious Service at the Battle of Trafalgar

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Catalog Page: 214
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This incredible sword set was crafted by Richard Teed of Lancaster Court, Strand, London. It is the £100 grade, the highest of the three grades reserved for captains. These swords were presented and paid for by the Lloyd's Patriotic Fund which was founded on July 28, 1803, at Lloyd's Coffee House in London and still exists as a charity today. These swords are represented in multiple prestigious collections such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Royal Museums Greenwich, and Royal Armouries. Very few are held in private collections, especially outside of the United Kingdom. Only around 175 swords across the three grades were awarded by the fund before the practice ended in 1809. This sword was illustrated and discussed on page 127 of "The Connoisseur: An Illustrated Magazine for Collectors Vol. 1" from 1901 which notes: "A Special General Meeting of the Committee of the Patriotic Fund was held at Lloyds' Coffee-house on the 3rd of December, 1805, when amongst the proceedings which took place it was 'Resolved — That swords of the value of one hundred pounds each, with appropriate inscriptions, be presented to the surviving Captains and Commanders of His Majesty's ships who shared in the danger and glory of the memorable action with the combined fleets of France and Spain off Cape Trafalgar, on the 21st of October, 1805.' There were twenty-five recipients of these swords." It is listed as sold by Messrs. Glendining & Co. on August 28, 1901. It is also shown on page 262 and discussed on 264 of "Arms and Armor Annual Vol. 1" from 1973 where it is identified as sold by Sotheby's in London in March 1966. A binder with information about the swords and Captain Redmill is included, including a photocopy of "Trafalgar Swords of Honour" by Spalding in which this sword is illustrated and discussed. This sword was presented to Captain Robert Redmill (1758-1819), commander of the Intrepid class third rate ship of the line HMS Polyphemus. The Polyphemus was launched 1782 and named for the cyclops blinded by Odysseus in Homer's "Odyssey." Captain Redmill was awarded the sword for service at the historic Battle of Trafalgar, one of the largest and most significant naval battles in world history, during War of the Third Coalition against France and Spain. Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson's fleet was outnumbered and out-gunned with 32 ships against 23 French and 15 Spanish ships, but his daring tactics resulted in a tremendous victory for the Royal Navy. Nelson's plan was simple but ran against prevailing naval tactics of the era. Instead of engaging in the enemy in a parallel line, he divided his force into the Windward Squadron and the Leeward Squadron and drove straight into the enemy's line under heavy fire and broke through. The Polyphemus with 64 guns was the smallest ship in Vice Admiral Collingwood's Leeward Squadron that struck cut off the rear of the line while Nelson's Windward Squadron cut off the head. By this time, the Polyphemus was comparably old and weathered but exchanged broadsides with the French ships Neptune and Achilles and captured the Spanish Argonauta. The combined French and Spanish fleet is believed to have lost 16,000 men killed, wounded, or captured and 11 ships captured or destroyed to the British loss of 1,587 men killed or wounded. The British victory in the battle prevented the possibility of an invasion against the British Isles and secured British naval supremacy. Captain Redmill and his crew are most famously credited with saving the Lord Nelson's flagship, the HMS Victory, from becoming a complete loss in the storm that followed the battle and had the honor of towing the ship back to Gibraltar and thus transported the famed English naval hero's body. Nelson reportedly went into battle expecting to die in the course of his greatest victory and was hit by a French musket ball fired from the Redoubtable. Captain Redmill served in the Atlantic Campaign of 1806 before retiring due to illness and was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1815. The U.S. built destroyer escort HMS Redmill was named for him during World War II. The 30 1/2 inch curved, single edged blade is entirely decorated with neoclassical, martial, naval, and British patriotic gilt designs on a niter blue background. The obverse side of the blade has "FROM THE PATRIOTIC FUND AT LLOYDS TO ROBERT REDMILL ESQR CAPT OF H-M-S POLY-/-PHEMUS FOR HIS MERITORIOUS SERVICES IN CONTRIBUTING TO THE SIGNAL VICTORY OBTAINED OVER/THE COMBINED FLEETS OF FRANCE & SPAIN OFF CAPE TRAFALGAR ON THE 21ST OF OCTOBER 1805." The gold hilt (ormolu) has acanthus leaf languets, a fasces cross guard with naval trophies at the center, club of Hercules wrapped in a serpent, Nemean Lion pommel and back strap, checkered and carved antique ivory grip, and navy blue and gold sword knot. The gold scabbard has naval and classical trophies, serpents for suspension rings, "POLYPHEMUS" over Britannia holding a laurel crown directing the two British squadrons into battle as they head into the Franco-Spanish line over "NELSON 21 OCTR 1805 TRAFALGAR" in the upper section, a contrasting panel below, a medallion with Hercules battling the Lernaean Hydra by the lower serpent, another contrasting panel Hercules strangling the Nemean Lion on the drag, and beading (likely representing cannon balls) around the edges of the drag. The mouth is marked "R. TEED, SWORD CUTLER/LANCASTER COURT STRAND". The floral embroidered sword belt has a gold buckle with Britannia slaying a triple headed hydra over "PATRIOTIC FUND/1803," gilt lion mask hangers, and anchors as part of the designs on the other gold hardware. The mahogany case lid is inscribed "From/the Patriotic Fund/Lloyds London/to/Robt Redmill Esqr/Capt of HMS/Polyphemus/1805." The label inside of the lid explains the details of the sword: "PATRIOTIC FUND, LLOYD'S 1803./The ornamental design for the Hilts of the Swords,/Presented from the Fund, in reward of/BRITISH VALOUR,/imports that/National Union (figured by the Roman Faces)/PRODUCES/HERCULEAN EFFORTS,/(of which the Club of Hercules is emblematic;)/ WHICH, AIDED BY WISDOM,/(denoted by the serpent)/LEAD TO/VICTORY (implied by the Skin of the Nemean Lion, the proudest of that Hero’s Trophies)/The Wreath of Laurel denotes that/REWARDS/Await the Brave who shall Successfully Wield their Swords in the Cause/of their Country, in Defense of British Security, Independence & Honor.” Below these details is "R. TEED DRESS SWORD MAKER, TO THE PATRIOTIC FUND, LANCASTER COURT STRAND." Provenance: Captain Robert Redmill 1805-1824, 1824-1901 unknown, Messrs. Glendining & Co. August 28, 1901, Sotheby's March 1966, Butterfield & Butterfield October 15, 1996, John Rinaldi, and William Koch

Rating Definition:

Excellent with minor storage related wear. The excellent blade retains 90% plus bright original nitre blue and gilt finish and has minor spots of oxidation. The very fine grip has some hairline stress cracks and crisp checkering. The gold hilt, scabbard, and belt fittings are all excellent. The designs throughout are crisp. The partially restored case is very good and has missing partitions. The belt is very fine and has some mild wear from age. This sword and scabbard are true works of art and are tied to one of the most historically significant battles in naval history. Very few of these swords are in private hands, and they very rarely become available publicly. Do not miss this opportunity to secure one of the world's finest swords.

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