A Fine Lloyd's Patriotic Fund Sword Of £50 Value To R. Torin Esqr., Com.ng The H.E.I. Co.s Ship Coutts
Lot 119
A Fine Lloyd's Patriotic Fund Sword Of £50 Value To R. Torin Esqr., Com.ng The H.E.I. Co.s Ship Coutts
Sold for £43,250 (US$ 70,673) inc. premium

Lot Details
A Fine Lloyd's Patriotic Fund Sword Of £50 Value To R. Torin Esqr., Com.ng The H.E.I. Co.s Ship Coutts A Fine Lloyd's Patriotic Fund Sword Of £50 Value To R. Torin Esqr., Com.ng The H.E.I. Co.s Ship Coutts
A Fine Lloyd's Patriotic Fund Sword Of £50 Value To R. Torin Esqr., Com.ng The H.E.I. Co.s Ship Coutts
Dated 15 Feby., 1804
With curved single-edged hollow-ground blade richly etched and gilt against a blued ground (some minor surface rust) with foliage including roses, acorns and shamrocks, a naval trophy, figures of Britannia and of Hope, the former with two cherubs holding garlands above, and with a conch below, the crowned arms and cypher of George III, a cornucopia supported by mermen above, and the presentation inscription, stirrup hilt of ormolu, the quillons formed as fasces, the knuckle-guard as the club of Hercules entwined by a snake and retaining its original gilt bullion and blue silk sword-knot (some damage), the langets cast with acanthus foliage and applied naval trophies, and back-piece of the chequered ivory grip cast as the skin of the Nemean lion, in its original fishskin-covered (minor damage) border engraved scabbard mounted in ormolu, the mounts with applied naval trophies and fouled anchors, the former framing respectively figures of Hercules with the Hydra, the Nemean Lion, and with a nude man wrestling a tiger on an anchored leash beneath 'Coutts 1804', two suspension rings, the top edge of the locket engraved 'R. Teed, Sword Cutler, Lancaster Court, Strand', and retaining most of its original blued and gilt finish
76 cm. blade

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    The recipient and thence by descent

    Literature:
    Commander W.E. May , R.N. and P.G. Annis, Swords for Sea Service, 1970, p. 72

    The presentation inscription reads: 'From The Patriotic Fund At Lloyds To R. Torin Esq.r Com.ng The H.E.I. Co.s Ship Coutts One Of The Fleet Of Merchantmen Which On The 15th. Feby. 1804 Defeated And Pursued A Squadron Of French Men Of War Under Command Of Adl. Linios In The Marengo Of 84 (sic) Guns, As Recorded In The Gaz.te Of The 11th Aug.t'

    On the 31st. January 1804 a convoy of sixteen East India Company merchant ships and a number of smaller vessels under Commodore Nathaniel Dance sailed from Canton for Europe. On the 14th February they had reached the Strait of Malacca when four strange sails were spotted. This was a French squadron commanded by Admiral Linois and comprising the Marengo (74) and three frigates. By daybreak on the following day the ships were only about three miles apart with the British ships forming a line of battle. Dance ordered four of the largest ships to hoist blue ensigns which implied that they were warships. The British ships then headed for the Straits with the French in pursuit. Dance ordered his lead ships to come about and there followed a brief exchange of fire. Convinced that he faced a far superior force Linois then withdrew

    The British losses were just one man killed and another wounded but the action saved a convoy with a cargo of tea, silk and porcelain valued at over £8 million at the time (the equivalent of £600 million today). Dance and his fellow captains were highly praised for saving the convoy which prevented both the East India Company and Lloyd's of London from likely financial ruin. They were all rewarded by various national and mercantile institutions and each captain received a sword of £50 value from the Patriotic Fund. These were the only Lloyd's swords presented to Merchant Navy Officer's and are unique in being the only swords of £50 value to have the ships name and the date engraved on the scabbard

    It is interesting to note that, before the convoy had set sail, Dance had consulted his captains as to the action to be taken should they be attacked by the French. Henry Meriton, captain of the Exeter, and Torin, had been in a similar situation off Brazil in 1800 and had masqueraded as ships of the line. In fact Meriton had actually captured a French frigate, the only time a warship struck its colours to a merchant ship. There is no doubt that this action encouraged Dance to proceed as he did

    Robert Torin took command of the Coutts in around 1796. He was acquainted with the artist John Constable and in 1803 Constable joined the ship on the first leg of its journey to China around the Medway and Thames to Deal during which time he completed around 130 sketches. Robert Torin died in 1823 at the age of sixty-four
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