A Very Fine And Rare Presentation Sabre From Edward Solly To Thomas Harris In Commemoration Of Their Fellowship At The Memorable Battle Of Leipzig
Lot 82
A Very Fine And Rare Presentation Sabre From Edward Solly To Thomas Harris In Commemoration Of Their Fellowship At The Memorable Battle Of Leipzig
By Webb, Piccadilly, London, Dated 1813
-Select US Arms Type-
Sold for £ 43,750 (US$ 57,011) inc. premium

Lot Details
A Very Fine And Rare Presentation Sabre From Edward Solly To Thomas Harris In Commemoration Of Their Fellowship At The Memorable Battle Of Leipzig A Very Fine And Rare Presentation Sabre From Edward Solly To Thomas Harris In Commemoration Of Their Fellowship At The Memorable Battle Of Leipzig A Very Fine And Rare Presentation Sabre From Edward Solly To Thomas Harris In Commemoration Of Their Fellowship At The Memorable Battle Of Leipzig A Very Fine And Rare Presentation Sabre From Edward Solly To Thomas Harris In Commemoration Of Their Fellowship At The Memorable Battle Of Leipzig A Very Fine And Rare Presentation Sabre From Edward Solly To Thomas Harris In Commemoration Of Their Fellowship At The Memorable Battle Of Leipzig
A Very Fine And Rare Presentation Sabre From Edward Solly To Thomas Harris In Commemoration Of Their Fellowship At The Memorable Battle Of Leipzig
By Webb, Piccadilly, London, Dated 1813
With curved pipe-back blade double-edged at the brightly polished point and richly etched, blued and gilt over nearly its entire length on one side with elaborate designs of foliage, a serpent, the figure of Justice and post-1801 royal arms, the latter between martial trophies, and on the other with foliage, the figure of Peace and the presentation inscription, the latter also between martial trophies, stirrup hilt of ormolu cast and chased with laurel and comprising scrolled rear quillon, knuckle-guard pierced 'LEIPZIG', langets cast with acanthus and each with a martial trophy against a recessed punched ground, eagle-head pommel and back-piece in one secured by a ferrule at the base, and partly chequered ivory grip (minor old repair), in original wooden scabbard covered in blackened fishskin (minor losses) with ormolu locket, chape and suspension mount each engraved with symmetrical foliage involving crosses, all against a finely punched ground and centred on applied medallions each chased with a Classical figure, on the locket with Hercules and the Nemean Lion, the suspension loops with the seated figure of Hercules within a martial wreath of laurel and oak, acanthus chape terminal and suspension mounts, the latter each supported by a demi-monster, and retaining nearly all its original etched, blued and gilt finish; together with its original gilt-brass service scabbard with two rings for suspension (a lot, see below)
78.7 cm. blade

Footnotes

  • Literature:
    D.H. Tomback, 'The Sword Of Lieutenant Colonel Sir Thomas Noel Harris K.H.', Journal Of The Society For Army Historical Research (Spring 1987), Vol. LXV, No. 261, pp. 20-22

    The presentation inscription reads: 'From Edward Solly To Thomas Noel Harris, In Commemoration Of Their Fellowship At The Memorable Battle Of Leipzig Of The 18th And 19th Of October 1813.'

    The Battle of Leipzig, known also as the Battle of the Nations, was fought between the 16th and 19th of October 1813 between the French and the Allied Armies of Russia, Prussia, Austria and Sweden. Over 600,000 troops were involved, making it the largest battle in Europe prior to World War I. Napoleon was decisively beaten and retreated to France where he was forced to abdicate and exiled to Elba in May 1814.

    Edward Solly (1776-1844) was a very wealthy non-conformist English merchant and highly cultured connoisseur, based in Germany. He acted as the Baltic agent for his family's London-based business which traded as Isaac Solly & Sons. The business was one of the main suppliers of hemp and timber to the Royal Dockyards and was engaged in the Baltic timber trade - the business suffered much during Napoleon's 'Continental Blockade'. Solly was acquainted with Lt. Gen. Sir Charles Stewart (1778-1854), later 3rd Marquis of Londonderry, and witnessed the Battle of Leipzig first-hand. Although not in the army, as he knew the Northern Lowlands so well, he volunteered to ride to London with the news of Napoleon's crushing defeat, travelling by the most direct but perilous route. Moving through enemy territory, the journey took him fifteen days eventually arriving in London with news of the victory twenty-four hours ahead of the King's messenger. He sailed to England across the North Sea on board a Dutch herring bus having paid the fishermen more for his passage than the entire value of the boat and all its tackle. A description of the mission, undertaken in 'the face of hostile forces and the disturbed state of the country', was written up by his son, also Edward, in 'News and Newspapers', The Bibliographer, (March 1884), vols. 5-6, p. 91

    Most importantly the recipient of this amazing commemorative sword was the then Captain Thomas Noel Harris (1783-1860), later Colonel Sir Thomas Noel Harris KCH. Harris was a gifted soldier who was with Wellington in the Peninsula. By 1812 he was aide-de-camp to Lt. Gen. Sir Charles Stewart and in 1813 followed him to act with Crown Prince Bernadotte of Sweden and Prussian forces. During the Wars of Liberation he was attached to Blücher's staff and embedded with the Prussian cavalry and would have known Edward Solly from this time. Five months after the Battle of Liepzig, Harris was at the fall of Paris with Stewart, Blücher and the Army of Silesia. Captain Harris was despatched to take the news of the capitulation of Paris to London. Just as his friend Solly before him, he had to journey through enemy-held territory. Harris arrived in London on 5 April to deliver the news of the surrender of the French capital and was much feted, becoming quite a celebrity as the news that he brought was disseminated across the country.

    The following year Harris fought at Quatre Bras and Waterloo and had two horses shot from under him. At Waterloo he was wounded by a musket ball in the chest and another which shattered his right arm, which was subsequently amputated. He was found lying in the mud by his cousin, John Clement Wallington, of the 10th Hussars (for an account of his uniform worn at Waterloo see Philip J. Haythornthwaite, 'The Waterloo Uniform of Lieutenant Colonel Sir Thomas Noel Harris, K.H.', Journal of The Society For Army Historical Research (Winter 1989), Vol. LXVIII, No. 272, pp. 207-210). He recovered and in 1817 was given an annual pension of £200 for his injuries. In 1814 he was made a Knight of the Royal Order of Military Merit of Prussia and of the Imperial Orders of St. Vladimir and of St. Anne of Russia. In 1830 he was made a Knight of the Royal Hanoverian Order. In 1832 he was appointed Assistant Adjutant General in Ireland and in 1834 he became the Chief Magistrate of Gibraltar. In 1840 he was made a Groom of the Privy Chamber to Queen Victoria and in 1841 he was knighted for a second time. Twice widowed, in 1847 he married for a third time (one of his step-sons by his third wife was killed in the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava in 1854). In 1855 he was appointed Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Kent. There is a memorial to him in the Church of St. Lawrence, Ramsgate which states that he 'served and bled for his country'. See Clement B.H. Harris, A Brief Memoir of the Late Lt-Col Sir T.N. Harris, K.H., etc', London, 1893 (a copy is offered with the lot and includes a handwritten tipped-in letter from the author to Charles Dalton, author of the famous Waterloo Roll Call, published in 1890).

    Edward Solly continued as a merchant until he returned to London in 1821. However, he is best remembered as a collector of and later, dealer in, paintings. He amassed a huge collection of 14th and 15th Century Italian works, selling around 3,000 pieces to the new art museum in Berlin in 1821. He continued to collect and deal, and paintings that passed through his hands can be seen in galleries throughout the world to this day.

    The sword represents the great friendship formed by two men of vastly differing backgrounds, one a man of action and the other a connoisseur of fine art, who were thrown together by a war which transformed Europe.

    Offered with two framed and glazed reproduction portraits of Lt.-Col. Sir Thomas Noel Harris, K.H., further research and printed biographical details

    Bonhams gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Alexander Rich in the preparation of this footnote
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