A stunning array of death-dealing swords from the Mediaeval period and earlier, including Viking weapons, form the main thrust of Bonhams sale of Antique Arms and Armour on November 28th in Knightsbridge.
David Williams, Director of Arms and Armour at Bonhams, comments: "Many of these rare and remarkable weapons would have been used in battle. The scarring and damage goes some way to confirm this, though the years have also taken their toll."
He said that today the 24 Mediaeval and Viking swords were more likely to be used as decorative items thanks to the elegance of their archaic and sculptural forms.
Among the collection of swords in the sale from the distinguished Danish collector the late E.A. Christensen, there are some seven Viking swords dating from the 9th and tenth centuries when the Vikings were invading the British Isles on a regular basis. They range in price from £2,000 to £8,000.
A rare Viking sword from the 9th Century, Lot 57, estimated to sell for £6,000 to £8,000 was found in 1887 in the mouth of the River Thieles, in Switzerland. Lot 54, estimate £3,500 to £4,500 was found in the River Meuse in Belgium, Lot 55 is very similar to one found in Ireland and is estimated at £4,000 to £5,000.
The Viking Age spanned the late 8th to 11th centuries. Scandinavian (Norse) Vikings explored Europe by its oceans and rivers through trade and warfare. In England the Viking Age began dramatically on 8 June 793 when Vikings destroyed the abbey on Lindisfarne, a centre of learning famous across the continent. Monks were killed in the abbey, thrown into the sea to drown or carried away as slaves along with the church treasures.
The Viking destruction of Lindisfarne on Northumbria's Holy Island was reported by the Northumbrian scholar Alcuin of York, who wrote: "Never before has such an atrocity been seen". More than any other single event, the attack on Lindisfarne cast a shadow on the perception of the Vikings for the next twelve centuries.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com