Fearless Anti-Slavery Campaigner's Pistols at Bonhams Antique Arms and Armour Sale in London

London – Edward Harbord (1781-1835) may not be a household name but as MP for Yarmouth and Shaftesbury and later as 3rd Baron Suffield, he proved himself a redoubtable campaigner for progressive causes. He secured legislation for prison reform, a relaxation of the Game Laws, and the abolition of spring-guns, but above all from 1822 he campaigned relentlessly and fearlessly for the total abolition of slavery. Edward Harbord's cased pair of 40-Bore flintlock duelling pistols made by Joseph Manton in 1807 is to be offered in Bonhams Antique Arms and Armour sale in London on Wednesday 25 May. The pair is estimated at £15,000-18,000.

The slave trade had been outlawed in most of the British Empire by the Slave Trade Act of 1807, but the owning of slaves was still lawful and ending this anomaly was the main target of Lord Suffield's campaign. He lived to enjoy success with the passing of the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833, two years before his death.

David Williams, Bonhams Head of Antique Arms and Armour said: "Edward Harbord was a considerable figure, well ahead of his time. In addition to his campaigning activities, he was a popular landowner allotting land to the cottagers on his Norfolk estates. A keen sportsman, he also established the Norfolk Cricket Club. The pistols, which may have originally been made for Edward's brother William, from whom he inherited the Suffield title in 1821, are particularly fine."

The sale also offers the Bill Curtis library. Bill was a doyen of the muzzle-loading shooting community in the UK and held all the great offices of the Muzzle-loaders Association of Great Britain, which he joined in 1956. The collection he amassed after his retirement included his beloved library, devoted to muzzle-loading small arms and shooting and thought to be unrivalled. He made good use of these acquisitions too, answering many questions from fellow enthusiasts worldwide including members of the Historical Breech-Loaders Association of which he was awarded Honorary Life membership. His library represents an opportunity to acquire publications that are rarely available to collectors.

Highlights include:

• First edition of The Gunner, Shewing the Whole Practise of Artillerie, 1628 by Robert Norton. Estimate: £1,000-1,500.
The Highlands of Central India by Captain J Forsyth (and 10 other publications on hunting in India). Estimate: £400-600.
Explorations & Adventures in Equatorial Africa by Paul du Chaillu. (and six other books on big game hunting). Estimate: £400-500.
Ismailia... by Sir Samuel West. Estimate: £300-400.

Other highlights include a Knightly Sword from The Castillon Group, Early to Mid-15th Century. Estimate: £12,000-15,000.

12 May 2022

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