Arms, Armour & Militaria

Arms and armour stretches from ancient times to modern conflicts, with weapons ranging from swords and clubs to firearms, armour including helmets and shields, and militaria such as medals, uniforms, flags and ephemera.

Medals and militaria are often sold at auction as specialised categories, with arms and armour sales also held.


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Pick of the week: Dürer medal to honour emperor

14 October 2019

Albrecht Dürer’s medal dedicated to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, is among the most important medals of the Northern Renaissance. As only four are known to commerce, the appearance of one for sale is significant.

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White-glove sale is a matter of life, love and death

14 October 2019

A collection of 18th and 19th century mementoes of love and death – “the likes of which we are unlikely to ever see again” according to specialist Eric Knowles – brought a white-glove success at Hansons (20% buyer’s premium).

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Preview: £2001-£10,000

23 September 2019

Our weekly selection from salerooms.

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The London Antique Arms Fair moves to RAF Museum for next staging

19 September 2019

The London Antique Arms Fair is moving out of central London to Hendon, north London for its 2020 staging.

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Corinthian helmet offered in Edinburgh auction

26 August 2019

Lyon & Turnbull’s African & Oceanic Art & Antiquities auction in Edinburgh on October 16 includes this Apulian-Corinthian helmet from the late 5th-early 4th century BC.

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Pick of the pistol hammer highs

12 August 2019

Fine sets of pistols, preferably nicely cased, have long been the mainstay of London arms and armour sales. This season’s crop were not as plentiful nor so eagerly contested as we sometimes see, but there were some gems on offer and a selection of them are illustrated here.

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Stopping power to halt an angry tiger

12 August 2019

In the days of the British Raj there was no shortage of would-be shikaris hoping to bag a tiger in India. At the same time plenty of London gunsmiths were ready to supply them with all the fire-power they could persuade them to buy.

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Eager for Hever armour as suit from famous collection reappears

12 August 2019

In May 1983 the eyes of arms and armour bidders were fixed firmly on the £6m sale of the Hever Castle collection at Sotheby’s in London.

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Siamese sword has eastern edge

12 August 2019

The huge variety of exotic arms brought back to Europe from the East during colonial days is becoming an increasingly lucrative area of business for auction houses.

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Sikh tulwar in Italian saleroom

12 August 2019

Edged weapons from the East were also an important part of the sale held by Czerny (20% buyer’s premium) in Sarzano, Italy, on June 16.

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Household Cavalry blades in demand

12 August 2019

The collecting of English military swords is a science in itself.

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Tanto tantalises bidders at Special Auction Services

12 August 2019

Special Auction Services’ (17.5% buyer’s premium) sale in Newbury on July 9 included a wide selection of edged weapons which was topped by a mid-19th century Japanese short sword or tanto estimated at £200-300.

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German game guns boast royal pedigree

12 August 2019

Fine German sidelock ejectors do not feature often in the London salerooms but Gavin Gardiner’s 25% buyer’s premium) May 1 sale of sporting guns at Sotheby’s in London produced a pair that not only scored on quality but had a history to back it up.

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Arms fair now in 52nd year

12 August 2019

The 102nd staging of the London Antique Arms Fair is on Saturday, August 24.

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Munich auction house makes move

12 August 2019

After more than 20 years in the heart of Munich arms and armour specialist auction house Hermann Historica has moved to bigger premises in the suburbs.

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Scottish swords in battle and play

12 August 2019

A Battle of Culloden period Clan MacTavish silver inlaid basket-hilted back sword sold for £4800, just below top estimate, at the Antony Cribb (22% buyer’s premium) auction on July 30.

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Russian shashka sword emerges in Amersham

12 August 2019

A 19th century Russian shashka sword with fine niello-worked ornament sold for £6700 against an estimate of £250-450 at Amersham Auction Rooms (17.5% buyer’s premium) on August 1.

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Strong demand for Boer War medal honouring bravery regardless of race

22 July 2019

A medal, silver cigar box and ‘oil lamp’ lighter sold at Ramsay Cornish's latest sale in Edinburgh had come by descent from Major Jonathan Leslie Dean (1859-1926). He was a key participant in the defence of O’okiep (1902), the small town in the Northern Cape that was besieged by Boer Commandos from April 4-May 4, 1902, towards the end of the Second Boer War.

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Classic wartime posters impress in Dorset auction including a probable Abram Games record price

18 July 2019

A poster which is one of the most famous worldwide is also one of the rarest: just six copies of the British First World War design showing a fierce Kitchener pointing at YOU are known to exist.

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Early Special Boat Service badges and insignia show the special forces collecting impact on auctions

15 July 2019

The lot description ‘special forces’ always causes a stir among militaria collectors and a particularly good example emerged at specialist auction house Bosleys of Marlow.

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