A FINE PRESENTATION SWORD TO MAJOR ROBERT TORRENS BY THE NON COMMISSIONED OFFICERS

  • A FINE PRESENTATION SWORD TO MAJOR ROBERT TORRENS BY THE NON COMMISSIONED OFFICERS Image

Lot 85

A FINE PRESENTATION SWORD TO MAJOR ROBERT TORRENS BY THE NON COMMISSIONED OFFICERS, DRUMMERS AND PRIVATES OF THE ROYAL MARINES AT ANHOLT, BY HENRY TATHAM, SWORD CUTLER TO THE KING, DATED 1811 with curved blade double-edged towards the point and etched in imitation of Damascus steel, etched and gilt on one side with entwined fronds enclosing allegorical figures including Victory and with a pair of addorsed marine monsters at the base, the other side etched with scrolling foliage terminating in a fouled anchor, with the presentation inscription and further designs of scrolling foliage (worn, the gilding with extensive losses), gilt-brass hilt comprising flattened slightly down-turned quillon, cross-piece chiselled in imitation of bound cord, knuckle-guard with conventional foliage and cap pommel cast and chased with classical trophies on each face and a lion mask on top, ebony grip fitted with a gilt-brass ferrule en suite with the sides of the pommel, finely inlaid over its surface with leafy tendrils, and differing flowers, inset on each side with a silver plaque cast and chased with Hercules slaying the Nemean lion, and with a silver fasces running along the back-edge, in its original scabbard almost entirely encased in pierced and chased gilt brass, comprising spirally moulded chape with a pair of batwings at the top, openwork middle section decorated with oak fruit and foliage revealing blue velvet beneath (possibly restored), entwined serpents at the chape, the middle band and the locket, the latter two with a lion mask impaled by a Caduceus, the locket inscribed Anholt' on one side and with the maker's details 'Henry Tatham, Sword Cutler to the King, London' on the other, a pair of spirally moulded integral loops for a belt, complete with its original belt of blue velvet backed with morocco, the velvet embroidered with gilt oak foliage and fruit, with its gilt-brass fittings including entwined anchors and lion mask bosses en suite with the hilt and scabbard, and the brass parts remaining in fine condition throughout 79cm; 31 1/8in blade The inscription reads: 'PRESENTED BY THE NON COMMISSIONED OFFICERS, DRUMMERS AND PRIVATES OF THE ROYAL MARINES IN GARRISON AT ANHOLT, TO THEIR GALLANT AND HUMANE COMMANDER MAJOR ROBERT TORRENS IN TOKEN OF THEIR ADMIRATION OF HIS BRAVERY ON THE XXVII OF MARCH MDCCCXI, AND IN GRATITUDE FOR HIS KIND CONSIDERATION OF THEIR INDIVIDIUAL COMFORT AND HAPPINESS. ' This sabre is one of two swords presented to Captain Robert Torrens, Royal Marines, in recognition of his services in the defence of the Baltic island of Anholt against Danish forces in March 1811 (Field, 1924, I, p. 231). While the sabre offered here was presented to him by the NCOs and men under his command, the other sword - of small-sword form, 100 guineas' value and mounted in silver-gilt by Richard Teed - was presented to him by his officers: it is now in the collections of the Royal Marines Museum, Eastney, Hampshire (2002.40), together with Torrens's Naval General Service Medal 1793-1840 with clasp Anholt (1987.45). The existence of two swords presented to the same man for the same action clearly indicates that Torrens was a man who inspired considerable regard from his subordinates; posterity, however, has remembered him not as the Defender of Anholt but as a leading contributor to the science of Political Economy. Robert Torrens was an Ulsterman, born in about 1780. He was commissioned 2nd lieutenant in the Corps of Marines in February 1796 and promoted 1st lieutenant in November 1797, becoming a captain in the Royal Marines in July 1806. Prior to his being posted to Anholt in the Baltic, Torrens is said to have served on ships of the Channel Fleet and at Copenhagen in 1807 (Fetter, 1990; p. 546). The island of Anholt, in the Kattegat, had been captured from Denmark and occupied in May 1809, shortly afterwards being commissioned by the Royal Navy as a 50-gun ship, placed under the command of Captain James Wilkes Maurice R.N.