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Nelson’s Navy - A Presentation Royal Navy Dirk, 1800
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Nelson’s Navy - A Presentation Royal Navy Dirk, 1800

Measurements: Length: 34cm (13.5in)

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Steel, ivory and gilt metal. Officer’s dirk with straight tapered shallow diamond section steel blade, gilt acanthus chased crosspiece, ivory grip and lion’s mask pommel. The scabbard of unusual of wavy outline, engraved flowers and foliage, and a serpent  entwined around fasces (indicating the power over life and death) over a flaming torch (enlightenment and hope). Signed within an engraved garter beneath the crown, ‘Dudley, Grand Parade, Portsmouth’. The scabbard fitted with twin snake suspension rings symbolic in Georgian England of good fortune, and everlasting life and love.

The present dirk can be categorically dated 1790-1805. It bears the name of Dudley, a Portsmouth silversmith and jeweller rather than a naval outfitter. Dudley in common with other local silversmiths had a side line in sword-cutlery. Jewellers are known to have assembled presentation swords and dress-swords. Dudley relocated his business in 1805 from premises on the Grand Parade to 79 High Street, Portsmouth indicating the present dirk was made before the Battle of Trafalgar.

Source: Bosanquet, Capt. H.T.A., RN (1953), ‘The Naval Officer’s Sword’, H.M.S.O. London, page 28).
 

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