Full Details for Lot 425



Fine Modern & Antique Guns - December 2014

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Sale A1214 Lot 425


manufactured in 1864-65 by the Turkish especially for the Egyptian army, with 37 1/2in. bronze multi-groove rifled barrel swelling towards the breech, moulded band at muzzle, the breech with the Khedive's tughra (translates as 'ISMA'IL 1281'), socket at rear right for percussion igniter (later mechanical touch-hole cap igniter included), bulbous cascabel, the whole fitted onto its original wooded cream-coloured carriage (restored 1959) with iron-bound spoked wheels, narrow trail hand operated elevation adjuster and complete with clearing and loading rods,

Provenance: The history of this piece is as follows: In 1883, a poorly trained and inexperienced Egyptian army was formed to march up the Nile to oppose insurgents led by the Mahdi (Mohammed Ahmad), a religious leader. The army was led by a British Indian officer, Colonel William Hicks (Hicks Pasha) who had been made a Pasha by the Khedive in 1882. A number of these bronze infantry cannon accompanied the troops, but it did not prevent the army being completely destroyed and massacred at El-Obeid, just south of Khartoum. Over 10,000 officers and men were killed in the engagement, and the captured guns were taken into the service of the Mahdi. In 1898, just prior to the decisive battle of Omdurman, Kitchener attacked the Mahdi's son's army at Atbara River, causing over 6,500 casualties and recaptured the guns. This actual gun was captured by Lt (later Lt. Gen.) William Sitwell at Atbara. Sitwell states in his later book 'A History Of Barmoor' -"We dragged it (the cannon) along with a convoy of wounded for 30 miles to the Nile and lay it on the bed of that classic river until it was convenient to send it to England without undue curiosity from superior authority. It was originally captured from Hicks at the massacre in 1883 and carries the name of the Khedive Ismael, and the date 1281 (after the Hejira) or A.D. 1863" (sic). In truth the gun actually remained hidden in the Nile for nearly three years before it was recovered. The gun then resided outside on the lawn of Barmoor Castle until 1958 when it was loaned to the Northumberland Pistol Club, and used by them for numerous demonstration shoots. The wheels and carriage were renovated in 1959, and in 1964 it was purchased from William Sitwell by Mr R.H. Walton, who subsequently willed it to Eric Purvis

Other Notes: This cannon is a rifled muzzle-loading battalion gun for the close support of infantry. It fires a hollow cast iron explosive shell of approximately 8lb in weight (a wood dummy and inert original supplied) with external studs designed to match the rifling, similar to the Armstrong system. Effective range was in excess of 1000 yards

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Estimate £6,000-8,000

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