Thursday, November 21, 2013

The object of the day: Silver & ivory Victorian launching axe

Rare silver & ivory Victorian launching axe (1873 London)
Barnard Brothers, London (1830-c.1910)

Silver and ivory

Signed/Inscribed/Dated 1873 and 1879

Dimensions 6.00cm wide 20.20cm high 1.90cm deep
Condition Excellent, original condition.

Description / Expertise A Victorian ivory and silver presentation launching axe, by Messrs Barnards, London 1873,
the head of engraved silver, sandwiching a steel blade, mounted onto a fluted ivory shaft. The handle terminates in a fully hallmarked silver finial, having an oak leaf cartouche inscribed "H.F.M.S Mandovi Launched 16 August 1879" and engraved, "Birkenhead Iron Works."

H.F.M.S Mandovi was a Portuguese Navy gunboat. The Birkenhead Iron Works was set up by William Laird, a Scottish engineer in 1822. The Company merged in 1903 with Charles Cammell & Co. to become Cammel Laird, one of the most illustrious of British shipbuilders. The ceremonial axe was used by the launching celebrity to cut the fine line which held back the slipway triggers, allowing the vessel to proceed into the water.

This is the third such axe that we have seen, all of identical form and all from the Birkenhead Iron Works. Clearly the company bought a large stock of these and had them engraved when the launch date was known. That explains why the hallmarks are for 6 years earlier than the launch. The last example we had was for HMS Rattlesnake, launched in 1886.

Price gbp 1750.00 

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