by Melvyn Gallagher
Following the Relief of Mafeking B-P was promoted to the rank of Major General and since 1831 our General officers wear special type of dress sword derived from the scimitars used by the Mamelukes who fought Napoleon in Egypt. These swords have a curved blade and ivory grips as seen worn by B-P on a $5 miniature sheet from St.Vincent & the Grenadines. B-P was also showered with lavish gifts from throughout the Empire many paid for by public subscriptions. A popular and traditional gift was a presentation sword of General officer’s type their blades etched with inscriptions and the mounts in gold silver with enamelled coats of arms and monograms. Many similar swords can be seen in museums dedicated to other military leaders and they rarely appear for sale, but recently the present Lord Baden–Powell sold six such swords presented to B-P at Christie’s. The finest example from the Mercer’s Company with heavy 18ct mounts realised £10,000, another from the citizens of Port Elizabeth,Cape of Good Hope sold for £6,500 and one from “Two thousand residents in Dunedin And Districts New Zealand” realised £8,000. The silver gilt mounted sword from Grahamstown sold for £5,000 and the sword from “The Women of Britain” made £6,000. Lastly a solid gold miniature sword from “199 Women of Melbourne” realised £4,000. (All excluding 25% buyer’s premium). Such beautiful objects deserve to be seen and appreciated so I hope that some will end up displayed in public collections.