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A Spanish Diamond-Set Gold-Hilted Sword
Circa 1814-1815
Inscribed ‘JUAN MARTIN’ and ‘… D TOL … 1786’
Size: 83.8 centimetres (33 inches)
Estimated price: £30,000-50,000

Born in Vitoria, Spain, Don Alava (1770-1843) was an accomplished military general who is believed to be the only person present at both the battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo, as the opposition and as an ally respectively, joining the insurgence against France after Trafalgar. Alava was awarded this beautiful double-edged gold and diamond-hilted sword by the city of Vitoria in gratitude for preventing the sacking of the city in 1813.

The magnificence of the detail in the inscription to Alava and the depiction of his coat of arms reflects the high quality craftsmanship. The glorious use of jewels and illustrations emphasise the great honour bestowed upon him. Alava later presented this diamond-monogrammed blade to his friend, Lord Fitzroy Somerset, with whom he fought alongside the Duke of Wellington.

The first Baron Raglan, Somerset was a well-known 19th century British soldier and his military legacy has continued for five generations in Britain. Over the last 150 years, the family has amassed an impressive collection of armour, art, medals and silver, since residing in Cefntilla Court, Monmouthshire, after Somerset’s death in 1855.

First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on April 1, 2012.