23 Nov 2019

Lord Byron’s Greek Blunderbuss

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Auctions Imperial LLC, November 30, 2019, 9:00 AM PST

Est: $7,000 – $8,000
Opening Bid: $3,500

An exceptional example of a tromboni made in Epiros, covered entirely in superbly embossed and engraved silver displaying naturalistic flowering vinework. The brass buttplate and triggerguard engraved en suite. The fine matched flintlock mechanism and barrel with flared muzzle elegantly chiseled in relief with vinework and a stand of arms highlighted with gold. Set on the left side of the stock with a silver plaque with foliate border engraved, GGB for George Gordon Byron. From the Samuel Gridley Howe Collection. Early 19th century. Very minor wear.

George Gordon Byron, Sixth Lord Byron, was England’s greatest Romantic Era poet. He led an adventurous, often dangerous, existence and at age 35 journeyed to Greece to join the revolution and fight the Ottomans. Given command over a brigade of Suliots, he was preparing an attack on the Ottoman stronghold of Lepanto, but died in Missolonghi on April 19, 1824. Byron’s passing was mourned throughout the world. He became a national hero to the Greeks and his renown as a poet grew in England, Europe and America.

Samuel Gridley Howe M.D. (1801-1876,) noted American abolitionist, was so inspired by Lord Byron’s cause, that he sailed for Greece in 1824 with the intention of fighting by Byron’s side. Howe arrived just weeks after Byron succumbed to fever; he nonetheless fought for six years against the Ottomans at Missolonghi, Crete, and other locations, and assisted Byron’s close friend and protege, Alexandros Mavrokordatos, among other Greek notables. Howe acquired Byron’s helmet, sword and a number of other military effects before returning to the U.S. in 1830; the helmet was repatriated to Greece in 1926, donated to the Ethnographic Museum, Athens (now the National Historical Museum) by Howe’s daughter, Maud Howe Elliot, which memorialized her father’s service to Greece as well. Howe’s eldest daughter, Laura Elizabeth Richards, celebrated American author, presented the blunderbuss to her son, Henry Howe Richards, at the beginning of the 20th century.

Late 18th-early 19th century. Minor wear. Overall length 51.4cm. Condition II

Samuel Gridley Howe, 1801-1876

The images of a portrait of Samuel Gridley Howe as a Greek freedom fighter, painted by John Elliot c. 1830, now housed at Brown University.


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