'Luxurious' Ottoman Empire nobleman's sword brings $58,500 in San Francisco

Collectors were spoilt for choice by the striking Great War paintings at Bonhams and Butterfields' militaria and aviation memorabilia sale on November 15. But, aside from artists' impressions, there were also plenty of opportunities for collectors to get their hands on 'the real thing'...

Among the assorted examples of weaponry from the two World Wars for sale was something altogether more historic and unique: this fine and rare Ottoman court kilij for a young nobleman, dated to the late 17th century.

Features on the sword include a 17 1/2 inches blade with sharpened yelman, decorated with inlaid gold bands and leaf forms. One side of the sword's blade bears maker's mark in a gold leaf-form cartouche.

One thing's for sure, noblemen in the court of the Ottoman Empire of 1299-1923 (where "the Way", a Zen-like code of religion and behaviour in front of the sultan, was all-important) demanded luxury in their weapons.

This nobleman's sword has a 14 karat gold crossguard chased with a leafy meander framed by niello panels, and is set on the front and back with large tourmalines (complex crystals which produce polarised light).

Once wielded by a 17th century nobleman, this sword brought $58,500

Around its handle is a grip of stained walrus ivory, inlaid with gold and green hardstone florettes and set on both sides with large tourmolines below green enamel leaf forms, each with four diamonds set in gold.

The sword fits into an original green velvet-covered scabbard, included in the lot. The scabbard is embroidered with silver thread and twenty-nine pearls. "Later additions" to the sword include tourmalines, diamonds and rubies, which were added after its original manufacture.

Despite some light spotting and a small chip to the edge of this blade, it's perhaps unsurprising that this luxuriously - some might say decadently - decorated sword was the top lot in Bonhams and Butterfields' San Francisco auction.

In the end, the 17th century sword sold for $58,500 inclusive of Buyer's Premium, and was unquestionably the most striking lot in a wonderful and varied auction.


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