Relics of battle make $1.26m in Bonhams' sell-out militaria sale

The life's work of a British doctor made its way to Bonhams last week, in the shape of a remarkable collection of armour. The museum-quality selection proved the hit of the Fine Antique Arms and Armour auction on July 20, with every piece sold to a room of international collectors.

The collection had belonged to Dr. Peter Henry Irving Parsons, a surgeon whose life-long passion for collecting armour began whilst he trained as a medical student in London. The Doctor spent his life accumulating a stunning collection, and the high quality was evident in the resulting sales.

David Williams, Director of Bonhams Antique Arms and Armour Department, said of the collection: "It is increasingly rare to find antique armour of this quality. Besides the sculptural beauty and romance of the pieces, they are also of museum quality as Dr Parsons had the most discriminating eye and taste for this art form."

And it seems the buyers in attendance agreed, with a number of  lots making many multiples of their pre-sale estimates.

This Cuirassier Three-Quarter Armour, circa 1620-30,
sold for £50,400

The top sale went to a Cuirassier Three-Quarter Armour, circa 1620-30, which beat its £12,000 - £15,000 estimate to sell for £50,400. Another similar suit from the same period, a blackened Cuirassier three-quarter armour believed to originate from Denmark, sold for £33,600 above an estimate of £10,000 - £15,000.

The sale also featured a number of remarkable helmets dating from the 16th and 17th centuries. These included a rare 17th century spider helmet which sold for £33,600 against an estimate of just £4,000 -£5,000, and a 16th Century Saxon Electoral Guard Comb Morion helmet from Nuremberg which beat its £8,000-12,000 estimate to eventually make £28,800.

Williams said of the sale "We are delighted with the result which is just the latest indicator of the strength of this part of the art market, the interest in a private collection fresh to the market and a group of enthusiastic international armour collectors who made their presence felt."


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