|By Susan Emerson Nutter
CINCINNATI — The sword collection of William I. Koch; considered the most important collection of ornate British and American ceremonial and presentation swords ever privately assembled, is slated to sell during the Oct. 30-31 Historic Firearms & Militaria auction hosted by Cowan’s Auctions, Inc.
Estimated at $2 million; a total of 45 swords spanning the time periods of the Napoleonic Wars, the Mexican-American War and the Civil War will be presented for bids during both sessions of this auction, and the sword collecting community is ready.
“Bill Koch has been a friend and customer of Cowan’s for almost 15 years,” said Wes Cowan, Executive Chairman and Principal Auctioneer of Cowan’s Auctions, Inc. “I’ve witnessed Bill’s passion for historical artifacts, and his keen eye for the extraordinary. We are delighted to bring this collection to market. It is without a doubt the finest assemblage of British and American swords ever sold in America.”
Cowan’s Director of Historic Firearms and Militaria, Jack Lewis agrees. “It was our pleasure to catalog these swords. They are the best of the best. Seldom do we handle swords that are Metropolitan Museum of Art quality. The opportunity to acquire any of the Koch collection swords is a chance of a lifetime.”
“Koch; a longtime client of Cowan’s, put his collection together over the course of 20 years, and he was very careful and very precise about what swords he acquired,” Lewis notes citing one such example. “Naval officer swords can easily be found for sale in the $300 to $500 range,” Lewis said. “The example in the Koch collection, however, is quite different. All the fittings are 14K gold and hallmarked which makes this common sword anything but.” This special sword comes to auction with a $3,500 to $5,000 estimate.
Offered for sale will be a solid gold Lloyd’s Patriotic Fund sword rewarded to British Captain Robert Redmill, CB for his actions against the French fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar. It is coming to auction with a top estimate of $300,000. Cowan’s notes, “This is one of just 23 100 Guinea Swords that were awarded to captains by the British Empire for service during the famed naval battle.” A British gold and enamel sword presented to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent to his brother, the Duke of Cambridge in 1816 is expected to sell in the $100,000 to $200,000 range.
The top American sword of the collection is one presented to Brevet Captain Schuyler Hamilton by the citizens of New York. Hamilton was General Winfield Scott’s Aide-de-camp during the Mexican-American War and was the grandson of Alexander Hamilton; one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Its ornate construction complete with artistic flourished is unusual for military blades, and it is estimated to sell for $300,000.
A Civil War gold presentation sword given to General Rufus King by the 19th Indiana Volunteers is estimated to bring $150,000. Very few presentation swords by its maker: Bailey & Company of Philadelphia are known to still exist.
The Koch Collection will be offered across both sessions of the fall auction with the majority of the swords being offered on Tuesday, Oct. 30, during the Historic Firearms & Militaria session. The Civil War-related swords will be available on Wednesday, Oct. 31 during the Treasures of the Civil War session. The collection will be available to preview in its entirety on Monday, Oct. 29 or by special appointment. Both sessions along with the preview will take place at Cowan’s Cincinnati salesroom at 6270 Este Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45232.
“I have always been fascinated by historical artifacts and have managed to collect a number of swords associated with famous people and important events,” said William Koch. “I am now ready to share these fabulous objects with other collectors who will appreciate their significance and beauty.”