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Last Updated: Friday, 19 September, 2003, 17:17 GMT 18:17 UK
Scot's sword nets 175k
Tipu Sultan (aka Tipu Sahib)
The 18th Century Indian national hero and his famous sword
A sword taken from a defeated 18th Century Indian national hero and given to the celebrated Scottish general who beat him in battle has been auctioned.

The "bedchamber sword", which had belonged to Tipu Sultan (Tipu Sahib), fetched over 175,000.

The weapon was presented to the Scottish general, Sir David Baird, by British Commander-in-Chief Lord Harris, for successfully leading the raid against the southern Indian sultan's stronghold in 1799.

The sale of other items belonging to the general - including medals - brought the auction's total to more than 300,000 on Friday.

Organiser Dix Noonan Webb said the price obtained for the sword was one of the highest paid at auction for such an item.

Sir David's descendants said they remained hopeful everyone would be able to enjoy the historical collection.

"Our initial thought was that we would retain the collection but with the passage of time we have decided to offer the items for sale with the hope that most will end up on public view in some form or other," they said in a statement.

Legend

Many of the artefacts sold had been on display for more than 50 years at the National War Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh Castle.

One buyer paid 54,108 for a gold medal awarded to Baird following his command in the Battle of Corunna in Spain, in 1809, during which his left arm was shattered by a musket-ball.

Also on auction was a batch of his communications with the Duke of Wellington and Sir John Moore, which fetched 47,050.

In one of the documents, Wellington described General Sir David - who enlisted in 1772 - as a "gallant, hard-headed, lion-hearted officer".

The general survived four years' imprisonment in southern India at Seringapatam, where he would return to lead the British attack and topple the sultan in the final Mysore War.

He also led successful campaigns against the French in Egypt and in the Cape of Good Hope in Africa against the Dutch.




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