Jeweled Caucasian Presentation Sword

Value (2011) | $75,000 Auction$100,000 Auction

A friend of mine back in the early '80s went back to Maryland to visit his family and while he was there, he went to an estate sale and he bought this and brought it back to Eugene and a couple of years later, he found himself in a little bit of financial straits, and so he offered to sell it to me, and I bought it from him and I've had it ever since. He did some early research on it and along with... of course, that was before the Internet. Once we got Internet we did a little more research on it and basically we know that it's from Nicholas II, the czar, the last czar of Russia, and we believe that it was one of his officers' swords, we're not sure exactly.

What first intrigued me about this piece was how beautiful it is and how elaborately decorated it is. It's clearly not a traditional Russian arm. It has a lot of Eastern influence. You have very elaborate green and blue enamelwork, but what really caught my attention on this sword is the fact that it's profusely set with all these diamonds. That wasn't really normal.

That wasn’t standard issue.

That wasn't standard issue. They are nice bright diamonds. You've got some large rose diamonds. It's enamel over silver. It's not in perfect condition, as you can see. There are some other parts of it that are down here. There would have been a belt or sash attached to here. The belt buckle would have been along that. This, you might call this a breastplate perhaps, would have been attached to that as well. You see that this comes apart into two pieces as a buckle. Let's take a closer look at what you have. We're going to open it up. It's a little stiff. Here we go. I'll try to keep this away from you.


So the first thing we notice, on this steel blade, if you look here, you mentioned Nicholas II.


Who was the last czar of Russia before the revolution, and in fact you can see here, you've got his monogram, the crown surmounting the Cyrillic "N" with a "2". So this is a diamond-encrusted, silver and enamel, presentation sword. The coronation was in 1896. Maybe it was a coronation gift from somebody. That's possible. We don't know exactly what the origin is and why it might have been a presentation piece. But if we turn the sword over, over here, you mentioned a name. You thought it was an officer's name. It's in Cyrillic, it's written "Guzunov." There's a double-headed imperial eagle above it. In fact, Guzunov is a known arms maker in the Caucasus in the Dagestan region in a city called Kumukh, I believe. He lived from the end of the 19th century into the 20th century. Usually what one sees in the Caucasian region are simple silver swords decorated with niello, which is sort of a black enamel. This is much, much more decorated than what one normally sees from that period. It's a beautiful work of art is what's most important. And the fact that it's got the Nicholas II monogram means that it was probably one of his best pieces and may very well have come from the czar's collection. It's a difficult thing to prove, but it's something that's quite likely. Now, there are some condition issues, as you see. The whole silver and enamel portion at this end is missing and you've got a little damage to the end. Do you remember what you paid for it back in the...

Yeah, well, yes, I paid $500 when I bought it from him. I believe he told me he paid $300 for it when he first picked it up.

It's a rare and unusual piece and even in this condition, at auction, a conservative price might be $75,000 to $100,000.

Wha... Whoa! That's a... that's a shock to me. (laughs) I was thinking, you know, a couple of grand, maybe, but, uh... Whoa! That changes things. I would have never guessed that much on it. That's incredible. (laughs)

Appraisal Details

A La Vieille Russie
New York, NY
Appraised value (2011)
$75,000 Auction$100,000 Auction
Eugene, OR (June 04, 2011)

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