LONDON.- Sothebys London announced that on Tuesday, December 18, 2007 it will offer for sale the King of Hanovers Shield of Achilles, a rare and iconic piece of English Regency silver. The shield mysteriously fell into obscurity in the early 1920s after it was sold by the House of Hanover, but has recently resurfaced in Belgium.
Made by the royal goldsmiths Rundell, Bridge & Rundell in 1823, the rare and remarkable shield, which measures 89.7cm in diameter, was conceived as a monumental realization of the shield forged for Achilles, and described in the 18th book of Homers Iliad. The shield was produced in an atmosphere of patriotic fervour by Rundell, Bridge & Rundell, the most innovative goldsmith of the period, connecting Britains military prowess with that of the ancient Greeks. Five silver-gilt casts were made in all. The first four were purchased by King George IV, his brother the Duke of York, the Earl of Lonsdale and the Duke of Northumberland and these today can be found in The Royal Collection, the Huntington Library and Art Gallery of San Marino California, The National Trust at Anglesey Abbey and the Al Tajir Collection respectively. The shield being sold was the last of the five casts to be made and it was sent for hallmarking between May 1823 and May the following year. It was then, in 1838, acquired by Queen Victorias Uncle, Ernest Augustus Duke of Cumberland, who had just become King of Hanover and following this it descended through the Hanoverian Royal family in Hanover and Austria until it was sold circa 1923. The early 1920s was a time known for disposals of Hanoverian royal plate due to the devastating monetary inflation in Germany and the death of Crown Prince, Ernest Augustus II. It is not known who purchased the shield at this time but other Royal Hanoverian plate was disposed in 1923 through the dealers Max Glückselig of Vienna and Crichton Brothers of London.
With an estimate of £300,000-500,000, the re-appearance of the shield after many unknown years is sure to excite both academics and collectors alike.
Sothebys Silver Department commented: This is an immensely exciting find.