A rare pistol-sword owned by Alexander Davison, an intimate friend of Admiral Lord Nelson for 24 years has been put up for sale in Bonhams on 25 July, 2012.
The sale is part of the auction house's Antique Arms, Armour and Sporting Gun sale to be held at Bonhams Knightsbridge.
Estimated at £10,000 to £15,000, the unusual weapon is a fine and rare flintlock combined 54-bore box-lock over-and-under tap-action pistol and sword made by H W Mortimer, London, in the late 18th Century. It bears Birmingham silver hallmarks for 1782, and a maker's mark of Charles Freeth. The pistol has a 64.9 cm sword blade attached.
It was in the year 1782 that Alexander Davison met Horatio Nelson in Quebec and since then, had remained a constant figure in Nelson's life. He was of Scottish ancestry and built a fortune in Canada during the 1770s and 80s as a trader and ship owner during the American War of Independence.
On his return to England he was appointed the Commissariat of the Duke of York's army in Flanders augmented in 1795 by his further appointment as agent to the Barrackmaster-General to the British army, General Oliver De Lancey.
This was an attempt to rationalise the arrangements individual regiments followed when requisitioning equipment. Davison recovered a fee of 2½% on all purchases, a reward further enhanced when he purchased supplies from his own factories in Millbank and which helped finance the purchase of Swarland Park, Northumberland.
Following Nelson's victory at the Battle of the Nile in 1798 Davison was appointed, by a unanimous decision of the Captains of the Nile but clearly sponsored by Nelson, sole agent for the sale and distribution of the prizes taken during the battle, As a result of this, Davison decided to commission medals for all those who had served in the action at a cost to himself of £2,000.
He also arranged for the production of the famous crocodile-hilted swords to be commissioned through the Royal goldsmiths Rundell & Bridge for the members of the Egyptian Club established for the Captains who served with Nelson on the Nile.
In 1802 he sought election as Member of Parliament for Ilchester, but was jailed for six months in 1804 for electoral fraud. Following Nelson's death on 21 October 1805 the various valuables recovered from the Admiral's effects were examined at Davison's house in St James's Square.
In the presence of Nelson's brother, William, recently ennobled as first Earl Nelson, and William Haslewood, the Admiral's solicitor, both executors of Nelson's will, the various Money, Coins in Lord Nelson's Pocket, purse & when killed were inspected, recorded and then entrusted to Davison as treasurer. Nelson bequeathed his Turkish scimitar, gun and canteen to Alexander Davison.