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Original British Napoleonic Naval Nile Dirk of Captain Henry Darby of HMS Bellerophon - Battle of the Nile

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Item Description

Original Item: One of a Kind. This is an absolutely genuine Nile Dirk with engraved curved 10" blade mounted on an engraved ivory grip with gilt cross guard and crocodile head pommel. The original decorative light gilded chain hand guard, now missing, would have been suspended from a tounge that projected from the Crocodile's mouth and connected to the underside of the lower backward leaning "S" shaped crossguard. The Riccasso at the back end of the blade reveals a very faint Maker's mark of THOMAS GILL, a well known premier British cutler to the armed forces, most notably the Royal Navy. Gill was one of London's most respected outfitters of the day, and worked from 1770 until 1812.

Rear Admiral Horatio Nelson’s complete and total destruction of Napoleon's fleet was a highly lauded event to 1798 England, who were convinced that the French would invade the English mainland. The Victory propelled Nelson to National Hero status and all the captains involved were became famous and much lauded as a result. The great victory was greeted with special Gold, Silver and Bronze medals issued to each officer involved.  These were funded by Nelson's prize Agent Davison and are highly sought after today. Many Officers purchased, or were presented with a, "Nile Dirk" many in the design of the one offered here.

Our example bears an old label stuck to the scabbard that reads:

Henry D'Esterre
Darby - Admiral
Nile Club - Darby
Estate 1896

As it happens Captain Henry Darby's command was H.M.S BELLEROPHON, a third rate British man-o-war of 74 guns which happens to have received the greatest number of Casualties in the Battle: 197 (49 killed and 148 wounded). Nelson himself wrote Captain Darby a personal letter on the final day of the battle dated AUGUST 3RD. 1798. The letter read as follows:

My Dear Darby,

I grieve for your heavy loss of Brave fellows, but look at our glorious Victory. We will give you every assistance as soon as you join us, till then God Bless You.

Ever yours faithfully,

Horatio Nelson

We shall both I trust soon get well.

— Admiral Nelson, 3 August 1798


HENRY DARBY was later awarded THE ORDER OF THE BATH in 1819. Prior to that, he was promoted to be REAR ADMIRAL OF THE BLUE in 1804, REAR ADMIRAL OF THE WHITE in 1805, REAR ADMIRAL OF THE RED in 1808, VICE ADMIRAL OF THE BLUE in 1810, VICE ADMIRAL OF THE WHITE in 1811, VICE ADMIRAL OF THE RED in 1814 and finally FULL ADMIRAL OF THE BLUE in 1820. He was born on April 9th 1749 and died on March 30th 1823,  a celebrated Royal Navy National Hero.

Formed around 1800, "THE NILE CLUB" was established exclusively for serving Officers who took part in the battle, one of the Royal Navy's most prominent Clubs of the day but was relatively short lived as the members died off.

Sourced from a very reputable source having come from an old British Naval Collection. Authentic, just wonderful, just as described and showing over 200 years of history, ready to display!

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