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Historic Naval sword to be sold at auction


Painting of William George Rutherford (originally born in Wilmington, NC), one of the heroes of the famous Battle of Trafalgar. Illustrated here is the handsome Rutherford grasping his prized sword which will be sold at auction on April 11th, 2017

FAIRFIELD, Maine _ On Tuesday, April 11, a historic Naval sword will be sold at auction in Fairfield, Maine, by James D. Julia Auctioneers. The sword was presented to Capt. William George Rutherford (1764-1818). Rutherford was born in 1764 in Wilmington, NC to a loyalist family. Rutherford had a successful Naval career. He was appointed by England’s all-time greatest Naval hero, Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson. In 1805, he captained the 74 gun ship, Swiftsure, and later was dispatched to join the famous Battle of Trafalgar. Rutherford’s actions at Trafalgar proved decisive. After the battle, he was awarded this extraordinary gold gilt and ivory sword.

William Rutherford was the only American-born British Captain at Trafalgar. His cased sword is among the highest grade and expensive swords of its day, costing £100 at the time. Lloyd’s Patriotic Fund gave 23 such swords for valor after the most decisive Naval battle the world had ever seen.


The extraordinary Rutherford presentation sword.

The sword’s ornate, gold-gilted scabbard hilt and sword belt mounts are lavishly engraved and chased with detailed Naval patriotic motifs and details of the deeds of Hercules. There is no doubt that the Trafalgar victory was a Herculean task that ended Napoleon’s plans to invade England. To further honor Rutherford’s contributions, the Royal Navy produced a Captain-class frigate bearing his name, the HMS Rutherford. This frigate served from 1943 to 1945.

Of the 23 swords given for Trafalgar, the locations of two are unknown and most of the others are in institutions.

More history, as well as numerous illustrations and details about this important sword is can be found on Julia’s website, specifically at

Rutherford’s sword will be among the rare items offered at the sale. Also up for bids will be Confederate arms, noted outlaw Cole Younger’s Smith & Wesson revolver, Bowie knives, swords, historic Winchesters, rare military arms and headgear, and many high-quality sporting arms will be sold. The sale starts at 10 a.m. each day. All items will be available for preview on Saturday through Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, see

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