Antiques at arms

Adam Partridge

Known for regular appearances on Flog It!, Bargain Hunt, Dickinson’s Real Deal and Cash In the Attic, and one of the UK’s finest antique experts and auctioneers – Adam Partridge looks at arms and armour through the age

When it comes to collecting I have seen over the decades a wealth of collections from hatpins to classic cars, and tractors to thimbles. People collect things for various reasons, but I would say the biggest thrill of collecting is the searching and then the find, most people start with the one low value item and over time they find themselves spending vast amounts on the rarer and scarce items with the result in being the custodian of a formidable collection.

But what happens to the collection when the collector dies? Some people donate it to a museum the others are split up and sold at auction, this is great because it means other collectors from beginners to the top level collector can now have the thrill of the hunt.

One exciting collection which we are selling in June is the life time military collection that belonged to Captain Allan Marshall. Marshall was a Captain with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and on retirement went onto be a respected local huntsman, historian and nature expert, writing for the Rochdale Observer for over 40 years. With his love of history he amassed a collection of historical, military arms and armour related items and was known for his noted collection of Lancashire Fusillers Insignia (badges which represented the regiment you belonged to). The Lancashire Fusillers started in 1688 as the Peyton’s 20th regiment they became the ‘XX’ Foot East Devonshire regiment until 1881 when it became the now known Lancashire Fusileers.


“If you have always wanted to own a 17th century sword, a small canon or even a large, de-activated Vickers machine gun then this is the sale for you”

On his death in 2012 his collection was passed to his son Mr Jeremy Marshall who also took over the family business ‘Towers of Rochdale’ which was established in the early 1900s and sold guns and country pursuit items. Jeremy was a prominent figure in the firearms industry and adviser to some government and business agencies but sadly passed away in November2020. He had continued adding to his late father’s military collection with some quite unique items. It was his wishes for the collection to be sold so that others could have the chance to add to their collections.

Many militaria collectors just collect a certain topic and/or period but the Marshall collection spans from the 17th century to modern day, the sale will include many items that you would have seen in museums and period dramas, so if you have always wanted to own a 17th century sword, a small canon or even a large de-activated Vickers machine gun then this is the sale for you. Some of the other interesting items in the sale are original Cromwellian period helmets, including a17th century Pikeman’s pot helmet. A pike man was an integral part of the infantry, using a pike and long shaft with a spike at the top held with two hands. The pot refers to the shape and not material as they were made from steel.

At this time most guns where one shot, you had to re-load down the muzzle this took time and if the enemy was charging at you or if you had run out of gun powder or bullets, by adding a knife to the barrel of the gun, called a bayonet, the gun became a spear or pike type weapon.

Bayonets are still used today but some the earliest forms were called plug bayonets, these date from the 16th and 17th century and were simply forced into the end of the gun.

People will recognise the flintlock pistols shown in films used by naval officers and pirates but did you know why the handle was a ball shape and usually clad in brass? If they didn’t have time to reload the handle of the pistol could be used as a club.

In the times when it wasn’t safe for a lady or gentleman to walk through the town at night, they may carry a ‘muff pistol’ these little guns were loaded with one shot and hidden in a lady’s hand warming muff or a gentleman’s pocket, they weren’t that effective but the noise would cause many to flee.

Make Love Not War

From weapons to signs of love, Sweetheart cushions produced in World War One (1914-1918) mostly made by wounded soldiers as they recovered in hospital. They were sent home to wives, mothers and loved ones as a token of affection across the miles. ‘Forget Me Not’ and ‘Remember Me’ were popular mottos and often included pieces of verse. These cushions act as a tender expression of remembrance and record a little piece of history.

antiques at arms
Sweetheart cushion est £30 – £50

For more information about the sale or to discuss selling your military items call Steven on 01772 347 380 or email



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