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Looking for a Good Home...

Posted: 10/10/18 (9:38am)

Still no response from the community pastor that I wrote to trying to get in touch with a relative of Colonel Hugh Finlayson. Rather disappointing and a little surprising that a man of the cloth hasn't acknowledged my email or been willing to assist. Oh well, at least I know that I tried to do the decent thing and reunite the sword with the family of the original owner.

This isn't the first time something like this has happened and it won't be the last. It gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling when I can send a sword home and I try to do it whenever possible. But sometimes it doesnt work out.

In 2016, I bought a late Victorian Royal Navy Officer's sword and as it was made by the Wilkinson Sword Company, with a bespoke order serial number, I bought a copy of the original ledger entry and discovered that the sword had belonged to Victor Lindsey ­Arbuthnot Campbell.

Campbell ­was First Officer on bo­ard the Arctic exploration ship, the "Terra Nova" an­d was leader of the North­ern Party on Robert Falcon Scott's (Scott of the Antarctic) ­I'll fated Antarctic ­expedition (1910-1913­). While Scott lead his party to their deaths, Campbell, after surviving months of the Arctic winter in a snow cave, brought most of his men safely home. After the death of­ Scott, Campbell was ­Britain's foremost An­tarctic explorer and ­went on to have an il­lustrious naval caree­r winning a DSO in 19­15 while commanding t­he forward battery at Ga­llipoli and adding a ­bar to it in 1916 as commander of "Drake­" battery. Campbell­ also served in World­ War ll. 

Having discovered the sword's pedigree, I contacted a number of museums including that of the Royal Naval College and the British Antarctic Survey and offered them the sword for exactly what I had paid for it, with all provenance and receipts. I felt strongly that the sword should stay in the UK and be on display for all to see. It was a national treasure and should be treated as such.
None of the museums or organisations that I contacted were interested in the sword. I felt rather let down, but again, I knew I had done all that I could to keep the sword in the UK and make it available to all.

I listed the sword for sale and it sold two days later. It sold for over six times what I had paid for it. A four figure sum.
The sword now resides in a private collection in America. I am sure that its new owner cherishes it and shows it proudly to all his friends and acquaintances and I made very good money on it. But few if any people from the UK will ever see it and be awed by the courage, resolve and resourcefulness of the man who owned it and the men he led.

Other attempts to rehome family swords have had much happier results and in some cases the swords are now on public display, such as the sword belonging to William Home-Robertson, which is now on display below his life size portrait in Paxton House, Berwickshire.