Heard of the phrase “as safe as the Bank of England”? Well as if its strong rooms, safes, and iron bars were not enough the Bank of England went a step further in the 19th century and armed herself.
Lot 510 in this auction contains a .750 percussion musket by Lacy & Co made around 1850 with the engraving “Bank of England” on the barrel. A further inventory number “101” is stamped on the butt plate.
During the anti-catholic Gordon Riots of 1780 the Grand Old Lady Of Threadneedle Street did not feel as safe as the Bank of England when the mob tried to invade her premises. Steps were taken to arm guards with flintlock muskets on account of this. Unrest continued just after the Napoleonic Wars with the Spa Fields Riot of 1816 and Peterloo of 1819 when the establishment feared more general disorder. The bank oiled their weapons regularly.
During the 1840s there were major Chartist disturbances over Britain regarding the clamour for an increase in the franchise and once again nervousness pervaded the financial institutions. When this musket was ordered as one of a large batch just after the Chartist demonstrations there was still a real fear of the power of the mob and the Bank of England sought to protect her interests.
Lot 510 is a real piece of British history at a time when the marbled columns and entrance halls of that most venerable institution the Bank of England felt under threat. Estimated at £900 – £1200 what a fascinating piece of history to have on display.