Played by the famous Dragoon Guards, the oldest surviving Cavalry Regiment of the British Army, during the Peninsula Wars and, allegedly, at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 to incite soldiers to fight courageously, these types of drums are both rare and highly covetable.
Recently consigned for auction at the Sydney office, the drum had allegedly been in the possession of the Duke of Wellington. Wellington maintained a magnificent home at Hyde Park Corner in London, where his whole bottom floor was dedicated to military honours and paraphernalia related to his regiments. It is indeed possible that he was gifted this from the Dragoons themselves and kept it as part of his larger collection. The drum was then gifted to the Earl of Ancastes, whose grandson passed it onto Reverend PJ Hayes and whose descendants now offer it for auction at Leonard Joel.
Their bright colours and decorative patterns were not only a way to delineate the numerous regiments and units in large open plain battlefields, but were also a source of pride. Despite showing some wear this remarkable drum maintains its royal coat of arms and bright colours, and also bears a number of signed names including, what is believed to be, the signature of King William IV.
A remarkable piece of British history, The Duke of Wellington Drum will be offered at auction in February 2010.
Hamish Clark | Head of Sydney