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Unique historical documents relating to 1849 Cephalonia rebellion to go under hammer

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A one-of-a-kind set of documents relating to the quelling of the Cephalonia rebellion by Lord High Commissioner to the Ionian Islands, Henry George Ward, is set to go under the hammer at Staffordshire auction house Cuttlestones’ Thursday 7th December Winter Auction. Hailing from a local, private collection the documents include an original 1849 printed proclamation issued by Ward declaring Martial Law on the Islands, and related ephemera.

Ward had arrived in Corfu in June 1849 – a period when the islands were under the protection of the British Crown. An 1848 uprising against the occupying forces under his predecessor, Lord Seaton, in Cephalonia had led to violence and unrest in the region. Upon his arrival, Ward found the local assembly unworkable and prorogued it. On 1st August the same year he proclaimed amnesty to those who had taken part in the rebellion in Cephalonia against Seaton but, by the end of August, a fresh outbreak saw Ward travel to Cephalonia to take immediate evasive action- to which this lot directly relates.

The proclamation poster declaring Martial Law included in this lot is dated 30th August, 1849 and is printed in three languages; English, Greek & Italian. Also within the lot is a handwritten nine-page letter signed by Henry Ward and dated 24th October 1859 discussing the proclamation and amnesty; and a number of rare copies of ‘Gazetta Straodionaria, Corfu’ covering the period October & November 1849, during and immediately following the suppression of the rebellion.

Cuttlestones’ expert Adrian Simmons, who appraised the items, said:

“This is really quite a find, and the items relate to a particularly interesting period in the Islands’ history. The fact that the poster is printed in three languages shows the recent influences on the islands – which in 1864 would be gifted by the British to the new King of Greece, George I. The proclamation poster itself is of the greatest rarity – I cannot find mention of another one sold, or in any public collections to the best of my knowledge, so it may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a collector or museum to acquire.

“The newspapers are equally rare – the freedom of the press was only introduced to the Ionian Islands in 1848, so the newspapers are very early examples, and seldom offered for sale. This means that the lot would be of great interest to military historians, collectors of 19th century militaria and we also anticipate strong interest from the Greek market due to a keen interest in items relating to their modern history.”

The collection is expected to achieve in the region of £800-1200. Also within the sale two other lots of particular interest to collectors of 19th Century militaria. A set of seven original salt print views relating to the Crimea War of locations including Sebastopol and Balaclava, from the archive of General Sir Charles Trollope, carry an estimate of £400-600 while, from the same archive, three original hand-drawn plans of attack on Sebastopol are expected to fetch £100-200.

The auction will take place at Cuttlestones’ Penkridge sale room on Thursday 7th December with viewing the day prior to and on the morning of the sale. A fully illustrated catalogue available online at from Friday 1st December and bidding is in person, by commission, on the telephone and live online via or


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