City thought sword was the real deal

Michael TraillAlbany Advertiser
Les Finlay with the sword.
Camera IconLes Finlay with the sword. Credit: The West Australian

A sword owned by Albany’s first mayor, Captain William Finlay, has put the City of Albany at odds with the Albany Historical Society.

The City said yesterday its records showed a sword loaned to the Princess Royal Fortress in August 2010 by the Albany Historical Society was identified as Capt. William’s service sword.

Capt. Finlay was a sub-inspector of police in Albany and inaugural commanding officer of the Albany Rifle Volunteers in 1878.

Captain William Finlay - Commander of the Albany Rifle Volunteers and Albany’s first Mayor.
Camera IconCaptain William Finlay - Commander of the Albany Rifle Volunteers and Albany’s first Mayor. Credit: The West Australian

“Our records show a sword which was identified by the Albany Historical Society as the one belonging to William Finlay, was loaned to the Princess Royal Fortress in August 2010,” City ofAlbany community services executive director Susan Kay said.

“This sword, etched with ‘Albany Rifle Volunteers’ along its blade, was displayed in the Military Museum as Mr Finlay’s sword before it was returned to the Historical Society in October 2016.

“Artefacts like this are important to Albany’s military history, and we hope the whereabouts of the original sword can be solved, but this is now a matter for the Finlay family and Albany Historical Society.”

After a direct descendent of Capt. Finlay and members of WA’s military antiques community accused the AHS of selling the sword to JB Military Antiques in November 2016, AHS chief executive Andrew Eyden denied it had sold the original item.

“The original sword was stolen, we believe between July and August, 1976,” Mr Eyden told the Advertiser last month. “It was another sword of that period that had origins from Perth — nothing to do with Albany.

That claim was met with disbelief by the descendent of Capt. Finlay’s, Les Finlay, who has been in contact with the collector who bought the sword online in 2017.

Paul Bridges, a former deputy curator at the WA Army Museum, said he bought it because he was worried a “significant piece of WA history” could leave the State.

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