What are the most expensive swords in the world?
Swords were a ubiquitous weapon throughout much of human history, shaping conflicts and leading the charge into battle.
This article explores the history – and historical owners – behind some of the most valued swords ever made, and the skilled artisans who helped produce them.
The Most Expensive Swords in the World
We’ve covered the historical journeys of these masterful weapons, and the top-class metals and gemstones used to make them, to bring you this guide to the swords which command the highest prices.
Here’s our list of the 10 most expensive swords in the world:
10. 13th Century Kamakura Katana – $418,000
Widely considered to be among the very best swords produced throughout history, the Japanese katana sword is renowned for its exceptionally sharp cutting blade.
This 13th-century Kamakura katana is a prime example of the craft, originating from the Kamakura period of history, which is known for the emergence of the Japanese samurai.
Constructed from the finest materials available, this expensive katana is an exceptional example of the best Japanese swords and would have been wielded by kings and other members of the royal family.
With a steel blade made from the finest steel in Japan and a hilt carved from the most expensive woods available at the time, it’s an outstanding example of Japan’s cultural and military history.
Only 125 Kamakura katana swords were produced at the time, making them highly valued and sought after antique swords which command a high price at auction houses.
This particular sword was sold as part of a collection of 1100 swords in 1992 by Dr. Walter Ames Compton, selling for $418,000 and making it the most expensive katana sword ever sold.
9. Admiral Lord Nelson’s French Officer Sword – $541,720
Admiral Lord Nelson is one of the most intriguing figures in military history, regarded as one of the greatest naval commanders of all time, and the subject of controversy in more recent times.
Also known as Horatio Nelson, his French officer sword was rediscovered in 2001 as part of a collection of his belongings that included jewelry, medals, papers and documents, and a selection of other antique weapons.
This rare and expensive sword was used by Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, in which Nelson’s ship the Victory came under fire and led to his death due to musket fire.
It’s a stunning and refined sword, featuring an ornate gold-encrusted hilt and is housed in a refined scabbard, completely befitting a man with such a historic reputation.
The sword and other belongings of Lord Nelson were found in a trunk belonging to one of his closest friends and confidants, Alexander Davison, who was left the trove in Nelson’s will on May 10th, 1803.
In 2002, the sword was placed up for auction at Sotheby’s in London, where it sold for an impressive $541,720.
8. 17th Century Indian Talwar Blade – $717,800
Another expensive sword that earned its high value due to its status as a national treasure is the Indian Talwar blade, which was forged in the 17th century.
This royal curved European blade originally had an estimated value of approximately $80,000 but ended up going for $717,800 when it was sold at Sotheby’s auction house in 2007.
It earned its high price, which is comparable to the most expensive watches you can buy, in part on account of the gold stroke decoration which is found on both the blade and its scabbard.
Of more historical significance are the various lotuses which depict the story of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the fifth Mughal Emperor of India who reigned from 1628 to 1658.
Shah Jahan ushered in the golden age of architecture in his empire and is best known for his contribution to the art form with the Taj Mahal in Agra.
It’s fitting that the sword associated with his name bears his attention to artistry and detail.
7. Qianlong Imperial Hunting Knife – $1.24 Million
The Qianlong Imperial hunting knife is the first expensive weapon to break the $1 million barrier, selling for $1.24 million at Sotheby’s auction house in 2009.
The sixth Emperor of the Qing Dynasty, Qianlong ruled during one of the most prosperous eras, ushering in a range of cultural achievements which were to shape the future of China for centuries to come.
His Imperial hunting knife features a blade made with coral, turquoise, and gold, materials which certainly add to its high value.
In addition to the exquisite blade, the scabbard is constructed entirely from rhino horn, with a tapering effect in which six dragons, each with three claws, are seen weaving in and out of clouds that float above waves.
There are even secret compartments at the bottom of the hilt, in which chopsticks and a toothpick could be stored, making this rare knife a latter-day version of the Swiss army knife.
Emperor Qianlong reigned from 1735 to 1796 and finally passed away in 1799, leaving behind his hunting knife as a testament to his legacy as one of the era’s longest-ruling monarchs.
6. Ulysses S. Grant’s Civil War Presentation Sword – $1.6 Million
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States, but before he become an astute political leader, he led the Union Army to victory in the American Civil War of 1865.
Grant received the presentation sword as a gift from the people of Kentucky in 1864 after he became the General in Chief of the Armies of the United States.
Crafted by a respected silversmith from St. Louis, who worked alongside jeweler Henry Folsom, the sword is constructed from a combination of pure silver and gold, with twenty-six mine cut diamonds scattered along its length.
These diamonds come together to form the U.S.G. monogram, while the goddess Victory can be seen along with an eagle spreading its wings over the sculpted grip of the sword.
Grant’s presentation sword raised $1.6 million when it was sold in 2007 at the Heritage Auction house, equivalent to the most expensive luxury pens, and every bit as exquisite in its level of detail.
It’s an appropriate tribute to one of the defining historical figures of American history, reflecting Grant’s impressive contribution to warfare.
5. The Gem Of The Orient Knife – $2.1 Million
While many of the most expensive swords in the world earn their high price on account of their historical significance, some are valued due to the painstaking craftsmanship and rare metals and gemstones.
The Gem of the Orient knife is a prime example of a weapon that is prized because of the prestige of its creator, who in this case was designer Buster Warenski.
Warenski designed this exceptional knife in 1966, and took ten years to put it together as part of his batch of “Legacy Knives”.
It features a blade made from Damascus steel, with a jade handle constructed from 28 ounces of gold overlay.
In addition to the gold, the knife uses 153 emeralds, weighing a total of ten karats, along with nine diamonds of five karats each, each of which is set in ornate gold filigree.
Buster Warenski was one of the most famous blacksmiths working in the twentieth century and became internationally renowned after forging a replication of the dagger of King Tut.
His Gem of the Orient knife sold for the impressive sum of $2.1 million and further consolidated the reputation of Buster Warenski as the preeminent blacksmith of his time.
4. Shah Jahan’s Personal Dagger – $3.3 Million
Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the fifth Mughal Emperor of India, returns once again with his personal dagger, a weapon that bears his name and title on the epigraph.
The date inscribed on this rare and valuable dagger indicates that it was made in 1630, most likely gifted to Shah Jahan for his 39th birthday.
The blade also features an inscribed parasol that carries over the head of the monarch, symbolizing the dome of heaven and signifying Shah Jahan’s sublime status.
Shah Jahan, whose full name was Shahab0ud-din Muhammad Khurram, used this dagger as his second personal weapon, less as a tool for warfare but rather as a symbol of his creative excellence.
The dagger was originally discovered as part of Belgian collector Jacques Desenfans’ collection of Southeast Asian weapons, armor, and pottery.
Since its discovery, Shah Jahan’s personal dagger has been sold five times, its latest sale of $3.3 million putting it on a par with the most expensive cars in the world you can buy.
3. 15th Century Nasrid Period Ear-Dagger – $6 Million
Originating from North Africa, the ear dagger earned its name on account of the hilt pommel that features two flattened discs.
Used in the 15th and 16th centuries during the Nasrid period of history, ear daggers are made from a double-sided blade with inlaid gold and Kufic inscriptions, as well as a horn-made grip.
Used by the Spanish, it’s a fine example of weapons from the period, with the engravings depicting a hunting scene and featuring a human armed with a crossbow chasing a variety of animals.
The scales on the grip are inscribed with a series of geometrical figures, while four brass rivets help lock it into place.
In addition to the inlaid gold, the ear dagger also features inscriptions on the circular pommels, enhancing the appearance of the ears from which it takes its name.
The Nasrid period ear dagger from North Africa sold for $6 million at Sotheby’s auction house in 2010, making it the most expensive knife in the world.
2. Napoleon Bonaparte’s Gold-Encrusted Saber – $6.5 Million
Napoleon Bonaparte was one of history’s most enduring figures, ruling as Emperor of France between 1852 and 1870, and was responsible for leading the country to success in countless battles.
Often seen carrying a sword and a pistol on the battlefield, he used this exceptional antique gold-encrusted saber at the Battle of Marengo, while fighting the Austrian forces in 1800.
Crafted with gold, one of the most expensive precious metals available, it’s an intricately designed weapon with incredible details both on the sword itself and the handle.
Sold to an anonymous collector at Osenat Auctions, the sword was handed down through generations of the Bonaparte family, following on from the precedent set by Bonaparte himself, after he handed the sword to his brother as a wedding gift.
The weapon fetched $6.5 million, making it the second most expensive sword in the world to date, prized not only for its historical significance but also for the Egyptian-inspired markings on its curved blade.
1. 18th Century Boateng Saber – $7.7 Million
Returning once again to China for the 18th century Boateng saber, the most expensive sword in the world made during the Qianlong rule between 1736 and 1795.
After selling at auction for $5.5 million in 2006, the Boateng saber was auctioned again in 2008, fetching an incredible $7.7 million, making it the kind of antique sword only someone with Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth can afford.
It comes in an S-shaped design and a fitted jade handle, with the blade covered in decorations made from inlaid gold, silver, and copper.
The blade incorporates around 2,000 layers of steel, making it incredibly strong and sharp, with a total of ninety such blades produced in palace workshops over forty-five years.
The name, Boateng, means “Soaring Precious” in Chinese, an apt moniker for a weapon of this quality and historical significance.
That concludes this article covering the most expensive swords in the world, from sabers owned by historical world leaders to modern designs replete with expensive precious metals and gemstones.
Be sure to check back on this article in the future, as we’ll update this to reflect any changes in the value of these exquisite weapons.
Here’s a quick recap of the 10 most expensive swords in the world:
- 18th Century Boateng Saber – $7.7 Million
- Napoleon Bonaparte’s gold-encrusted Saber – $6.5 Million
- 15th Century Nasrid Period Ear-Dagger – $6 Million
- Shah Jahan’s Personal Dagger – $3.3 Million
- The Gem Of The Orient Knife – $2.1 Million
- Ulysses S. Grant’s Civil War Presentation Sword – $1.6 Million
- Qianlong Imperial Hunting Knife – $1.24 Million
- 17th Century Indian Talwar Blade – $717,800
- Admiral Lord Nelson’s French Officer Sword – $541,720
- 13th Century Kamakura Katana – $418,000