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29 October 2008

The National Museum of Australia has acquired a sword which tells part of the Ned Kelly story.

Sergeant Arthur Steele was one of the most high profile police officers involved in the pursuit of the gang of Australia's most famous bushranger, Ned Kelly.

When the showdown came at Glenrowan on 28 June 1880 and Ned Kelly donned steel armour plates to withstand the police fire, it was Steele who shot Kelly in the legs and finally disabled the bushranger.

Steele was supported by stock owners in north-east of Victoria and the Moyhu Stock Protection Society awarded him a ceremonial sword in recognition of his efforts.

The National Museum of Australia has acquired Sergeant Steele's sword at auction for a bid of $38,000, the total cost including commission and GST was $45,600.

'The sword greatly adds to the National Museum's collection of objects on Kelly and other bushrangers, including a plaster death mask of Ned,' said National Museum of Australia Senior Curator, Matthew Higgins.

'In particular, the sword, having been presented to Sergeant Steele by local pastoralists, dramatically underlines the 'land war' that existed between poor settlers like the Kellys and the land-monopolising squatters. The Kellys used weapons of cattle and horse theft in their campaign and the established landholders, who had most to lose from the gang's tactics, gladly rewarded the policeman who brought Ned Kelly to the ground.'

For interviews, images and more information please contact Dennis Grant on 02 6208 5351, 0409 916 481; Caroline Vero on 02 6208 5338, 0438 620 710 or

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