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Thread: Indian Cavalry Sword by Thurkle, markings??

  1. #1
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    Indian Cavalry Sword by Thurkle, markings??

    Just received this Thurkle marked sword. Has a faint etched shield with first four lines illegible, then "by Thurkle, Soho London" Any ideas what the complete marking reads? Stamped on the ricasso "RBG" B being larger than the other two letters. A possible regimental mark or rack number found on the guard just above where the thumb rests is a large 1 over slightly smaller 56. Also illegible numbers stamped on the pommel, these appear to be intentionally removed. Remnants of fishskin on wooden core grip


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    Indian Cav. Sword

    Hi Will, I have an identical sabre, the shield is etched, ' Manufactured for H S King & Co Cornhill by E Thurkle Soho London'. There have been several threads on this type of sword, two certainly by Gordon Byrne and Matt Easton, sadly it appears the RBG mark is still eluding us. My efforts show a Henry S King of 65 Cornhill London-publisher, ex partner of Smith Elder & Co, entrepeneur who had business interests in India, Java and Africa. There is also a reference to King in Robert W.Latham's excellent 'Swords and Records of Robert Mole' page 125 if you have it ( H S King & Co Foreign Depot Division 1 65 Cornhill). It seems this is the only sword noted with reference to King as a supplier, unless any other forumites can add more. Of my meagre collection it has to be one of my favourites, well made and workmanlike, sadly never seen one with a scabbard though, I assume it would have been leather, with a long steel chape.

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    Thanks Matt and Ben. It must have been quite a change from the Indian Tulwar to this heavy bladed sword. A farmers sythe is lighter, make contact though and the offending appendage is removed!
    This ebay find was with a brother that went where? The grip covering was all there. I also inhereted 1000's of pink styrofoam peanuts in the box!
    RBG may be German, the sword is heavy like some other export patterns.

  6. #6
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    I have discussed my sword with a long time collector who has 3 of them, he believes they are an Indian pattern 1860 issued about 1860, just after the British gov't took over from The East India Co. about 1859. The markings on mine, 1 over 56 would be for the 1st Duke of Yorks Own Lancers.

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    Will, interesting stuff, but Edward Thurkle's dates appear to be from 1876 when he was at his Soho premises ( as per the cartouche ) . Mine is stamped on the quillon 1 above 6 above 45. Could you expand on the 'Duke of Yorks' connection please, it would be nice to identify the regiment at least, thanks .

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  9. #9

    Indian Cavalry sword by Thurkle.

    Hello all,

    Reading these various notes and counting up the swords, it would seem we have a collective group of about eight or more swords of this pattern including my two. As I have said in previous posts, this pattern appears to be the most plentiful apart from the late 19th century (and WW1) types made by Wilkinson and Mole.

    The other sword on ebay that Will mentioned did not have any fish skin left on the grip, which was plain wood, unless of course there was another example I didn't see. Until I compared my two examples, I assumed the blade length was the same however, there is about 1/2" difference in length, and it does not appear to be as a result of the point being ground down, as the fuller is proportionately shorter as well.

    It would now be interesting to compare the blade length of all known examples to establish if the variation in blade length is a common detail; I have 31 1/4" and 31 3/4" and both blades are fully sharpened from the full length of the edge from ricasso to point.

    As far as I can make out, all known examples have regimental numbering stamped on the back of the quillon, and some examples also have numbers stamped on the pommel which remain, whereas other examples show evidence of the number having been ground off the pommel.

    Mine are numbered 6 over 352 and 8 over 538; one has the number 26 on the pommel, the other has had the number ground off the pommel.

    Gordon

  10. #10
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    Hi Gordon,
    Mine doesn't have any numbering apart from on the pommel (115).

    Are you aware of the officer's sword in the National Army Museum dated to the Mutiny of 1857 that looks like a prototype for these swords? It shares the same basic features of a large 1821 light cavalry hilt, a large and fat grip and the same style of broad curved blade (of equal width all the way up - like these swords and unlike a 1796LCS). Unfortunately I do not recall the officer's name, but I believe it was someone fairly prominent in the Mutiny.

    Regards,
    Matt

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Bevan View Post
    Hi Will, I have an identical sabre, the shield is etched, ' Manufactured for H S King & Co Cornhill by E Thurkle Soho London'. There have been several threads on this type of sword, two certainly by Gordon Byrne and Matt Easton, sadly it appears the RBG mark is still eluding us. My efforts show a Henry S King of 65 Cornhill London-publisher, ex partner of Smith Elder & Co, entrepeneur who had business interests in India, Java and Africa. There is also a reference to King in Robert W.Latham's excellent 'Swords and Records of Robert Mole' page 125 if you have it ( H S King & Co Foreign Depot Division 1 65 Cornhill). It seems this is the only sword noted with reference to King as a supplier, unless any other forumites can add more. Of my meagre collection it has to be one of my favourites, well made and workmanlike, sadly never seen one with a scabbard though, I assume it would have been leather, with a long steel chape.
    Many thanks. To those of you who don't have a copy of my book on Mole which been was kind enough to mention (The swords and Records of Robert Mole and Sons 1835-1920) her is the entry from Mole's Ledger.
    Seasons Greeting to you all
    Robert
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    How did I miss that? can't fit all your books in my head, that's why I have them. Also confirms my belief that they are later made, not 1860 era swords.

  13. #13

    Indian Cavalry sword markings.

    Hi Will,

    First I will say that as yet I have not been able to date these Thurkle marked swords precisely however, I will also suggest that we cannot automatically assume that the notation posted by Robert refers to the same pattern.

    Although it is obvious from the note that H.S, King & Co. had oversaes trading interests in the early part of the 20th century, these same trading interests existed in the 19th century when King took over the trading activities of Smith, Elders & Co.

    It would also be fair to suggest that by 1914, the India Office had more or less adopted a standardized 3-bar guard which is most commonly found on swords produced by Mole and Wilkinson from the later part of the 19th century and through WW1, and this IO guard is a different guard to the Thurkle/King swords.

    One might also assume that if blades were produced by Mole they may have had a Mole trade mark; it would also be worhwhile to cross reference the terminology in the note with the drawing and specification posted by Robert at an earlier date, which shows the IO hilt and blade (Tulwar) in clear detail.

    It is also worthy of note that the Thurkle /King swords never had any wire binding on the grips.

    The fact still remains that the RBG marking is the actual key which unlock the puzzle; I am quite open to acceptng the fact that these particular swords may be of a later date, special pattern made for someone??, and that may explain why a number of examples still exist, but if they are so late as 1914, how is it that nobody has ever seen one in its original scabbard?

    They have a different blade shape and thickness and will not fit in in a circa 1914 scabbard, whereas the more common types sold by Mole, Wilknson and Bourne, exhibit scabbards which broadly speaking are of four main types with varying chape and drag profile and varying locket/mouth/ frogstop treatment.

    Gordon

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    Hi Gordon, thanks for your further input into this pattern, for your info my Thurkle/King has a blade length of 31.5 inches, sharpened the whole length. The grip is bound with fishskin, no evidence of wire binding. Stamped 'LONDON MADE' on spine nearest hilt and 'THURKLE' on lower edge of ricasso, with oval stamp of 'E Thurkle Soho London' on left ricasso.It does not have the RBG mark. These stamps are identical and in the same position on an Indian Mountain Artillery sword, date stamped 12.04, that I also have.

    Regards Ben.

  15. #15
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    Thank-you for those points Gordon. Here are measurements of my sword blade, the guard marked 1 over 56. Length of blade: 31.5" width of ricasso; 1 13/64", thickness at ricasso; 5/16" Aslike the others it is also sharpened the full length.

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    I have just measured mine and it precisely matches Will's - Length of blade: 31.5". Width of ricasso: 1 13/64". Thickness at ricasso: 5/16".

    Mine has the RBG mark, no other maker's marks, 115 on the pommel and it did have numbers on the underside of the rear quillon, but these are not legible - perhaps a 2 over a 55. My blade is unsharpened, though it is not very blunt.
    I have over half of the fish skin remaining and there is no evidence of any wire ever having been there.

  17. #17

    Indian Cavalry swords - RBG

    Hi Matt,

    Interesting to note that although your sword has the RBG mark, it does not have the etched shield indicating manufacture for H.S. KIng & Co., also the fact that your sword does not have the full length sharpening like most of the others that are encountered. I wonder if this is indicative of another and seperate order which went direct to the customer as apposed to supply by King & Co. On some examples I have seen, the etched shield is very faint, in fact almost polished off.

    Gordon

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    I don't think I have mentioned this before but could these RGB marked swords perhaps be surplus India Store Depot/India Office surplus sold off, cleaned, reconditioned and marked by the purchaser (Agent/Merchant in India) and sold to Princely States for their troops? After all, this would explain the multiple names on some examples and their possible pre 1883 date.

    See attached for one sale of surplus in 1883. This announcement appeared on the front page of the Times for the sale on February 21st 1883.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by Robert Wilkinson-Latham; 12-26-2010 at 01:39 AM.

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    Hi Robert,
    If this happened, wouldn't the existing examples have ISD still on them somewhere? I can't really see anywhere on my example where a mark or stamp could have been ground off.

    On a related topic, do we all agree that the B of RBG is bigger and more prominent? In that case, isn't it likely that the name of this company or organisation is actually BRG? Like Birmingham, Bombay or Bengal something something?

    Matt

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Easton View Post
    Hi Robert,
    If this happened, wouldn't the existing examples have ISD still on them somewhere? I can't really see anywhere on my example where a mark or stamp could have been ground off.

    On a related topic, do we all agree that the B of RBG is bigger and more prominent? In that case, isn't it likely that the name of this company or organisation is actually BRG? Like Birmingham, Bombay or Bengal something something?

    Matt
    I am not sure when the ISD mark was first used but these may have been earlier swords (pre 1880's) returned to Stores as obsolete/worn etc and then disposed off by Auction when they had enough.

  21. #21

    Indian sword markings - Thurkle

    Matt.

    I would certainly suggest that "B" represents the principal name. Maybe we should ask Will if he could find out exactly what markings appear on the other three swords he knows of and mentioned in an earlier post.

    Gordon

  22. #22
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    Here is another RGB sword which you probably know about.
    Bonhams, San Francisco 15 May 2007.

    1078
    A lot of two British cavalry sabers
    Comprising: 1) A Pattern 1829 trooper's saber, curved 31 inch blade stamped at the ricasso RBG, iron three bar hilt, quillon stamped 8/325, ribbed wooden grip, no scabbard. 2)...........

  23. #23
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    I have just found on Mole's handwritten list of his

    PATTERN MOULDS - GAUGES for BLADES - PATTERN TROUGHS,
    the following:

    Pattern Mould- Tulwar I.O ( My Note:-India Office) Patt -/68 (My Note-1868)

    This is probably the year (1868) of introduction of the 3 bar hilted Indian Cavalry Pattern sword as 2 years previously The C in C India issued Standing Orders for Bengal which included the information that for the swords for Sowars "...uniformity is not required either in the handles or blades of swords. They should be allowed to wear any sword they like, providing it is of good quality."

    Whether this is to allow regimental variations or it was a 'free for all' is not clear. In light of this it is interesting to se the introduction in 1868 of some form of Pattern-see above in this post re Mole.

  24. #24
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    Just found an interesting reference, page 361 of Professor Richard Holmes book 'Sahib, The British Soldier In India' ; " In the Indian Army Memorial Room at Sandhurst is the sword of Lieutenant J. B. Edwards, made for him by the sword cutler Edward Thurkle in 1881. It has the three bar steel hilt of the regulation light cavalry sword, but a mighty meat-cleaver blade". Has anyone been fortunate enough to visit the academy or seen photos, might be a similar variant?

  25. #25
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    Indian sword practice book

    Just found an interesting book with a Indian soldier holding a sword that appears to be the ones we are talking about.
    Cavalry Training Indian Supplement Instructions for Sword Practice for Indian Cavalry 1911 (Military)
    It can be found on Amazon.co.uk for 6 pounds.

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