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Thread: Identification of Indian Sabre/Sword

  1. #1

    Identification of Indian Sabre/Sword

    We have had this Indian Sabre/Sword in our family for some years now and I would like to know a little more about is history if possible. I am new to this but based on various threads read here, I feel it may be a Mountain battery sword but am no expert - complete novice in fact. It has several markings on it, none of which I have managed to identify to Thurkle, Mole etc. The wood section has seven bands and from research it appears it may have been covered in black fish skin at some stage, but there is nothing remaining on it now. Unfortunately part of the wood has chipped away. The sword's blade is 35.4 in long, 1.18inches wide and the total length from tip to top of hilt is 40.15 inches. I have attached some images and would appreciate some assistance from the experts.
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  2. #2
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    Hi Debra,
    I think that what you have is a British 1821 pattern cavalry trooper's sword (with an 1853 style guard), which was carried from about 1860 by one of the horse artillery regiments (in other words, by a mounted artilleryman). I believe the BHA stands for something Horse Artillery - Bengal maybe?
    I think that the maker's stamp on your blade is to the famous maker WKC of Solingen, who made many swords under contract to the British war department.
    I hope this helps and look forwards to other people's contribution/correcting me .
    Matt

  3. #3
    Hi Matt

    That was the fastest comeback ever. Thank you and it certainly sheds a lot more light on the matter. I believe you are bang on the nail with the marking. After reading your reply I found this on line and when placed together - they are a very close match. Thanks. Would this have originally had the black fish skin covering the handle do you think?

    Debs
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  4. #4
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    Hi Debra,
    I think it may have had a thin leather covering actually (either dark brown or black), as it's a trooper's weapon. Officer's versions usually had the fish skin (shagreen) covering - though sometimes you see troopers weapons with it also.
    Regards,
    Matt

  5. #5
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    The knight's bust was preceded in use by the Kirschbaum consortium/family before merging with Weyersburg. For some time and in some instances, both the crowned king of Weyersburg and the Kirschbaum mark were stamped together.Both families as swordmakers go back way before the 19th century. Wyersburg picked up the crowend king mark from Wundes in the 18th century.

    Could the sword predate the 1880s Matt?

    Cheers

    Hotspur; the gebruder Weyersburg annotation can also be a bit of a misdirection at times as well
    Last edited by Glen C.; 08-15-2011 at 08:35 AM.

  6. #6
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    Interesting Glen, I'd never really read about WKC's history before - I see now that they merged in 1883 but Kirschbaum were using that stamp from 1854.
    I suppose it is subjective to guess the date of this sword, unless someone can tell from the stamps, but I'd say from the look of it it's from the 1860's or thereabouts. It looks earlier than 1880 to me. Debra, do you have photos of any of the other markings please?

  7. #7
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    Could this sword be a Portuguese type?

    (single ring, mentioned here is several SFI thread)

    I had encountered one of these awhile back and J Hop apprised me of the similarities between the Portuguese trooper sword and the British parent.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; now I need to look at the sword itself

  8. #8
    Hi Matt and Glen

    The sheath (if that is what it is called), has two rings on it. As for other markings - there is one minor other mark but it may be from damage. I have added it in the picture attached with an arrow to show where it lies. I have taken new images of all the markings on the sword, except for the 137 on the Hilt, which is also in the image above. Thanks
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  9. #9
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    The Portugal possibilities

    http://www.swordforum.com/forums/sho...British-or-not

    Oops

    never mind, two rings

  10. #10
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    If that is RHA then it is probably Royal Horse Artillery (British). The M and 76 would relate to troop and rack numbers I think (ie. where it would be stored in the regimental armoury).
    I don't see anything there that suggests Indian to me (eg. ISD) - all looks British (could have been carried in India by British forces of course), though I was hoping to see a War Department broad arrow.

  11. #11
    Right - I got my hubby to bring home his high powered medical magnifier lenses and this is what I have found
    1) Under the base of the hilt is a slight remnant of some kind of covering - feels like leather but only about 1mm remaining
    2) Under a magnifier, the F.H.A looks like B.H.A. I have taken two photo’s one with flash and one without and you will see in one light it appears FHA in another, BHA. However Matt, I took a closer look at what I originally thought may simply be an innocuous mark on the sword (mentioned earlier, and it appears to be the remains of some kind of imprint. (Attached with the other two). The wood section of the handle on the one side (the right side) is very well worn and no longer sports the imprints from the wire strapping. Odd wearing, unless it was a left hand swordsman.

    You have both been great!
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  12. #12
    Hi Debra,

    I would say the proportions of the guard would suggest an Indian Army sword, the markings appear to include two dates which would be (10 . 97) October 1897 and
    (3 . 06) March 1906; I would definately say that the marking in question is B.H.A., and there are at least two other markings which have the letter "I" and I don't believe it is a British troopers sword.

    Gordon

  13. #13
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    I see that the B or R looks more like an R because the lower curve does not curve back at the centre point,, if it were a B it would curve back. What does the grip measure? Possibly 4" by the other measurements given and this does indicate Indian ownership, though some measure 4 1/2". Another point is that India used odd and old patterns up into the 20th century, so the dates on the sword also confirm India. What puzzles me is the blade length, Indian swords in general were slightly shorter than their British counterparts. Maybe this sword was for a British sergeant (or higher rank) serving in the Indian cavalry? I do not know how their regiments were made using British and Indian soldiers.

  14. #14
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    The guard, in '53 style, does indeed share the same look as the other Indian swords we've talked about on here before (the RGB ones for example). But the Indian swords of that type that I know of do not have the ears on the backstrap and have fewer grooves on the grip. I've never seen that sort of scabbard (generally 1890 pattern-ish) with an 1821 style sword before - have any of you? And the scabbard is the piece with the potential dates on - perhaps these only date the scabbard, rather than the sword. I agree about the blade length - I have two of those Indian cavalry swords, one curved and one straight, but both have 32.5 inch blades.
    Whatever it is, it's an interesting piece .

  15. #15
    You are right Will - the grip is 4.12" I must commend you all - I am now researching sword terminology and developing an interest in all of this. Thanks again

  16. #16
    Blade length is not necessarily a rock solid guide, as there are India pattern swords with British length blades; I would say a grip that is shorter than the standard British 1821 and 1853 patterns is a more convincing argument in favour of it being an Indian pattern, along with the seemingly odd scabbard.

  17. #17
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    The scabbard Mouthpiece markings are interesting.

    If it is MH then this is a South African mark for Marshall's Horse. The date letters show the scabbard was inspected and tested in Oct 1897 (10 97) and the again tested and inspected in March 1906 (3.06) - the usual 9 years inspection cycle for this class of sword.



    The BHA (?) mark is from an earlier era - 1876 and cannot be Bengal Horse Artillery who were absorbed into the Riyal Horse Artillery in 1861 and given new brigade and battery numbers.

    If the markings are RHA then the year 1876 is significant as it was the date that the War Office agreed that the regiment could revert to the 1853 cavalry sword.
    Perhaps there were not enough serviceable 1853 patterns in stock (Many had been converted to the 1864 pattern by Mole and Enfield) so earlier pattern may have been issued as a stop gap.
    We know that WKC manufactured this pattern for the British Army in the 1860's and they were mainly issued to Yeomanry.

  18. #18
    Robert,

    Is there any reference in the records to this particular pattern of scabbard having been ordered or made for South Africa? One marking could be MH if it is overstamped however, there is the other marking that is clearly M.A. 10.97.

  19. #19
    Robert and Gordon, what I find of particular interest in your reply, is that my father bought this sword from an antique shop in South Africa...at the time, the store owner said it was an Indian Sword.

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