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Thread: Expert help needed - 1796 LC Troopers?

  1. #1

    Expert help needed - 1796 LC Troopers?

    Hi,

    I'm new to the forum and pretty new to collecting antique swords and am hoping fellow members can share their expertise. Before I started collecting I bought what I thought was a 1796 LC Troopers sabre. Since then I've collected more swords and increased my knowledge a little and I'm not now 100% sure that it is a 1796 LC. I wondered if anybody can help me work it out?

    Unfortunately I think that a previous owner has polished the blade. Underneath the langets the blade is coated in dirt and rust where the polishing tool could not reach. It only has one marking on the blade, the number "21" and what may have been another mark next to it that has been worn away. The blade is 32.5 inches. The scabbard only has one mark, the letter "T" on the end of the shoe. The grip is leather with steel or silver wire bindings. The ferrule is grooved and the knuckle bow is contoured rather than just plain.

    Factors that I think are confusing :-

    - The langets are square - is this correct for this pattern?
    - It is heavier than I would expect. I have an officers 1796 LC by Osborn and Gunby that is much lighter.
    - The blade does is quite stiff and does not flex as easily as some I have seen on YouTube etc
    - The scabbard is not cast iron, it is lighter and I think it is steel.
    - The rings on the scabbard are split rings.
    - There is a strengthening piece in the right angle of the knuckle bow. I have not seen this on any other trooper's 1796

    I'd be very grateful for any advice any fellow forum members could provide to help me solve this mystery. I've attached some photos to the thread that should help.

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    Thanks
    Chris

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    ENGLAND
    Posts
    226
    Hi Chris,

    Only one point I can make is that I've read that the support on the knucklebow is a particularly feature of the manufacturer Gill.

    I've also seen square Langets before discussed on previous threads here so a search on that might help.

    That seems to be 2 points.... Never mind!

  3. #3
    Thanks James. I forgot to ask in the previous post if anyone had seen a number in the blade before and what it signified. Any views on this?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    ENGLAND
    Posts
    226
    Where in the blade? In the flat or edge,?

    Mine has a crown above a 4 as what I understand is the board of ordinance inspection stamp but I'm very new at this too so don't take this as Gospel. I believe that the number identified a specific inspector.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Robinson View Post
    Hi,

    I'm new to the forum and pretty new to collecting antique swords and am hoping fellow members can share their expertise. Before I started collecting I bought what I thought was a 1796 LC Troopers sabre. Since then I've collected more swords and increased my knowledge a little and I'm not now 100% sure that it is a 1796 LC. I wondered if anybody can help me work it out?

    Unfortunately I think that a previous owner has polished the blade. Underneath the langets the blade is coated in dirt and rust where the polishing tool could not reach. It only has one marking on the blade, the number "21" and what may have been another mark next to it that has been worn away. The blade is 32.5 inches. The scabbard only has one mark, the letter "T" on the end of the shoe. The grip is leather with steel or silver wire bindings. The ferrule is grooved and the knuckle bow is contoured rather than just plain.

    Factors that I think are confusing :-

    - The langets are square - is this correct for this pattern?
    - It is heavier than I would expect. I have an officers 1796 LC by Osborn and Gunby that is much lighter.
    - The blade does is quite stiff and does not flex as easily as some I have seen on YouTube etc
    - The scabbard is not cast iron, it is lighter and I think it is steel.
    - The rings on the scabbard are split rings.
    - There is a strengthening piece in the right angle of the knuckle bow. I have not seen this on any other trooper's 1796

    I'd be very grateful for any advice any fellow forum members could provide to help me solve this mystery. I've attached some photos to the thread that should help.

    Name:  IMG_1785.JPG
Views: 101
Size:  43.6 KBName:  IMG_1786.JPG
Views: 99
Size:  47.9 KBName:  IMG_1787.JPG
Views: 83
Size:  20.7 KBName:  IMG_1792.JPG
Views: 79
Size:  37.6 KBName:  IMG_1793.JPG
Views: 77
Size:  31.9 KBName:  IMG_1794.JPG
Views: 92
Size:  36.9 KB

    Thanks
    Chris
    What you have, in my opinion, is what might be called an officer's 1796 light cavalry 'campaign' sabre. In other words, certainly an officer's sword but not necessarily the one he would have worn at parties to impress the ladies. Although the variance in degrees of decoration on officers' swords was often dependant upon status and personal finance, I think it is a common misconception that officers' had only one sword - some officers in fact had several - highly decorated for parade or dress occasions and undecorated purely functional for campaign use.

    Regarding your other queries:

    1 - square langets are uncommon but not unknown
    2 - the weight of these swords often varies quite dramatically through many factors : manufacturing tolerances, wear and cleaning over the years, etc
    3 - blade flexibility - I cannot comment but comparing with Youtube maybe somewhat dubious
    4 - from the way it has pitted, the scabbard looks iron to me (steel would be quite unusual)
    5 - split rings are consistent with an officer's sword
    6 - ditto the knicklebow reinforcing piece

    I used to have quite a similar example made by Johnston, 8 Newcastle Street, Strand - photo attached
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Celeriter nil crede

  6. #6
    Thanks very much for the response Richard. I've had a closer look at the scabbard and I am sure it is thin steel. It is much lighter and it it has split on a couple of places at the edge where it has been damaged revealing a thin, sharp metal edge. Does this put its identity into question do you think?

    I also wondered if you had any views on the nunber "21" engraved into the top edge of thr blade.
    There are no other markings except for a "T" on the bottom of the scabbard shoe which I can't find any reference to either.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Robinson View Post
    Thanks very much for the response Richard. I've had a closer look at the scabbard and I am sure it is thin steel. It is much lighter and it it has split on a couple of places at the edge where it has been damaged revealing a thin, sharp metal edge. Does this put its identity into question do you think?

    I also wondered if you had any views on the nunber "21" engraved into the top edge of thr blade.
    There are no other markings except for a "T" on the bottom of the scabbard shoe which I can't find any reference to either.
    I'm surprised that the scabbard would be steel but I'm not a metallurgist so I can't offer any other opinion. Anyway, it makes no difference to the identification.

    Regarding the number on the back edge of the blade, well, it could be anything really. Swords from this time are often found with random markings and much as we want to identify everything possible, sometimes that is just not possible. However, here are a couple of suggestions:

    It could be an assembly number - I have quite often seen swords with assembly numbers on the component parts but of course you would then expect to find the number elsewhere on the sword as well although on the hilt, these are often hidden, eg inner face of backpiece.

    It could be a batch number. I did forget to mention this but your sabre could possibly be a yeomanry trooper's sword. When first raised, units of gentlemen and yeomanry were required to provide all of their own equipment (this changed later). Volunteers to these units were generally men of standing in the community, merchants, tradespeople, farmers, etc and often purchased officers' style swords rather than plain troopers' weapons as more befitted their status. Certainly I know of at least two yeomanry units who all carried officer-style swords which were ordered in batches. So, that's another possibility - sword no 21 in a batch ordered for a troop of yeomanry.

    But please do not consider these suggestions as definites - the number could be anything.
    Celeriter nil crede

  8. #8
    Thanks again for responding Richard, your help is much appreciated.

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