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Thread: What's this?

  1. #1
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    What's this?

    Although I don't collect UK swords, I've been trying to educate myself a bit on them. This sword attracted my attention, and I'm not sure quite what to make of it. The hilt looks like an undecorated Pattern 1796 heavy Cavalry dress sword, but the blade looks like a mid-18th century Scottish broad sword blade. It is marked with the Andria Ferrara name three times, a crowned "GR" cipher, and an ornate set of initials. The initials are of a style which seems totally out of place with the rest of the blade - suspect they were a later addition. My thought is this is an older blade which was later re-hilted and had the monogram added. My question is, was this done contemporaneously with the hilt style, or is this a composite sword put together at a much later date?

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  2. #2
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    Appears contemporary to me. The pommel where the tang is peened looks professionally done. Beautiful sword with its earlier blade. Could look up officer names in British heavy cavalry circa 1800+ matching the initials.

  3. #3
    Looks good to me, too. The blade markings are kind of a history in itself! First the basic blade with "Andria Ferara" (blade could be from as early as sometime in the 1600s), then later (probably 1700s) the GR cypher was added, then the intials later still. It's probably a family blade, and wouldn't it be interesting to see what hilts this blade has been mounted in since it was made!

    --ElJay

  4. #4
    Are those initials HRC? If so, could be H. R. Carden of the 1st Royal Dragoons, a vet of the Peninsular War and Waterloo.

  5. #5
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    I can see an "HRC" although I wouldn't bet I was right. Like I said, I don't have much of an eye for these flowery ciphers. I wonder if the H. R. Carden of the 1st Dragoons and Waterloo is related to the H. R. Carden of the 77th Regt and the Crimea?

  6. #6
    Perhaps related collaterally. Henry Robert Carden of the Royals was of the Cardens of Templemore, and HRC of the 77th was of the Cardens of Fishmoyne, both in Co. Tipperary.
    A curse on confounded and confounding convoluted calligraphy!
    Last edited by L. Braden; 08-13-2016 at 10:29 AM. Reason: addition

  7. #7
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    Yes what Braden said.
    The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people." --- Tench Coxe

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Schenk View Post
    I can see an "HRC" although I wouldn't bet I was right. Like I said, I don't have much of an eye for these flowery ciphers. I wonder if the H. R. Carden of the 1st Dragoons and Waterloo is related to the H. R. Carden of the 77th Regt and the Crimea?
    I did a bit of checking on H. R. Carden ot the 1st Dragoons. I got a lot of the info from his descendant, Arthur Carden, who is doing a history of the Cardens of Templemore:

    - Sir Henry Robert Carden was born on 8 Feb 1789 in Templemore, Tipperary, Ireland as the third son of Sir John Craven Carden, 1st Baronet of Templemore. The family had resettled in Ireland in the 17th century as part of the Cromwell settlement. Henry was commissioned as a Cornet with the 1st (or Royal) Regiment of Dragoons on 25 September 1807, aged 18. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on 13 April 1809, and advanced to Captain on 20 July 1815. He was placed on half pay as a Captain on 25 March 1816.

    - His regiment may have arrived in Portugal when Wellesley returned there in April 1809. Although he may have been at the Battle of Busaco on 27 September 1810, the first mention which has been found of Henry in the Peninsular War relates to his capture in October 1810:

    “For the next three days (Oct.2-4) the pressure relaxed, but on 5th Oct. the pursuers caught the rear guard up just beyond Pombal & some sharp fighting followed, Anson’s brigade being closely pressed, while the Royals were also engaged. A picquet under Lt. Carden, finding the enemy closing in upon it turned about & charged, driving their pursuers back with some loss & capturing an officer. Carden, however, having got into trouble when on outpost near Celorico through admitting flags of truce into our lines, was determined to clear his reputation by distinguishing himself. He not only headed the charge with conspicuous gallantry but, following up his advantage too far, had his horse shot under him & was wounded & taken.”

    - Wellington tried very hard to arrange a prisoner exchange with the French commander, Marshall Massena, for Henry and his fellow prisoner Capt. Lord Henry Percy of the 14th Dragoons, but th negotiations failed. In early 1811, Henry was sent to France where he remained a POW until Napoleon’s first abdication.

    - Henry Carden received the Waterloo Medal for his service in that battle and is believed to have taken part in the celebrated Union Brigade charge in which the Royals captured one of the two French eagles brought to London by Henry Percy.

    - After leaving active military service in 1816 he returned to Templemore. He succeeded to the title in 1822 on the death of his half-brother Arthur. During his 25 years in office, his main achievements were improvements to the town and his relief work during the famine. Henry was appointed High Sheriff in 1824 and signed a petition in 1829 for Catholic Emancipation.

    - On 10 March 1818 he married Louisa Thompson. The marriage did not end well. After twelve years of marriage, during which she had eight children, Louisa ran away with a Lt. Trollop, an officer of the 35th Regiment of Foot from Templemore barracks. Henry sued Lt Trollop for “trespass” and was awarded 250 pounds in damages.

    -Sir Henry died on 23 March 1847 at age 58.

    Arthur Carden suggested the etched cipher may have been added in about 1840 when Sir Henry had his Waterloo medal remounted. There may be some merit to this speculation - it does seem to have a somewhat Victorian look to it.

    Although I don't collect UK swords, I would be halfway tempted to buy this one for its interesting history if I could establish it was in fact Sir Henry Carden's sword. Are there any oher Heavy Cavalry/Dragoon officers with these initials who were serving during the right timeframe for this sword?
    Last edited by Richard Schenk; 08-23-2016 at 11:44 AM.

  9. #9
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    I did not end up buying this sword. Instead it went to a Carden descendant of Sir Henry. I'm glad. It's nice to see a sword like this return to the original family, especially when that family has such an obvious interest in preserving its heritage.

  10. #10
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    Did your inquiry to a descendant of the sword alert him to the sale of it? Strange how past generations do not value these items and few if any at a later date become interested.
    I suppose interest grows with the ability to research on the web, and history to most is of little interest until that history is much older.
    I wonder if the family has any portraits of their descendants?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Will Mathieson View Post
    Did your inquiry to a descendant of the sword alert him to the sale of it? Strange how past generations do not value these items and few if any at a later date become interested.
    I suppose interest grows with the ability to research on the web, and history to most is of little interest until that history is much older.
    I wonder if the family has any portraits of their descendants?
    Yes, it was my note which alerted the family to this sword. The Carden family seems very interested in their heritage and has a blog devoted to Carden history (http://cardenhistory.blogspot.com/). The family has a number of notable members, and there are photos and portraits of quite a number of them. I didn't see one of Sir Henry and didn't ask about it, but I suspect there probably is one about.

  12. #12
    If the Carden family are/were "very interested in their heritage", how then did the sword end up on the market? When, if ever, did it leave the family, if indeed it did? Anyway, as for interest in heritage (especially military heritage), revisionists have successfully made many people ashamed or contemptuous of their "imperialist" ancestors; and unless they're desperately in need of money, it's no mystery why they unload such dreadful reminders of an imperialistic military past.

  13. #13
    P.S. Not to give anti-imperialists and others all the credit for people's attitudes, some if not many are just not interested in, or are indifferent to, their heritage, regardless of their opinions. However, the faddish interest in genealogy has helped to mitigate some of this academic prejudice against the past.

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