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Thread: Wilkinson ledger confusion

  1. #51
    From embarrassed to confused! On 9/12, Gordon wrote that his sword was made for "Mr Cook", and yesterday wrote that "he was referred to as Mr"; and yet today, in a reply to Gordon, John writes that "the proof book copy just says 'Cook'", presumably in reference to Gordon's sword. Is this a confusion of Gordon's sword with James's sword (which we definitely know just has "Cook")? If not, then does the record for Gordon's sword just have "Cook" as well? He says not!

  2. #52
    Incidentally, T[homas]. W. Cook, Sons & Co., of London and Paris, had many designations; e.g., Master Tailors, Court Tailors, Court and Civil Tailors, Diplomatic Tailors, Ladies' Tailors, Military Outfitters and Tailors, Practical Tailors and Outfitters. There was also a Captain T. W. Cook in the Madras Infantry in 1857 and thereabouts. Trivia!

    P.S. Correction: Cooke, not Cook (as per a faulty source), in Madras Infantry. Such a mistake prompted me to question the spelling in the register.
    Last edited by L. Braden; 09-14-2016 at 11:11 AM.

  3. #53
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    Going back to the scabbard, it seems that I can discount this as being original to the sword.

    On reading up in Robson I note that the 1822 (edited) pipeback scabbard is said to have a "small pin which fits into a hole in the guard". I have an 1822 pipeback officers sword but I can't see such a hole and a review of onlie images (albeit not comprehensive) did not offer any clues.

    Just out of interest does anyone have images of this pin and hole arrangement?

    Did it persist into the post 1845 Wilkinson blade pattern? Again if it did, I can't find the evidence in my 2 examples.

    I do note in the later 2 examples, including the sword which is the subject of this thread, that there are two pairs of holes at top and bottom of hilt. I had assumed that these were for securing the leather lining. Is this assumption correct?
    Last edited by james.elstob; 09-15-2016 at 02:05 AM.

  4. #54
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    What page are you quoting in Robsons? 1882 is far too late for pipe backed blades. All I can think of is a naval officers sword where the folding guard locks into the scabbard mount.
    You are correct with he holes you mention being for the hilt liner.

  5. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by L. Braden View Post
    From embarrassed to confused! On 9/12, Gordon wrote that his sword was made for "Mr Cook", and yesterday wrote that "he was referred to as Mr"; and yet today, in a reply to Gordon, John writes that "the proof book copy just says 'Cook'", presumably in reference to Gordon's sword. Is this a confusion of Gordon's sword with James's sword (which we definitely know just has "Cook")? If not, then does the record for Gordon's sword just have "Cook" as well? He says not!
    No, I was still talking about James's sword - I should stop accessing SFI on my phone, don't get a decent view of the full thread!

    John
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    "If I can't be a good example to others, at least let me be a horrible warning".

  6. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by Will Mathieson View Post
    What page are you quoting in Robsons? 1882 is far too late for pipe backed blades. All I can think of is a naval officers sword where the folding guard locks into the scabbard mount.
    You are correct with he holes you mention being for the hilt liner.
    Sorry John now corrected, I meant 1822. Either clumsiness or tiredness!

  7. #57
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    Hi folks, some observations:

    In my experience swords were normally completed a few weeks before new officers were commissioned – so a sword finished in April 1855 would normally relate to an officer commissioning in June or July 1855. That is, if the sword was made for a specific officer and not being supplied to an outfitter.

    I'm sorry I didn't see this thread a couple of days ago, because I already knew Cook was an outfitter - I have a very nice Wilkinson also listed as sold to 'Cook'. It is service sharpened and I was very disappointed to discover there was no way of connecting it to an officer!

    This steel scabbard is definitely not a Wilkinson one and I would say it's not British. The throat is all wrong for a British sword, as well as the other differences noted.

    Given that this sword was supplied to Cook, I actually find it very interesting that it is such a specific order - normally outfitters would just buy standard regulation swords. You would have thought that such a specific customer would have gone to Wilkinson directly.

    Nice sword though.

  8. #58
    Which makes me wonder again if one (if not both) of the Cooks was an officer. But how common was it to omit the initial(s) of the name. And in the case of Will's sword, there's no name at all! How common was that? In the case of "Mr Cook" in the ledger re Gordon's sword, I doubt that it was an abbreviation for the military term of "Mister", which was usually used only in addressing or verbally referring to a junior officer - altho I could be wrong about that! Nor can I find any precedent for "Mr" being an abbreviation for "Major", altho some record-keeper might have thought it so.

  9. #59
    An additional search found these abbreviations for Major: M, Mr, Mjr, Majr, Maj.
    M, Mr, and Majr are evidently uncommon, but in the case of Mr, still within the realm of possibility.
    Last edited by L. Braden; 09-15-2016 at 11:26 AM. Reason: added Majr

  10. #60
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    In my experience, if the Wilkinson ledger writes 'Mr', it's because the person is specifically not military.

  11. #61
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    I should add, I know at least one example where the 'Mr' in question turned out to be a family friend of the officer - the sword was being bought as a graduation present. And another example where it is a 'Mrs' and that lady ran an outfitters (her husband having died and she took over the business).

  12. #62
    Am adding "Ma" to the list! Anyway, here's one of several sources for "Mr":
    "That night his quarters near Richmond were 'at Mr Norton's' (Major Norton; this abbreviation for major is used elsewhere." (Hill & Watkinson, Major Sanderson's War: Diary of a Parliamentary Cavalry Officer in the English Civil War, 2009.)
    However, I'm inclined to agree that "Mr Cook" refers to a civilian. But what civilian? The outfitter or some other? And what about just plain "Cook" re James's sword? How common was it to designate someone without a proper title or even initials? Really inefficient, insufficient, and downright sloppy record-keeping; and in the case of Will's sword, egregiously so!

  13. #63
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    The ledger here just says Cook. I'd be fairly confident that it refers to the outfitter therefore.

  14. #64
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    If Mr Cook the civilian outfitter from 'round the corner' ordered fair number of swords from Wilkinson either in person or via his staff I can see the ledger being noted as "Mr Cook" and even, once the Wilkinson staff were familiar with the arrangement just as "Cook".

    Regarding the unusually specific order to be put through an outfitters, there could be reasons why an officer might not go direct. Perhaps Mr Cook was the trusted family tailor?

    Perhaps Mr Cooks shop records are tucked away in a drawer somewhere just waiting to be discovered!

  15. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by james.elstob View Post
    If Mr Cook the civilian outfitter from 'round the corner' ordered fair number of swords from Wilkinson either in person or via his staff I can see the ledger being noted as "Mr Cook" and even, once the Wilkinson staff were familiar with the arrangement just as "Cook".
    I'm with you on that, James - after all these were just order book entries for use within the Wilkinson factory, not receipts which would have been given to the customer (which I'm sure would have been far more formal and businesslike). They're a record of the proving of the blade, occasionally with notes on specific details of the construction, to track the sword via its serial number as it moved through the manufacturing process. I've seen a similar proof book copy for "Flight", for example, who were another military outfitters.

    John
    "If I can't be a good example to others, at least let me be a horrible warning".

  16. #66
    To avoid mistakes, it obviously wasn't deemed sufficient by management to have just the job number on the form. Otherwise, why is "For" there? The insufficiency or sloppiness was not proper identification (e.g., "T W Cook" instead of "Mr Cook" or just "Cook", as if there were no other Cooks; or, in other cases, no name at all!) Moreover, these forms were not always completely filled out, which has resulted in unanswered questions nowadays and likely efficiency problems back then. And if some items were not considered important, why are they on the form? So, I stand by my opinion, if for no other reason than that these issues have led to wasted time and effort on the part of I.D.ers and frustration on the part of collectors. However, even though I have often been helpful in this I.D. game, I will refrain from playing it hereafter - or involving myself in any other likely controversy.

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