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Thread: Presentation military swords & commemoration blade dates

  1. #1
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    Presentation military swords & commemoration blade dates

    Dear All,

    I am a free-lance Archaeologist with research interests in battlefield and martial material culture.

    Recently I was asked by our local museum and my old University to appraise the dress-swords of a famous antiquarian archaeologist in Ireland named William Gregory Wood-Martin and his two sons(both tragically killed in action in WWI) for an exhibition and memorial that will be created in Sligo in the West of Ireland.

    With this appraisal I have found two anomalies which have somewhat mystified me

    The first dilemma I have is that a blade from design appears(photo 1 & 2 below), in my eyes at least, to be The 1895 Pattern Infantry Officer’s Sword yet bears the Presentation Inscription: M. General H.K. Bloomfield to W. Gregory Wood, 1 May 1867. I wonder is this a normal state of affairs with presentations commemorating earlier associations or am I mis-diagnosing the Pattern and is it a much earlier design? Even if the sword was re-hilted the blade itself still seems to be the 1895. I would be most interested and hugely appreciative if you could give me your opinions on this as I really do not want to do the man or the history a dis-service.

    The other question I have is that is it normal to have too different royal cyphers on swords, I have a 1831 Pattern General Officer’s Mameluke Sword (photos 3,4,5 below) which possesses the royal cypher of Victoria Regina on blade and we know W.G. Woodmartin was aide de comp to same in 1897 but also George V on ecussion who Wood-Marin also was aide de comp to. I am wondering whether the Mameluke has been re-hilted as the original proof-mark is obscured by the guard. Again your opinions greatly needed and appreciated. The original proof mark is a PR over a "S" like design and a .ED inside Star of David with dots between points of star. The swords retailers are J.Conan, 4 Dawson St., Dublin and it is 31.5 " in length.

    Any insights you can give me on these puzzles would be most sincerely appreciated.

    Kind Regards,

    Michael Kinsella
    Conflict Archaeologist

    photos at this open link; 1drv.ms/a/s!Al7ERrOK9zsfjTaqaTnIdDz__udU

  2. #2
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    Hi Michael, welcome to the forum!

    Both swords look like they have active rust and should be immediately cleaned up - especially the 1897 Pattern (which looks like a Henry Wilkinson patent solid hilt, too). This is inexcusable in my mind and museums in particular should know better, frankly.

    As for the 1897 Pattern's presentation inscription - can you post a photograph? I suspect you're reading it incorrectly, which is an easy thing to do. Neither the hilt nor blade for that sword existed in 1867 so another explanation must exist, like that.

    The two different cyphers on a sword is fairly normal. Blades and hilts could be passed down (or sold) as long as they were still allowed under Army regulations but usually the cypher had to be changed to match the monarch. I imagine a general officer might have got away with more than a junior officer, though. The expert members on this forum will likely correct me! Also, the owner could have damaged his 1831's hilt during George's reign and so the replacement would have had that period's cypher.

    A final note: it's not a Star of David but two interlocking triangles - a symbol of geometric strength. Hope some of that helps a bit!

    Matthew

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    The 1831 mameluke also has a post 1900 scabbard, previous types were brass as this is plated steel. I would think the VR etched on the blade was done to this George 5th sword for memory of previous service?

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    Quote Originally Posted by M Forde View Post
    Hi Michael, welcome to the forum!

    Both swords look like they have active rust and should be immediately cleaned up - especially the 1897 Pattern (which looks like a Henry Wilkinson patent solid hilt, too). This is inexcusable in my mind and museums in particular should know better, frankly.

    As for the 1897 Pattern's presentation inscription - can you post a photograph? I suspect you're reading it incorrectly, which is an easy thing to do. Neither the hilt nor blade for that sword existed in 1867 so another explanation must exist, like that.


    Matthew
    Hi Matthew,

    I'm confused, about why you would think the blade of the 1895 (I think it is the '95 as I can't see a rolled inner lip of the hand guard which would denote it to be a '97) would not be around in 1867.

    It is not the 1892 straight dumbell profile blade. It looks to me like a standard 1845 Wilkinson style levee blade albeit almost straight which would hint at later but perhaps not rule out pre 1895.

    Have I got my wires crossed? I'm away from my reference material at the minute so feel free to point out if I'm talking rubbish.

    Regards
    James
    Last edited by james.elstob; 09-02-2017 at 12:33 PM. Reason: Rewording for clarity

  5. #5
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    Hi James! I'm in agreement with you. The photos in the link have been switched. When I looked this morning I swear it was an 1897 Pattern with a grip similar to a patent solid hilt and a different rust pattern. Now it's clearly an 1895 Pattern with a single-edged blade.

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    my humblest apologies

    Thank you very much Matthew, James and Will.
    I'm afraid I'm a little to blame for this confusion as I posted the wrong blade photo, the original was indeed an 1897 Pattern Wilkinson blade dated to 1899 and I sincerely apologise for the mix-up.

    The link is now correct; 1drv.ms/a/s!Al7ERrOK9zsfjTaqaTnIdDz__udU

    with the blade in question at end with the two last photos being pictures of blade inscription stating it appears 1 May 1867 if one zooms in.

    If ye can forgive my previous mistake I would greatly appreciate it if you might look at the blade again.

    The historical sources contradict the blade being the The 1895 Pattern Infantry Officer’s Sword and the 1867 inscription is actually its date of construction considering H.K. Bloomfield dies in 1870(see below) Yet it’s design does not appear to me to be the 1845 Infantry Pattern bearing in mind half basket hilt in particular, straightness of blade design and brown leather sword knot and acorn but if there are other be-spoke pattern variations circa 1867 in the market-place then I am back to square one and very reliant upon your insight and knowledge.

    “The Blade bears the Presentation Inscription: M. General H.K. Bloomfield to W. Gregory Wood, 1May 1867. Henry Keane Bloomfield was a career military man mentioned in the roll call as an ensign at Waterloo (1815), being transferred from 59th (2nd Nottinghamshire) regiment of foot and rising in the ranks of 11th Regiment of Foot, North Devonshire’s to Colonel and commanding officer of the 1st/ 11th regiments mission in New South Wales from 1845-1857; being appointed to the Legislative Council by Royal Decree in September-October of that latter year. On the Regiments return he was promoted to the rank of Major General and appointed Chief of Staff in charge of Cork District H.Q. 10th Mar 1860. In 1867 he was given the colonelcy for life of the 64th (2nd Staffordshire) Regiment of Foot and in 1868 made Lieutenant-General. He passed form this world in Paris, 1st February1870, aged 74.

    The inscription commemorates the younger William Gregory Wood’s commission as ensign in the 6th Foot (Royal Warwickshire Regiment) on the 22nd June 1867 and their personal relationship….
    ????(in question now if blade earlier design) It may have been presented to celebrate Lieutenant Colonel W. G. Wood-Martin’s appointment as Aide-de-Camp(militia) to Queen Victoria. There is also a possibility that the sword was then gifted from Father to his eldest son, James Isidore Wood-Marin in 1895 on the latter’s appointment in Feb of that year to the Northamptonshire Regiment as a 2Lt from the Royal Military College… ??? “

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    my humblest apologies

    Thank you very much Matthew, James and Will.
    I'm afraid I'm a little to blame for this confusion as I posted the wrong blade photo, the original was indeed an 1897 Pattern Wilkinson blade dated to 1899 and I apologise for the mix-up.

    The link is now correct; 1drv.ms/a/s!Al7ERrOK9zsfjTaqaTnIdDz__udU

    with the blade in question at end with the two last photos being pictures of blade inscription stating it appears 1 May 1867 if one zooms in.

    If ye can forgive my previous mistake I would greatly appreciate it if you might look at the blade again.

    The historical sources contradict the blade being the The 1895 Pattern Infantry Officer’s Sword and the 1867 inscription is actually its date of construction considering H.K. Bloomfield dies in 1870(see below) Yet it’s design does not appear to me to be the 1845 Infantry Pattern bearing in mind half basket hilt in particular, straightness of blade design and brown leather sword knot and acorn but if there are other be-spoke pattern variations circa 1867 in the market-place then I am back to square one and very reliant upon your insight and knowledge.

    “The Blade bears the Presentation Inscription: M. General H.K. Bloomfield to W. Gregory Wood, 1May 1867. Henry Keane Bloomfield was a career military man mentioned in the roll call as an ensign at Waterloo (1815), being transferred from 59th (2nd Nottinghamshire) regiment of foot and rising in the ranks of 11th Regiment of Foot, North Devonshire’s to Colonel and commanding officer of the 1st/ 11th regiments mission in New South Wales from 1845-1857; being appointed to the Legislative Council by Royal Decree in September-October of that latter year. On the Regiments return he was promoted to the rank of Major General and appointed Chief of Staff in charge of Cork District H.Q. 10th Mar 1860. In 1867 he was given the colonelcy for life of the 64th (2nd Staffordshire) Regiment of Foot and in 1868 made Lieutenant-General. He passed form this world in Paris, 1st February1870, aged 74.

    The inscription commemorates the younger William Gregory Wood’s commission as ensign in the 6th Foot (Royal Warwickshire Regiment) on the 22nd June 1867 and their personal relationship….
    ????(in question now if blade earlier design) It may have been presented to celebrate Lieutenant Colonel W. G. Wood-Martin’s appointment as Aide-de-Camp(militia) to Queen Victoria. There is also a possibility that the sword was then gifted from Father to his eldest son, James Isidore Wood-Marin in 1895 on the latter’s appointment in Feb of that year to the Northamptonshire Regiment as a 2Lt from the Royal Military College… ??? “

  8. #8
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    The 1831 mameluke steel scabbard

    For Will and All, there is a newspaper article with Wood-Martin and Steel scabbard Wearing a Queen Victoria's Diamond jubilee medal from 1897 and that is why I wondered if the George V on ecussion had been altered or the hilt in general. First photo in album;
    1drv.ms/a/s!Al7ERrOK9zsfjTaqaTnIdDz__udU

    Again so sorry for the mix-up in photos in original album, i feel like a right idiot
    Last edited by Michael Cahill; 09-02-2017 at 01:52 PM.

  9. #9
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    Again apologies for the wrong photos originally posted and if you could please help me in this dilemma as I seem to be back to square one with date contradictions if you read my thread responses. None the wiser, it's a complete mystery...

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    Ok, so to my mind the presentation blade will have started life in or within a few years of 1867 as a gift from H.K.B.to W.G.W-M.

    I understand that commemorative blades can often be given several years after the event being commemorated. In this instance where it is a gift from an individual senior officer and unlikely that money would be a factor (i.e. members of the regiment aren't collecting to pay for the sword) I would suggest that it is more likely to have been presented very soon after the event.

    It is an 1845 pattern blade which by rule of thumb could have been manufactured any time from 1845 to 1892. So the blade could have been manufactured earlier than 1867 then etched for presentation to W.G.W-M but this seems unlikely because of the straight ish profile which hints at mid to later 19th Century.

    So probably the blade came first between 1867 and 1892 when the new profile blade took over. just noticed H.K.B. died in 1870 so it's unlikely that he was gifting swords after that!!

    When manufactured it would have been fitted with a brass gothic hilt with a VR cartouche. The gothic style hilt was replaced in 1895.

    So the original blade was then probably rehilted between 1895 to 1897 (when the inner lip was rolled over) most likely for use by his son on his commission in 1895.

    Is that what you were asking?

    P. S. It's pretty common for blades to be rehilted to keep them current with the pattern of the time. This could be to spare a young penniless officer the cost of buying a whole new sword when the pattern changes or what seems more likely in this case when an older blade has a sentimental value but would otherwise have an out of date hilt.

    I don't see any anomalies to be concerned about.
    Last edited by james.elstob; 09-02-2017 at 03:07 PM.

  11. #11
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    P. P. S in fact it is quite likely that the son used the sword in its original guise with the gothic hilt for a time before having it rehilted with the '95 hilt which I seem to remember wasn't introduced officially until the following year.

  12. #12
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    The cross piece could have easily been replaced to a later cypher and a steel scabbard added. I looked at the sword photo again for the placement of the VR and GR which is somewhat blurry when zoomed in but the blade would be a VR blade with a GR added.

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    Hi James and All,

    So Sorry for the delay in getting back to you and much thanks for your insights.

    So just to clarify, can I say the blade is definitely the 1845 Pattern Infantry Officer’s Sword due to the very slight curve in the blade. Is there a possibility that it is the 1854 Pattern Infantry Officer’s Sword, which is straighter in profile to my eye, but what might you think?

    The whole swords similarity to an 1895 Pattern initially really confused me at first.

    On the Hilt issue, some additional info is; like the Blade there is a Victoria Regina cipher also in the Hilt.

    The eldest sons commission was in Feb 1895, can I again just confirm that the inner lip rolled over is introduced later then the blade pattern (1895) in 1896 or am I miss understanding what you wrote? I know the 1897 Pattern has the left inner edge turned down but is this a different design feature then what you’re mentioning?

    On the issue of the 1831 Mameluke, although I am in complete agreement with Will Mathieson that it has been re-hilted and George V cipher changed on the Ecussion, I have a dilemma re the steel hilt which does certainly appear to be there in the photo of Wood-Martin senior with the 1897 Queen Victoria Jubilee medal (photo 1 in folder; 1drv.ms/a/s!Al7ERrOK9zsfjTaqaTnIdDz__udU)
    If steel hilts are officially not introduced till after 1900 then this poses the interesting question of whether the photo is taken after 1897, retrospectively celebrating medal. Another point is that he is not wearing a 1901 Edward VII coronation medal who is was also Aide de Camp to which would presumably date the photo to 1900 if previous point is correct?

    Finally is there an official term for the double triangle as part of the proof marking on blades?

    Thank you all for your most excellent help and advice,

    Yours Faithfully,

    Mike Kinsella

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    The 1822/45 pattern infantry sword has a folding guard. The 1845p only difference is the fullered blade, previous to 1845 officers swords have pipe back blades.
    The 1854p does not have a folding guard though swords made post 1854 can be found with folding guards.
    The 1895p sword has a new hilt without the guard bend and has the 1892 central fullered (dumbell) shaped blade.
    The 1897p has the bend in the guard to prevent the uniform from fraying.
    The double triangle is not part of a blades proof, more of a sales gimmick and to suggest great strength.

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    Thanks for that Will, any insights on other points above, mike?

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    It is an 1845 pattern blade with a hilt that was updated in 1895.

    1845 type blades varied in curve, width, length and thickness, they were not standard. Some are straight and some are very curved, most are slightly curved. They were usually 32.5, 34.5 or 35.5 inches in length depending on infantry, artillery or cavalry, but officers could buy any length they wanted. They are usually either 1 1/8 inch or 1 inch wide, but could again be any width depending on the officer's preference.

    These articles on the 1845 blade and 1892 blade, as well as 1895 and 1897 hilts may help you:

    http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/antiqu...les/1845blade/

    http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/antiqu...les/1892-1897/

    Regards,
    Matt

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    Thanks you so much, Matt, so you would say hilt with inner lip rolled down is part of the 1895 design and again confirming definitely 1845 as opposed to 1854? mike

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    Also can we categorically say steel scabbards on the Mameluke post-date 1900 re previous question above, or are their earlier prototypes if you will? Much thanks, Mike.

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    There is no such thing as an 1854 pattern blade The blade is Henry Wilkinson's design accepted by the Army in 1845 and Navy in 1846. It was a general design and varied in exact proportions between individual examples.

    When people refer to the 1854 pattern, they are referring to a hilt rather than a blade. In fact there is no 1854 pattern hilt for infantry officers - the folding inner 'drop' guard was gradually abandoned on the brass hilt in the late-1850s and Wilkinson stopped making them generally around 1860.

    The 1895 and 1897 steel guards are very slightly different, as described above - the 1897 pattern is defined as having a folded-up inner edge to protect uniforms from undue wear. I haven't got your photos open now, but if it has a folded up inner edge then it is 1897 pattern, if not then it is the 1895 pattern. That's the only real difference between the 1895 and 1897 guards.

    Many 1845-bladed swords were re-hilted in 1895 and 1897 when the new regulation hilts were authorised. It is not at all unusual to find - as shown in my article linked above.

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    Thanks Matt for the clarity, any ideas on the steel scabbard with Mameluke?

    https://1drv.ms/a/s!Al7ERrOK9zsfjTaqaTnIdDz__udU

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    ah I see both have lips turned down it seems, just the 1897 has fold as you say. James above thought that perhaps the turned down lip might be issued slightly later in 1896 and that the 1895 prototype had the original gothic hilt as I understand it but as you can see i'm obviously a novice

  23. #23
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    An 1845 pattern blade is simply defined as having one primary cutting edge, a rectangular ricasso, a spear-point with short false edge and a single fuller located towards the back blunt edge:
























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    Wow that fantastic, Matt, what type of hilt do you think this infantry officers dress sword would have in 1867(date of gift), assuming now that this is its year of construction and the straightness of the blade curvature perhaps points to 1867 also?

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