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Thread: British Naval Sword

  1. #1
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    British Naval Sword

    OK, the good and the bad. The good? There are remains of the sword knot, the leather washer, the sheath isn't limp and all the fittings are mostly pretty snug, and the blade has some rust blossoms, but not too bad a condition. The bad? I don't know if the blade was scrubbed or over abraded or what. Some abrasion marks are evident, but there's no script of any kind to indicate maker, retailer, or a royal cypher. On the scabbard, I can make out "J.SYMONS, DEVONPORT". So, I don't know if it's William IV, Victoria, George, or what era? Any of you good gentlemen who can flesh out the bones of this, please chime in. Thank you in advance
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  2. #2
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    John Symons, army and navy tailor and sword cutler, 74 & 76 Fore Street Devonport, at those addresses from 1823-1850, so would suggest Victorian. Nice find.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Bevan View Post
    John Symons, army and navy tailor and sword cutler, 74 & 76 Fore Street Devonport, at those addresses from 1823-1850, so would suggest Victorian. Nice find.
    Thank you Sir. I did forget to mention that there are two holes through the guard underneath the ricasso. They appear to be period correct. Would they have been for the sword knot cord?

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    Yep, exactly so.

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    I'm assuming that without a royal cypher to date it, there's no way to tell if it was from the reign of William IV or Queen Victoria. John Symons was active in Devonport for both eras so unless there was a pattern change over that time span, it's an unknown.

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    I'd say at the early side of that time, given the quill blade. That's a Georgian style that fell out of favour very early in Victorian times.
    hc3

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    Given the pipe back blade I would say this is an early 1827 pattern, a new pattern was introduced in 1846 with a flat backed blade and scabbard modifications changed to three brass mounts earlier in 1832 ( McGrath & Barton, British Naval Swords & Swordsmanship) but I’m no expert Lawrence, hopefully someone will be more precise .PS, your top locket is on the wrong way round!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Bevan View Post
    Given the pipe back blade I would say this is an early 1827 pattern, a new pattern was introduced in 1846 with a flat backed blade and scabbard modifications changed to three brass mounts earlier in 1832 ( McGrath & Barton, British Naval Swords & Swordsmanship) but I’m no expert Lawrence, hopefully someone will be more precise .PS, your top locket is on the wrong way round!
    It seemed to me to be a very early pattern, but I've been away from blades for a long time. If what you're telling me proves to be so, then it would date from the reign of William IV. Also, though it seemed odd to me that the lockets had the rings facing opposite sides, I hadn't realized that the top locket was not pinned to the scabbard. I've since corrected that but I have to find a gentle adhesive to reaffix the locket to the leather.

  9. #9
    NO Royal Cypher ?..can anyone say whether or not they were only manadatory for MILITARY swords ? What about a civilian navy officer ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ralph Grinly View Post
    NO Royal Cypher ?..can anyone say whether or not they were only manadatory for MILITARY swords ? What about a civilian navy officer ?
    I wish I could say that was a possibility, but there is a very faint trace of engraving left on the blade after some moron abraded it down. I do find it very unusual that there is absolutely nothing on the ricasso either.

  11. #11
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    The blade appears to be a mix of quill point and later 1845 Wilkinson type fuller. I would date it post 1845. Etching on the blades of these tended to be shallow and easily worn down.
    Usually they have an anchor etched on the blade. The blade makes the sword quite appealing, not many having this hybrid blade.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Will Mathieson View Post
    The blade appears to be a mix of quill point and later 1845 Wilkinson type fuller. I would date it post 1845. Etching on the blades of these tended to be shallow and easily worn down.
    Usually they have an anchor etched on the blade. The blade makes the sword quite appealing, not many having this hybrid blade.
    My brother pointed out the crown on the guard is a "Queens" crown. Would this not date it to the Victorian era or did they not change the style of crown on the fouled anchor?

  13. #13
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    Yes post 1845 is Victorian, she became queen in 1837. Cannot always date swords by the style of crown.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Will Mathieson View Post
    Yes post 1845 is Victorian, she became queen in 1837. Cannot always date swords by the style of crown.
    Hence my question regarding the pattern of crown on the guard. Would a William IV era sword have a King's crown on the guard? As to date (and not to spark any acrimony) could you remark on Mr. Bevan's earlier post regarding the later pattern blade and scabbard?

  15. #15
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    Change with sword patterns came slowly, 1845 is not a firm cut off date to blade type. You have a hybrid blade with the Wilkinson fuller that we date to 1845 and the quill point of previous swords. Kings crown is an identifier mostly used for later swords post 1901.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Will Mathieson View Post
    Change with sword patterns came slowly, 1845 is not a firm cut off date to blade type. You have a hybrid blade with the Wilkinson fuller that we date to 1845 and the quill point of previous swords. Kings crown is an identifier mostly used for later swords post 1901.
    Thank you Will and all you others who have been so unstinting in sharing your knowledge and opinions. From the information I've gleaned thus far, there's no definitive way to say if it's from the era of King William IV or Queen Victoria. As I mentioned, I've been away from swords for a long time and only purchased this on spec. From my militaria collecting days, I know there was a distinct "Kings" crown and "Queens" crown which helped in determining WWI or WWII or post war. In one of my old sword books, it shows the "Georgian" pattern crown as well. My question is this; did the crown/fouled anchor pattern change from male to female monarch or was it just kept as is until, as Mr. Mathieson pointed out, 1901?

  17. #17
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    Kings crown is an identifier mostly used for later swords post 1901, I did not say with fouled anchor on naval swords but in general being the crown itself.
    Ben posted:John Symons, army and navy tailor and sword cutler, 74 & 76 Fore Street Devonport, at those addresses from 1823-1850, so would suggest Victorian. Nice find.
    This tells you it is a Victorian sword. With its hybrid blade it appears to be 1845-1850. So you have a nice short date range.

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