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Thread: Interesting British 1864 Cavalry for discussion

  1. #1
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    Interesting British 1864 Cavalry for discussion

    Greetings all,

    I picked this sword up on eBay more out of curiousity and thought I would share it with the forum for discussion.

    It is a Wilkinson made 1864, dated to 1878, mounted with a slightly curved 33" x 1 1/8" blade. The blade is profusely etched with crown, VR, etc, but sadly so worn it is difficult to make out specifics. The guard is slightly different from the traditional 1864 in that it has a quillon, and one sword knot at the pommel, rather than the two normally found on a trooper's sword. The grip is leather with twisted silver wire wrap.

    As you can see from the second picture, the proportions of the guard are significantly smaller than a trooper's sword.
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  2. #2
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    second pic
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    Re: Interesting British 1864 Cavalry for discussion

    Originally posted by Rob O'Reilly
    It is a Wilkinson made 1864, dated to 1878, mounted with a slightly curved 33" x 1 1/8" blade. The blade is profusely etched with crown, VR, etc, but sadly so worn it is difficult to make out specifics. The guard is slightly different from the traditional 1864 in that it has a quillon, and one sword knot at the pommel, rather than the two normally found on a trooper's sword. The grip is leather with twisted silver wire wrap.

    As you can see from the second picture, the proportions of the guard are significantly smaller than a trooper's sword.
    Interesting, Rob - have you had chance to see how the Wilkinson proof book entry describes it yet?

    I normally associate smaller grips and hilts with swords for the British Indian Army, which would fit with the slightly non-standard configuration of this sword (Indian units having a bit more freedom to choose their own weapons), but there are exceptions.

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

  4. #4
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    John,

    I did also receive (what I believe to be) the proof book entry but am having difficulty making out the handwriting. It appears to have been purchased by one individual for another.

    Interestingly 1878 was also the beginning of the Second Afghan War.

    Attached is what I received with the sword.
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    Originally posted by Rob O'Reilly
    John,

    I did also receive (what I believe to be) the proof book entry but am having difficulty making out the handwriting. It appears to have been purchased by one individual for another.

    Interestingly 1878 was also the beginning of the Second Afghan War.

    Attached is what I received with the sword.
    Hmm, that's a bit of a teaser - it says "Regular Infantry", which is the standard description for infantry swords of the period. However, we can tell that the hilt certainly isn't regular infantry at all! The person it was bought for appears to be an "M.H.M Stewart", but I can't find anyone of that name in the 1889 Army List (the closest one I have to 1878). The first name looks like it begins with "Alexdr", maybe a contraction for "Alexander", but I can't make the second part out at all.

    I wonder if the original blade has been re-hilted? But that quillon on a P1864 guard is still an unusual feature.

    Where are the cavalry experts when you need 'em? Paging Mr Morgan!

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

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    I thought maybe a re guarding, made from a p64 guard cut down- but the quillon is not explainable that way. Another one off that didn't catch on?

    Shame the buyer's regiment is not listed.
    hc3

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    The overall dimensions of the guard are all marginally smaller, and as I mentioned there are no sword knot slits near the blade, as in the trooper's model. Ignoring the quillon, the guard does not conform to any of the models between 1864-1882, or so says Robson

    You mention the sword doesn't conform to "regualr infantry" however the blade does.

    The engraving is all but a shadow now, however at the base is still visible a scroll, like you find listing battle honours. Unfortunately I can make out only what looks like "W...TE..." I'm assuming "Warranted" due to its placement so close to the forte and in proximity to the proof mark.

    I'll have to try and research M.H.M Stewart, or possibly (Mr H.M. Stewart?) and see if I get lucky.
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    Originally posted by Rob O'Reilly
    I did also receive (what I believe to be) the proof book entry but am having difficulty making out the handwriting. It appears to have been purchased by one individual for another.
    Rob,

    Ran this past a mate who specialises in Wilkinson proof book entries (through long exposure to the archive). His thoughts as follows:

    I think it says “Alex Fletcher & Co for Mc. H M Steward” The crossing line of the “t” which is in front of the “t” post cuts right through the “c” and makes it look like an “s”. I hope that’s clear !! - it’s hard to explain but if you look closely you can get it.

    Hope this helps,

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

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    Wow John, thank you very much! I would not have gotten that but can certainly see it now. The only part that continues to confuse me would be the 'Mc' part.

    Would you think this definitely an officers purchase, or possibly a well to do NCO?

    Rob
    Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit

  10. #10
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    Originally posted by Rob O'Reilly
    The only part that continues to confuse me would be the 'Mc' part.

    Would you think this definitely an officers purchase, or possibly a well to do NCO?
    Not sure - could something like McHenry be a first name as well as a surname? "McHenry M Steward" has a certain ring to it!

    As for the owner, I would have thought an officer had more latitude in their choice of weapon, especially one as different as this. As a rule, the more senior the officer (or the more irregular the unit), the more they could get away with!

    Interestingly, I'm just looking through some online Army Lists and there appear to be quite a few Stewards in the Indian Army...none matching these initials, though.

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

  11. #11
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    Thanks for looking John, what years did you consult? I thought about heading down to the National War Museum, as they have the complete set of Hart's lists.

    Rob
    Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit

  12. #12
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    Originally posted by Rob O'Reilly
    Thanks for looking John, what years did you consult?
    From memory, they were 1878 and later. If consulting a military library, don't forget that specific Indian Army Lists exist in addition to the standard Hart's and government-published lists.

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

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