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Thread: A curious Indian Army infantry officer's sword

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
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    Guildford, Surrey, England.
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    A curious Indian Army infantry officer's sword

    This is one of the most unusual Victorian sword that I've had.
    The scabbard screams Indian service to me, as does the MOLE BIRMN marked sabre blade which is very similar at first sight to those found on Indian cavalry swords from around 1875-1918.

    I strongly suspect that the guard is an 1897 replacement and I think that it was originally furnished with a gothic or scroll hilt. The guard is marked VR and so dates to 1897-1901 itself.

    The scabbard is pretty unusual in its own right - why have two rings rather than just use the Sam Browne frog like most other officers at the time?

    But the strangest thing of all is the grip and tang - it has a full width tang, a chequered hardwood grip matching the shape of the tang (both flare out at the pommel end, which makes for a very comfortable thumb-up sabre grip with the little finger wedged against the pommel end of the grip, which I happen to use in fencing myself). This chequered wooden grip has then been leather covered, concealing the opening at the front of the wood (the tang is visible where the leather has come away at the bottom).

    The backstrap is also relatively unusual, being fully chequered like an 1895 backstrap, but I presume earlier in date and curved rather than straight (I have other pre-1895 swords with this feature).

    I presume therefore that this was a totally custom sword made by Mole for a British or Indian officer in the Indian Army, perhaps dating to the 1880s and then having the guard replaced in 1897-1901.









    More photos: http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/antiqu...e/1897indian1/

    I would very much welcome your thoughts.

    Regards,
    Matt

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    Kingston, Canada
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    Could the rings have been put there so they could be used in the same way as with the 1908?

  3. #3
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    Yes that's certainly possible.
    Though it's an infantry officer's guard, so I'm not sure what they would do when dismounted.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
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    Kingston area, Ontario Canada
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    The grip at the pommel end where there is leather loss is quite odd. This bare wooden bit is checkered, could this originally have been an all wood grip with later leather and wire wrap?
    To me it appears to be a cavalry sword, choosing the guard for better hand protection and not in consideration for the pattern? No visible wear on the scabbard drag suggests possibly cavalry use where the sword was not worn on the person.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
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    Hi Will,
    Swords worn with Sam Browne belts tend never to drag on anything in my experience and this is only a 31 inch blade. Could be cavalry though - the blade is almost identical to Indian cavalry sabres.
    The bare wood is where the leather has worn away from use. You can see remnants of leather on the surface, so it was all covered originally. The chequering under the leather gives a sort of stippled surface to the grip which gives a better hold. Impossible to say whether the leather was a slightly later addition. They'd have to dismount the whole hilt to fit it.
    An important note is that the shape of the full width tang corresponds to the grip shape fully at the projecting part, so it was made that shape by Mole.

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