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Thread: Wilkinson Sword Characteristics

  1. #101
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    Keith:

    I think the two middle letters may be, in fact, the letter "H," giving us "R.H.S." If so, I'm sure your man is Lieut.-Gen. Sir Richard H. Sankey, K.C.B.

    He died in 1908 at 79 years of age. A short bio reads: ". . . Lieut General Sir Richard Sankey KCB sometime Madras Engineers had served with distinction in the Indian Mutiny and the Afghan War in 1879 and had held many important Civil appointments in India."

    John's post earlier in this thread tells where to look for more info, but if you do a Google search for "Lieut.-Gen. Sir Richard H. Sankey, K.C.B." you will find, among other things, a Wikipedia page devoted to his career history:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Hieram_Sankey.

    A great fire-eater! Wow!

    He was promoted to Major General on June 4, 1883, so your sword would likely have been purchased around that time. Amazing to think how it might have made it to SA.

    Let's be sure about the initials. Can you post a close-up photo?

    Mark

    Oh, and he was born in 1829 at Rockwell Castle, County Tipperary, Ireland, which further fits with John's crest info.
    Last edited by Mark Cain; 12-30-2009 at 10:24 AM.

  2. #102
    Is it possibly "RHS"?

    ...Mark beat me to it!

    Good work, Mark!

    There is quite a writeup on him here:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=s8T...key%22&f=false
    Last edited by J.G. Hopkins; 12-30-2009 at 10:39 AM.

  3. #103
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.G. Hopkins View Post
    Is it possibly "RHS"?
    Shows the importance of getting different viewpoints on this! Yes, I agree it could be "RHS", although the embellishments on the left-hand upright stroke of the "H" look less pronounced than on the right-hand side. However, having carried out some judicious viewing experiments on one of my own swords, I think this effect could be caused by the camera lens not being at an exact 90-degree angle to the face of the blade, making one side look slightly larger than the other.

    Since the owner was obviously senior enough to have a P1831 sword, the identification with RH Sankey seems much more plausible than the existence of a mystery "RIC Sankey" for whom no Army List evidence is present...good work, Mark and Jonathan!

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

  4. #104

    Thanks

    Gents,
    Thanks very much for the ideas. I've tried to get clear close-ups of the letters but the camera won't oblige with a crisp image. I'll have to try in daylight tomorrow.

    re the Star of David story, this comes from the Crisp and Son website:

    "Q2. What does the star like symbol represent on some sword blades?
    A2. The interlocking triangles sometimes seen on older blades made by Wilkinson Sword is a mark originally used by Henry Wilkinson. This mark represents the interlocking triangles of the armourer - an ancient symbol.It was used extensively by Wilkinson Sword in the 19th Century and was widely copied by other manufacturers and as a result has fallen out of use. As far as we are aware there is no association with the Star of David."

    Apparently this mark originated in Damascus and was used by the famous steel makers as a sign of quality, later to be copied by Wilkinson sword until everybody else started doing it too!

    On my sword, there is no distributors name or any other lettering apart from the Sankey logo, the 3 or 4 letters under discussion and the "proved" button. On the roughly worked tang is stamped a "P".

    Good night!

  5. #105
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Gardiner View Post
    re the Star of David story, this comes from the Crisp and Son website:

    "Q2. What does the star like symbol represent on some sword blades?
    A2. The interlocking triangles sometimes seen on older blades made by Wilkinson Sword is a mark originally used by Henry Wilkinson. This mark represents the interlocking triangles of the armourer - an ancient symbol.It was used extensively by Wilkinson Sword in the 19th Century and was widely copied by other manufacturers and as a result has fallen out of use. As far as we are aware there is no association with the Star of David."
    Hi Keith,

    Despite the above, it's not a Wilkinson - most other sword makers and retailers in the Victorian period used the interlocking triangles. The proof disk and lack of Wilkinson markings support this interpretation.

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

  6. #106

    Thanks 2

    Yes, so it would seem John. The absence of a serial number and any other W.S. traits seems to confirm this. That quotation also says that other manufacturers copied the idea. Now, I wonder if the Sankey marks might not be the manufacturers' marks?
    Studying the letters beneath a microscope last night, my son and I agree that the letters are R, J, C, (or, if one takes into account the centre-line through it, an E) and a Y making a most likely RJCY or an outside chance of an RJEY. Yes, the J and C combine do look a bit like an H but the centre line through both do not in fact touch plus the down stroke of the C is consistently fatter than that of the J.
    It is more normal on M's, N, and H's that the first vertical is heavier than those following.
    Also, if it were an H, that letter is considerably wider than the other 2 making it appear somewhat odd.

    I'll do my best to get a clear photo today!
    I do appreciate your enthusiasm gents. It's so good to get input that provokes research in other directions.

  7. #107

    Sankey sword

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    Hello again,
    Attached are a few clearer pics and, here, I must admit that the H looks compelling but, not, unfortunayely the S.

  8. #108
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Gardiner View Post
    Attached are a few clearer pics and, here, I must admit that the H looks compelling but, not, unfortunayely the S.
    Hi Keith,

    Excellent first pic - and to me at least confirms the centre letter is an "H". The last one is an "S", as the attached examples from known swords show (the initials in this case being "RCS", "LJSA" and "SWT"). Victorian calligraphy can take some getting used to!

    The crest is way too elaborate for a maker's mark, and is too high up the blade; however it's just where you'd expect an owner's crest to be. The ID to Sankey is looking pretty solid.

    John
    Attached Images Attached Images    
    Last edited by John Hart; 12-31-2009 at 05:28 AM.
    "If I can't be a good example to others, at least let me be a horrible warning".

  9. #109
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    Keith:

    Nice crisp photos. Thanks.

    John's correct. That's an H and the last letter is an S. The other elements of evidence -- the crest, the link to Tipperary, and the absence of other general officers named Sankey -- make this one a sure thing.

    There's another thread running right now about the grip materials on GO swords. You might consider the possibility of refurbishment for those parts that are damaged. Your sword's got a great story.

    The second part of the story -- how it got to South Africa -- may be even more interesting.

    Sorry, can't help with that one.

    Mark

  10. #110

    Sankey sword 6

    Thanks John.
    Wow! I see what you mean! RHS it appears to be indeed. Now I need to try to contact the Irish Sankeys and see what they can confirm in the way of lost or disposed-of swords by Major-General Richard Hieram Sankey and ask how on earth it ended up out in the veldt of SA!

  11. #111
    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Gardiner View Post
    Thanks John.
    Wow! I see what you mean! RHS it appears to be indeed. Now I need to try to contact the Irish Sankeys and see what they can confirm in the way of lost or disposed-of swords by Major-General Richard Hieram Sankey and ask how on earth it ended up out in the veldt of SA!
    Looking a the Census of Ireland 1911 http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/search/ Sankeys are thin on the ground in Co.Tipperary.Still,it's a website worth a look anyway.Rockwell Castle may now be Rockwell College,a prestigous boarding school near Cashel,Co.Tipperary.An email to them would confirm that.I'm sure they would help,given the interesting nature of the thread.However,as he died in the England you may have to pursue his estate there.
    Niall Dignan

  12. #112
    Thanks for that Niall, I'll follow it up.

  13. #113
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    Clearing the office, I came across these photos which may interest Forumites.

    This was taken in 1916 at Wikinsons and shows the hilts being curved on a roller machine. The three trays in the foreground are (rear) 1897 Infantry, (left) Havildars and (right) "Tulwar" Pattern 3 bar Indian cavalry swords. To the right you can see a number of 'rough mounted' 1897 Infantry swords.


    The next photos is the Grinding shop!



    And lastly the Calm and Serenity of the Etching Shop showing Campbell Argyll in the foreground and one of his son -in laws, Mr Riley in the background.


    And here is a 'Trade Board' from old 27 Pall Mall window.
    Last edited by Robert Wilkinson-Latham; 03-09-2010 at 02:57 AM.

  14. #114
    The etching shop photo is interesting because the actual press on the left hand side in the foreground of the photo was still in use right up until the final closure of the factory.

    It was used to press the cigarette paper onto the wax filled etching plates to create the etching pattern transfers.

  15. #115
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    How do you measure a sword grip?

    I have just found in a note book references as to how, Wilkinson at least, measured and described sword grips. They were, of course, measured by height, for example 4 1/2 inches BUT here is the interesting bit, the grip was then further described (as to how many indentations for the wire - or not) in Balls!
    So a description of a sword grip would read:

    Grip - 4 1/2 inches - 8 Ball.

    Which is logical if you think about it
    Robert

  16. #116
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    Wilkinson 'Toledo blade'

    They were, as previously discussed, just one of those 'fashionable' blade shapes that came about from the 1850's to the 1870's with the popularity of the Art of Fencing and the Skill at Arms meeting and displays. Mainly found in Infantry swords of the period.

    There is very little further that can be said except that in John Latham's lecture to the RUSI (The Shape of Sword Blades May 1862) he does mention the Toledo (or known amongst the workmen as the "latchen") blade as the oldest form of thrusting blade as seen on many early rapiers made in Toledo.

    "It was very strong and stiff but very heavy" Latham tells us, but in the 1850's reincarnation he says that it was lightened by 'grooving'.

    Robert

  17. #117
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Wilkinson-Latham View Post
    They were, as previously discussed, just one of those 'fashionable' blade shapes that came about from the 1850's to the 1870's with the popularity of the Art of Fencing and the Skill at Arms meeting and displays. Mainly found in Infantry swords of the period.

    There is very little further that can be said except that in John Latham's lecture to the RUSI (The Shape of Sword Blades May 1862) he does mention the Toledo (or known amongst the workmen as the "latchen") blade as the oldest form of thrusting blade as seen on many early rapiers made in Toledo.

    "It was very strong and stiff but very heavy" Latham tells us, but in the 1850's reincarnation he says that it was lightened by 'grooving'.
    Just carried out a simple test of my own with a Wilkinson "Toledo" blade from 1885 with a P1857 Royal Engineers sword of 1886. The former is definitely the kind of blade I'd like to have between me and the downward cut of a native tulwar; it's thick and inspires confidence. The "Toledo" is also a good "thruster" and it's inherent weight may have made it harder to parry. However, that same weight is such that I'm not sure I'd ever have had chance to use the sword in either of those techniques before I was cut in two by the aformentioned native blade!

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

  18. #118
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    Wilkinson Patent Solid Hilt- Correction

    In an earlier post I stated the below where I gave the date of Wilkinson's registered Design for the Solid Hilt as February 1884 - It was in fact
    11th February 1882
    Apologies for this typo!
    Robert

    A patent lasts 20 years from the date of filing of the patent application, subject to the payment of renewal fees.

    So Reeves 1853 Patent was open to all after 1873. After Reeves went bankrupt in 1869, Wilkinsons appear to have taken 'an interest' in the revived Reeves company

    By 1884 Wilkinsons had purchased a large percentage of Reeves and with it the defunct Patent Hilt/Tang Patent,

    However, Wilkinsons use of the Reeves Patent prior to 1869 and up to 1884 one assumes was by paying a fee but there is no mention of Royalties (except for Gun Patent Royalties to C Harvey for his Breach Loading System used on Wilkinson Shotguns - Pat No 1793 of 1866 from 1866 to 1878) and so possible the Patent Hilt use was done in friendly co-operation.

    However, I have found a reference that Wilkinsons did register the design (Registered Design) of the Patent hilt in February 1884 when they bought the large interest in Reeves although the legend 'Registered Design, or a design Number and mark did not appear, to my knowledge in the blade etching design.

  19. #119
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    Hello all,

    Odd question: were all Wilkinson officers sword blades decorated? I have a Wilkinson from early 1878 which has no blade decoration accept the starburst around the proof slug and the Wilkinson address.

    No trace of it being removed or altered either.

  20. #120
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher J G Scott View Post
    Odd question: were all Wilkinson officers sword blades decorated? I have a Wilkinson from early 1878 which has no blade decoration accept the starburst around the proof slug and the Wilkinson address.

    No trace of it being removed or altered either.
    Hi Chris,

    No, it's not uncommon for some officers' blades to be plain apart from the essential markings - I have a couple like this, and the feeling is that these are purpose-ordered "fighting" blades where decoration wasn't seen as a key feature. Often these were officers' second swords - dress versions would be reserved for parades and so on where a good appearance was more important.

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

  21. #121
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    Hi John,

    Many thanks indeed. This particular sword has a 28 inch blade. It must have been shortened, but the blade has been profiled so well that it is impossible to see any alteration.

    Sadly no scabbard, so the most obvious way of telling whether it has been altered is absent!

  22. #122
    Hi Jason,

    I would say that the Regulation Pattern lance of 1868 would have had a full-length bamboo shaft, and the point and butt with inspection marks. What length is your lance and what sort of butt does it have?

    It might be the case that your lance was used for ceremonial purposes, or maybe a sporting use such as pig sticking, and was jointed in the middle for ease of transport,

    Gordon

  23. #123
    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Wilkinson-Latham View Post
    You can say that again!
    I remember in the late 1960's walking from Wilkinsons in Pall Mall to Hyde Park Barracks to deliver 3 lances to the Household Cavalry- couldn't do it today I should think without attracting a SWAT team!
    It seems perfectly reasonable to me, and I bet nobody could quote you a law about lances.

    I think ash was sometimes used for lance shafts, as well as the male bamboo. But my guess is that the ash, unless made much heavier, would be less strong. Bamboo is remarkable stuff, although we normally see only the female, with its large, weakening nodules.

    I think those measurements for pigsticking lances, themselves shorter, I think, than the regulation military one, were later overtaken by a much shorter lance, with a lead button to preserve the balance. This enabled made it easier to deal with (or try) a boar attacking the pigsticker's right leg or the horse's side behind it. It might be that the jointed lance was designed to permit its adaptation between those two styles. A military lance might be very sharp, but a pigsticking lance certainly would be.

    There is a phenomenon in the collection of military rifles in the US, known as the duffel cut. This is a rifle with a jointed and perhaps very slightly shortened stock, to fit a returning soldier's duffel bag. It is possible that the same, for some slightly longer receptacle, applies to this lance.

    My favourite authority on cavalry weapons is Captain Nolan, a noted theorist and horse trainer who carried the order that sent the Light Brigade down the wrong valley at Balaclava, and perhaps accidentally or deliberately slanted his verbal explanation to achieve this. He favoured a versatile cutting and thrusting sword, kept in a wooden scabbard to prevent bluntening, and had a poor opinion of the lance. You only have to miss, have it parried or hit something hard just once, and you are defenceless at a very decisive moment.

  24. #124
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    Here is one of Wilkinson's 'pig sticking' spears. I managed to find a supplier of male bamboo (also known as 'Iron Bamboo') here in the states. The supplier gets it from a bamboo plantation in Mexico, where its grown from seed imported from India.
    Attached Images Attached Images   
    mark@swordforum.com

    ~ Hostem Hastarum Cuspidibus Salutemus ~

    "Those who beat their swords into plowshares usually end up plowing for those who don't."
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  25. #125
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    Lance

    I am looking to acquire a military British lance for my collection. I found this one for sale in Canada.

    Any thoughts? date of manufacture?

    Mario
    Ottawa




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