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Thread: Wilkinson Sword Characteristics

  1. #401
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    Thank you very much, John. I just had a look at some online records over lunch and came to the same conclusion. Oh well! It is still a very nice sword to handle and my collection is richer for it. If anyone has any idea who the maker was I'd be most appreciative (perhaps I should start a new thread so as not to clutter up this one).

  2. #402

    Wilkinson for Ethiopia

    I have posted this sword under Ethiopian ad I am re-posting it under Wilkinson, just in case.... I believe it is a sword from the Ethiopian Imperial Cavalry. The writing in Amharic says: HENRY WILKINSON SWORD MAKER OF KING GEORGE V PALL MALL LONDON. No surprise there. What I am curious about is the model. Any suggestions?
    Attached Images Attached Images    

  3. #403
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    Hi Ron,

    What an interesting (and not unpleasing) design! If I had to identify the components I would say the blade is probably of the P1821 cavalry type, the grip and pommel are similar to the P1912 cavalry officer's sword, and the guard is like the P1895 infantry sword (all British patterns). The domed button on the pommel cap, however, isn't like anything else I can recall offhand. It dates from the period 1928-1936 (the first being the year Wilkinson adopted the crossed swords mark and the second the year King George V died).

    Hope that helps,

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

  4. #404
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Easton View Post
    I put together a comparison of the Wilkinson sword steel compared to some modern steels used for sword making. I thought some of you may find this interesting.

    Specification for Henry Wilkinson's "Sword Steel":
    Carbon................0.90 to 1,00%
    Silicon.................0.20% Maximum
    Manganese..........0.15 to 0.35%
    Sulphur...............0.02% Maximum
    Phosphorous......... 0.02% Maximum

    EN-9 steel:
    C: 0.50%
    Si: 0.25%
    Mn: 0.70%
    S: 0.05%
    P: 0.05%

    EN-45 steel:
    C: 0.55%
    Si: 1.75%
    Mn: 0.75%
    S: 0.05%
    P: 0.05%

    5160 steel:
    C: 0.56-0.64%
    Chromium: 0.7-0.9%
    Si: 0.15-0.35%
    Mn: 0.75 - 1.0%
    S: 0.04% max
    P: 0.035% max

    1060 steel:
    C: 0.55-0.65%
    Mn: 0.6-0.9%
    S: 0.05% max
    P: 0.04% max

    The massive difference with the Wilkinson steel seems to be the MUCH higher carbon content. Frankly I'm quite surprised by the difference.
    Just to update this - I now realise that modern 1095 is roughly similar to Wilkinson sword steel. It makes for very good blades, but is an unforgiving steel and more liable to failure in manufacturing I believe. Most modern makers go for lower carbon content, probably because it is more forgiving to manufacture, but also because it seems to result in blades that are less likely to be brittle. The end product depends a lot on the heat treatment though. Two people can make swords with 1095 with quite different results if their heat treatment method differs.

  5. #405
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Easton View Post
    Thanks Robert. I’m very surprised that this accounts for 700 numbers per year though (assuming I’m counting correctly).

    Even if we assume that only half of those numbers were officer’s swords, I would be surprised if 350 officers were buying Wilkinson swords each year (where there even enough officers in HM armed forces to sustain that?). Most officers seem to have bought swords from outfitters or other cheaper makers, so I can’t see how we arrive at a sales figure of hundreds of swords being sold each year.

    And where are the hundreds of numbered Wilkinson items that are not officer’s swords? Numbered Wilkinson lead cutters, handkerchief cutters and other items seem relatively rare to me. Rarer than officer’s swords at least.
    Hi folks,
    Revisiting this topic, as it's been preying on my mind recently. I constructed a table of Wilkinson numbers by year (with a couple of gaps) here:
    http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/antiqu...s-uk/research/
    In the Victorian period, Wilkinson ledger numbers account for between 400-800 entries per year. How is that possible? There are fairly few entries in the Wilkinson records of things that are not officers' swords. Things like lances, cutlasses, bayonets, cavalry troopers' swords etc were not numbered or recorded. Wilkinson-made numbered swords for foreign officers are very rare. So why are the ledger numbers so large? There were only a couple of hundred officers joining the British military each year, I think (anyone have a rough estimate for this period?), and we know that most of those were not buying Wilkinsons. Wilkinson-made swords are a minority compared to cheaper makes.
    I can't see how to reconcile the large number of entries in the Wilkinson records, with the actual number of Wilkinson officers' swords being bought.

    The only solutions I can see are either:
    1) Wilkinson were adding entries in the ledger which didn't relate to real swords (though I cannot think how that would benefit them), or
    2) Wilkinson were recording swords in the ledger which they were not physically numbering on the sword and then selling those swords to outfitters, who then added their own details to the sword.

    At any rate, I cannot see how Wilkinson were finding hundreds of British officers to sell swords to year in year out. There simply weren't that many British officers serving at any one time. Especially when we consider that most swords seem to have been sold to newly commissioned officers joining the military.

    Thoughts?

  6. #406
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Easton View Post
    Hi folks - what do you make of this? It's a light cavalry officer's sword, I'd estimate around 1845-1860s, it has the HW (Wilkinson) proof disc, but with a sun burst surround instead of the usual star and no retailer or maker's name and no serial number. Perhaps Wilkinson made for a retailer? But I've never seen a Wilkinson proof disc on a non-numbered or named sword before, and not with a sun burst instead of the 6 pointed star. Very odd.


    Quote Originally Posted by John Hart View Post
    I tend to associate the sunburst with Mole - maybe the Wilkinson factory took in a Mole-supplied sword after they'd bought them out for some work and the proof disk needed replacing? Though I admit that's stretching the imagination somewhat!

    John
    Hi guys, I was rereading this entire thread looking for info when I came across this post and reply (#378 & #379)

    As I had just read the whole thread it was easy to recall Robert Wilkinson-Latham's post number 64 made reference to a 'Mole style' ray burst pattern on a contract quality sword which might offer explanation for this if it's still a mystery.. The post is on page 3.
    Last edited by james.elstob; 05-13-2017 at 04:27 AM.

  7. #407
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Easton View Post
    Henry Wilkinson was writing about swords as early as 1837, but has anybody here seen a Wilkinson sword which is certainly dated to before 1845?
    Did Wilkinson make pipe-backed blades before 1845?

    Regards,
    Matt
    Hi Matt did you ever get an answer to this post?

    It has some relevance to another answer I've been searching for, whether Wilkinson started making (fullered) blades without a proof slug and If so when was the proof slug introduced?

    As a follow-up question, how quickly did other manufacturers begin to copy the proof slug?
    Last edited by james.elstob; 05-13-2017 at 04:38 AM.

  8. #408
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    Hi James,
    The short answer is no. I have never found any evidence of Henry Wilkinson making pipe backs and the earliest Wilkinsons I have seen have proof slugs. Henry Wilkinson's own writing suggests that he was making fullered blades before 1845, but we do not know how much earlier. It seems he may have started in 1844 and I've never found any evidence of him making swords earlier than that, only firearms.

  9. #409
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    Good info, thanks.

  10. #410
    Hi

    WILKONSON SWORD GRIP M1854 Infantry Officers Sword

    I am contemplating buying two of these, however, I have a question regarding authenticity. They both have smooth "regular" leather grips and I have read on a couple of other forums that they were only made with the fishskin grips. Can anyone verify this or possibly point me to some online info about this? I have av book on British swords in the mail from amazon, nut this is still not at hand, so any help would be very appreciated.

    Regards,
    Trygve

  11. #411
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trygve S View Post
    WILKONSON SWORD GRIP M1854 Infantry Officers Sword

    I am contemplating buying two of these, however, I have a question regarding authenticity. They both have smooth "regular" leather grips and I have read on a couple of other forums that they were only made with the fishskin grips. Can anyone verify this or possibly point me to some online info about this? I have av book on British swords in the mail from amazon, nut this is still not at hand, so any help would be very appreciated.
    Hi Trygve,

    In 20 years of collecting British swords, I have only ever seen one genuine piece which had a leather grip. This (from memory) was a Boer War sword positively attributed to a relative of Lord Methuen, and may have been a South Africa field replacement. All the others with leather grips in place of fishskin which I've seen have been modern Indian reproductions. Photographs would really help, but I realise if you don't own the swords yet that could be difficult. Nevertheless I would proceed with caution! Two swords with leather grips for sale at the same time seems like an unusual coincidence.

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

  12. #412
    Hi John,

    Thanks a lot for your reply, it was very enlightening.

    Trygve

  13. #413
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    Matt I was reading the last few posts on this and remember seeing a pipe back sword with Wilkinson etching on the ricasso. Of course I can't remember just where but I'm guessing OldSwords or similar. It was a clear photo of it. If I find it again I'll post it.

  14. #414
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    Thanks, that would be great Will. I've never seen a Wilkinson pipe back, but given that Henry had been making swords before 1845 and possibly before 1844, it's entirely possible.

  15. #415
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    In "Wilkinson Sword Patterns and Blade Rubs" there is a photo on pg. 170 of a Wilkinson pipe back. Also, on the previous page, there are a few early blade rubs that could be pipe backed swords as well (one is marked Old Pattern).
    Cheers,
    Mike

  16. #416
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    Durban, South Africa
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    Just found your reference Will:

    "Thanks Gordon, and I agree most likely made in 1846. Robert Wilkinson-Lathams book Mr. Wilkinson of Pall Mall, Vol 1 chap 3, page 3, illustrates a general staff officers sword dating to 1847 and has the identical Wilkinson etching "Henry Wilkinson Pall Mall London". On page 6 there is an illustration of a pipe backed sword having a different style etching "Wilkinson and Son Pall Mall London" dated 1844"

  17. #417
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    Thanks chaps. So it seems that Henry Wilkinson started making swords in 1844 (perhaps he had made a few before that, but 1844 seems to have been the real start of that part of his (formerly gunmaking) business). And he made a few pipebacks, though these must have been extremely small in number given the blade rubs and lack of known extant examples. Hopefully one/some of these have survived somewhere.

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