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Thread: Wilkinson Sword Characteristics

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    Wilkinson Sword Characteristics

    Use this thread to showcase & discuss specifics germane to Wilkinson swords.
    mark@swordforum.com

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    Just putting together a list of Proof Slug types/name etching styles etc found on Wilkinson swords
    I found the information below from a 1909 catalogue which gives a clue to the use of the HW slug and the others found on Wilkinson and swords made by Wilkinsons for retailers such as Hawkes, Hamburger Rodgers, John Jones, Manton Calcutta etc.
    1909 Wilkinson Catalogue.
    For Indian Army Officers (2nd Lieut. (Unattached), swords that could be provided were described as:
    PROVED - OUTFITTER'S QUALITY @ £2-2-0
    BEST PROVED @ £3-15-0
    PATENT TANG @ £5-5-0


    This may go some way in understanding the different finishes on blades and proof slugs. BEST PROOF was obviously HW and Outfitters quality so far identified are"
    PROVED over a Crown -
    PROVED over a Fleur de Lys
    Hope this gets the ball rolling
    Robert

  3. #3
    OK Robert,

    I'm going to ask the obvious question, what was the 'patent tang'? The first two I understand but not the third.

    thanks,

    Bill

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Davidson View Post
    OK Robert,

    I'm going to ask the obvious question, what was the 'patent tang'? The first two I understand but not the third.

    thanks,

    Bill
    The Wilkinson Patent Solid Tang sword was an officer's pattern sword made with a wide tang exactly like the shape and form of the 1853/64/82/85/90 Cavalry trooper's sword.
    The sword officer's sword had checkered slab sides to the tang which were bound with grip wire in the normal spaced way and had a normal backpiece to the hilt.
    here is a photo of a 6DG sword circa 1890's with Patent Tang. You can see the tang in the centre of the checked slap grips.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by Robert Wilkinson-Latham; 01-03-2008 at 05:12 AM. Reason: Spelling!

  5. #5
    Can you elaborate on what you mean by '1853/64/82/85/90' please robert.

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    Quote Originally Posted by R. Lowe View Post
    Can you elaborate on what you mean by '1853/64/82/85/90' please robert.
    Presumably the Pattern nos of the swords with slab sided grips (1853, 1864, 1882, 1885, 1890), and I'd also include the P1899 just to be pedantic!

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

  7. #7
    Ah.

    Most of the patent tang swords i saw that came in for refurb were 1897 infantry pattern or variants.

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    Robert,

    When you speak of the "Wlikinson" patent tang, did not Reeves also have a "patent tang" that was similar? I ask as I have an 1857 engineer's sword with said tang which is numbered, however the makers name is obscured. Were it a Wilkinson the number would have dated it to 1857, however I'm told this number (8189) is not an engineer's sword in the record.

    Two questions come to mind. Who else sold this style of tang, and do all Wilkinson #s read from hilt to tip? If not, the number could be 6818, which I didn't check but rules it out as a Wilkinson sword as the number pre-dates the pattern by two years.

    Rob
    Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob O'Reilly View Post
    Robert,

    When you speak of the "Wlikinson" patent tang, did not Reeves also have a "patent tang" that was similar? I ask as I have an 1857 engineer's sword with said tang which is numbered, however the makers name is obscured. Were it a Wilkinson the number would have dated it to 1857, however I'm told this number (8189) is not an engineer's sword in the record.

    Two questions come to mind. Who else sold this style of tang, and do all Wilkinson #s read from hilt to tip? If not, the number could be 6818, which I didn't check but rules it out as a Wilkinson sword as the number pre-dates the pattern by two years.

    Rob
    You are correct that Reeves patented the Patent Tang in 1853 on which the 1853 Pattern Cavalry Trooper's sword was based.
    Now on to Wilkinson and Reeves.
    John Latham, Henry Wilkinson’s Manager at Wilkinson & Son visited Birmingham and toured Charles Reeves’s factory on Wednesday 11th October 1854, he noted in his diary:
    Started for Birmingham by GW Rail-reached about 3. Went direct to the Stork and dined and then went to Reeves’s who received us very heartily. Went over his factory and saw many things amongst the rest his Grindery which was the most diabolical plan I ever saw.
    There was a connection between Wilkinsons and Reeves at this time, in fact Henry Wilkinsons Proving machine and blade forging was at Issac Hebberd's premises in Air Street with the other work and sword mounting,etching and finishing at 27 Pall Mall. In 1853 Charles Reeves bought Hebberd and from the Proof Stubs, Wilkinsons blades continued to be proved there during 1854 at least.It is reasonable to assume that Wilkinson paid Reeves a royalty for the use of his patent. This working relationship with Reeves laid the foundation for Wilkinsons to buy a majority share in Reeves in 1883. (In RED is edited entry 12.30pm 5/1/08)
    Now back to your sword. Patent Tang swords were made in 1853 by Wilkinsons, in fact the proof stub No 5002 for 1st Jan 1854 is for a Patent Tang Infantry sword.(5001 if for 4 normal Infantry blades with a note Brittle 1 failed

    I am not aware of other makers of the Patent Tang sword. Buying Reeves in 1883 and finally completing the purchase in the early 1900s allowed Wilkinson to call the system The Wilkinson Patent Solid Tang
    Sword 8189 started life in 1857 and the records do not say it is an Engineers sword-Can you post what the record says it is please? It could well be that the sword was NOT originally an Engineer sword and converted to this pattern at a later date retaining the original blade. Otherwise there could be an entry error in the records which did happen.
    Last edited by Robert Wilkinson-Latham; 01-05-2008 at 04:24 AM. Reason: More Information

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    Robert,

    I do not have the records for this sword, only an e-mail for richard Milner telling that sword 8189 is a claymore. I am pretty certain the blade was not re-hilted. The proved disk reads PROVED P, which was another reason for me to believe it not to be a Wilkinson sword.

    Attached is a hilt picture.

    Rob
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob O'Reilly View Post
    Robert,

    I do not have the records for this sword, only an e-mail for richard Milner telling that sword 8189 is a claymore. I am pretty certain the blade was not re-hilted. The proved disk reads PROVED P, which was another reason for me to believe it not to be a Wilkinson sword.

    Attached is a hilt picture.

    Rob
    Well as you don't have the maker/retailers name it could well be a Reeves sword. Reeves had a private client base in the 1850's to 1883 and I have seen Reeves swords with the Proved P slug. The only way to be certain would be to try and identify some of the maker/retailer embossing. If you could give us any clue to maker/retailer then we may have a chance.
    The grip covering looks leather to me and the tang rather thin. Has the grip been recovered?
    Not helpful I am afraid.
    Robert
    Last edited by Robert Wilkinson-Latham; 01-05-2008 at 10:28 AM. Reason: edit

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    Robert,

    The tang is the same width as the forte. What is left of the grip covering does appear to be leather, albeit fused to the wood underneath, making it hard to discern where one ends and the other begins. In reality it hard to tell if what I am seeing is even dried leather or polished wood. That being said, there is no traces of shagreen anywhere.

    The only indication of the maker is written across the lower fuller, just above the forte and reads:
    MANUFACTURED
    - BY -

    Everything above and below has been polished out, sadly.

    Rob
    Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob O'Reilly View Post
    Robert,

    The tang is the same width as the forte. What is left of the grip covering does appear to be leather, albeit fused to the wood underneath, making it hard to discern where one ends and the other begins. In reality it hard to tell if what I am seeing is even dried leather or polished wood. That being said, there is no traces of shagreen anywhere.

    The only indication of the maker is written across the lower fuller, just above the forte and reads:
    MANUFACTURED
    - BY -

    Everything above and below has been polished out, sadly.

    Rob
    Sadly the maker is unknown but I would expect it to be a maker rather than a retailer for the purchaser to know he wanted this type of sword. He would hardly ask his tailor so he went to one of the major makers. The P proof slug is widely used but the guard certainly is nice quality so It could be maybe by Reeves before 1883 but he marked his blades Reeves, Maker He went bankrupt in 1869. He did return in a very small way only making private order swords until taken over by Wilkinsons in 1883.
    Robert Mole used the word Maker (Not Manufactured),Pillin used the word Manufacturer,Edward Thurkle used Maker. Under Wilkinsons, Charles Reeves had Made By.....For.....
    Can't seem to find any maker that used the word Manufactured By. It could be a non UK maker, maybe Victorian India?
    I am afraid I have run out of idea, sorry
    Robert

  14. #14
    Hi

    Going back to an earlier post, I have owned a few Hawkes words in the past which have had serial numbers on the back edge. Does this mean that they may have been manufactured by Wilkinson and are traceable?

    If so, are the records for these swords published or is it a case of getting in touch with the company that owns Wilkinson's records...?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Clarke View Post
    Going back to an earlier post, I have owned a few Hawkes swords in the past which have had serial numbers on the back edge. Does this mean that they may have been manufactured by Wilkinson and are traceable?
    Robert may be able to confirm, but I would have thought that if Wilkinson were making a sword for Hawkes, the order and proof book entry would always show Hawkes' name rather than the eventual end purchaser (unless personalised etching were called for, I suppose).

    I have seen proof book entries for other manufacturers in the Wilkinson books, for example sword no. 35888, which the proof book shows was a cavalry officer model for "Hamburger Rogers & Co".

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

  16. #16
    Thanks John.

    Do you know if Hawkes or any of the other retaliers kept records or if they still exist.

    I assume not as Wilkinson seems to own the territory on that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Hart View Post
    Robert may be able to confirm, but I would have thought that if Wilkinson were making a sword for Hawkes, the order and proof book entry would always show Hawkes' name rather than the eventual end purchaser (unless personalised etching were called for, I suppose).

    I have seen proof book entries for other manufacturers in the Wilkinson books, for example sword no. 35888, which the proof book shows was a cavalry officer model for "Hamburger Rogers & Co".

    John
    Swords for Hawkes and other tailors were numbered with a Wilkinson number BUT pre 1939, sometimes Hawkes swords were supplied by Wilkinson with a Hawkes Number (usually their customer order number put on by Wilkinsons) I tried some years back to research a Hawkes Sword with Hawkes number because the Wilkinson number made no sense whatsoever (too many numbers for 1930's) and was told by Robert Gieve (who I used to deal with in my Wilkinson days when it came to pricing ours and his RN swords!!! - I say no more!) that this was the system but the ledgers have long since gone missing/lost/destroyed so dead end.
    If it is a Wilkinson number then correctly it will give the tailors name BUT it may say, for example, "Hawkes & Co for Colonel R James" or "Rodgers John Jones for Captain Roberts"
    After 1945, Tailors orders were only marked with their name if they asked for it (in the 1960's rarely were the blades marked with tailors name as we then charged extra for it)but they ALWAYS had a Wilkinson Number, the exception being Charles Reeves (Part of Wilkinson) who up until 1955 had "Charles Reeves for Mayer and Mortimer'. Reeves swords were sometimes numbered and here again the Reeves order Number was used by Wilkinsons and stamped on the blade back
    It sounds complicated but it is simple really!

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    Wilkinson Blade Types

    Wilkinson blade types which I have found in the Proof Books are:
    “Regulation blade” – self explanatory
    “Percy Pattern” which was biconvex-double edged
    “Solid blade” which which was single edged no fullers
    “Lozenge” section double edge
    "Claymore"-There was a vogue for these to be used on RN swords and also Chinese Maritime Customs swords.
    "Triangular'- Self explanatory
    "Paget" - Very curved large blade similar to 1796 Light Cavalry, Mountain Artillery and Indian Trooper's blades)pre their version of 1908)
    "Keyhole, Quill or Pipe" - Piped backed blade (pre 1846 but occasionally encountered later)

    Hope that helps identification of blade types.
    Robert
    Last edited by Robert Wilkinson-Latham; 01-10-2008 at 10:01 AM.

  19. #19
    Excellent, thanks Robert. So at least there is a possibility of a research result!

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    Robert,

    Picking up on ehat you've said about the proof book, here is a copy of one of my Wilkinson swords...a real interesting variant on the 1864 Cavalry Trooper's sword, fitted with leather grip and twisted wire wrap. The guard even has a quillion.

    From what I can make out the blade description reads "Regulation Infantry" and I suspect this might be an example of one made for a customer, sold via a tailor.

    Your thought?

    Rob
    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Wilkinson-Latham View Post
    Wilkinson blade types which I have found in the Proof Books are:
    “Regulation blade” – self explanatory
    “Percy Pattern” which was biconvex-double edged
    “Solid blade” which which was single edged no fullers
    “Lozenge” section double edge
    "Claymore"-There was a vogue for these to be used on RN swords and also Chinese Maritime Customs swords.
    "Triangular'- Self explanatory
    "Paget" - Very curved large blade similar to 1796 Light Cavalry, Mountain Artillery and Indian Trooper's blades)pre their version of 1908)
    "Keyhole, Quill or Pipe" - Piped backed blade (pre 1846 but occasionally encountered later)

    Hope that helps identification of blade types.
    Robert
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob O'Reilly View Post
    Robert,

    Picking up on what you've said about the proof book, here is a copy of one of my Wilkinson swords...a real interesting variant on the 1864 Cavalry Trooper's sword, fitted with leather grip and twisted wire wrap. The guard even has a quillion.

    From what I can make out the blade description reads "Regulation Infantry" and I suspect this might be an example of one made for a customer, sold via a tailor.

    Your thought?

    Rob
    very Interesting. The Proof stub is correct as the blade is certainly a regulation infantry but the hilt certainly is not. One must remember that the proof Book is exactly what it says it is - The BLADE proof record. We are lucky in that in most cases there is more information about the total sword.
    Yours was ordered by Alex Fletcher for Mr H M Stewart. Unhapply there is no record of the hilt mounting but by the shape and size of the grip I should say it is for an Indian regiment (see the size and shape similar to the 3 bar hilted Tulwar swords made up until 1919 for most Indian Cavalry Regiments.
    I have looked through my Sword description ledger which gives regiments and their swords of Indian and Colonial troops and some foreign ones and the only sword that has the Maltese Cross hilt on an infantry blade and carried in a steel scabbard is The Bharatpur Infantry, one of the regiments of that Princely State whose swords were usually designed by their British advisers, and carried sometimes by British Officers seconded to the State.
    During the British Raj, the state covered an area of 5,123 km².; its rulers enjoyed a salute of 17 guns. The state acceded unto the dominion of India in 1947. It was merged with three nearby princely states to form the 'Matsya Union', which in turn was merged with other adjoining territories to create the present-day state of Rajasthan.
    Hope that helps
    Caption to Photo-
    The young Maharaja of Bharatpur Jaswunt Singh, (Maharaja Jashwant Singh, 1853 - 1893) aged about eleven, in his durbar or court in 1862. The young prince sits in the centre of his guddee or royal seat, which is of velvet richly embroidered with gold. Behind him are four servants, two of whom hold merchauls of peacocks' feathers, and the chouree of yak's tail hair.In two rows on either side of the Rajah, the nobles and sirdars of the state are seated, who may be relatives, or officers in various parts of the state services.
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    Last edited by Robert Wilkinson-Latham; 01-10-2008 at 01:10 PM.

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    Many thanks Robert!

    I did not hold out hope of being able to identify the regiment this sword was used by. I assumed it to be a one off belonging to an officer looking to emulate the trooper's pattern in his own stylized way.

    The sword is definitely of smaller proportions and it was once suggested to me for Indian usage, however I was thrown off by the British name of the owner.

    I will now try and do a bit of research into the Bharatpur Infantry.

    Rob
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob O'Reilly View Post
    Many thanks Robert!

    I did not hold out hope of being able to identify the regiment this sword was used by. I assumed it to be a one off belonging to an officer looking to emulate the trooper's pattern in his own stylized way.

    The sword is definitely of smaller proportions and it was once suggested to me for Indian usage, however I was thrown off by the British name of the owner.

    I will now try and do a bit of research into the Bharatpur Infantry.

    Rob
    Rob
    A Pleasure!
    I wouldn't put too much store by the names "Alex Fletcher for Mr H M Stewart" I have seen this often on the Proof stubs and it means that Mr Stewart in India writes to his friend Mr Fletcher in London to go to Wilkinsons and order him a sword. Because of the small grip and hilt for an Indian hand, I feel that it was not for Mr Stewart himself but for an Indian officer in the regiment. It may have been a gift but it could be that Mr Stewart was the Political Officer and Agent in Bharatpur and it was part of his job (as it often was) to order swords etc for the Maharajah's forces.
    I don't think we will ever know but that is one logical explanation
    Regards
    Robert
    PS Here is a picture of The Commandant of the Bharatpur infantry 1911(From Book Armies of India by Lovett & McMunn-1911) The sword style can be seen and is backed up by my Wilkinson Ledger.
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    Last edited by Robert Wilkinson-Latham; 01-11-2008 at 01:01 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Wilkinson-Latham View Post
    It may have been a gift but it could be that Mr Stewart was the Political Officer and Agent in Bharatpur and it was part of his job (as it often was) to order swords etc for the Maharajah's forces.
    I don't think we will ever know but that is one logical explanation
    May be worth checking the India Office Records in the British Library (http://www.british-library.uk/collec...taloffice.html) - there's an online search facility.

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

  25. #25
    Hi All

    Slight tangent (sorry) but is there any way of identifying Wilkinson cavalry lances? I have a lance that has a bamboo shaft and comes in two parts connected by a brass screw fixing/handle in the centre. According to Skennerton I assume that this is the 1868 pattern. Both the tip and the shoe are marked to Wilkinson but I have got no further as there doesn't seem to be an other markings. Does the pattern ever denote regiment etc?

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