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Thread: Presentation 1821 Pattern LC Sword to 7th Hussars

  1. #1
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    Presentation 1821 Pattern LC Sword to 7th Hussars

    This presentation sword has an interesting history which sheds light on the relationship between Victorian officers and their NCO comrades. It has taken some time to research, but I think the following story best fits the facts.

    The story starts with a standard 1821 Pattern Light Cavalry Officer's sword, with two separate blade inscriptions: "G.H., 7th Hussars" and "The gift of F.M. West Esqre."

    Frederick Myddleton West served in the 7th Hussars as a Cornet (2nd Lt) between 1848 and 1853; he then appears to have left the Army. Overlapping with this period is the career of George Henry Haynes, Regimental Sergeant-Major and the 7th Hussars' Riding Master from March 1855. Later this year, and unusually for a ranker, Haynes was promoted to the officer rank of Cornet; he was also appointed regimental Adjutant, which is perhaps testimony to the organisational abilities which his position as senior NCO would have required him to demonstrate. I believe this sword was presented to Haynes by the now-civilian West (hence "Esquire" on the inscription) in 1855, out of regard for their former regimental relationship, and also to ease the cost of his becoming an officer, a rank to which Haynes would probably not have been able to aspire had his commission not been granted "without purchase".

    George Haynes continued to serve with the 7th Hussars, being promoted to Lieutenant (also without purchase) in August 1857. He fought with them during the Indian Mutiny, and took part in the relief of Lucknow (attack on the Alambagh, February 1858) and the follow-on action against rebels at Barree (April 1858). At around this time he developed heat-stroke and was invalided home to England on the screw steamship HMS Indomitable. Unfortunately he never made it, dying on 25 May 1858, either from the effects of his illness or of disease which broke out on board the ship (fourteen troopers from his regiment also died on the voyage).

    The sword is a standard 1821 Pattern Light Cavalry Officer's sword, with the characteristic 3-bar hilt and slightly curved, single-fullered blade. It bears evidence of Mutiny service in the form of a series of edge nicks towards the point - poor Haynes would not have had the opportunity to have these ground out and I guess that after his death the sword continued to England with the rest of his personal effects to be returned to his family. Haynes would have been buried at sea.

    Hope this is of interest - needless to say the research has been challenging but worth it!
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    "If I can't be a good example to others, at least let me be a horrible warning".

  2. #2
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    John
    Lovely sword!
    Maker?
    Robert

  3. #3
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    Beautiful example in great condition and fantastic provenance, congratulations!
    Out of interest, is there anything you can tell us about the sharpening?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Wilkinson-Latham View Post
    Lovely sword! Maker?
    Sadly, that well-known maker "Anon"! Also a very shallow ricasso, and thus no room for a proof disk.

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

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Easton View Post
    Out of interest, is there anything you can tell us about the sharpening?
    Good question - if it has been sharpened, then it's very fine indeed, not like some I've seen with a clear one or two-millimetre edge with grindstone marks. But it's possible that cleaning over the years since manufacture has softened the edge a little.

    For a very highly-sharpened sword, see this P1897 blade to a Gurkha officer killed at Neuve Chapelle - and bear in mind this isn't even a swod that was designed for cutting!

    John
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  6. #6
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    Wonderful sword John, the 7th Hussars swords are usually marked regimentally (troopers). With this marked officers sword one could start a good collection of the 7th. I have a troopers 1821 7th Hussars sword, quite a heavy piece, and I see there is a 1796LC sword marked the 7th on someones internet site.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Hart View Post
    if it has been sharpened, then it's very fine indeed, not like some I've seen with a clear one or two-millimetre edge with grindstone marks. But it's possible that cleaning over the years since manufacture has softened the edge a little.
    So it looks like it has been well sharpened and then gradually blunted over time through cleaning/storage?
    I have an 1821LC officer's sword with a similar shape to yours - mine also has no maker/retailer mark, but it has been very professionally and carefully sharpened, including the false edge. In fact it is so sharp that I wonder if it has been done in more recent times... Not that it would ever be possible to say for sure.

    Matt

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Easton View Post
    So it looks like it has been well sharpened and then gradually blunted over time through cleaning/storage?
    I think so, and it's just that the edge nicks, being deeper, are still visible.

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

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    The sharpening marks can be removed using soft stones, the ones that the grit easily detaches from the stone on every pass, just don't know the particular name of them. I have been sucessful with much worse than what you picture. With patience even file and electric grinder marks can be removed. Ofcourse, final matching of the finish is required. As the picture shows, the stone takes shape of the object you are stoning.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Will Mathieson View Post
    The sharpening marks can be removed using soft stones, the ones that the grit easily detaches from the stone on every pass, just don't know the particular name of them. I have been sucessful with much worse than what you picture. With patience even file and electric grinder marks can be removed. Ofcourse, final matching of the finish is required. As the picture shows, the stone takes shape of the object you are stoning.
    Good tip, Will - thanks!

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

  11. #11
    Good tip, but not something I would do if I thought the sharpening was original and not modern.

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    Another excellent example from the Hart collection. Thanks for sharing.
    Mike

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    The rough finish left by sharpening would easily corrode over time in the crevices because moisture is easily trapped. You would expect this with an older sharpening (or at least some patina), to me it appears to be done recently, does the sharpening feel fresh, rough? Due to the clean blade and photos being limited to what they can tell you, handling the sword is the only way to be sure. I agree in not removing period sharpening, it is part of the swords history and many have lost those marks due to many cleanings required from bad storage/handling.

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    John
    I would hazard a guess by the etching style that the sword was possibly made by Reeves. The lettering style I have seen before on Reeves swords and at this time, Reeves and other makers had not yet jumped on the bandwaggon of the Proof slug introduced by Henry Wilkinson.

    Here is a Reeves bill for Light Cavalry sword showing the cost at £2-13-0 albeit 9 years before yours was manufactured.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Wilkinson-Latham View Post
    I would hazard a guess by the etching style that the sword was possibly made by Reeves. The lettering style I have seen before on Reeves swords and at this time, Reeves and other makers had not yet jumped on the bandwaggon of the Proof slug introduced by Henry Wilkinson.
    Thanks, Robert - I think you're right. Just compared the ricasso of the LC sword with an 1861 "transitional" staff-sergeant's sword I have, which was definitely made by Reeves, and they're virtually identical in form and proportion.

    John
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Will Mathieson View Post
    The rough finish left by sharpening would easily corrode over time in the crevices because moisture is easily trapped. You would expect this with an older sharpening (or at least some patina), to me it appears to be done recently, does the sharpening feel fresh, rough? Due to the clean blade and photos being limited to what they can tell you, handling the sword is the only way to be sure. I agree in not removing period sharpening, it is part of the swords history and many have lost those marks due to many cleanings required from bad storage/handling.
    Hi Will,

    When I bought the Gurkha Rifles sword it had been in storage for many years, and the blade was caked in very old brown grease. I was able to remove it with care, but I think that explains the good state of the blade underneath. To me it has all the hallmarks of a sword hastily sharpened on the eve of battle, away from the professional facilities of a regimental armoury.

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

  17. #17
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    John, that makes sense, with storage provenance etc. Possibly an untrained hand given many swords to sharpen quickly. I don't think that officers would sharpen the sword themselves or would they?
    Great that the 1821LC 7th Hussars sword is a Reeves, hand made blade etc.

  18. #18
    Hello all,

    I would certainly agree that Reeves (plus other makers) produced swords without a proof slug, both with standard type tang and Solid Hilt; this comment is based on actual examples and the Solid Hilt in particular was produced under the name of Reeves, Greaves & Reeves. As for sharpening and once again comment based on actual examples, most sharpening on officers swords (EIC & Indian Army) is quite uniform and cleanly executed however, it is not uncommon to find examples with uneven and rough sharpening by comparison, and this indeed suggests sharpening in the field as a matter of urgent need.

    Edge nicks on swords will always be an un-answered question, little boys being what they are, and what they do with the old sword they found in a shed, but this is not always the answer. I think most of us have a feeling for such things, and although we treasure our swords as as part of history, there is the flip side of the coin where an officer would probably prefer to have his life rather than a perfect blade without an armourers scratch and un-blemished etching.

    Whilst a perfect appearence is prefered by some, in many or most cases the marks of history are probably best left as a question in our minds, rather than running the risk of polishing out a genuine mark of battle, or preparation for same.

    Gordon

  19. #19
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    Some damage to sword blades and guards can bring images of battle. I believe that most swords (troopers) damaged from battle were repaired or replaced, and therefore not leaving us with many swords that have witnessed combat. Honest damage to a troopers or officers sword I find more appealing than a pristine piece. It gives the sword some battle history even if we do not know when or where. The sword may have saved the owners life or forefitted it. Some Napoleonic era swords with obvious corrosion due to burial in the field evoke images of a trooper or officers last moments before death, a dropped and trampled on and forgotten sword that many years later was discovered and cleaned up for display. Below, one of my favourites though pitted all over, the grip remained good or most likely repaired before I owned it. Signs of sharpening and maintains a very sharp edge.

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