Results 1 to 18 of 18

Thread: British infantry/rifles sergeants' swords?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Guildford, Surrey, England.
    Posts
    13,965

    British infantry/rifles sergeants' swords?

    Hi all,
    If I have read Robson correctly, Sergeants from 1822 and 1827 in the infantry and rifles respectively, carried plain-bladed versions of the officers' swords and after 1861 and 1864 respectively they carried a new type of blade which has a sort of pipe-backed/quill-point foible, instead of the double-edged diamond section found on officers' swords. I have owned a few of these pipe-back-pointed plain-bladed swords in my time, but one has now come into my posession which raises a query to Robson's assertion. The blade is marked to Lacy & Co of London. They seem to have stopped trading in about 1854......

    So why do I have an '1861' pattern Infantry sergeants' sword with the quill-point, made by a company which supposedly stopped trading in the mid-1850's?

    Regards,
    Matt

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Guildford, Surrey, England.
    Posts
    13,965
    Nobody has any ideas on this? It is quite a significant anomoly in my humble opinion. It could mean Robson needs updating again

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Sidmouth, in the South-West of the UK
    Posts
    2,311
    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Easton View Post
    Nobody has any ideas on this? It is quite a significant anomoly in my humble opinion. It could mean Robson needs updating again
    Hi Matt,

    On page 213 he does refer to a Transitional type blade, between the 1822 and 1845 blade types - I have this one with no date or regimental markings, made by Reeves (though not with a brass grip as in his example). These he dates to the 1830s, though doesn't say on what he bases that. Not sure how that fits into the mix because I don't really do sergeants' swords!

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

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Guildford, Surrey, England.
    Posts
    13,965
    Thanks John - your Reeves is very similar to my Lacy example. The vast majority of sergeant's swords that I have seen have these 'normal' officer type hilts. I have seen very few with the solid brass hilts and I rather wonder if they only saw limited use or for a limited time.
    Lacy seem to have stopped doing swords in 1854, so it seems my example is very unlikely to be later than that. Given this and what you've said above, what exactly is Robson calling an 1861 pattern sergeant's sword and why?

    Regards,
    Matt

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Sidmouth, in the South-West of the UK
    Posts
    2,311
    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Easton View Post
    Given this and what you've said above, what exactly is Robson calling an 1861 pattern sergeant's sword and why?
    Yes, what we really need is to find some examples with "/61" on the back edge!

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

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    ENGLAND
    Posts
    369
    Hi,

    Thought I'd post this here as it touches on my new acquisition. I've acquired an 1822p Sergeant's sword, with the moulded brass hilt and VR cypher so circa 1837-1852 which fits the description of the 'intermediate form' blade as described in Robson (p 213).

    I note that Robson suggests due to their scarcity they could not have been produced in a large scale.

    This comment lead me to ponder on the question of how scarce and why they might be scarce at all when the pattern persisted for some 30 years.

    Robson does say their use remains unclear. It's this still the case or is any more known about these examples?

    Name:  20160915_235143-480x640.jpg
Views: 352
Size:  71.3 KB
    Name:  20160915_235158-480x640.jpg
Views: 360
Size:  56.9 KB
    Name:  20160915_235150-480x640.jpg
Views: 352
Size:  70.5 KB
    Name:  20160915_235210-480x640.jpg
Views: 359
Size:  69.9 KB
    Name:  20160915_235447~2-640x239.jpg
Views: 358
Size:  71.8 KB
    Name:  20160915_235437~2-320x234.jpg
Views: 354
Size:  38.8 KB
    Name:  20160915_235415~2~2-640x238.jpg
Views: 351
Size:  79.1 KB

    It is obviously marked V which I assume to be Volunteer and LL which I take to be either The King's (Liverpool Regt) or possibly Liverpool college Junior div.

    I note that the 8th regt of foot did not become The King's Regt until 1881, between 29 and 44 years after this sword was produced. Wikipedia suggests that Volunteer Battalions which were eventually rolled into The King's regt were present before this but not before 1859 so still years after the sword was produced.

    This suggests to me that it was passed onto the volunteers after it was fell out of service elsewhere.

    Is it reasonable to assume that a volunteer battalion would be armed by its parent regiment or could the arms be brought from anywhere?

    Any other comments or observations much welcomed as always.

    No scabbard for this one.
    Last edited by james.elstob; 09-15-2016 at 04:44 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Sidmouth, in the South-West of the UK
    Posts
    2,311
    Quote Originally Posted by james.elstob View Post
    It is obviously marked V which I assume to be Volunteer and LL which I take to be either The King's (Liverpool Regt) or possibly Liverpool college Junior div.
    Hi James,

    Sergeants' swords aren't really my thing, but I think the marking actually says LD, which is usually an abbreviation for London. So a Volunteer battalion of one of the London regiments.

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

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    ENGLAND
    Posts
    369
    Indeed it does, I should have looked at my own picture. The flash has brought that out really well compared with the naked eye.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Guildford, Surrey, England.
    Posts
    13,965
    Aha, an old thread revived! I like these - interesting to see my own comments from a couple of years ago - I should update myself:

    As of Sept 2016:
    I have now owned/seen dozens of sergeant's swords and can confidently state that Robson was wrong . The quill-pointed blade was in use by the 1850s, if not earlier. However, it was used alongside the spear-pointed blade (1845 typical officer's type). I have no idea why they had two types of blade, but they did. Additionally, sergeant's swords seem to come in two lengths - either a regular 32.5 inch blade, or a shorter type with about a 28 inch blade.

    In regards to hilts, I think I have now seen a roughly equal number with folding guards as solid guards - perhaps this generally corresponds to pre-1860ish and post-1860ish, when infantry officers' swords generally stopped having folding sections (with exceptions). In regards to the solid brass grip type, I've never really been able to work out where they sit. They seem like a cost-cutting measure, but they are far more rare than the standard-hilted versions.

    Lastly, both Mole and Thurkle seem to have been prolific in making sergeant's swords, with the vast majority of marked ones being by Mole, as far as I have seen.

  10. #10
    On the theme. What about this one. Seems to have all the aspects of the sergeants sword of the rifles, 32.5", but decorated blade, but no inscription suggesting presentation. Thoughts? Name:  20190323_135846_resized.jpg
Views: 224
Size:  99.1 KB Name:  20190323_135834_resized.jpg
Views: 224
Size:  103.0 KBName:  20190323_135841_resized.jpg
Views: 226
Size:  101.0 KB

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    921
    I have seen a few - and own one - George IV with this type of blade. So it was clearly in use well before the 1860s.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    921
    Here are pictures of the one I currently have. You can see the rack number underneath the quillon.

    Name:  csc_0403.jpg
Views: 159
Size:  92.0 KB
    Name:  csc_0393.jpg
Views: 161
Size:  99.8 KB
    Name:  csc_0408.jpg
Views: 158
Size:  94.6 KB

  13. #13
    Has anyone seen one with decorated blade like mine?

  14. #14
    I've seen these 'transitional bladed' sergeant's swords from the 1820s through to 1858, and it is my belief that this was the usual form of blade for sergeants during this period (up to 1861). Robson clearly gets this wrong, and the only sergeant's swords which appear to follow his description belong to the guards regiments (for this period). Every couple of months I find a sword which revises my hypothesis of sword evolution for sergeants. Here's my latest research, which is bound to be wrong in some areas (as all previous versions have been improved upon).

    Name:  Sergeant Sword Evolution - A4.jpg
Views: 89
Size:  96.1 KB
    Last edited by Steve Langham; 07-05-2019 at 11:29 AM. Reason: Grammar

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    West Yorkshire, England.
    Posts
    279
    I have one of these as well. Geo IV monogram on the guard, which has a solid thumb section as opposed to hinged. Fullered blade with quill point. I think we have to accept that the age of the internet is going to overturn quite a few established ideas as information is shared on forums like this.
    Attached Images Attached Images    

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Guildford, Surrey, England.
    Posts
    13,965
    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Coles View Post
    Has anyone seen one with decorated blade like mine?
    Yes, I had and sold one a few months ago (for line infantry rather than Rifles though)
    Here are the photos: http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/antiqu...1822sergeant2/
    Here was the relevant part of my description:
    "An extremely rare Victorian infantry sergeant's sword by Wilkinson, in fine condition. I have never seen a comparable example and this sword raises many questions. The form of the blade (fullered, but with a quill point) was normal to sergeants' swords of the 1850-1880 period. Yet those are usually plain, whereas this is etched like an officer's sword. But it is not numbered, as a private purchase officer's sword would be. It does not have a proof slug, but rather an etched proof mark (presumably because you cannot safety drill a proof slug hole in this type of blade). The guard is in brass and gilded, with a folding inner drop, like an officer's sword of pre-1860. So, what this is precisely remains open to research - if I were to make an educated guess, I would say that it was either a presentation sergeant's sword, or a private purchase sergeant's sword for a sergeant with money to spare. But that does not answer the question of why it is not numbered."

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    921
    I recently sold a sergeant blade with the quill point that had remants of etchings on the blade. This made me think that perhaps a lot more of these blades were originally etched, but due to their nature (being a sword with an extrmeely long service life) their etchings eventually get polished off. Also, I was recently at a militaria show, and one seller had several of these sabres with etchings on them, including one from an Indian state.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    West Yorkshire, England.
    Posts
    279
    An interesting point you make there, the one I have has certainly been polished to the point where any etching will have gone.
    I would also suggest that there are more of these around than people realise, most being assumed to be officers swords if they have etched blades. Truly I never considered that there would be a distinct pattern of Sergeants swords, until I got one.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •