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Thread: 1897P hilt and blade, but Rifle Brigade markings on the blade??

  1. #1

    1897P hilt and blade, but Rifle Brigade markings on the blade??

    I'm considering the purchase of a sword, but I'm seeking some additional information about the odd conjunction of parts. As stated in the title, the hilt and guard of the 1897 Infantry Officer's pattern with Edward VII Cypher. The blade is of the 1892/1897 pattern, but it has the strung bugle etching indicating the Rifle Brigade or Regiment. In reviewing Robson, he says that the Rifle Regiments retained the Gothic hilt and did not change to the 1897 Infantry Officer's hilt/guard. I've seen writeups on similar mismatched swords, but please correct me if I'm wrong. Would this indicate that a former Rifle Officer went to an Infantry regiment and had his sword re-hilted?

  2. #2
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    What cipher is on the blade, Victorian? What you suggest is possible and it is also possible he was using a family blade, his fathers for example.

  3. #3
    I'm waiting for more, and better pics, but as best I can tell, it is the same cypher as on the hilt, ER VII.

  4. #4
    Here are some photos. There are no maker's marks and it appears that the etchings above and below the bugle were "scrubbed" to remove any personally identifiable features.









    Last edited by Mark Lee; 03-19-2015 at 06:42 AM.

  5. #5
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    I've got a similar 1897 sword with a George VI cypher but a Royal Engineers blade etching. My honest guess is that all the parts are original, the officer just had Rifles etching done on an infantry sword.

    Will is awesome though, so trust his opinion more than mine.

  6. #6
    I know this is just speculation, but I've seen multiple posts regarding an officer owning multiple swords, i.e. a plainer sword for use in the field, and the better one for dressier occasions. In the Navy, we always kept a uniform an shoes that were only worn for formations and dress occasions, not for general wear. That was called a "grease" uniform ironically, since it was definitely not the one that got grease on it. So my other thought was an officer got a deal on a sword blade and removed those markings that made it personal to someone else, though leaving the bugle seems to punch a hole in that theory.

    I have questions about the marks on the guard. There appears to be some rust in some of the grooves, but there are parallel marks on the guard that makes me wonder if this suffered from some aggressive cleaning. Opinions or ideas?
    Last edited by Mark Lee; 03-19-2015 at 05:38 PM.

  7. #7
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    The guard is nickel plated and no copper layer was used to aid bonding of the nickel.
    What you see in the lines on the guard is filiform corrosion that occurs with ferrous metals that have been plated.
    It does appear the shield portion of etching once had a design on it or just corrosion that was cleaned.Most likely a big fat fingerprint.
    Could have been rehilted to the 1897p from a rifle officers hilt as the 1897 pattern covered several army trades and is the most common one seen in the regular army today.

  8. #8
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    Hi - this is fairly common to find; it's simply where an officer changed regiment from Rifles to Line Infantry - they simply had the hilt changed to meet regulation requirements. The Rifles had and still have the 1827 style guard, just as the Foot Guards still have the 1854 Guards hilt - but they all share the same 1892 blade type.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kev B. View Post
    I've got a similar 1897 sword with a George VI cypher but a Royal Engineers blade etching. My honest guess is that all the parts are original, the officer just had Rifles etching done on an infantry sword.
    Royal Engineers also use the 1897 pattern sword and have done since about 1900, so this is completely standard

  9. #9
    Thank you to all! I have a question regarding the assembly/disassembly of this type, and the majority of 19th Century British swords/sabres. It appears the entire hilt assembly consists of the guard, handle, backstrap and a pommel nut. Am I correct that the nut on the end is threaded to the tang and unscrewing the nut would allow everything to be removed from the tang?

  10. #10
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    Mark this is true it will. However the tang is usually peened over the nut slightly and removal destroys the nut or mangles it. A special tool is used to tighten those nuts so they do not mar.
    One good way of telling if your sword has been altered professionally during its military life or later by a backyard enthusiast.

  11. #11
    I think Will has the answer as to to why the sword has a Rifle officer's blade--probably a re-hilt when the officer moved from one unit to another. There is no reason to disassemble the sword. I think it will do more harm than good. A lot of people seem to want to take apart the hilts on swords, and I just don't get why.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by J.G. Hopkins View Post
    I think Will has the answer as to to why the sword has a Rifle officer's blade--probably a re-hilt when the officer moved from one unit to another. There is no reason to disassemble the sword. I think it will do more harm than good. A lot of people seem to want to take apart the hilts on swords, and I just don't get why.
    This is not correct I am afraid. I previously have owned swords to Durham Light Infantry and to the Somerset Light Infantry in the past and unlike Rifle Regiments where they had the stringed bugle embossed on the blade along with the gothic hilt for Rifles, the Light Infantry Regiments of the British Army had this exact type of sword; ie;standard 1897 hilt with LI stringed bugle on the blade. Not irregular at all.

  13. #13
    Thanks, John!

  14. #14
    Really great information and my thanks again to everyone. I wasn't planning on taking it apart, I was just looking for clarification and understanding as to how everything was put together. Kind of like a simple puzzle and the relative uniformity among the different styles should have decreased production costs across the board.

  15. #15
    Anytime Jonathan!

  16. #16
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    remember that some Light Infantry regiments had the Bugle Horn in their badge such as Ox and Bucks Light Infantry etc which would account for Infantry hilt buy Bugle Horn on blades did the Somerset Light Infantry who had a black and silver sword knot with acorn.
    Last edited by Robert Wilkinson-Latham; 03-21-2015 at 08:32 AM.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Lee View Post
    It appears the entire hilt assembly consists of the guard, handle, backstrap and a pommel nut. Am I correct that the nut on the end is threaded to the tang and unscrewing the nut would allow everything to be removed from the tang?
    Yes, often. Though some better quality swords such as Wilkinsons have two nuts - the one you can see, which holds only the backstrap on, and another nut underneath which secures everything else on the threaded tang. This added detail is one reason why quality swords like Wilkinsons or Pillins are less likely to get loose with age.

  18. #18
    Well, I bought it, and after a couple of weeks wending its way through Spain, Portugal and New York, it arrived today. With it in hand, I've been able to gather some more details, done some more research, and now have more ideas regarding it's history. First of all, the proof slug is a crown over PROVED, which my reading of prior threads indicates it was made by Wilkinson for retailers. The markings on the ricasso that would state the maker or retailer are gone. But, the spine is engraved LONDON MADE and both that engraving and the proof slug match this Manton & Co of Calcutta sword.

    http://www.swordforum.com/forums/sho...n-amp-Calcutta


    http://www.swordforum.com/forums/att...6&d=1370740750

    http://www.swordforum.com/forums/att...8&d=1370740943

    Would it be reasonable then to conclude that my 1897P (ER VII) was most likely made by Wilkinson for Manton & Co of Calcutta?

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