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Thread: Wilkinson Indian Stores depot

  1. #1
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    Wilkinson Indian Stores depot

    I have acquired a rather poorly treated sword.

    Am I right in thinking that this is an Artillery officers sword?

    It is Wilkinson made with blade etching and a shagreen grip which made me think "officer" however it is also stamped I.S.D. which confused me. Why would an officer's sword be bought into service. I was under the impression that all officers sword were private purchase.

    There is an additional stamp on the ricasso of what looks like an "I" over broad arrow. The "I" might just be the shaft of the arrow however.

    The blade is etched VRi so it's post May 1876.

    The spine of the blade is corroded where the serial number would be but I can't see any evidence of a number there. Were Wilkinsons made for Indian service numbered?

    There is a proof slug marked crown over PROVED.

    I understand that Wilkinson only used proof slugs on undress swords however the blade length is only 30 1/4". Seems very short! The blade width at ricasso is 1".

    The whole weapon seems too substantial to have been a levee or piquet weight sword. Feels very nice in the hand and I'd be happy to defend myself with it.

    Can anyone help with why the blade is so short? I don't think the blade has ever been service sharpened.

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    Hilt and grip had been painted with modern-ish gloss paint.

    Because the hilt was so badly corroded with rust damage I used a household chemical paint stripper on it with reasonable results. But this has little effect on the red paint of the wood and shagreen of the grip.

    Anyone any ideas how to get rid of this? I realise that it's going to have to be quite drastic measures however the grip could hardly look any worse as it is, so drastic is acceptable.

    Any comments or observations welcome!

    Thanks
    Last edited by james.elstob; 05-28-2016 at 04:37 AM.

  2. #2
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    A Wilkinson put in service as a sergeants sword with govt. insp. mark. The grip you could try black shoe dye.

  3. #3
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    Thanks Will,

    It seems like a possibility. Is that an educated guess or is there something specific leading you to this conclusion please?

    The same had crossed my mind but after 1876 there should surely have been a Wilkinson serial number on it.

    The absence of this made new wonder whether it was made as part of a batch without serial numbers for I.S.D.

    I can find very little info about the workings of the I.S.D. So if anyone could direct me to any handy reference material it would be appreciated. The search function on SFI doesn't recognised ISD as it's too short and when I search on Indian stores depot I'm inundated on matches against the word Indian!

  4. #4
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    James, can't find much, but basically the India Store Depot, Belvedere Road, Lambeth 1865-1920 was responsible for the purchase and shipment of govt. stores to India, rather like the Crown Agents who acted for the colonies.

  5. #5
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    This is a Wilkinson trade sword with different proved disc, not the HW. The ISD shows India government ownership, officers swords are private purchase and do not have any inspection or govt. ownership marks. Wilkinson did not serialize their trade swords.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Will Mathieson View Post
    This is a Wilkinson trade sword with different proved disc.
    Thanks for your help Will, reckon that's mystery solved.

    Also the term "trade sword" has helped me find a thread on SFI containing lots of further information on this topic:

    http://www.swordforum.com/forums/sho...ry-Sword-India

    RW-L calls them "contract swords" purchased by ISD for issue to either Viceroy Commissioned Officers or Indian Commissioned Officers as opposed to Kings Commissioned Indian Officers who would have a private purchase sword.

    Thus explaining why an officers sword would be bought into service.

    I'm still curious why they would order a sword of only just over 30 inches. Is it simply that Indian officers were likely to be of smaller stature?

    Was there a specific requirement for smaller swords intended for issue to certain branches or regiments? (e.g. Mountain artillery?)

    If VCO's and ICO's were issued their swords it would seem highly unlikely that they would also have a levee or piquet weight sword for dress so I'm convinced that these are undress swords despite the slightly shorter blade.

    I'd be interested to know more about the ISD generally and in particular information relating to contract orders for swords if anyone can direct me to further threads or sources.
    Last edited by james.elstob; 05-29-2016 at 12:40 AM.

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