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Thread: British P1896 Mountain Artillery Sword v. Indian Mountain Artillery Sword

  1. #1

    British P1896 Mountain Artillery Sword v. Indian Mountain Artillery Sword

    This is a bit of a rant.

    We all know that the term "rare" is often overused when it comes to describing antiques for sale. One example of this in the realm of British military swords is the Indian Mountain Artillery Sword. Everyone selling this pattern describes it as "rare", and sometimes "very rare", and a good number describe it as "rarest of all British regulation patterns"--a quote from Robson. In Swords of the British Army, Robson is actually talking about the British Pattern 1896 Mountain Artillery Sword. This pattern has a steel D-shaped guard, and not a brass stirrup hilt like the Indian pattern. From what I can see, the Indian pattern may not be common, but it isn't all that rare. IMO, it is one of the most commonly over-priced patterns on the market because there is a perception--a misreading of Robson--that it is "the rarest". And that is BS.

    Ben Bevan shared some nice side-by-side photos of these two patterns in this post.

    Robert Wilkinson-Latham shared the schematics for the British P1896 here.

    The Canadian D-guard artillery sword IS rare.

    Below is a British Pattern 1896 Mountain Artillery Sword in the collections of the Royal Armouries in Leeds. THIS one is rare.

    Name:  Sword and scabbard (1896-1900).jpg
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    And here is an Indian Mountain Artillery Saber, also from the Royal Armouries. It is not that rare.

    Name:  Sword and scabbard (1870-1910).jpg
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    Last edited by J.G. Hopkins; 06-23-2017 at 02:41 PM.

  2. #2
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    Canadian D Guard artillery
    Attached Images Attached Images    

  3. #3
    Very nice, Will! That is a great example of a sword that is actually very rare.

  4. #4
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    A dealer I sometimes buy from has an Indian Mountain Artillery Sabre for sale and has mistakenly listed it as an ultra-scarce 1796 LC variant from the late 1700s. I explained, politely, the likely real identity of their sword but have been ignored.

  5. #5
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    I recently saw one of these variant m1853 types listed as a Confederate calvary saber. I saved the photo but alas save so many it is lost somewhere in my files. Many of the espada anchas, Mexican and federal period swords I by are (confederate?) In someones mind. Eric
    The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people." --- Tench Coxe

  6. #6
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    Yep, and it never ceases to amaze me that both dealers and Auction Houses (who should know better) sill keep referring to the brass hilted Indian Mountain Battery sword as the '1896 Pattern' , or cynically do they know better and hope the customers don't?!

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Bevan View Post
    Yep, and it never ceases to amaze me that both dealers and Auction Houses (who should know better) sill keep referring to the brass hilted Indian Mountain Battery sword as the '1896 Pattern' , or cynically do they know better and hope the customers don't?!
    It is probably a mix, but I'm sure a some sellers are crossing their fingers that buyers are ignorant.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by M Forde View Post
    A dealer I sometimes buy from has an Indian Mountain Artillery Sabre for sale and has mistakenly listed it as an ultra-scarce 1796 LC variant from the late 1700s. I explained, politely, the likely real identity of their sword but have been ignored.
    That is always disappointing.

  9. #9
    'Mea culpa'. I had some of these incorrectly labeled on www.oldswords.com. After reading the thread I went back and checked and made the necessary corrections.

    Great discussions as always. Thanks Jonathan.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.G. Hopkins View Post
    That is always disappointing.
    Agreed! Especially as a quick Googling can provide confirmation or the opposite. I'm not sure if it's allowed on this forum but does anyone know how much an Indian Mountain Artillery Sabre goes for in the UK?

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    PM sent.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Cloke View Post
    'Mea culpa'. I had some of these incorrectly labeled on www.oldswords.com. After reading the thread I went back and checked and made the necessary corrections.

    Great discussions as always. Thanks Jonathan.
    Mark,
    Thanks for making that change! OldSwords.com is not alone in that error, so not to worry. I know you work hard to make sure everything is as accurate as possible, and that is very much appreciated!

    Jonathan

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by M Forde View Post
    Agreed! Especially as a quick Googling can provide confirmation or the opposite. I'm not sure if it's allowed on this forum but does anyone know how much an Indian Mountain Artillery Sabre goes for in the UK?
    one went for 230gbp at the recent antony cribb auction. its lot 190

  14. #14
    I have what appears to be an Indian Mountain Artillery sword that I bought about 25 years ago when I first started collecting (from a dealer who stated that it was 'similar' to a P1796LC, which I suppose, strictly speaking, was true, and he'd thoughtfully put it into a P1796LC scabbard). There are no markings on the brass hilt but the blade is marked to "Woolley and Sargant" on thr rear edge near the guard. According to the Old Swords makers database, Wooley and Sargant operated in Birmingham from 1815 to 1816 and 1821 to 1825. So the blade appears to have been originally used on a P1796LC. The Old Swords gallery has an identical sword listed as "probably Mountain Artillery" with the blade also marked to Woolley and Sergeant (sic):https://oldswords.com/details.php?id=21321 Does anyone know if P1796LC blades were recycled for artillery use after 1821 (or did my dealer make up a composite weapon)?

    .

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    Alan it's best to post photos of your sword. In India they did recycle 1796 LC blades as the steel was superior in quality to locally made swords. This type of blade was used into the 20th century.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Will Mathieson View Post
    Alan it's best to post photos of your sword. In India they did recycle 1796 LC blades as the steel was superior in quality to locally made swords. This type of blade was used into the 20th century.
    Will,
    Many thanks for this. Photos attached. Overall length is 35 inches, blade 30 inches.
    Alan
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  17. #17
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    To me your sword appears to have been made this way, the 1796LC sword blades are 33 inches and yours is 30 inches. I do not see any shortening of the blade as the fuller ends well back from the tip.

  18. #18
    Thanks again, Will. And I agree with Jonathan and Ben's comments above regarding the usage of '1896 pattern' in relation to Indian Mountain Battery swords. I found this quotation interesting: "Gunner and driver N.C.Os. and men had from the earliest days been armed with swords, with brown leather shoulder and waist belts. The curved sword had a brass hilt; the shoulder belt had a frog and was originally called the 'Hazara Mountain Battery' pattern."

    The History of the Indian Mountain Artillery, Brig.-Gen. C.A.L. Graham (Aldershot, 1957), page 105.

  19. #19
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    I was looking at The Last Stand painting, and wondering if this is the type of sabre carried by the man on the left.

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...%281898%29.jpg

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