Results 1 to 15 of 15

Thread: Help identify old sword

  1. #1

    Help identify old sword

    I'm new to the whole subject of antique swords and I'm trying to identify an old sword I bought long ago. From what I've seen on the Internet it seems to be a British Naval sword but I'm still trying to determine its age and a reasonable time period when it was made. Here's a few things I've noticed (photos attached)...

    The sword, scabbard and cord all seem original (old, at least) but there are no markings (maker, serial#, owner, date, etc.) anywhere.
    Blade is straight, 31-3/8" long, 1.0" width at base.
    Lion's head mane is short (not full-length like most I've seen; saw only one like this).
    Hilt guard (knuckle-bow?) is gripped in the lion's teeth (not under chin as most I've seen).
    Wire wrappings around grip have only 5 turns (all others I've seen have more turns, mostly 7).
    Crown above anchor in etching looks like a naval crown (not Tudor or others I've seen mentioned).

    Not sure if any of this is important, but any ideas or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks - Barry
    Attached Images Attached Images      

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Central Coast NSW Australia
    Posts
    144
    G'day,

    I know I will be wrong but it has all the attributes of either an 1895 or 1897 British naval sword with folding guard. Here's hoping.
    “The Australian Light Horse attack on Beersheba was the last important cavalry charge in history and the last to win a resounding victory that altered the course of a war." Alec Hepburn

  3. #3
    Thanks kindly, George, this is a tremendous help!

    I've been doing a lot of reading and viewing pics on the Internet and I'm extremely curious as to how you were able to figure out the years so easily -- and quickly! What's the clue(s)???

    Thanks again!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Western Canada
    Posts
    304
    Here is an old thread, in case you haven't found it yet. Might be helpful. http://www.swordforum.com/forums/sho...fficers-Swords
    Cheers,
    Mike

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Central Coast NSW Australia
    Posts
    144
    Barry,

    1895 and 1897 are pattern years, P1895 and P1897. The 1895 has a slightly different guard but the swinging part is NOT common to the Infantry version. Somewhere on the blade should be a royal cypher telling you whether it is VR (Victoria) EVIIR (Edward VII) or one of the GVR or GVIR (George V or VI) These will provide years of their reign and therefore will place the sword into a bracket of years. If unnamed, that or not numbered by Wilkinson Sword, that may be as good as it gets.

    There is soooo much out there to read on this type of sword, especially on this site.
    “The Australian Light Horse attack on Beersheba was the last important cavalry charge in history and the last to win a resounding victory that altered the course of a war." Alec Hepburn

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Rugby, UK
    Posts
    552
    Quote Originally Posted by George Charlton View Post
    Barry,

    ... Somewhere on the blade should be a royal cypher telling you whether it is VR (Victoria) EVIIR (Edward VII) or one of the GVR or GVIR (George V or VI)...
    I could be wrong (often am ) but I don't think navy swords usually carried a Royal Cypher until well into the 20th century (GV or GVI?).
    The journey not the destination

  7. #7
    Thanks All -- great information, esp. Mike's link! I've Googled my brains out and found some more tidbits...

    There's no royal cypher on the sword or scabbard, but I saw a post of a "very rare" Edward VIII RN sword, rare because, it says, RN swords didn't have royal cyphers until EVIIIR in 1936 (army swords had the cyphers since 1714) and since EVIII's reign was only 11 months, very few RN swords will have his cypher. Link...
    http://www.antique-swords.eu/Edward-...ers-Sword.html

    Also good info about cyphers, crowns, etc., which says the Tudor crown was most frequently used after 1880 and this sword seems to have a non-Tudor (not rounded top) crown, though I'm so new at all this I don't know what the crowns are supposed to look like. Maybe the crown suggests the sword could be pre-1880, or at least pre-20th century as George suggests.
    http://www.swordforum.com/forums/sho...highlight=1846

    Also, I was able to find only one other photo (out of hundreds) of a naval sword with a similar lion's short mane and chequered thumb rest and it's listed as a "British Australian Navy" sword, not British RN. Of the tons of Internet pics I saw mostly full manes, various short manes, but none others with the chequered thumb rest except the AU sword. Maybe it's just a search fluke to find only one similar. I'm still curious about Leo's short mane which, I understand, was the design pre-1846.
    http://www.jbmilitaryantiques.com.au...word-scabbard/

    That's it for now, though I'm still playing Sherlock Holmes on all this. I'll keep you posted.

    Cheers!

  8. #8
    More info -- it's an admiral's (flag officer's) sword, ID from Mark Austin (antique-swords.eu):

    "It is a post 1854 Victorian British Royal Naval Flag Officer's sword (the oak leaves around the scabbard suspension rings show it is for a flag officer)."

    Now, with the info so far, looks like it's pretty sure post-1854, pre-1901 ("Victorian").

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Western Canada
    Posts
    304
    I don't collect Naval swords but the style of etching looks like it would fit the timeframe. One thing I try to keep in mind when ID'ing is that scabbards can be easily moved between swords so a firm date/ID on the sword itself is preferable to just relying on a scabbard alone. If the officer changed/upgraded his scabbard as his career progressed it will give you a later date than when the sword was actually made.
    Cheers,
    Mike

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Stratford upon Avon UK
    Posts
    383
    What hasn't been mentioned so far is that the sword has the less common 'broadsword' blade which I believe had to be specifically ordered. Very nice sword Barry, which hopefully one of our RN experts will comment upon.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Bevan View Post
    What hasn't been mentioned so far is that the sword has the less common 'broadsword' blade which I believe had to be specifically ordered. Very nice sword Barry, which hopefully one of our RN experts will comment upon.
    I'm pretty sure it is a straight, fullered Wilkinson style blade.

  12. #12
    Mike has a good point since there are no markings that definitely match the sword to the scabbard. So more detective work is called for...

    First, the scabbard's condition (photo) suggests it's as old as (if not older than) the sword itself. Usually, it's the other way around, with leather deteriorating long before metal. Plus, one might logically conclude that if an officer's rank was upgraded to admiral, he'd most likely acquire a new scabbard rather than an old one.

    Second, since the width of the blade (at ricasso) is a bit non-standard (31/32" instead of the period standard 1-1/8" to 1-3/8") then the mouth of the top scabbard mount, if made exclusively for this particular sword, should be non-standard also. I don't have other scabbards to compare, but measurements (photo) of the blade and the scabbard mouth seem close enough to say that they were made as a matching pair.

    So in conclusion, if the scabbard was made to match the sword and the scabbard seems as old as the sword, then it's probably safe to say that the scabbard (with the admiral's design) matches the (admiral's) sword.

    That's basically how I see it. Comments welcomed and appreciated.

    Name:  _naval-swordscabbard14csml.jpg
Views: 219
Size:  74.9 KB
    Name:  _naval-scabbardmouth2sizes.jpg
Views: 219
Size:  46.8 KB

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Western Canada
    Posts
    304
    Barry,
    With the measurements of the scabbard and the fact that it is straight (like the blade) it's a good bet that it is the correct one for the sword. I find the etching of the naval crown and crossed flags on the blade instead of the usual crown an interesting difference from what is usually seen. The Water Gate at the old Royal Naval College has a very similar crown on top of it. I'm not a Naval sword collector so maybe this is a standard variance in etching but it may be worth finding out if there is any significance to it.
    Cheers,
    Mike

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Guildford, Surrey, England.
    Posts
    13,986
    Reading this thread I am bewildered. 1895 pattern 1897 pattern, broadsword blade??? What on earth are people talking about .

    This is a standard Royal Navy officer's sword, featuring the *1827* pattern guard and *1846* pattern blade. In most modern publications this is referred to as the 1827 pattern Royal Navy officer's sword, but the new Wilkinson type blade was adopted by the Navy in 1846, so it should probably be more correctly known as the 1846 pattern, as the earlier 1827 blade was pipe-backed and quill-pointed.

    The 1895 and 1897 patterns are Army infantry swords! Totally unrelated. My article about those here:
    http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/antiqu...les/1892-1897/

  15. #15
    Thanks Guys, more good info!

    Mike: I wasn't aware of the Water Gate crown. I've seen several example photos of RN swords with the Naval crown as well as Tudor and/or Georgian crowns above the anchor etchings. Maybe they simply varied by maker back then? I'll keep searching for clues.

    Matt: very informative article! This really helps clear up a bit of confusion. With all the feedback so far, I think it's safe to place the sword as late Victorian, say, 1890-1901. But I'm still curious if there's any heavy date significance in: 1) the short lion's mane & chequered thumb rest; 2) only 5 wire turns around the grip; and 3) the Naval crown as mentioned above.

    Side note... Matt, in an email a few wks ago you recommended that I might consider non-destructive restoration, esp. repairing the scabbard (if cost-effective). Well, with the help and advice of a local leather craftsman, I was able to decently repair and reinforce the scabbard without losing any of the original, well-patinated leather nor adding any visible new leather. I'm also working on a possible, if suitable, replacement acorn for the old sword knot.

    Again, thanks for your help, guys. Any further info or comments much appreciated.

    The search goes on... though perhaps nearing it's destination. ;-)

Tags for this Thread

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
  •