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Thread: Patent Solid Hilt

  1. #1
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    Patent Solid Hilt

    Hi all,

    I'm excited to say I've just acquired my first patent full tang hilt example although neither Wilkinson nor Reeves it seems.

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    1821 Light Cavalry sabre, marked to HAC (Honourable Artillery Company) and also marked with a large LC on the reverse.

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    The sword itself is a bit of a brute.

    length: 35"
    Width: 1" 5/32'
    Breadth: 9/32'
    Grip: 5" 1/5'
    Weight 2lb 4oz (a whisker under)

    Retailed by H. F. James and Co. of 55 New Bond Street. Despite the order of initials on the blade this appears to be a Frederick Hugh James who was late of Story, James & Robinson, Tailor & Breeches Maker.

    I've also identified another example of a sword marked to this retailer where the initials are reversed.

    Hugh James was declared bankrupt in July 1862 and again in March 1870. However he is again recorded as trading in the London Post Office directory at the same address in 1878.

    The reversal of his initials between the two different examples could possibly be as a legal distinction between trading entities following bankruptcy or perhaps it simply reflected his preference to use his middle name the name by which he is most often referred to in the London Gazette.

    There is no makers mark on the sword and the proof slug: PROVED over .P. with a corrugated edge pattern.

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    I take this to be Pillin as it matches Old Swords item 18882 although that is the only example of this proof slug I can find which is definitively marked to a maker and not a retailer.

    The only other example I find is marked to Phillips & Co but attributed to Pillin (Matt Easton) and is also a patent Solid Hilt.

    I wonder did Pillin use different proof slugs for different quality swords a la Wilkinson or did they change when Pillin senior died.

    I've trawled through the many threads on full tang and Patent Hilts on the forum and while they are an excellent resource, it's a pity that lot of the images uploaded are no longer supported.

    I do note some other similarities to Pillin examples such as a the floral motifs around the interlocked triangles and a similar vertical lines motif at the base of the ricasso.

    Its a slight shame the blade is not marked as a Patent Solid Hilt but overall the sword remains in excellent condition.

    I note that the stoppered fuller seems to be unique among full tang swords to this manufacturer, with all other pre '92 blade examples from Wilkinson and Reeves having an unstoppered fuller. Is that everyone else experience?

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    the material used in the grip is I assume from previous threads is Gutta Percha.

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    The chequering on the pommel, back strap and grip is very fresh and; I can't belive the sword has been handled much.

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    The existence of the HAC, light Cavalry dates between 1861 and 1890 and from the look and feel of the sword my gut says late 80's.

    Unfortunately as I don't know which iteration of Pillin is the manufacturer I can't narrow it further that way.

    Fortunately the sword is also marked with the owners initials. I'm aware of the Cardew-Rendle Roll of HAC members. Is this my only means of pinning my chap down?
    Last edited by james.elstob; 04-12-2018 at 12:30 AM. Reason: Photos not working

  2. #2
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    I can't get the photo links to come up.

  3. #3
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    Any better now?

  4. #4
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    PERFECT! Very good example, I know Reeves made for retailers and rarely marked their own swords. Pillin also a good maker, does the proof disc match exactly?
    I would think a patent hilt made by Pillin to be scarce compared a Wilkinson or Reeves.
    The pommel/backstrap completely checkered is a great addition. Does the sword have a scabbard?

  5. #5
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    Yes Will the proof slug exactly matches both the Old Swords item and the sword sold by Matt, as far as I can tell.

    It does differ from other examples of slugs with Proved over P which I find have a single dot under the P and no frilled edge. I think the P is also positioned differently. Very clearly two distinct stamps.

    Although mine and Matt's examples are both patent Solid tang using the same proof slug they differ in many ways. His sword has an earlier look to it.

    Matt, would you mind if I posted a link to it here or possibly an image for a comparison?

    It does have a scabbard, but there is something which makes me suspect it is not original. I will post an image later.
    Last edited by james.elstob; 04-12-2018 at 12:36 AM.

  6. #6
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    Superb! I am yet to find a patent solid tang.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Will Mathieson View Post
    Does the sword have a scabbard?
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    Here is the scabbard. It fits perfectly but the reason I thought that it might not be original was the number stamped on the drag which would be out off place on a private purchase sword.

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    There may be etching on the scabbard but I can't tell if I'm seeing things. I will try cleaning it up.

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    I'm seeing a large P and possibly a floral motif.

  8. #8
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    British didn't mark trooper scabbards on the drag. It could be the officer wanted some sort of marking for his regiment, 21st Lancers.
    Gives you a starting place to look for him.

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    Just for your interest James, there is a sword on a dealer's site made by Garden with the 'exact' same etching to the 'HAC' and 'LC'. Not sure if I am allowed to post the dealer's details?

  10. #10
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    Hi James, just found this proof mark in ‘May & Annis’ which seems to match yours with it’s wavy border and two dots either side of the ‘P’. ‘Southwick’ states that Charles Webb, royal gold and silver laceman, military embroiderers, sword cutlers etc is recorded in London from 1804 until 1895, unfortunately no mention of who supplied his blades. Sorry to strain your neck!
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by Ben Bevan; 04-12-2018 at 10:39 AM.

  11. #11
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    Further, with regard to Jordan’s reply, I think the ‘LC’ simply refers to Light Cavalry, or are there other initials you haven’t shown us James?
    Last edited by Ben Bevan; 04-12-2018 at 12:30 PM.

  12. #12
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    I would think the HAC is the officers initials and the LC the regiment. Just because there is an Honorable Artillery Company does not rule out an officers initials of the same.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Bevan View Post
    Further, with regard to Jordan’s reply, I think the ‘LC’ simply refers to Light Cavalry, or are there other initials you haven’t shown us James?
    Yes there is another set of initials. I've been caught holding out!

    Thought I'd have a crack at it myself first although you can expect me back shortly to hand it over. I'm not even sure of the initials which makes it difficult.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Bevan View Post
    Hi James, just found this proof mark in ‘May & Annis’ which seems to match yours with it’s wavy border and two dots either side of the ‘P’. ‘Southwick’ states that Charles Webb, royal gold and silver laceman, military embroiderers, sword cutlers etc is recorded in London from 1804 until 1895, unfortunately no mention of who supplied his blades. Sorry to strain your neck!
    Yes these are the two different proof slugs I described.

    How many examples are there of confirmed Pillin blades with this specific 2 dot proof slug? I've only found one.

    The question is whether one example marked Pillin is enough to say that the slug belonged to Pillin and hence they made the blade.

    Interestingly whilst researching Pillin blades I also found a example marked 'Pillin Maker Gerrards London' which seemed be stamped with the hot air balloon of the German distrbuter Gebr. Grah. Does this mean that Pillin bought some of their their blades externally. Or does it just indicate that they sold batches to Grah.

    P. S. I understand that Grah were known for shipping German blades to England rather than the other way round
    Last edited by james.elstob; 04-12-2018 at 09:57 PM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by JordanPL View Post
    Just for your interest James, there is a sword on a dealer's site made by Garden with the 'exact' same etching to the 'HAC' and 'LC'. Not sure if I am allowed to post the dealer's details?
    I'm not sure either but I'd love to see it. Perhaps you could whisper it into my inbox?

    P. S.

    Got it and found it, thanks. This is the third HAC LC I've found and they each use both sets of initials. It looks like it was the regimental norm.

    I will get some photos done of the entire blade etching to see if anyone recognises the pattern as being used elsewhere.
    Last edited by james.elstob; 04-12-2018 at 02:09 PM.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Will Mathieson View Post
    I would think the HAC is the officers initials and the LC the regiment. Just because there is an Honorable Artillery Company does not rule out an officers initials of the same.
    Hey Will it has to be Honourable Artillery Company as the ‘other ‘sword has he exact same etching including ‘LC’ although I also thought it might be initials initially

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by james.elstob View Post
    I'm not sure either but I'd love to see it. Perhaps you could whisper it into my inbox?
    Whispered very quietly ... Shhhh!

  18. #18
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    Re-looking at the scabbard, it just doesn’t look ‘British’ to me, the junction/flare of the mouthpiece and the font of the chape markings, looks more like 2 U L, Prussian? But then again the HAC didn’t conform to much, viz. their own patterns of swords over many years of existence. Let us have a crack at those initials!
    Last edited by Ben Bevan; 04-12-2018 at 03:09 PM.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Bevan View Post
    Re-looking at the scabbard, it just doesn’t look ‘British’ to me, the junction/flare of the mouthpiece and the font of the chape markings, looks more like 2 U L, Prussian? But then again the HAC didn’t conform to much, hence their own patterns of swords over many years. Let us have a crack at those initials!
    Actually some of the higher end officer swords had exactly this "junction/flare of the mouthpiece". The scabbards also tend to be leather lined.

  20. #20
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    I'm about 80% that the lining in there is leather rather than wood.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Bevan View Post
    Let us have a crack at those initials!
    Tally Ho!

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    I think I've found a candidate but see what you think.

  22. #22
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    Nice sword James. So we are looking for a F.W.T.?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeShowers View Post
    Nice sword James. So we are looking for a F.W.T.?
    Thanks Mike,

    Anyone else want a go?
    Last edited by james.elstob; 04-13-2018 at 09:56 AM.

  24. #24
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    Maybe it's a J. Frederick William Justen?

  25. #25
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    I reckon so.

    His short career from 1890 to 1895 before he 'retired' to the veteran company and his death at 8 years later would explain the good condition of the sword.

    No connection to 21st lancers that I can find re the stamp on the scabbard drag but going back to Ben's post Justen was the child of a German immigrant so maybe there was a prussian connection. Who knows.
    Last edited by james.elstob; 04-13-2018 at 03:57 PM.

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