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Thread: Introduction, officer ID, maker and history 1890? British Infantry Officer's sword

  1. #1

    Introduction, officer ID, maker and history 1890? British Infantry Officer's sword

    Firstly, thank you for this fantastic archive and the selfless effort of so many experts over the years - I have learnt so much from this forum. Recently started building up my 19C British Army sword collection and researching from the usual standard texts and internet resources. Being on the other end of the world in New Zealand does limit hands on purchasing opportunities..A strong 19C colonial India and Southern African family history connection has encouraged my interest.
    One of my swords has provided hours of entertainment, am I on the right track with this sword retailed by Hobson and likely made by Pillin (?) of approximately 1890(?) vintage? The initials are EMP(?), no crest. Searching Army Lists I can find only one suspect - Edward Morris Poynton 1873-1899 majority 1891, Somerset LI, quite an interesting career, would have been at Ulundi along with my great grandfather. Is this a long bow to draw or does the research make sense looking at the sword markings and fairly uncommon combination of initials? My hypothesis would fit with him purchasing a new sword on promotion to major in 91, and then possibly another when the 1895P was introduced explaining the good condition of this example?
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  2. #2
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    Hi, I agree on EMP, and Pillin. Oldswords has Hobson at this address from 1887 and the sword is no later than 1892 blade introduction so quite a narrow window. I've scanned through Hart's 1888 list and Poynton is the only EMP I find who would carry this pattern.

    Have you searched militia lists for 87-92? Maybe 93 too as swords can be bought earlier than commission dates.

    Is there a scabbard? Steel or brass?

    Regarding your theory, about the sword being purchased upon promotion while it's possible, I am mindful that' its exactly the same pattern as his old sword would be. I think it's equally likely that an officer might purchase a new sword due to loss, damage etc which could happen any point in their career. He could have lost/damaged his old sword in Burma and bought this sword on his return.

  3. #3
    Thanks so much James. I omitted that the serial number is 99349 which from other posts here about Pillin sandwich it into the 1890 year give or take. There is a scabbard I will post photo shortly, a leather field with steel locket and longish chape ‘Indian style/transitional (?)’. I haven’t searched militia lists, how does one access those?

  4. #4

    Scabbard

    The scabbard has since been repaired!
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  5. #5

    Cypher

    The cypher also is little unusual, none of my Victorians look quite like this?
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  6. #6
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    The Militia lists are available online at the back of Hart's army lists. Unfortunately there is no index so you must search each page. I suspect that they are far less complete than the regular army lists too with many short service officers coming and going without making the lists.

    https://digital.nls.uk/british-milit...hive/104587262

    There is no better match for EMP or MEP in 1891 regular officer lists.

  7. #7
    Thanks James, I’ll get stuck into the militia lists when I get a break from work. What do think of the cypher on the blade?

  8. #8
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    The cypher is certainly not the typical version of the mirrored VR, I don't recall seeing one exactly like this but there are so many variations on the theme.

  9. #9
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    The sword is in great shape and I would have the scabbard professionally repaired, should come out looking seamless. If it's a standard size blade it could slip into another brass scabbard though some prefer to keep the original together with the sword. You never know the past history and the scabbard could have been switched but unlikely.
    Another great piece of history, and some like this one can speak to us.

  10. #10
    Thanks Will, interestingly it’s at least an inch longer than the standard pattern and slightly thicker at the spine, also nearly straight, so none of my other ‘45/54’ scabbards fit. Being in NZ scabbard repair options limited but I have found someone locally (Crisps out of business, Pooley not prepared to accept an item from overseas). The result is not quite invisible but pretty good cosmetically and solid. My greatgrandfather served in India from 1856 to 73, and was later in South Africa for the Cape border wars and finally the Zulu war culminating at Ulundi. The swords are a great way to bring history and genealogy alive.
    I’ve got quite a number of recently acquired swords I’ve got questions about but don’t want to burden the cognoscenti here unduly!

  11. #11
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    "I’ve got quite a number of recently acquired swords I’ve got questions about but don’t want to burden the cognoscenti here unduly!"
    Absolutely not a burden, would be a pleasure to see them and be helpful if possible.

  12. #12
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    I agree, wheel them all out. If I can't own all the swords then I have to look jealously at other people's.

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