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Thread: Identification of initials on 1845 British infantry sword

  1. #1

    Identification of initials on 1845 British infantry sword

    Hello everyone,

    I am new to sword collecting, in fact this post concerns my 2nd ever purchase! (Thank you Matt Easton)

    I'd be very grateful for views on the initials of this nice 1845 sword.
    To me they seem to be either RNC or RNG ?

    I'm probably leaning to the former, but I'd be appreciative of your views, as my knowledge to date is very limited as you imagine.

    First picture unaltered, second with filter applied.
    Thank you
    Lee
    Attached Images Attached Images   

  2. #2
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    From the photos the blade appears in good shape. Not a Wilkinson? Trying to find RNC can be a monumental task with many regiments of foot and Indian regiments.
    With three initials you may find identical sets of initials, at least it's better than having only two. Check the Harts Army lists online and just look at lieutenants since you do not know if the officer rose in rank.
    Have to see complete photos of the sword to get a feeling of what decade to begin your search. Earlier infantry swords have two small holes drilled for hilt liners.
    1845p swords have the folding guard but they lasted well beyond the official change the 1845/54p with solid guard.
    Steel or brass scabbard? Brass scabbard and you have Major and above.

  3. #3
    if Lee bought this sword from Matt Eastom ask Matt about this sword you bought from him he should now about the sword...... bill

  4. #4
    Thank you for responses.

    I should have mentioned, that sword is marked to retailer; Landon & Morland, 17 Jermyn Street, blade maker is Thurkle. (Provided by Matt)
    I have done some further research, and can see that they traded between 1845 & 1856 at the above address.

    If initials are thought to be correct then -RNC, I'll start reviewing Harts lists as you have kindly mentioned, if I'm lucky maybe something will turn up!
    I'll post some pictures of sword tomorrow, I'm really pleased with it.

  5. #5
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    Retailer/maker address dates can vary beyond recorded dates. Try searching from 1846 to 1857. The officer has 3 initials and they will be used in the army lists or his actual names or combination of such as Richard N Cook, Richard Norman Cook, or R N Cook (example only).
    Steel or brass scabbard? Steel scabbard suggests a shorter time in service by either selling his commission or by death.
    The sword could be during the Crimea War which could add interest depending on the officers career.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by william fisher View Post
    if Lee bought this sword from Matt Easton ask Matt about this sword you bought from him he should now about the sword...... bill
    I believe if Matt knew he would have used any information to promote the sale.

    Some swords by this retailer were sold to officers of the EIC. You may have to look through infantry regiments in India.

    https://www.the-saleroom.com/en-gb/a...3-a77d00a1033f
    Last edited by Will Mathieson; 12-14-2020 at 12:10 PM.

  7. #7
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    I would also say it's RNC not RNG

  8. #8
    Photos of sword as promised..
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  9. #9
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    Nice sword! It's good to see that it came with the leather scabbard. I also agree that it's RNC. A few tips for researching. This sword could have belonged to a Militia officer, but those officers are not listed in the Hart's index. The Militia units are usually in the very back of Hart's. For EIC officers the FIBIwiki pages are good sources of information. You can also try to search the Indian Army officers that are in the later Hart's and work backwards to your time frame if you find a match. Hope this makes some sense.
    Last edited by MikeShowers; 12-17-2020 at 09:20 PM.

  10. #10
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    This narrow slit without any supporting structure within is always something I associated with the latter part of the century such as 1889 staff sargeant's swords and 1892 RAMC pattern.

    I know this style was used on the 1827 rifles hilt from much earlier but you don't tend to see it on the 1822 infantry hilts until much much later than the dates suggested by the manufacturers trading dates and leather scabbard.

    Am I wrong?
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  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by james.elstob View Post
    This narrow slit without any supporting structure within is always something I associated with the latter part of the century such as 1889 staff sargeant's swords and 1892 RAMC pattern.

    I know this style was used on the 1827 rifles hilt from much earlier but you don't tend to see it on the 1822 infantry hilts until much much later than the dates suggested by the manufacturers trading dates and leather scabbard.

    Am I wrong?
    A few more photos and details around this interesting question..

    For background, sword appears big and robust.
    - Sword weighs 890 grams
    - Blade is 28.2mm wide at riccasso, and 8.4mm thick
    - Brass guard is between 4 - 5mm thick at area being discussed, before reducing to 3.3mm where it meets the pommel.
    Attached Images Attached Images    
    Last edited by Lee Jones; 12-18-2020 at 07:17 AM.

  12. #12
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    Appears to have a robust blade and the measurements confirm this. The width of blade is between what Wilkinsons calls a medium to regular blade. A medium blade being 1 inch wide and regular 1 1.4 inch and this one falls in between at about 1 1/8 inches wide though good and thick.
    The etched initials in comparison to the overall blade etch and finish suggests this was done later in life. The background of the etching has not had its matt finish worn down as the rest of the blade. You may want to look at later dates to find the officer if he does not appear in the previous time frame suggested. The black grip too has been restored at some point and this black finish fills in the shagreen somewhat. It could fit with this sword originally being bought new and used without initials and then later passed down and a subsequent officers initials etched to the blade.
    The leather blade washer is a replacement and would originally be brown or black.
    Last edited by Will Mathieson; 12-18-2020 at 07:36 AM.

  13. #13
    Ok, after some research I believe I have got very lucky..

    I have checked Harts list between 1848 and 1861,there is only ONE name with these abbreviations during all this time!

    - Richard Nugent Clayton
    When I check regiments, he is listed under 13th Foot (Somersets), so infantry. a match!

    - He was commissioned on 15 July1853
    - Promoted to Lieutenant 26 June 1855
    - Promoted to Captain 03 July1860

    Presumably he must leave shortly after, as there is no record of him in 1861 Harts.
    He was born in 1833, and died 1914, a son of an MP.

    This is what Harts say:
    "Richard Clayton landed in the Crimea with the 13th light infantry on the 30th June 1855 and was present at the battle of Tchernaya, siege and fall of Sebastopol (Medal & Clasp).
    Served in the India campaign of 1858, and was engaged with the enemy at Amorah on 17th and 25th April, at the attack and capture of the village and fort at Naggur, and again at Amorah
    on 9th June when the Ranee's palace was destroyed. (Medal)"

    Needless to say, I am really pleased and feel very fortunate that I seem to have found owner, and he has some combat history to boot!

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Will Mathieson View Post
    Appears to have a robust blade and the measurements confirm this. The width of blade is between what Wilkinsons calls a medium to regular blade. A medium blade being 1 inch wide and regular 1 1.4 inch and this one falls in between at about 1 1/8 inches wide though good and thick.
    The etched initials in comparison to the overall blade etch and finish suggests this was done later in life. The background of the etching has not had its matt finish worn down as the rest of the blade. You may want to look at later dates to find the officer if he does not appear in the previous time frame suggested. The black grip too has been restored at some point and this black finish fills in the shagreen somewhat. It could fit with this sword originally being bought new and used without initials and then later passed down and a subsequent officers initials etched to the blade.
    The leather blade washer is a replacement and would originally be brown or black.
    Hi Wil,

    Thanks for taking a look and your comments, to be honest my photos in this case are not the best to show RNC compared with remainder of sword, so apologies for them being somewhat misleading.
    When you have sword in hand (and even under a magnifying glass, I like detail..), it is clear that the background etching style behind name matches perfectly to the background etching on the ricasso, perhaps with very marginally less wear, but it has been more protected by scabbard, and fingers.. (and the name background is against a bright blade which make it stand out more)
    Its really hard to get photos to show this, as light "twists" reality, photos below attempt to show. In large format images it is plain to see, but restricted size allowed here, doesn't make very clear.

    Wouldn't argue with you on grip or washer, it seems to have done some active service so maybe a bit of TLC was needed after!
    Attached Images Attached Images   
    Last edited by Lee Jones; 12-18-2020 at 09:55 AM.

  15. #15
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    Any signs of the blade being service sharpened? A British officer of this period would generally have his sword, or swords, sharpened upon embarking for active service.

  16. #16
    Hi Mike,

    Glad you asked, yes it has been service sharpened, although not particularly sharp anymore.

  17. #17
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    Lee I should have remembered that one digital photo to the next can be different though taken a second later. Your last photos shows it well.
    Great you found him and has solid Crimea War provenance and India Mutiny. The scabbard drag has a decent amount of wear for an officer of about 7 years. Active service we know did most of the wear.
    I remember seeing photos of officers with this sword pattern and leather scabbard in the Crimea.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Will Mathieson View Post
    Lee I should have remembered that one digital photo to the next can be different though taken a second later. Your last photos shows it well.
    Great you found him and has solid Crimea War provenance and India Mutiny. The scabbard drag has a decent amount of wear for an officer of about 7 years. Active service we know did most of the wear.
    I remember seeing photos of officers with this sword pattern and leather scabbard in the Crimea.
    Thank you Will,
    I feel both very lucky, and pleased.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Jones View Post
    Served in the India campaign of 1858, and was engaged with the enemy at Amorah on 17th and 25th April, at the attack and capture of the village and fort at Naggur, and again at Amorah
    on 9th June when the Ranee's palace was destroyed. (Medal)"
    Congratulations! I have a sword which was with the 13th at these same battles!

    I do wonder if this is a replacement hilt.

  20. #20
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    James you're implying a replacement hilt because the guard is the non folding type?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Will Mathieson View Post
    James you're implying a replacement hilt because the guard is the non folding type?
    Because of the 'style' of the non-folding hilt. If you look at the 1889 staff sargeant's sword and the 1892 infantry pattern they are similar.

    Im not 100% on when that style was introduced to the infantry hit but its just my impression that its a later feature.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by james.elstob View Post
    Because of the 'style' of the non-folding hilt. If you look at the 1889 staff sargeant's sword and the 1892 infantry pattern they are similar.

    Im not 100% on when that style was introduced to the infantry hit but its just my impression that its a later feature.
    This was my initial thought as well, but the more I look at it the more it reminds me of some of the Wilkinson gilt steel hilts of the same period (1850's). It wouldn't be unreasonable to assume that a manufacturer making a thick sturdy brass hilt would copy some of the characteristics of steel hilts. That style of thumb guard is also used on the Light Infantry hilts as well.
    Last edited by MikeShowers; 12-18-2020 at 07:48 PM.

  23. #23
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    I've seen a wide variation of brass hilts, their guards can be thick or delicate or somewhere in between. This sword may not be his original sword but we'll never know.

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