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Thread: British P-1796 Heavy Cavalry Sword

  1. #1
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    British P-1796 Heavy Cavalry Sword

    On Friday I attended the Sturbridge Antique Arms Show with two good friends. It is my favorite show. The Firearm prices have risen considerably over the span of Covid. The Sword and bayonets however, having risen somewhat, are still in a reasonable range. I left the show with a British Pattern 1796 Heavy Cavalry Sword. I have wanted one for several years, but they are (in my opinion) both harder to locate and more pricey than even the 1796 Light Cavalry Sword (Which I finally acquired last year).
    This sword was the only P-1796 at the show, and was in solid, albeit rusty and dirty condition. I negotiated it down to $1000, which, for what it was seemed like a good price. I should mention that the vast majority of the Items at the show are American, from the colonial period up through the Indian Wars. There are some, though not a lot of British items, which is what I collect. As I was walking away from the table, feeling pretty good about my purchase, the dealer called after me and said; "Wait, I have an old tag here that came with the sword when I got it." He shrugged and added; "It was picked up on the field at Waterloo after the battle by a farmer." For me, (Maybe) getting a Waterloo used sword was icing on the cake. 'Buy the item not the story' are words that I live by, and the provenance to Waterloo may or may not be true, but hearing about it after the sale does add some credibility. In caring for the sword once home, I left the grip as it was, but worked to carefully remove the active rust from the blade and coat it with Museum Wax. Thoughts and advice are solicited.

  2. #2
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    Charlie, that sounds like a very fair price, but we need to see pictures of the beast! I think most of us agree that least is best when it comes to cleaning, once any active rust is removed. Any maker, inspection or regimental marks?
    Look forward to seeing your new acquisition. Ben

  3. #3
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    Hi Ben, thanks for such a quick response. I do have a number of photos, which ideally would have accompanied the thread. Unfortunately they ran afoul of the sites cut-off for photo size. Though I am a relatively new member, that didn't happen in previous postings, and I'm trying to figure it out. Being older, this tech stuff doesn't come as naturally to me as it does to my kids. (:
    Best, Charlie

    (edit) Managed to add the photos. Ben, on the spline of the blade, very near to the grip end is what I take to be a maker stamping; S.C
    There is no unit stamping or Ordnance inspection stamping on the blade or grip strap that I can see with the condition as it is.
    Last edited by Charlie Sorrentino; 06-15-2022 at 06:47 AM.

  4. #4
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    Sadly I’m in the same boat, but did manage to use a relatively simple online ‘Web-Resizer’ thingy that compressed the images sufficiently, good luck, hope you can sort it.

  5. #5
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    Here are photos, hopefully suitably reduced from 595kb to the under 100kb that is required, I hope they are not too small to see!
    Attached Images Attached Images      

  6. #6
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    If it were mine I’d be quite happy to ‘believe ‘ that label, who knows? Personally I wouldn’t do much more to it, other than a good rub with Autosol, and furniture wax polish on the exposed wooden grip, just to bring it up a bit. Would like to see an inspection mark on the blade (crown over number) to keep the thought alive that it was a regular British Heavy Cavalry Regiment, not all ‘Waterloo Period’ 1796 P’s had their langets removed, inner guards-reshaped or blades re pointed as some suggest, the makers mark if present should be on the flat of the spine.
    It’s an honest old gem that hasn’t been messed with, well done you.
    Sorry missed your edit Charlie, If you can get an image of the ‘S.C’, It should be identifiable (Thomas Craven, or a badly worn Osborn possibly).
    Last edited by Ben Bevan; 06-15-2022 at 07:56 AM.

  7. #7
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    Thos. Craven
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  8. #8
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    Hi Ben, Coincidentally I just got a British Artillery Drivers short sword stamped T.CRAVEN. Here is the photo of the maker marking on the P1796 Heavy.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  9. #9
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    Hi Charlie, sadly the image is too small to see anything.

  10. #10
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    Sorry Ben, I went back and enlarged it.
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  11. #11
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    It can be believable this is a battlefield pickup, no modifications to it. The modifications took time to do and I don't believe they had excess in armourers to do the work in the field. Only a select few would have the tools to do such work. Nice to see a completely intact version.

  12. #12
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    It’s a difficult one...perhaps a light wipe with oil might bring out some more detail, to me the ‘S’ looks upside down in your image, so possibly the ‘C’ is a worn O, and reading it the other way up would give us O S B O R N, he stamped his swords in both all uppercase and the more usual just capital O. None of the other main 1796 HC makers seem to fit i.e Bate, Craven, Dawes, Gill, Hadley, Osborn & Gunby, Reddell & Bate, Woolley, but then there’s that annoying dot between the letters, ugh!

  13. #13
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    This sword is a good candidate for complete removal of the corrosion. Corrosion is not original to the sword. This sword would clean up nicely. Some 0000 steel wool would work wonders.
    Don't worry about getting the grip wet, it's been wet many times before, just don't handle until it's dry. These swords are accepted by collectors to be cleaned up, it's all about eye appeal.

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