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Thread: New Acquisition: British 1796 LC Officer's Sword Variant

  1. #1

    New Acquisition: British 1796 LC Officer's Sword Variant

    This past weekend I had the distinct pleasure of attending the Hartford Antique Arms Show in Hartford, CT, USA. After making several rounds through the show, I came across a sword I had not noticed on previous occasions.

    The sword was an unusual 1796 LC officer's sword with a pipe-back blade, chequered beak pommel, a rivet through the ferrule (as opposed to the ears on the back strap), and langets of unusual construction. Upon further examination I could see that there were faint traces of etching--foliate scrolls and flowing script. It did not have a scabbard, and all that was left of the grip was its (painted) wooden core, but that was fine with me! I had to have it, but how much was it and what type of payment would the dealer accept?

    After having the dealer's wife track him down, I asked if he would accept trades. I told him what I had with me in my car. He said no, only cash would do. Since trading was out I though I would try to sell my wares to other dealers. I did not take too long to sell my swords and raise funds for the 1796 variant.

    I am still working on deciphering the script on the blade, but it is difficult since the etching is so faint.

    Has anyone seen a similar sword. I have seen 1796s with pipe-back blades and beak pommels, but none with all the design elements found on mine. Can anyone share photos or information on similar examples? What cutlers were making this style of 1796? Do you think it is light cavalry or perhaps light infantry?

    Here are some basic measurements and photos:

    Overall Length: 35 1/2"
    Blade Length: 31"
    Weight: 1 lb. 13 oz.
    Attached Images Attached Images    
    Last edited by J.G. Hopkins; 05-15-2018 at 07:28 AM.

  2. #2
    The blade length makes me feel your sword is more likely to be Light Infantry rather than cavalry.
    A handsome weapon for a silly price!
    Regards,
    RAY.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Neophytou View Post
    The blade length makes me feel your sword is more likely to be Light Infantry rather than cavalry.
    A handsome weapon for a silly price!
    Regards,
    RAY.
    Thanks, Ray. I compared my 1796 LC officer's sword by Runkel with the new 1796 variant and found the proportions on mine to be small and finer. The blade is shorter by about 1.5", the grip is shorter by about 1", the guard is thinner, etc. It is a very sturdy weapon that shows evidence of sharpening, presumably during its service life. I think it is a nice, inexpensive example of a good fighting sword.

    I could hardly believe the price. It was marked $325, and I would have gladly bought it for that price, but I thought it was worth asking for the best price. Without hesitation the dealer said, "Sure. I can can knock $50 off of that for you." I felt almost like a thief!

    Jonathan

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Winter Springs, FL
    Posts
    100

    Thumbs up

    Congratulations on a great new find, Jonathan!

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Grisetti View Post
    Congratulations on a great new find, Jonathan!
    Thanks, Steve. I am very happy with it. It just dawned on me that this is my first Napoleonic era sword in nearly 10 years!

    Jonathan

  6. #6
    That is quite a rare sword Jonathan and definitely light cavalry in my opinion, well done.

    I have a similar 1796 pipe backed LC variant by Richard Johnston with a slightly shorter blade, but that sword only shares a few characteristics with your example.

    Recently I attempted to add to my collection another 1796 LC variant. This sword is much more similar to yours with a pipe back and beak pommel. This sword is by Reddell (the London one not the Birmingham one) with "REDDELL 47 PICCADILLY, LONDON" etched along the back edge.

    I think it is a close match to your sword and includes that unusual rivet through the ferrule. Interestingly the existance of this rivet seems to be a feature on all the Reddell swords I have seen.

    Just to underline how good the price was that you paid - the example I missed out on (although probably in better condition and with a scabbard) went for about £2,200 odd.

    Regards, Ben
    Last edited by B Hutchins; 10-16-2007 at 05:29 AM.

  7. #7
    Attached are some images (courtesy of Ben Hutchins) of a similar sword from a recent auction. This one is by Reddell (of London) and is a very close match to mine with the exception of its condition. Thanks again, Ben!
    Attached Images Attached Images     
    Last edited by J.G. Hopkins; 10-16-2007 at 10:17 AM.

  8. #8
    Jonathan,

    Your sword is quite a well known variant of the P1796 light cavalry sword but one which dates from the post Napoleonic period. I have seen several examples which all exhibit the same features as yours (including that peculiar style of blade etching) some by Gale Caterer & Co, some by Harry Gill or just Gill and tellingly, many with a GRIV cypher.

    I also think your blade has been shortened. The sharpened back edge should be at least 11 in. long - yours looks shorter and the point doesn't look quite right. I think it has lost about 2 - 3 in.

    I can't find any record of George Reddell at 47 Piccadilly, his last recorded address is 28 Leadenhall Street in 1820 so I would think it is after that date.

    Richard
    Celeriter nil crede

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Dellar View Post
    Jonathan,

    Your sword is quite a well known variant of the P1796 light cavalry sword but one which dates from the post Napoleonic period. I have seen several examples which all exhibit the same features as yours (including that peculiar style of blade etching) some by Gale Caterer & Co, some by Harry Gill or just Gill and tellingly, many with a GRIV cypher.

    I also think your blade has been shortened. The sharpened back edge should be at least 11 in. long - yours looks shorter and the point doesn't look quite right. I think it has lost about 2 - 3 in.

    I can't find any record of George Reddell at 47 Piccadilly, his last recorded address is 28 Leadenhall Street in 1820 so I would think it is after that date.

    Richard
    Richard,
    Thank you for your input on this one--I was hoping you might stop by and see it! I thought it was post 1815 as you say. It is entirely possible that the blade was shortened since it is only 31". As David pointed out to me, it is a nice piece to bridge the gap between my Georgian swords and my Victorian swords.

    Thanks again for sharing your knowledge. I hope all is well with you!

    Jonathan

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Roanoke,Va USA
    Posts
    1,625
    Jonathan,

    Congrats on your newest acquititon. Looks to be a fine piece.

    Cheers,

    Bill
    billgoodwin333@yahoo.com

    "I was born for this" - Joan of Arc

  11. #11
    After taking a closer look at the ridge that defines the yelman, it looks like it begins to recurve within about 1/2" of the tip, which makes the case for a shortened sword that much stronger.

    Jonathan

    PS--Still love it, though!

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Goodwin View Post
    Jonathan,

    Congrats on your newest acquititon. Looks to be a fine piece.

    Cheers,

    Bill
    Thanks, Bill. It's always fun to add a new one to the collection and feel like you've found a bargain!

    Jonathan

  13. #13
    For what it is worth, Bezdek gives the following dates for George Reddell:

    George S. Reddell, 138 Jermyn St. 1800-1810
    G.S. Reddell, 47 Piccadilly, 1811-1813
    G.S. Reddell, 236 Piccadilly, 1814-1819
    G.S. Reddell, 28 Leadenhall St., 1820-1821

  14. #14
    Just a correction, that first sword pictured with the other images from Ben is not a pipe-back, but illustrates Reddell's use of the rivet through the ferrule.

    Sorry for any confusion!

    Jonathan

  15. #15

    1796 lc

    Quote Originally Posted by J.G. Hopkins View Post
    This past weekend I had the distinct pleasure of attending the Hartford Antique Arms Show in Hartford, CT, USA. After making several rounds through the show, I came across a sword I had not noticed on previous occasions.

    The sword was an unusual 1796 LC officer's sword with a pipe-back blade, chequered beak pommel, a rivet through the ferrule (as opposed to the ears on the back strap), and langets of unusual construction. Upon further examination I could see that there were faint traces of etching--foliate scrolls and flowing script. It did not have a scabbard, and all that was left of the grip was its (painted) wooden core, but that was fine with me! I had to have it, but how much was it and what type of payment would the dealer accept?

    After having the dealer's wife track him down, I asked if he would accept trades. I told him what I had with me in my car. He said no, only cash would do. Since trading was out I though I would try to sell my wares to other dealers. I did not take too long to sell my swords and raise funds for the 1796 variant. I went back to the dealer and asked for his best price, and got a great price ($275).

    I am still working on deciphering the script on the blade, but it is difficult since the etching is so faint.

    Has anyone seen a similar sword. I have seen 1796s with pipe-back blades and beak pommels, but none with all the design elements found on mine. Can anyone share photos or information on similar examples? What cutlers were making this style of 1796? Do you think it is light cavalry or perhaps light infantry?

    Here are some basic measurements and photos:

    Overall Length: 35 1/2"
    Blade Length: 31"
    Weight: 1 lb. 13 oz.
    looks as if your sabre has been reshaped from a hatchet point to a spear point as the false edge does not look long enough.

  16. #16
    Having since seen other similar examples with an identical point, I no longer think the point of my sword was altered.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Kingston area, Ontario Canada
    Posts
    3,370
    About at the centre of the false edge on the sharpened side may tell the story. I see a slight loss in the blade edge, as if it was sharpened to remove
    some battle damage. This made the width of the blade less and it does look like it has some loss of length.
    This looks like real battle damage, not those nicks from children playing swords hitting blade edge to blade edge.
    This damage was repaired to regain the sharp edge.

    I have yet to attend an arms show in the US. I hear of British swords selling for less since US swords and other arms are the main interest.
    Last edited by Will Mathieson; 05-14-2018 at 04:09 PM.

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