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Thread: Police Swords

  1. #1
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    Police Swords

    Gentlemen,

    I have an interest in police swords and I wondered if anyone else had a similar interest or any examples of police swords that they could show?

    I picked up a Württemberg Polizei-Wachtmeister-Säbel today that I have been trying to find for some time. I already had the Württemberg-Polizei-Mannschaft-Säbel for policemen but I did not have the sword for Sergeants until today. I will get a photograph and post it shortly.

    Until then, I will show the Weimar Republic period Württ. Pol. enlisted men's sword that is identical except for the blade length and the drag on the scabbard. This enlisted police sword has a nickel hilt and bright steel blade made by WKC. The black celuloid grip is not wound with wire and the sword has a leather Fingerschlaufe inside the guard. The black leather scabbard has nickeled fittings and the bottom fitting has a ball end and no drag. The green wool Troddel is correct for this police sword.

    Anyone with other police swords that they can show?
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    "You can't please everyone, so you have to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

  2. #2
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    Württ Pol WM Säbel

    OK... Here are some photos of my new Württemberg Polizei Sword for Sergeants.

    Here are the two swords shown side-by-side. You will notice that both swords are made by WKC showing the differences between them. The enlisted sword has no grip wire while the NCO sword does. The enlisted sword is shorter than the NCO sword. The enlisted sword has no drag on the bottom fitting while the NCO sword does.

    The enlisted sword is shown in the WKC catalog as their Nr.812 while the NCO sword is their catalog Nr.813.

    Also notice that the uncleaned NCO sword is missing part of the Fingerschlaufe that is still in place on the cleaned up enlisted sword with the Troddel. The NCO sword also has a matching serial number "1" on the guard and upper scabbard fitting. Both scabbard fittings also have matching assembly numbers that differ from the issue serial number of "1" on the sword and scabbard. These police swords very often have police armorer applied issue numbers like these from each department or precinct where the swords were issued. One will also sometimes find Württ Pol property markings consisting of an antler over a P stamped into the blade of these swords.

    George
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    "You can't please everyone, so you have to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

  3. #3
    Were these police swords worn as a regular part of the uniform, or were they for dress only? The hilts seem to echo those of early 19th century infantry briquets, IMO.

    Jonathan

  4. #4
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    German Police Swords

    Jonathan,

    These German Police swords were worn as part of the everyday uniform. In Imperial and Weimar Zeit Germany, the norm was for the issue of short swords to the police for use as a weapon. The hilt could be used as an impact weapon with the pommel or the guard. The blade was usually issued blunt but blades will also be found that are carefully period sharpened. This allowed the side of the blade to be used as an impact weapon or the edge to be used as a cutting weapon.

    Here is the hilt of another German Police short sword that has a ball pommel. This is an impact point that concentrates the blow into one small area and this same ball will also be found on police batons.

    There are a whole series of these distinctive short swords that were police issue in the various German states. While these swords are from Württemberg, there are other distinctive styles from Prussia, Bavaria, Saxony, etc.

    George
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    Last edited by George Wheeler; 11-17-2007 at 04:42 PM.
    "You can't please everyone, so you have to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

  5. #5
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    I forgot to mention that the 1920s policeman shown above is a member of the Braunschweig Sicherheitspolizei. This period postcard clearly shows the short sword in wear while directing traffic. This nickled short sword with a nickeled P guard was worn in a belt frog.

    Here is another example of the Braunschweig Police sword, but this one is a bit earlier from prior to the end of WWI. This nickeled sword has characteristics of many German Police short swords from Imperial times. Notice the metal D shaped hilt and grip and the slab sided blade. Also notice that the lower scabbard ring has been removed to comply with post 1909 regulations that changed suspension from two saber slings to one sword hanger. This sword is property stamped with the Braunschweig rearing horse that was used by the police until 1922.

    If there is any interest, I can show other police swords from different German states.

    George
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  6. #6
    I was told that this one is a "Constable's Sword",
    Does that make it a Police sword as well?

  7. #7
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    Not to butt in George's thread, but what you have is a variant of the British weapon that was in use by the constabulary, prison guards, Thames Police and possibly the Customs. I was told that if there is a button-sprung catch on the reverse side of the counter-guard, it is a prison guard's weapon.
    They are usually not marked.

  8. #8
    Thanks Dmitry
    Mine has the spring catch and a rack number stamped on the brass knucklebow.
    Do you know what time frame these would have been in use?

  9. #9
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    I'd say 1840s-1890s. In one word - Victorian.

  10. #10
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    Dmitry is quite right. I would classify these swords as "police swords" but I suppose the more correct description would probably be "law enforcement swords" in today's vernacular. "Constabulary swords" is probably more historically correct since they often do pre-date the Peelers and Coppers who came with the general police reforms in England.

    Some will have the police department (i.e. LE agency) name etched onto the blade and some will not. Most will have the press button spring scabbard retention, although these are often broken and removed. These "constabulary swords" are interesting in that they are much like the German Police swords of the period and served as weapons in the same manner. English Police enlisted short swords like this typically had no wire wrap on the grip and had leather scabbards with metal fittings for wear with a frog.

    Thanks for showing yours!

    George
    "You can't please everyone, so you have to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

  11. #11
    HM prison service carried them too. You often find them with the prison name etched on the blade. The Prison Service College in Newbold Revel used to have a display of the sidearms and pistols carried by warders.

  12. #12
    MDL have (or had recently) a Gold Coast Prison sword which is a P1897 infantry officer's sword. I thought that was rather unique.

  13. #13
    Thank You George and all for the information.
    This sword is actually very well balanced and feels great in my hand,a very comfortable sword

  14. #14
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    Saxon Police Swords

    You are welcome. There are quite a few variations of these English Constabulary short swords. Some with brass and some with steel fittings. We seldom find these on the US side of the pond and they are generally in poor condition, having seen hard use in their service to the Queen. That just proves the point that these police short swords were service weapons rather than made for dress wear.

    I would now like to show a couple of the more interesting German Police swords that cover the Imperial, Weimar, & NS Zeit time periods. The Saxon Police utilized a series of long and short swords over time. They used two standard length police swords, one with a lion head and one with a plain dove head pommel. These swords will be found in Waffenfabrik catalogs up until around 1938. The Saxons also used these same hilts mounted on short slab sided blades that were straight, while the longer swords were curved in the normal manner. During the early days of the NS Zeit some short swords were cut down into Seitengewehre and worn until the standardized police bayonet was adopted for the Nationalized police after 1936.

    Here are some examples of the plain pommel Saxon Police short sword and sidearm. Notice that they have no langet. These are an item of issue and have property markings on the guard.

    I will post the lion head example later.

    George
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    "You can't please everyone, so you have to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

  15. #15
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    Very informative George. I only have one of the bayonets. It is regimentally marked but I have no idea as to whome. Please more of you collection!

    Regards,

    Greg

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    Saxon Polizei

    Thank you Greg.

    I forgot to mention that some examples of this sword will be found with wide fullers in the blade. The example shown with a nickel hilt and slab sided blade is Imperial while the example with a gold hilt and wide fullered blade is from the time of the Weimar Republic. Generally speaking, German Police short swords with white metal hilts were for municipal police while those with yellow metal hilts were for rural police. The Saxon Portepee is green and white to mimic the Saxon State colors. The rather convoluted tie for the knot is correct for the Saxon Polizei.

    Here are a couple of photos of a Waffenfabrik catalog page from my book, "Seitengewehr; History of the German Bayonet 1919-1945" as well as some unit markings. There is also a photo of this sword (the lion head example) in wear by a Saxon Gendarm, taken from a period Saxon Police manual. We old retired policemen used to call this maneuver, giving a guy the "bums rush." Of course this is no longer politically correct but was perfectly OK when this photo was taken and the technique taught to policemen. Neat helmet don't you think?

    Let me know your police markings and I will see if I can decypher them for you if you like.

    George
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    Last edited by George Wheeler; 11-20-2007 at 09:22 AM.
    "You can't please everyone, so you have to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

  17. #17
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    The pic on the right is disturbing on so many levels...
    mark@swordforum.com

    ~ Hostem Hastarum Cuspidibus Salutemus ~

    "Those who beat their swords into plowshares usually end up plowing for those who don't."
    Benjamin Franklin

  18. #18
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    Saxon Police

    Yes, you are absolutly right Mark. But... still it is a nice helmet.

    Anyway, here are a few photos of the lion head Saxon Police short sword that this fellow is wearing.

    This short sword is Imperial and notice the impact ball pommel on the top of the lionhead. Also, notice the Saxon coat of arms on the guard. The shortened Seitengewehr is from the early NS time period and is made from the lionhead short sword in the same manner as the previous dove head sidearm.

    George
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  19. #19
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    It does give a good idea of why their society was so orderly, though...

    Mr. Wheeler, many thanks for such a deeply informative thread about an under-addressed topic! I wonder how many of us have seen one of these at some point and passed it over, out of ignorance? I myself recently picked up a short d-guard hanger with a "latch-back" blade and a stepped pommel, the grip and pommel covered with leather; I had suspected it to be a cutlass of some sort, but now I'm thinking it could be something else...
    Cicatrices Virgines Placent.

  20. #20
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    Ecuador Policia

    You are certainly welcome to the information. I enjoy discussing edged weapons with others who also like them. I usually learn as much as I give in these exchanges.

    Just so no one thinks that all police swords are enlisted items of issue, I will show a private purchase officer sword for the Ecuador Police.

    This sword was made sometime between the wars by WKC and was exported to Ecuador. A small South American country, these national police swords are scarce.

    The brown leather knot is correct for this particular sword acording to the WKC export catalog. The hilt and fittings are nickel and the grip is celluloid. The sword bears a similarity to the US 1902 Officer sword but it has the Ecuadorian crest in the guard. This is a high quality police officer sword.
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    "You can't please everyone, so you have to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

  21. #21
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    Hey George,

    How's this for a 'police' sword?
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    mark@swordforum.com

    ~ Hostem Hastarum Cuspidibus Salutemus ~

    "Those who beat their swords into plowshares usually end up plowing for those who don't."
    Benjamin Franklin

  22. #22
    Or these (sorry for the pic quality)

    From Mervyn Mitton's book "A Policeman's Lot"


    From Thomas Del Mar catalogue Dec 2006








  23. #23
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    David,

    Thanks for the pictures of the Victorian police swords. The photos show the general nature, and wide variety, of these swords. I love the Whitechapel Police sword. I can almost hear the footsteps of Jack the Ripper being pursued by a copper wearing this sword.

    Mark,

    Oh, I do like that PC sword! A very scarce sword. It took me years of searching to find one of these.

    The Philippine Constabulary Officer sword was almost identical to the US 1902 Officer sword. It was distinguished by the impact ball (i.e. capstan nut) on the pommel and a slightly different backstrap with a thumb rest. The grip was also different in that it is wound nickel wire instead of black wood or plastic. Wood and leather did not survive well in the Philippines. The Philippine Constabulary sword also had the PC badge on the upper section of the scabbard and etched on the blade.

    This particular sword was made by Baron in Solingen and the knot (identical to the US officer dress sword knot) is original to the sword. The Constabulary was originally officered by US Army officers. The turn of the century postcard shows some PC troopers and their officers.

    George
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    "You can't please everyone, so you have to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

  24. #24
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    Hi George,

    Mine is a different maker with stronger engraving (will post more pics Friday...). Actually, the Philippine Constabulary was a 'police' force in name only (being called such out of political expedience). They were more like irregular infantry and the patrol tactics they developed are groundbreaking from the perspective of asymmetrical jungle warfare. For additional reading, 'Jungle Patrol' by Vic Hurley is absolutely fantastic. Out of print since 1938, an original copy will set you back around $300. A soft cover reprint run was done in Manila in the 1980s, but even the reprints are impossible to find.

    Here's a PC officer (Major, to be specific) with sword in wear. The knot appears to be braided black leather.
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    mark@swordforum.com

    ~ Hostem Hastarum Cuspidibus Salutemus ~

    "Those who beat their swords into plowshares usually end up plowing for those who don't."
    Benjamin Franklin

  25. #25
    Those "PC" swords are really quite attractive. I would not mind adding one to my collection. Did the US have any other similar units in its other colonies?

    Jonathan

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