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Thread: Wilkinson Sword Characteristics

  1. #351
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    Fascinating! And did he complete his 60 years?
    "If I can't be a good example to others, at least let me be a horrible warning".

  2. #352
    What a wonderful find, Robert!

  3. #353
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Hart View Post
    Fascinating! And did he complete his 60 years?
    He certainly did and he was still coming into the factory at Acton 3 days a week in 1959!!!!

    (Wilkinsons had a club/work room for the 'old timers' where they could come in as suited them and earn extra money doing useful things like rough filing up sword brass castings and various other jobs depending on their skills. They cut same brown leathers to sew on the wood bodies, hand polishing etc etc.

  4. #354
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    I don't think I have posted this before, and hopefully it is of interest:





    From the Journal of the Royal Society of Arts (Great Britain) - Volume 21 - 1873
    http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=aG4KAAAAIAAJ

  5. #355
    I just wanted to say that this thread is fascinating.

    I've been collecting firearms for quite some time as well as reproduction swords - specifically by Angus Trim.

    However, I happened across a really interesting non regulation US Civil War sword made in Germany that I tracked down to a Union side Master Sergeant and since then I've been hooked!

    I think my next acquisition will be some type of WWI English sword and this thread has been vital to my education.

    Cheers!

  6. #356
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    Looking through the blade rubs I camE across this on an 1879 Sword.

    I have never seen this etched on a blade before.

    Near the tang is etched
    WILKINSON SWORD STEEL.

    ANYONE SEEN THIS ETCHING BEFORE?
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by Robert Wilkinson-Latham; 07-11-2014 at 07:28 AM.

  7. #357
    Hi Robert,

    Very nice, thank you for sharing. Always something new to learn!

    Regards, Roy.
    Interested in all things Wilkinson: knives, guns, swords, typewriters! yes just about anything Wilkinson interests me.

    www.wilkinsonfscollection.com

  8. #358
    As far as the characteristics of Wilkinson's swords go, I'd be interested to hear about the prevalence of the plastic handle rather than the fishskin; I have an RAF sword with a serial number that puts it in the mid 70s (102,8xx) and it has the molded plastic handle which I understand was common for at least the RAF swords of that time?

    So did they try it on other swords as well? What was the thinking? Was it just a cost saving measure as swords became less important to the Wilkinson business? Was it more for durability? Have I been given incorrect information and they are only on the fakes?!

  9. #359
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    About 3 years ago a Royal Marine Officer tried to sell me his sword which was Indian made and I've never seen anything so horrible. My meager collection of Victorian to George VI swords put it to shame. I think the grip was plastic. Even his black Sam Browne looked plastic.

    John

  10. #360
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    In my collection of naval swords I have an Indian made modern naval sword which was made for sale to serving officers which equally has a plastic handle, I have assumed it was to make it cheaper, as these were trying to undercut the market.

  11. #361
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    From what I've been told these swords are not necessarily cheap. They are just made to a much lower standard than the old Wilkinson's and the new Crisp's etc.

    John

  12. #362
    I take the point about the Indian versions of these swords but mine has full Wilkinson markings and a serial number that puts its date of manufacture to more or less the same period as another example also with the plastic handle (mid-70s). I was just curious as to why Wilkinson seem to have opted for a cheaper plastic handle on some of the RAF swords; were they perhaps trying to save money on what I suspect is one of the more expensive swords to manufacture (owing to the gold gilt?).

  13. #363
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    I don't believe Wilkinson made any military pattern sword with a plastic grip. Some swords marked Wilkinson are cheap copies that do not respect the copyright laws.
    I have seen naval swords with plastic grips but again they are cheaper copies that at first appear as a good sword until you look at the details.
    Some officers may purchase cheaper copies and use them but they don't comply to MOD. Even the Canadian Guards purchased inexpensive Military Heritage swords strictly due to price being less than half.
    Today the only concern is a sword must look new and shiny, to stand up to wear and tear and preform as a weapon is not necessary. I don't consider these swords anymore, just a plastic badge of rank.
    Mameluke swords have Wilkinsons loge etched on the blade and have a very light etched "made in China" that easily buffs off.
    Pete can you post any photos of these plastic gripped RAF swords? This pattern has been faked heavily due to the high prices originals command.

  14. #364
    I've tried to attach some photos, hopefully it has worked ok. It has a serial number on the spine of the blade but unfortunately there was no record held with armsresearch (which is apparently 'quite common' for swords of that era). I bought this on a bit of a whim for a parade but the more I think about it I think I would prefer pay to refurbish an older RAF Wilkinson with a bit more history behind it if I am to keep it and pass it down the generations.

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  15. #365
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    I have seen copies of Wilkinson mamelukes with the same Wilkinson logo/etching that are made in China..
    I cannot definately say one way or the other with your sword whether it is an authentic Wilkinson.
    Robert Wilkinson-Latham will surely know.

  16. #366
    Good evening all,
    I'm new to this forum but it has been very interesting reading this thread.
    I've just bought an RAF Wilkinson dated 1953. In this year as many of you know the manufacturing was transferring from King George VI to ER II so my sword's blade and cypher is the kings style and the guard itself ER II.

    I've handed the sword over to Crisp & Sons just yesterday but in the meantime hoping to confirm what the 'appointment to' should read. I understand that for 1953 particularly because of the manufacturing changes should read 'by appointment to His Majesty the Late King George VI'. Can anyone confirm this for a 1953? Thanks

  17. #367
    Are you sure that the grip is actually plastic? I can't see from the photos but its not uncommon for people to mistake fishskin for plastic.

    Wilkinson went through a period where the grip cores were made of plastic, but the grip was still covered in fishskin. These were used on the 1897 infantry its variants. The RN and RAF also had plastic grip cores.

    We reverted back to wood during my period at WS because the tooling for the grip cores was lost when the supplier went bust. It was too expensive to recreate the tooling at the time to continue with plastic grips cores as the volumes weren't high enough to justify it.

    There were some MOD RAF swords floating around that had plastic grips (made by a german company and marked on the blade with an H in a diamond if i remember correctly) and its quite possible that some frankinstein swords were created during a refurbishment to avoid supplying a new grip.

    The grip on the sword in your photo doesn't appear to fit quite right so that might be a possible explanation as to why it has a plastic grip if it is.

  18. #368
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    On the subject of Wilkinson etching, most 1912 officer swords circ WW1 era I have seen are cleaned many times obscuring some of the etching.
    This one shows that the etching was applied after the sword was sharpened. Made Jan 1917.

  19. #369
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    Did Wilkinsons service sharpen all swords during WW1 ? Is this the norm during wars to sharpen at the factory?

  20. #370

    P 1831 Mameluke, Sankey

    Hi Gents,
    I was looking at the old sword today and it seems as though there IS some writing near the hilt that reads "Brown". Was there a Sword Maker by that name? Possibly in India since that was where Sir Richard Sankey became a General.

  21. #371
    I recently acquired a 19th century Egyptian helmet, I read somewhere that Wilkinson were one of the suppliers of these (to the Khedive). Is this true, Robert?

    Thank you,
    Jonathan

  22. #372
    Just wondering if anyone has put together a visual record of the border designs on Wilkinson "best quality" HW proof marks, for the period up to the end of 1853? By that I mean the actual border around the script HW initials on the circular proof slug, but nothing to do with etching on the blade.

    I'm trying to gain a better understanding of the dates that bracket the use of each particular border design, beginning with the earliest design on record for the 1840s, and up to the beginning of proof numbered blades in 1854.

    From my observations, a new design seems to have come into vogue in the late 1850s or early 1860s; I base this observation on a sword made circa 1855, and another made circa 1860, and the border design is different. I'd be interested to know if anyone on forum has studied this subject.

    Gordon

  23. #373
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    Gordon,
    I haven't done that. However, perhaps these images may be of use - only one of them is from a pre-numbered example, but the rest are from Wilkinsons dating from 1854-1860:
    Attached Images Attached Images            

  24. #374
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    Just glancing through my examples (not all of which upload here in high enough size for you to see unfortunately), it seems that basically all my early examples have the same surround to the HW (within the brass), with the exception of the pre-numbered sword. My 1855-dated swords seem to have the same surround as the later ones. I do however have two 1854-dated swords which I do not have to hand right now and cannot check. I also have not-very-good photos of a pre-numbered Wilkinson I sold years ago, which from the photos appears to have the same surround to the HW as the later swords I have - not like the rectangle of the pre-numbered example posted above.

  25. #375
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    One interesting aspect of these Wilkinson proved discs is that they are gold gilt. I have one showing cleaning wear and the dull brass is in contrast to the remaining gilt.

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