The earliest British pipe-back swords.

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The earliest British pipe-back swords.

Postby Dmitry » Tue Aug 06, 2013 12:00 pm

What are the earliest datable pipe-back swords known to you?
I have just acquired a Highland foot officer's pipe-back that probably was with its owner at Waterloo. I haven't seen any other infantry pipe-backs of that time-frame, so this is very exciting.
If I remember correctly, Prosser is said to have been involved with the early marketing of this type of blade.
Reference to any printed articles on the early p-b blades would be of great help.
Thanks.
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Re: The earliest British pipe-back swords.

Postby sword335 » Tue Aug 06, 2013 1:03 pm

I think you're going to hear from Richard ! It's in the book.

Chris.
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Re: The earliest British pipe-back swords.

Postby Richard » Tue Aug 06, 2013 8:28 pm

Hi Dmitry
It is generally accepted that the pipe back blade first made its appearance in Britain (and France) following the French and British campaigns in Egypt 1798-1801. Having said that, I have seen examples with pre-1801 Royal Arms - although that doesn't necessarily mean the sword was made pre 1801 as I'm sure some makers would have been slow to change to the new arms. Anyway, at first it seems it was relatively slow to catch on, but from around 1812-1813 it become increasingly popular to the extent that from 1815 onwards, I'm pretty sure the majority of new swords were pipe-backs.
Prosser certainly made pipe-backs along with most other makers, however, he is primarily associated with the so-called 'quill-point' blade - a pipe-back with the large chamfre on the back edge.
As CHris says, I have a chapter on the pipe-back cavalry officers' sword c. 1812-21 in the book.
Richard
PS, book went to print on Monday
PPS, sent from Grenada (I'm on holiday!)
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Re: The earliest British pipe-back swords.

Postby sword335 » Wed Aug 07, 2013 9:59 am

Hi Dmitry,

Your sword sounds most unusual. Any chance of some pictures ?

Chris.
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Re: The earliest British pipe-back swords.

Postby Dmitry » Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:11 pm

Hi, Chris.
Sorry for the delay.
Here are some photos.
The blade has an interesting etching - cabalistic symbols, and what looks like a comet, with its tail winding around the blade, from the ricasso to the foible.
The hilt is etched as well.
Sword was made by Reddell, and is marked on the scabbard back -
REDDELL
Sword Cutler
to their RH the
PRINCE REGENT
Dukes of Sussex
& Cambridge
47
Piccadilly
London

Bezdek lists this address for Reddell from 1811-1813.

The obverse of the scabbard top is engraved with the initials ARL. The previous owner did his due diligence, and found out that the only Army officer listed with these initials was Anthony R. L'Estrange, ensign in the 71st Highland Regiment at that time.
L'Estrange, along with his older brother Major Edmund L'Estrange, also of the 71st, were at Waterloo. Older L'Estrange was wounded and died there. I'm postive this sword was carried there as well, with its owner.
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Re: The earliest British pipe-back swords.

Postby sword335 » Thu Aug 15, 2013 3:19 pm

Hi Dmitry,
I have a virtually identical sword except it has a plain hilt and it is just signed on the back edge of the blade " G.S.Reddall, Picadilly, London " It came from the Hanover Sale in 2005 and a year or so later I wrote an article about it for the Arms Fair Guide where I put forward my reasons for attributing it to the Duke of Cambridge.
I'm surprised it belonged to a Highland Officer as, unlike some infantry officers, they would not have been mounted and it does seem an odd choice for an infantryman. Just shows that these guys often did whatever they fancied.

Chris.
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Re: The earliest British pipe-back swords.

Postby Dmitry » Thu Aug 15, 2013 8:54 pm

Chris, indeed they look nearly identical. Mine has a 33" blade, and it doesn't look like the background decoration was dull, like on yours, unless it was polished up. The decorations on my blade show evidence of being aggressively cleaned a long while ago.. The back of the blade is also maker-marked, like yours. The length is a bit much for an infantry officer, so I was thinking that the sword may have belonged to the elder L'Estrange, Edmond, who was serving as an aide-de-camp to general Denis Pack, and undoubtedly was in need of a horse on a daily basis. Either that or Anthony was helping his older brother in his duties, and was also mounted. We may probably never know...
I'd love to read your article! Please let me know how!
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Re: The earliest British pipe-back swords.

Postby sword335 » Fri Aug 16, 2013 1:15 pm

Hi Dmitry,
I've one or two thoughts regarding your sword. 1811 - 1813 seems a little early for it but it may be that Bezdek is not totally accurate. Also, the younger L'Estrange did not join the Army until December 1814. Personally, I would want to go through all the Army Lists from 1811 to 1820 to make sure there was no other A.R.L. Also, would he not have used A.R.L'E. ?
All food for thought.
I've sent you a copy of the article via a PM.

Chris.
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Re: The earliest British pipe-back swords.

Postby Dmitry » Mon Aug 19, 2013 1:16 am

sword335 wrote: I'm surprised it belonged to a Highland Officer as, unlike some infantry officers, they would not have been mounted and it does seem an odd choice for an infantryman. Just shows that these guys often did whatever they fancied.


Chris, thanks again for your input. PM replied to.
Here's a watercolor by Simkin, which shows a mounted officer of the 92nd Gordon's Highlanders.
I don't have access to the early Army Lists aside from 1815 and 1821. Anthony Robert L'Estrange is the only A.R.L.-initialed officer in both, unless I missed another.
As a side-note< he became an ensign on Dec.7th 1814, lieutenant in 1821, captain in 1830, Major in 1846, was brevetted to lt.colonel and retired with full pay in 1854,. after 40 years on the job. He was awarded the Waterloo Medal for the action on the 18th of June. The 71st suffered there significantly - 16 officers and 171 men killed and wounded.

Would you expect a Highland Infantry officer to wear a basket-hilted sword...?
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Re: The earliest British pipe-back swords.

Postby sword335 » Mon Aug 19, 2013 1:54 pm

Hi Dmitry,
It's a shame that Simkin managed to avoid painting the sword hilts ! The mounted officer could be wearing a sabre although the blade looks rather straight. The standing officers and senior N.C.Os are wearing swords with brass mounted leather scabbards which would be the 1798 Pattern Basket Hilted Highland Broadsword as one would expect.
If Bezdek is right regarding dates then the sword would not have been made for A.R.L but probably his brother as you suggest. If he was carrying it at Waterloo when he received his fatal wound it's understandable that his young brother would have inherited it even if it was something that he would seldom wear.
Still a scarce sword and especially unusual with the etched hilt.

Chris.
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Re: The earliest British pipe-back swords.

Postby Dmitry » Wed Aug 21, 2013 12:52 pm

I just found a L'Estrange extended family member's memoir published in 1874, that quotes the obituary of Anthony R. L'Estrange, which indicates that he was born in 1800 and died in 1873, which means he became an ensign when he was just 14, and was only 15 years old at Waterloo...
It also contains a short memoir of Anthony himself, regarding the travails of his brother Edmund, and culminates with Edmund's death at Waterloo. The writer says that he was hit with a cannon ball which went through his leg and killed a horse under him. Edmund had his nearly severed leg amputated, bled out and died soon after. It must have been terrible for a very young Anthony to see his brother die in front of him...
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Re: The earliest British pipe-back swords.

Postby sword335 » Thu Aug 22, 2013 9:10 am

I knew how Edmund died but didn't realise that Anthony was only 15 at the time. As you say, a pretty traumatic time for him so all the more reason for him to take up his brother's sword.

Chris.
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Re: The earliest British pipe-back swords.

Postby Matt Easton » Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:23 pm

I was in the Horse Guards Museum today and saw this sword, made by Prosser and used at Waterloo, which is obviously related to this topic:
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Re: The earliest British pipe-back swords.

Postby Jonathan » Thu Aug 22, 2013 10:09 pm

I have one, too, but the condition is not nearly as good as the others in the thread and it is missing its scabbard. I have always thought it was probably by Reddell.

Image

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Re: The earliest British pipe-back swords.

Postby Bryce » Mon Jun 25, 2018 10:03 pm

G'day Dmitry,

Did you ever find any more candidates for the owner of your sword? I think it is worthwhile having a close look at the officers of the 12th light dragoons, as at least two other swords with similar blade decoration can be attributed to the 12th LD.


Any chance of a closeup of the initials on the scabbard?


Cheers,

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