Handsome Jack Sellinger's Sword?

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Handsome Jack Sellinger's Sword?

Postby Bryce » Fri Mar 03, 2017 2:15 am

G'day Guys,

This is my latest acquisition. It is a 1788 light cavalry style hilt with a curved unfullered 30 inch blade. The blade is decorated with a Crown GR, Garter Star and Thomas Gill Birmingham, Warranted Never to Fail. It also has the initials JStL and the Griffin crest of the St Leger Family. The most likely candidate seems to be John Hayes St Leger or "Handsome Jack Sellinger" as he was known. in the army lists he was known simply as John St Leger. He was a great mate of George the Prince of Wales and had the sort of army career that could only be attained by a person of wealth and influence. He served overseas with the army in the West Indies, in Flanders on the duke of York's staff and In India where he died a General in 1799 at the age of 43.

He was painted full length in uniform by Sir Joshua Reynolds in 1778 and in 1782 by Thomas Gainsborough. The 1782 painting was commissioned by the POW as a companion piece to his own full length portrait. Unfortunately neither of the paintings show this sword, which I imagine was made either in the 1780's or early 90's.

He joined the First Foot Guards as a Captain and Lt Colonel in 1787 which could have been when this sword was made. The Garter Star on the blade may be associated with the Foot Guards or could represent his close association with the POW who was very fond of the Garter Star. The saddle featured in the 1782 painting was a gift from the POW and is decorated with the Garter Star.

Does anyone know when Thomas Gill first started using the "Warranted Never to Fail" phrase?

Cheers,

Bryce
Attachments
s-l1600[19].jpg
s-l1600[11].jpg
s-l1600[10].jpg
sir-joshua-reynolds-portrait-of-colonel-john-hayes-st-leger-detail-art-poster-print[1].jpg
Captain John St Leger 55th Regiment 1778
sir-joshua-reynolds-portrait-of-colonel-john-hayes-st-leger-detail-art-poster-print[1].jpg (23.33 KiB) Viewed 4776 times
John_Hayes_St_Leger_-_Gainsborough_1782[1].jpg
Lt Colonel John St Leger 65th Regiment 1782
2258_pcf[1].jpg
POW 1782
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Re: Handsome Jack Sellinger's Sword?

Postby Richard » Fri Mar 03, 2017 12:19 pm

Hi Bryce
I think TG was using 'warranted never to fail' right from the time he started making swords in 1782. With those initials and the crest John St Leger has to be your man. Congratulations.
What you do think about the hilt though?
Richard
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Re: Handsome Jack Sellinger's Sword?

Postby Bryce » Sat Mar 04, 2017 7:53 am

G'day Richard,
I don't have the sword in hand yet. It has an unusual grip for a British sword. What are your thoughts? Do you think it has been rehilted?
Cheers,
Bryce
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Re: Handsome Jack Sellinger's Sword?

Postby Richard » Sun Mar 05, 2017 9:18 am

Hi Bryce
Well I don't think I've ever seen another TG hilt of that type (or come to that any other British maker). The stars or rosettes on the grip give it a Russian or Polish feel .... a mystery
Richard
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Re: Handsome Jack Sellinger's Sword?

Postby Bryce » Mon Mar 06, 2017 3:09 am

G'day Richard,

The sword arrived today and it is a beauty. The hilt is definitely original. It is much more substantial in person than it appeared in the pictures. It is a gilt brass 1788 style hilt with a facetted back-strap and carved ebony grip. It is very similar in style to other Gill marked 1788 light cavalry officer's sword hilts , except brass not steel. Each side of the grip has 3 gilt brass rosettes. The lower rosette contains a brass rivet through the grip. The others appear to be purely decorative.

The sword weighs just under 900g. The blade is 78cm long, 33mm wide at the ricasso and has a 25cm false edge. It is unfullered and curved, with most of the curve in the last half of the blade. The last half of the blade has also been sharpened. The only downside is there is a fair bit of pitting on the last couple of inches at the tip.

Cheers,

Bryce
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St Leger 1.jpg
St Leger 2.jpg
St Leger 3.jpg
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Re: Handsome Jack Sellinger's Sword?

Postby Richard » Mon Mar 06, 2017 6:59 am

Excellent, special hilt for special officer then ... Well done on your acquisition.
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Re: Handsome Jack Sellinger's Sword?

Postby Bryce » Mon Oct 30, 2017 6:26 am

G'day Guys,

I was looking at this sword the other day and realized the blade has a very eastern or Indian look about it. It doesn't have the distal taper you normally expect in British swords and the way most of the curve happens in the last half of the blade is unusual. I haven't come across a British blade that looked like this before. Has anyone else?

John spent the last four years of his life in India. I now wonder about the date this sword was made. Could this be an Indian blade he had remounted? Would Thomas Gill have engraved his "Warranted" spiel on an Indian blade?

Cheers,
Bryce
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Re: Handsome Jack Sellinger's Sword?

Postby sword335 » Mon Oct 30, 2017 11:02 am

Hi Bryce,
I wouldn't have thought that Gill would have put his "guarantee" on a blade that he didn't make. Obviously a one-off hilt made to order so why not a one-off blade as well influenced by his time in India ?

Chris.
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Re: Handsome Jack Sellinger's Sword?

Postby Bryce » Thu Nov 02, 2017 1:44 am

G'day Chris,

I was half hoping the blade may have been wootz, but without etching it I can't see any evidence of a pattern. I think you are right, everything about this sword is a one-off for a "special" bloke. He wouldn't even need to have visited India to have seen blades like this as I imagine there would have been plenty floating around England by this time.

Cheers,
Bryce
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Re: Handsome Jack Sellinger's Sword?

Postby Bryce » Sun Nov 19, 2017 9:04 pm

G'day Guys,

Here is a photo of Jack's sword beside a Persian/Syrian shamshir showing the similarity in blade curvature. The Indo-Persian influence may also explain where the inspiration for the rosettes on the grip may have come from.

Cheers,
Bryce
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Shamshir comparison.jpg
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Re: Handsome Jack Sellinger's Sword?

Postby Juan J. Perez » Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:32 am

Wow! A large shamshir indeed. How long is the blade?

Impressive sword...

Best,
JJ
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Re: Handsome Jack Sellinger's Sword?

Postby Bryce » Tue Nov 21, 2017 8:50 pm

G'day Juan,

The shamshir blade is 84cm long by 3.6cm wide at the guard. Possibly the angle of the photo makes it look bigger than it really is compared to the other sword. It is made of wootz in the kirk narduban pattern.

cheers,
Bryce
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wootz pattern.jpg
Cartouche small.jpg
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Re: Handsome Jack Sellinger's Sword?

Postby Juan J. Perez » Wed Nov 22, 2017 8:45 am

I see, not that big but still an outstanding weapon. Lovely pattern, too.

Thanks for the pictures,
JJ
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