Sergeant's Swords

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Sergeant's Swords

Postby Steve Langham » Fri Jun 08, 2018 2:13 pm

Folks, I would appreciate your advice concerning an 1889P (Staff Sgt) Steel Hilt made 1891 which I have.
It's the scabbard...what is it?

Robson seems to suggest that only the steel scabbard with fixed rings was matched with this sword.

As seen, mine is black leather with steel fittings and frog stud (no rings), with no middle band (a similar scabbard is described for an earlier sword carried by the Army Hospital Corps).

The design is essentially a scaled up version of the 1887 Martini-Henry bayonet scabbard.
The scabbard is a perfect fit for this relatively broad bladed sword.

Do you think the scabbard is original with the sword? Is there a specific regiment which carried this style of scabbard?

Yours Aye,

Steve
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Re: Sergeant's Swords

Postby Richard » Mon Jun 11, 2018 7:21 am

Dear Steve
I'm afraid I cannot answer your question as to whether the scabbard of your sword is original to that sword other than to say its quite difficult to tell just from photos alone. However, a more generic point in relation to this post and your previous post where you said that the more you learn, the more confused you get: this is absolutely 'situation normal' - although we try to categorise and pidgeon-hole swords, you will always find swords come along that break all the rules, this is completely normal whatever your particular focus of collecting might be. Also, although we may regard 'Robson' as the bible, Brian was always the first to admit that there was a lot he did not know and one of his favourite phrases was 'I am just as likely to be as wrong as the next man'. Therefore just because you may have something that is at odds with Robson, doesn't mean that its wrong.
Carry on with your research - that's the way we all learn.
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Re: Sergeant's Swords

Postby Gordons Horse » Tue Jun 12, 2018 6:54 pm

Steve Langham wrote:Folks, I would appreciate your advice concerning an 1889P (Staff Sgt) Steel Hilt made 1891 which I have.
It's the scabbard...what is it?

Robson seems to suggest that only the steel scabbard with fixed rings was matched with this sword.

As seen, mine is black leather with steel fittings and frog stud (no rings), with no middle band (a similar scabbard is described for an earlier sword carried by the Army Hospital Corps).

The design is essentially a scaled up version of the 1887 Martini-Henry bayonet scabbard.
The scabbard is a perfect fit for this relatively broad bladed sword.

Do you think the scabbard is original with the sword? Is there a specific regiment which carried this style of scabbard?

Yours Aye,

Steve


Hi Steve,

I believe Richard is quite correct in what he says, and my only comment would be that the chape without shoe is quite alike many scabbards in Indian service, and the downward projecting tab on the locket follows a style which is after the frog fitting we see on the scabbards associated with Indian 1853 Pattern swords produced by Rodwell.

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Re: Sergeant's Swords

Postby Bryce » Tue Jun 12, 2018 9:19 pm

G'day Steve,

I have a Rifle Officer's sword with a black leather scabbard. Unfortunately the scabbard is missing the chape. The sword belonged to Captain Frederick Lawrence of the Rifle Brigade, who was killed in Africa in 1895.


Cheers,

Bryce
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Re: Sergeant's Swords

Postby Steve Langham » Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:19 pm

Thanks for the responses gentlemen.

I find the degree variation, and that much is unknown to be a huge positive, which means that I might yet be able to contribute some original research.

I'm currently amassing and processing original period photographs to help work out what is what, but unfortunately sword identification is pretty tricky from the available resolution of images.

One thing I have picked up on: for 1898 (Staff Sgt) patterns (may be true for 1897 Staff Sgt too) is that whilst infantry officers' swords post 1895 seem to usually have entirely checkered backstraps to the hilt, the sergeants' versions appear to have only the thumb-piece checkered, the remaining strap being plain. This is pretty useful where auction images show only a scabbarded sword! This seems fairly consistent so far (but I bet there are exceptions).

I'll follow up the 'India' suggestion re the scabbard.
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Re: Sergeant's Swords

Postby Steve Langham » Thu Jun 14, 2018 1:10 am

Well, knock me down with a feather, but I may have found a photographic match....

The sword carried by the chap second right, bottom seated row with the khaki pith helmet. Although it seems the chape has a shoe, looking more closely at my sword, it is possible that there once was a brazed shoe which is no longer present (depending on construction). Chap laying down at the front may be the same pattern?

Holding my sword at the same angle...it's a very close match. Now to work out who he is, and what regiment etc.
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Re: Sergeant's Swords

Postby Matt Easton » Wed Jun 20, 2018 11:32 am

Hi Steve,
Unfortunately I don't think your photo shows the same kind of scabbard or sword - these seem to be a bunch of Rifles officers and the two with khaki helmets have field service scabbards rather than steel scabbards. Rifles had black leather instead of the normal brown leather that line infantry officers used. I happen to have a circa 1900 Rifles officer's sword and Sam Brown set and it looks just like in this photo - all black leather, but with nickel steel fittings at top and bottom of the scabbard.

As far as I can see those two chaps with field service scabbards are officers with officers' swords.

Regarding the chequered backstrap - generally speaking, the fully-chequered backstrap became regulation on most British officers' swords in 1895. However, as you say, Sergeants' swords retained just the chequered-thumb-placer. When the 1897 pattern came in, some sergeants' swords were produced with fully chequered-backstraps and some with just the thumb-placer. I happen to have an 1897 pattern dating to about 1900 with only a chequered-thumb-placer. So, unfortunately, it's not a very useful dating point by itself.
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