Category: eic

victoriansword:

Colonel James Skinner CB, 1st Regiment of Local Horse, c.1836

Oil on canvas by an unknown artist, a copy of the portrait by William Melville, c.1836 (in the vestry of St James’s Church, Delhi).

The Anglo-Indian soldier James Skinner (1778-1841) was the son of a Scottish officer in the East India Company’s service and a Rajput lady. Formerly an officer in the Maratha Army, Skinner raised two cavalry units for the British, later known as 1st and 2nd Skinner’s Horse. Nicknamed ‘The Yellow Boys’ for their flamboyant saffron-coloured uniforms, they were famous for their horsemanship and skill at arms.

Skinner was well rewarded, enabling him to acquire a town house in Delhi and a large estate at Hansi, Haryana. He maintained a close interest in Indian culture and was an important patron of the arts, commissioning a number of paintings recording his life and exploits.

Skinner lived in princely style and liked to be addressed by his Moghul title, ‘Nasir-ud-Daula, Colonel James Skinner Bahadur Ghalib Jang – Most Exalted, Victorious in War’. Although he was brought up as a Christian, his household included a number of Hindu and Muslim wives and mistresses. He built a church in Delhi, but also a mosque and a Hindu temple.

Such a cross-cultural lifestyle had few admirers among the following generations of soldiers and politicians in India. Towards the end of his life, although promoted to colonel and created a CB by the British, Skinner was conscious that his mixed race status had denied him the highest rewards for his military skills and leadership.

Out 10 September in the USA. Based on the quality of his past work, this is a must-read book for me. 

Marketing blurb:

From the bestselling author of Return of a King, the story of how the East India Company took over large swaths of Asia, and the devastating results of the corporation running a country.

In August 1765, the East India Company defeated the young Mughal emperor and set up, in his place, a government run by English traders who collected taxes through means of a private army.

The creation of this new government marked the moment that the East India Company ceased to be a conventional company and became something much more unusual: an international corporation transformed into an aggressive colonial power. Over the course of the next 47 years, the company’s reach grew until almost all of India south of Delhi was effectively ruled from a boardroom in the city of London.

The Anarchy tells one of history’s most remarkable stories: how the Mughal Empire-which dominated world trade and manufacturing and possessed almost unlimited resources-fell apart and was replaced by a multinational corporation based thousands of miles overseas, and answerable to shareholders, most of whom had never even seen India and no idea about the country whose wealth was providing their dividends. Using previously untapped sources, Dalrymple tells the story of the East India Company as it has never been told before and provides a portrait of the devastating results from the abuse of corporate power.

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Light dragoon pattern shako and plume worn by Cornet C Cazenove, 6th Madras Light Cavalry, 1851 ©.

The 6th Cavalry were originally raised in 1799. The British officers of the Madras Army’s Light Cavalry regiments wore a distinctive French grey uniform that had been adopted in 1818. Their shakos, tunics and overalls closely followed the British pattern.

NAM Accession Number

NAM. 1963-09-264-2

Copyright/Ownership

National Army Museum, London

Location

National Army Museum, Study collection

Object URL

http://www.nam.ac.uk/online-collection/detail.php?acc=1963-09-264-2

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An Unusual East India Company Naval Officer’s Sword

82cm pipe backed blade by W.Parker London, etched with scrolling foliage, the East India Company arms and motto (partly erased), copper gilt gothic type hilt with bold lion’s head pommel, the guard applied with the East India Company crest and initials E.I.C. within a wreath in silver, the ferrule embossed with flower heads, inner folding guard, wire bound fish skin grip, in its re-leathered scabbard with engraved brass mounts with two suspension rings, the locket with frog stud.

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British Pattern 1796 Light Cavalry Style Officer’s Sword with an Indian Blade, Early 19th Century

The heavy deeply curved 80 cm blade of Indian workmanship cut with shallow double grooves to each side, struck with a single small armourers mark and engraved with a short inscription in Islamic script, copper-gilt hilt, 1796 style knuckle-guard, rounded langets, finely cast and chased pommel in the form of a lions head, faceted back-strap, fish-skin covered grip bound with copper wire.

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British Pattern 1822 Infantry Officer’s Sword for an Officer of the East India Company 

A rare East India Company officer’s sword, based on the British Pattern 1822 Infantry Officer’s Sword. This example is unique because it has a straight double-edged blade rather than the regulation slightly curved pipe-back blade. This blade may be original to the sword, but it possible that it is a later replacement. Here is a similar example but with a pipe-back blade.

victoriansword:

British Pattern 1796 Light Cavalry Style Officer’s Sword with an Indian Blade, Early 19th Century

The heavy deeply curved 80 cm blade of Indian workmanship cut with shallow double grooves to each side, struck with a single small armourers mark and engraved with a short inscription in Islamic script, copper-gilt hilt, 1796 style knuckle-guard, rounded langets, finely cast and chased pommel in the form of a lions head, faceted back-strap, fish-skin covered grip bound with copper wire.

Antique Sword Restoration – Bombay Horse Artillery Sabre Part 1

British Pattern 1796 Light Cavalry Style Officer’s Sword with an Indian Blade, Early 19th Century

The heavy deeply curved 80 cm blade of Indian workmanship cut with shallow double grooves to each side, struck with a single small armourers mark and engraved with a short inscription in Islamic script, copper-gilt hilt, 1796 style knuckle-guard, rounded langets, finely cast and chased pommel in the form of a lions head, faceted back-strap, fish-skin covered grip bound with copper wire.

British Pattern 1827 Rifle Officer’s Sword for an Officer of the 4th Bombay Rifles

A very rare and desirable East India Company 4th Bombay Rifles officer’s sword, pre-dating the Persian campaign of 1860. The sword was made/retailed by Hart, who seem to have specialied in swords for Indian service. The blade features fantastic etching with battle honours for the 4th Bombay Rifles, including “Seringartam”, “Beni Boo Ali”, “Bourbon”, “Punjab” and “Mooltan”. In 1861 the regiment added “Persia” to their battle honours, so this sword must pre-date that – it also features the East India Company lion, so it presumably dates to before 1858. The sword has been service-sharpened and must have seen a fascinating bit of history. While it may not be possible to attribute it to one particular officer, there are literally only a handful of possible candidates in the India Army List who are likely to have carried this sword. The sword came with a period train ticket attached to it (pictured), which may possibly offer the hope of narrowing down the original owner. I only know of two other 4th Bengal Rifles swords and they are both in the private collections of people I know. The sword itself is in reasonably good condition, but shows clear signs of hard campaigning – most notably the wear to the grip, where there is some loss to the shagreen and grip wire. This likely dates to the period of the sword’s service and corresponds to the areas of the grip which get most worn when gripping it. The guard and scabbard are fairly dark from patina, but the blade is really very good, with the etching all clear and crisp and the service sharpening having been well executed. The sword sheaths perfectly in the scabbard and the blade is tight in the hilt.