Royal Artillery Swords in the Napoleonic Era
A look at all the swords used by the British foot and horse artillery in the Napoleonic era. All swords shown are original antiques of the period.
By Parker Field & Son, London with plain guard and shaped wooden handle in original leather scabbard with belt strap, by John Ireland & Son, stamped DMP 585, approx. 61 cm (24").
Check out this incredible image by Nick Thomas of the Academy of Historical Fencing!
Nick says of the image;
“I’d like to see these weapons seen more as the family they are, and so here is a composite image created entirely from contemporary artwork of the period.”
With scabbard and wire bound shagreen grip, 75 cm in length.
Of the type used by the Thames River Police. The blade, scabbard, and locking mechanism/button are identical to those found on regular police cutlasses. The hilt is what sets this apart.
Hudson’s Bay Company Short Sword/Hanger, 1860
38 cm flattened diamond section blade etched H.B.Co over 1860 in a shield-shaped panel on the forte, white metal hilt with recurved crossguard, white metal pommel cap, tapering ribbed horn grip, contained in its white metal mounted leather scabbard.
A River Tyne Police Hanger and companion truncheon
The first by “Parker, Field & Sons, 233 Holborn, London”, both circa 1870,
the first with curved fullered blade double-edged towards the point, the back-edge fitted with spring-catch at the forte, etched with maker’s details in full on one side and “Tyne River Police” on the other, regulation brass hilt, and ribbed fishskin-covered grip, in original brass-mounted scabbard, the locket with frog-stud (locking button missing), 58cm blade, the truncheon painted in polychrome and gilt with crown and cipher over a red ground cartouche, inscribed “River Tyne Police” over a natural ribbed handle, stamped to terminal, “Field 59, Leman Ste.”, 44cm.
This elegant ‘hanger’ probably dates from the mid-1700s and likely had a naval heritage—shorter swords like this being more effective weapons for fighting in the confined spaces of warships. Bone grips are also associated with service within the famous East India Company.
Two identical stamps can be found on the blade, one on either side, which I haven’t been able to identify. The three fullers suggest a German origin for the blade but overall the design is similar to some of the naval hangers made by the famous Birmingham sword-maker Samuel Harvey. The blade is still relatively sharp and ends in a nice clipped point, an uncommonly found feature. The stirrup-hilt has a more pleasing shape to it than most of its stablemates, being waisted across the crossguard.
British Police Cutlass, c.1870-90
Made by Robert Mole of Birmingham. The blade of this police cutlass (hanger) is incredibly robust, with a spine that is 3/8″ thick until it transitions to a diamond cross-section for the last ¼ of the blade. The blade design is similar to those found on cavalry troopers’ swords after 1853, but shorter and more curved. The hilt has a small spring mechanism that locks the sword into its scabbard to prevent the wearer from being easily disarmed by an adversary.
Police were issued cutlasses when so authorized by superior officers (e.g., for riots, special assignments, etc.) or when on night duty. Some examples are marked to prisons, so guards likely wore them when so authorized. The police cutlass was also used by private citizens and companies (factory guards, railway guards) to protect their property.
Similar cutlasses had been in use since the Georgian period, mostly by the constabulary and night watchmen. The design changed little save for the shape of the knucklebow, which was originally more of a stirrup shape, which later (early Victorian period?) changed to the D-shape guard seen on the example above.
Matt Easton recently posted an excellent two part series on Victorian police weapons. Part two covers police cutlasses.
British Police Cutlass, 19th Century
The Marshall’s Office, Mansion House, London, Official’s Side Arm c. Mid 19th C, the 44.5 cm curved broad blade with single fuller and spear point is unmarked, ribbed black composition hand grip with stirrup shaped hand guard, quillon and back strap, this engraved with ‘Marshall’s Office, Mansion House, London No.5’, together with its black leather brass mounted scabbard.
This is the second cutlass from Mansion House to come to the market this month!
Mansion House is the home and office of the Lord Mayor of London. The Marshall’s Office may have been associated with the magistrates’ court which was located in Mansion House. I assume that a store of similar swords was kept there for whatever law enforcement officers were present at Mansion House.