Description Royal Naval Artillery Volunteer cutlass, the hilt of the cutlass consists of a steel half-basket guard. The cutlass has a brass lion’s head pommel and back-piece, the mane extending the length of the back-piece. The cutlass has a black shark-skin grip, the binding of which is now missing. There is a catch on the reverse of the grip, which engages in the upper locket. The cutlass has a prominent tang button. The slightly curved flat steel blade has a double-edged spear point. The obverse of the blade is engraved with a shield motif in which the owner’s name is usually engraved, along with a motif of a rayed crown over a foul anchor, all of which are surrounded by foliage motifs. The reverse of the blade is engraved on the shoulder with the words ‘SILVER & CO, LONDON’. The reverse of the blade is also engraved with a rayed crown over the letters ‘R.N.A.V.’ with a foliage motif above and below. The brown leather scabbard has one brass locket and chape. The mounts are ornamented with lines.
British Special Regimental Pattern Rifle Officer’s Sword of the Warwickshire Rifle Volunteers
79.9 cm plated unfullered plated blade double edged towards the point by Reeves maker Birmingham, etched with scrolling foliage, crowned VR cypher, slung bugle horn and regimental title within scrolls, special pattern steel hilt with bowl guard pierced and engraved with acorns and oak leaves, scrolls and crowned Royal cypher, slung bugle horn and regimental title, wire bound fish skin covered grip without back piece, in its steel scabbard, two suspension rings, complete with sword knot of black leather strap and acorn.
British Silver Hilted Rifle Officer’s Presentation Sword
83 cm unfullered blade double edged towards the point by S.J. Pillin, Manufacturer Gerrard St., Soho, London etched for virtually its entire length with foliate scrolls, the arms and crest of Middlesex, crowned VR cypher, regimental title of ‘The Queen’s Westminster (13th Middlesex) Rifle Volunteers, regimental badge, presentation inscription, and arms, crest, motto and initials of the recipient, silver regulation gothic hilt incorporating a slung bugle horn, the interior engraved with foliate scrolls, the back-piece cast with scrolling foliage, silver wire bound fish skin covered grip, in its plated scabbard engraved with recipient’s crest and motto, two suspension rings, complete with sword knot of silver bullion cord and acorn. Hallmarked London 1882, and maker’s mark S.J.P.
The inscription reads: Presented on the 12th December 1882 to Major J.W. Comerford, Queen’s Westminster Rifle Volunteers, by members of C. Company, who had served under him whilst Captain of that Company from 1871 to 1882.
There were two patterns of sword used by British cavalry officers during the Victorian era; one pattern for heavy cavalry officers and one pattern for light cavalry officers.
The Pattern 1821 Heavy Cavalry Officer’s Sword was the regulation sword for combat for officers of heavy cavalry regiments from 1821 to 1912. Heavy cavalry regiments included the three regiments of Household Cavalry, seven regiments of Dragoon Guards, and three regiments of Dragoons for a total of thirteen heavy cavalry regiments. The Household Cavalry regiments had their own unique patterns, but occasionally their officers opted for the standard P1821 Heavy Cavalry Officer’s Sword, so we could potentially narrow down the number of regiments using the P1821 Heavy Cavalry Sword to nine regiments.
Above: a Pattern 1821 Heavy Cavalry Officer’s Sword c.1850-1860
The Pattern 1821 Light Cavalry Officer’s Sword was the regulation sword for combat for officers of light cavalry regiments from 1821-1896. There were seventeen light cavalry regiments during our period. In addition to those seventeen regiments in the regular army, there were dozens (39 in 1880) of Yeomanry (essentially militia cavalry) regiments, the vast majority of which were light cavalry. Based on numbers of regiments alone, once can see that there were far more light cavalry officers than heavy cavalry officers, and therefore more P1821 Light Cavalry Officers’ Swords than P1821 Heavy Cavalry Officers’ Swords. Officers of the Royal Artillery and Royal Horse Artillery also carried the P1821 Light Cavalry Officer’s Sword, thereby adding to the already large numbers of P1821s manufactured in the 19th century.
Above: a Pattern 1821 Light Cavalry Officer’s Sword c.1850-1860
In 1896 the powers that be decided that the light cavalry officer’s sword had insufficient hand protection and decided that officers of light cavalry regiments should adopt the P1821 Heavy Cavalry hilt. At that point officers had a few options–they could re-hilt their current swords with the heavy cavalry pattern hilt, or they could buy completely new swords. It is likely some officers ignored the new regulation and kept their three-bar light cavalry hilts, but most officers would make sure their swords conformed to regulations. With the new regulations of 1896 requiring all cavalry officers to adopt the heavy cavalry hilt, heavy cavalry pattern swords became much more plentiful than they had been prior to 1896. For modern day collectors, this means that post-1896 heavy cavalry officers’ swords are much easier to find on the market than pre-1896 heavy cavalry officers’ swords. Post-1896 cavalry swords are often called the Pattern 1896 Cavalry Officer’s Sword or Pattern 1896 Universal Cavalry Officer’s Sword. Although this pattern was replaced by the Pattern 1912 Cavalry Officer’s Sword, a number of officers chose the P1896 which was still being made throughout the period of the Great War.
It is important to note that throughout the Victorian era, especially in last two or three decades, officers’ swords began to subtly change–most notably grips and blades became straighter. Below is an example of a World War One era Pattern 1896 Cavalry Officer’s Sword.
Above: a Pattern 1896 Cavalry Officer’s Sword c.1914
These images of Winston Churchill illustrate the change to the regulations. As a newly commissioned officer in 1895, young Winston is wearing a Pattern 1821 Light Cavalry Officer’s Sword. In 1896 Churchill is pictured wearing a Pattern 1896 Cavalry Officer’s Sword.
Short Sword from Oude (Lucknow) Dated 1819, heavy silver blade of early nimcha form with swollen false edge, cut with 3 narrow fullers, engraved with foliage and the Oude royal arms, and gold inlaid with the Christian year 1819, back edge carved with leaves and engraved with chequering before the step, plain silver cross piece, one piece ivory grip.
Victorian Royal Horse Artillery Officer’s Sword c.1846 by Henry Wilkinson Pall Mall London, un-numbered, straight un-fullered single edge blade with gold proof stamp, etched with crowned royal arms, cipher, regimental badge, thunderflash within ROYAL HORSE ARTILLERY all within tight foliage, together with owner’s crest, regulation triple bar guard, silver wire bound fish skin covered grip. Blade 90.5cm, overall 105cm. Crest and motto of 2nd Lieut. Alexander John MacDougall, commissioned 6.8.1846, 1st Lieut. 7.5.1847, Second Captain 30.5.1854.
1885 Pattern Cavalry Trooper’s Sword, slightly curved regulation polished blade with various stamps including issue marks from 1893 to 1900, chequered leather grips, in its regulation scabbard with YBC yeomanry marking. Blade 87cm, overall 100cm.