Object Title

Sabre and scabbard

Sabre and scabbard

Date

about 1785

Object Number

IX.955

Provenance

Purchased from Dr V. R. Smith (dealer), 1 Beaufort Square, Bath, in 1953

Physical Description

Made for the North American market. Russet steel half-basket hilt, originally blued, consisting of a vertically facetted pommel of truncated form, two stirrup-like knuckle-guards, one in the usual position and one outside the hand, linked to each other by three parallel bars at right angles to the main axis of the hilt. The guard is completed by a short quillon and, on each side, a curved bar forming a side-ring. Writhen wooden grip covered in black leather.


Exceptionally long, single-edged blade with a broad fuller for most of its length, etched in line, on the outside with a scroll bearing the word 'WARRANTED', the arms of the United States of America supported by an eagle bearing in its beak a scroll inscribed 'E PLURIBUS UNUM', all surrounded by sixteen stars; above are trophies of arms and floral ornament. On the inside is the monogram JH. The decoration at forte is blued and gilt; the remainder is in 'bright work'.


Unlined scabbard of tooled black leather with three steel mounts, the top and mid-lockets having loose-rings for the slings.

Dimensions

Dimensions: Sword: Length overall: 1225 mm (48.5 in.), Length of blade: 1067 mm (42 in.), Scabbard: Length: 1074 mm (42.3 in.) Weight: Sword: 1036 g (3 lb 0 oz), Scabbard: 765 g (1 lb 11 oz)

Bibliographic References

A.R. Dufty and A. Borg, European Swords and Daggers in the Tower of London, London, 1974, p. 29, pl. 71c - 'American, c. 1795'.

A.V.B. Norman and G.M. Wilson, Treasures from the Tower of London, Norwich, 1982, pp. 54-6, no. 32 (illus. - overall) - 'U.S.A., c. 1785'.

Notes

The design of the arms on the blade is similar to that approved by Congress as the seal of the United States in June 1782.
For a curved sword the blade is of exceptional length; the standard British Light Cavalry sword of the 1796 pattern had a comparable blade but it was only about 810-840 mm (32-33 in.) long.
Hilts of similar type are found on two straight bladed, cavalry troopers' (other ranks) swords in the Royal Armouries: IX.320 and IX.2982, both with blades marked 'Gill's Warranted'. Although only marked 'Warranted' the present sword may by the same maker (PJL). For another sword with a hilt of the same type see G.C. Neumann, 'Swords & Blades of the American Revolution', Newton Abbot, 1973, p. 150, no. 267.S (illus.).