Object Title

Sword - Light Cavalry Trooper's sword

Sword - Light Cavalry Trooper's sword

Date

about 1780

Object Number

IX.552

Physical Description

Brass stirrup hilt of a long, straight knuckle-guard; straight quillons with small rear terminal of comma shape, turned slightly towards the blade; short shield-shaped langets. A rounded ferrule meets the quillon and grip and encloses the end of the backpiece. The Integrated backpiece and ‘pommel’ terminates in a stepped pommel cap of raised form around the tang button. The side of the ‘pommel’ has a slot for the insertion of the end of the knuckle-guard. The grip is wood covered with string to produce ribbing and has an outer layer of fish skin.
The almost straight blade is single-edged, flat and wedge-sectioned with a ricasso and a slightly clipped back to the point.

Techniques

Cast, Forged

Materials

Dimensions

OverallLength1054 mm
BladeLength914 mm

Inscriptions and Marks

Accession number
524 [Dillon number]
pommel
stamped
View mark
Crown
outisde forte of blade
stamped
Royal Cypher
GvR over crown in a circle [This is not contemporary with the sword]
rear quillon
stamped

Associations

Notes

Swords of this type (designated Royal Armouries cavalry type B), of which the Royal Armouries has a large number (see below), occur with slightly curved blades with clipped points, and with straight blades with spear-points. The pattern was illustrated by Brian Robson, 'Swords of the British Army...', London, 1st edn, 1975, p.17, pl.3 (=IX.329, with the slightly curved blade), Pl.4 (=IX.573, with the nearly straight blade). The plates were captioned: 'Light Cavalry, c. 1780' (i.e. a late predecessor of the Light Cavalry pattern 1788). This type of sword was not illustrated in Robson's revised edition of 1996.
No scabbards for this type survive but were probably of leather with a brass chape and locket (Robson 1975, caption to Pl. 3). The scabbards now with a number of the Type B swords are in fact for swords of Cavalry Type J, and were presumably associated for display purposes (cf Dufty and Borg 1974, p. 29 where it is implied that this pattern of scabbard belongs).
Two examples (IX.329 and IX.2766) have blades inscribed 'Kings Light Dragoons'); and IX.331 - an officer's sword with an expanding steel hilt - has a similarly inscribed blade. Another sword with a steel stirrup hilt and with the same blade inscription is in the National Army Museum (7005-16; further details on inv. file).
The 15th (King's) Light Dragoons (1766-1806), later became the 15th Hussars. Inf. from A.V.B. Norman (tel. comm. 16/08/1991): this (Royal Armouries Cavalry Type B) may be the 15th L.D. 'pattern' of 1773, when it was recorded, in the Inspection Returns for this regiment, of 10th November, that they were carrying 'Swords new hilted' (Sumner, Jnl. of Army Historical Research, III, p.257). This pattern probably superseded the earlier, for which see IX.5437.
Swords of this type so far identified in the Royal Armouries can be found by a computer search of (CAVALRY ADJ TYPE ADJ B) AND CLASS=IX, which currently (at August 2002) yields about 260 examples. This is probably a fairly complete list though a few more examples out on loan may remain to be added. Further swords of this type were sold from the collection in the 1960s and 1970s (complete list not yet assembled), and most if not all of these will have been from those which at that time had never been given inventory numbers. In ffoulkes's publication of the inventory (1916), IX.318-331 are all of this type, though three swords in this sequence are now of different types: two (IX.320 and IX.321) replace two type Bs disposed of in 1965 (list of objects for disposal on Disposals Committee file) (IX.321 was disposed of to the Imperial War Museum according to information in the Typed Inventory); IX.331 has a steel expanding hilt, of similar profile to the Type B hilt and with the same type of blade which bears the same inscription as IX.329 and IX.2766 (see above) (it is not known whether IX.331 was a later substitution or whether ffoulkes considered to be the same as the others); IX.323 had been missing for some time and is now IX.2977 (Type B). IX.545-594 were originally all of this type: they were added to the inventory in or before 1927 (Catalogue of Additions to the Armouries after the year 1916; I.1528), described as 'Fifty long straight Swords, Maison Dieu Hall, Dover'. These 50 swords had in fact been earlier given the numbers in Dillon's sequence IX.508-557 (I.22, MS additions at end of typed class IX list, described as 'Fifty long straight swords, brass hilt - on loan Maison Dieu, Dover' - see below) but were not initially given numbers in ffoulkes's renumbering and so do not appear in his published Inventory of 1916. From this latter sequence (IX.545-594) IX.573-575 were also disposed of in 1965 (same source as before): IX.573 was replaced with another Type B (note by Nicholas Hall in the second copy of the Typed Inventory); IX.574 is now a Life Guards band or trumpeter's sword, taken from store in 1967; IX.575 is a French 'Cabbage Cutter', for which no provenance is recorded but probably also taken from store. Further swords in the sequence cannot now be found (e.g. 555) and may have been re-numbered after having lost their numbers.
A significant number of examples of Cavalry Type B in the Royal Armouries have three figure numbers stamped on the pommel from a sequence in the 500s. These must be the class IX numbers in the Dillon sequence (see above) which ran from IX.508-557. The earliest on so far noted is IX.508, the latest IX.558 (not IX.557) but that may be a mis-reading (PJL, 23/09/02). For a concordance of these Dillon numbers with the present inventory numbers, see PJLs document 'Cav.type B (Dillon nos)' - in progress. (PJL, 23/09/02).