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Physical Description

Hilt of 'Christmas tree' design. Steel hilt consisting of a domed pommel with cylindrical tang-button and a guard comprising a shallowly dished circular plate around the blade, a fairly broad knuckle-gurard which broadens from both sides to form a triangular dished plate, and two narrower recurved bars which spring from the sides of the circular plate and are joined to the knuckle-guard near its end. The end of the knuckle-guard is joined to a ring around the base of the pommel. Spirally grooved woodedn grip coverd with brown leather. At the pommel end there is a very short section of brass wire twist (see photos on file). Straight single-edged blade with a broad and a narrow fuller.


Dimensions: Overall length: 1062 mm (41.8 in), blade length: 909 mm (35.8 in) Weight: 2 lb 9 oz


Places Britain


Other swords with hilts of this type in the Royal Armouries are: IX.235 (illus. A.R. Dufty and A. Borg, 'European Swords and Daggers in the Tower of London', Pl. 70c), IX.1074, IX.1828 and IX.5425. IX.1074 has 'PP 36' on the hilt; IX.5425 has '27' on the hilt. IX.1074 and IX.1828 have similar blades with three short fullers at the base and are marked 'HARVEY'.
An example with a scabbard is in the National Army Museum, acc. no. 1999-11-187 (purchased at Bonhams (Knightsbridge), 24 Nov. 1999, Lot 41, hilt of sword and top part of scabbard illus. in cat.). (The NAM has a second example, without scabbard, acc. no. 7205-7-32: illus. L. Southwick, 'The Price Guide to Antique Edged Weapons', Woodbridge, 1982, p. 135, no. 361.) Another with a scabbard similar to that in the NAM, but apparently not quite identical, was in a private collection in May 1993 (see Enquiry file, Swds, Milit. post 1700, Britain, cavalry).
This type of sword was briefly discussed by A.D. Darling, 'The British Basket Hilted Cavalry Sword', 'Canadian Journal of Arms Collecting', VII, no. 3, pp. 88 (figs 9 & 9a), 91, where the form of blade with the three short fullers at the base (cf IX.1074; IX.1828) is stated to date it to c. 1755 (presumably on the basis of the similar but dated blades found on the Royal Horse Guards (Blue) officer's swords (illus. 'ibid.', p. 93, figs 14-14b - for further refs see IBE for IX.1790)).
All the RA examples have spirally grooved grips. Those of IX.1074, 1828 and 5425 have fishskin coverings with remains of a single strand brass wire (surviving as a fairly short section at one or both ends). The width of the wire, where present, looks a little thin compared with the width of the groove but this is not necessarily evidence that that it was originally flanked by other wires (see corrsp. of Feb. 2000 on inv. file). IX.1828 alone preserves one of its Turk's heads.
The other two swords have leather coverings. As mentioned above, the groove of IX.193 has a very short section a two-strand brass wire twist by the pommel: IX.235 has a single stand of similar gauge in the same position, probably also the remains of a two-strand twist.
Swords with hilts of the same type appear periodically in the sale rooms and others are the subject of enquiries from the public. Details of some of the latter will be found on the Edged Weapons Enquiry File 'Swds, Milit. post 1700, Britain, Cavalry'. A list of some is also included in C Martyn, 'The British Cavalry Sword from 1600', Pen and Sword Military, Barnsley, 2004, p. 52.
A sword with a variant form of this hilt type was sold at Christie's (South Kensington), 9 Dec. 1988, Lot 27: it lacked the recurved bar and the half of the triangle inside the hand; the remaining half triangle had a triangular cut-out (sketch by PJL on inv. file). A similar hilt, with the half traingle but with no traingular cut-out, was offered for sale by Charterhouse (auctioneers), Sherborne, Dorset, 17 March 2006, Lot 523 (image on inv. file).