Object Title

Sword

Sword

Date

1808-1820

Object Number

IX.246

Physical Description

Variations from standard pattern: the hilt has more pointed (shield-shaped) langet; the blade differs significantly from the standard pattern: it is less sharply curved, has two fullers - a central, broad, shallow one and and a narrower one, adjacent and at or very near the back - and an acute, clipped point.


Other variations, losses, damage etc: Inside langet missing (removed?); only about half of leather covering of grip survives.

Dimensions

Dimensions: Overall length: 960 mm (37.8 in), blade length: 838 mm (33 in), Weight: 1 lb 10 oz

Inscriptions and Marks

On hilt, on outer langet, engraved: WSY (for West Somerset Yeomanry?).On hilt, on quillon, stamped: 23.On blade, on back, near hilt, stamped: OSBORN & GUNBY.

Associations

Bibliographic References

suggests the sword he describes under this number may since have been substituted for another - PJL].

Notes

'On the present sword'
For the makers Osborn(e) and Gunby, see under IX.245 (Notes).
The West Somerset Yeomanry, a Light Dragoon Regiment, was raised as four independent troops in 1794 and 'regimented' in 1798 as the West Somerset Yeomanry (J.B.M. Frederick, 'Lineage Book of British Land Forces', rev'd edn, 1984, I, p. 51). It would appear to be the only Yeomanry regiment in counties with the initial letter S which had separate Yeomanry regiments designated as East and West (PJL).
In a letter in 'Classic Arms and Militaria', vol. 7, no. 2, March/April 2000, p. 9, Mr John D. Morgan wrote of another example marked WSY on the langet which was with a dealer about 15 years prevously. The other langet was marked with a 'troop number'. However, it had 'round-edged langets'.
For the 1796 Light Cavalry pattern generally, see under IX.245 (Notes).


'On this variant pattern generally'
The Royal Armouries has a number of examples of this variant pattern: the follwing have been noted so far (list is in progress; when all STAR entries are complete this variant should be searchable on: 'light and cavalry and 1796 and variant and 1'):
IX.2540-2552 (13) - all these were first numbered in the Brick Tower (Old Loan Store) and break down as follows: IX.2540-2542 (complete); 2543-2547 (outside langet removed); IX.2548-2550 (inside langet removed); IX.2551 & 2552 (both langets removed); all these are marked Osborn & Gunby. (see LUI 21/6-9; and IBEs).
IX.8050-8063 (14) - all first numbered when on long term loan to the Staff College, Camberley: IX.8062 lacking the inside langet; IX.8052 and IX.8055 lacking ouside langet); remainder have both langets; all these marked Osborn & Gunby, except possibly IX.8057 - perhaps just Osborn.
The pattern was discussed in R. Dellar, 'The 'Osborn & Gunby' blade and other variations in cavalry blade design in the early nineteenth century', 'Classic Arms and Militaria', 7, no. 1, Jan./Feb. 2000, pp. 35-8 (copy on inv. file) where it is noted that all the examples known to the author are by Osborn or Osborn & Gunby and it is suggested that the high quality of finish points to them being for officers (but see contrary view below). The author had noted decorated blades of the same pattern, on two officer's 1796 pattern swords, one with a light cavalry and the other on a heavy cavalry (officer's) hilt.
As the only two examples with identifiable regimental markings so far noted (at April 1999) appear to be marked for the same Yeomanry regiment, it is possible that this variant was designed for or used by the Yeomanry. In a letter to 'Classic Arms and Militaria', March/April 2000 (cited above) in response to Mr Dellar's artticle Mr John Morgan was of the view that swords of this type 'may well have been part of a special one-off order to equip a Yeomanry Regiment', and he had noted other swords which are closer to the standard 1796 pattern but which have non-ordnance stamped plain pattern blades and wire-bound grips. In another letter in response to Mr Dellar's article in 'Classic Arms and Militaria', 7, no. 3 May/June 2000, p. 9, Philip Lankester and Bridget Clifford drew attention to the relatively large number of these swords in the Royal Armouries (see list above) and others noted elsewhere which suggested to them that these swords were not confined to officers but were 'possibly made for issue to other ranks of one or more volunteer cavalry units'.
One in a private collection has retained its scabbard. An officer's version with blued and gilt blade is also known to exist (see note on inv. file). (PJL, 09/02/04)