We have a new Featured Item in the front showcase at the store, thanks to our colleague Bob Kneeland:
British Royal Naval Officer’s Sword, ca. 1850 (?)
Our Featured Item was found in the State of Maine, where a family had possessed it since before 1900. We believe it to be a British Royal Naval Officers Sword of the late Georgian to early Victorian Era, of the 1827 Pattern. The folding side of the hilt made it more comfortable to wear. This example does not have a hole in the folding guard, which dates the sword to 1850 to 1855.
The blade measures less than 30 inches which also argues for early production, when close combat between decks could still occur. Later examples have blades over 30 inches long. The 1827 Pattern was used until 1929, when a straight blade design was adopted. Our sword was made or marketed by a builder or outfitter from Leadenhall Street, London, as the base of the blade is so marked.
How did this fine English Sword find its way to Maine many years ago? If it could only talk!
Remember that England was an ally of the Confederate States of America during our Civil War. This was for many reasons, not the least of which would be to sell things, basic commerce. The South did not have much manufacturing capacity at the time, having depended on the North until the war began. They certainly didn’t have the skilled labor, materials nor time involved to build fancy officers swords in any quantity. So, among the hundreds of other items England exported to the South were Officer’s Swords. Was it brand new or used at the time? We’ll probably never know.
Bob Kneeland, our colleague who brought it here, believes it was taken off the body of a fallen Confederate Officer in haste, hence no scabbard, and carried back to Maine as a trophy of war. The folding guard does not have a hole in it, which helps date the sword to between 1850 and 1855. The hole, if there was one, would have engaged a pin on the scabbard, a feature known to “on occasion make the difference between life and death”.
We hope someone more knowledgeable about swords will explain this to us.