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Anyone know anything about swords?

As I read it in the history books and photos, RN short cutlass drill was de rigeur for constabularies until the early 1900's, and transferred well into the dense wooden battens (like iron wood) for less threatening environments than riots: labouring on the sabbath, domestic arguments, or taking thy neighbour's horse without consent to do doughnuts in Sainsbury's car park.

I transitioned from the baton to the ASP: believe me, if you wanted a new liver I could rupture it from the front with a baton, they were used like kubotans rather than clubs and, in the right hands, could be a right nasty bit of kit. Lead with your left to raise the arms exposing the midrift, deliver a driving blow with the tip just below the navel with your right, aiming for a point in the next street, or 'Kai' as those cunning orientals would have it. As he doubles up, a stunning blow to the rear base of the skull with the butt, and fight through. God knows why there were so few fatalities.

Never had a go with a cutlass though.
 
As I read it in the history books and photos, RN short cutlass drill was de rigeur for constabularies until the early 1900's, and transferred well into the dense wooden battens (like iron wood) for less threatening environments than riots.

Never had a go with a cutlass though.
Horses for courses, and all that.
I'm sure the type of riff-raff the constabulary of the day had to deal with were well versed in violence, and wouldn't be shy of 'taking up the cudgels'.
The cutlass would have been a step up from this.
There's something about bladed weapons which strikes fear into folk. Pulling a sword or bayonet from a scabbard has a certain 'Ok, now we aren't ******* about any more!'-ness to it.
Being biffed with a baton or stave is one thing, having your flesh opened or bits lopped off is another kettle of fish.
You aren't neccessarily going to run somebody through, but By God you can if need be!
 
Horses for courses, and all that.
I'm sure the type of riff-raff the constabulary of the day had to deal with were well versed in violence, and wouldn't be shy of 'taking up the cudgels'.
The cutlass would have been a step up from this.
There's something about bladed weapons which strikes fear into folk. Pulling a sword or bayonet from a scabbard has a certain 'Ok, now we aren't ******* about any more!'-ness to it.
Being biffed with a baton or stave is one thing, having your flesh opened or bits lopped off is another kettle of fish.
You aren't neccessarily going to run somebody through, but By God you can if need be!

 
'Disperse or we'll get all Jack Sparrow on yo' ass':

1575494314956.png
 
I've been recently volunteering with a local police force's museum. We recently took it over from a period of disuse, and we're sifting through what we have. Upon opening a cupboard we found a right assortment of cutlery, which none of us know anything about. What I suspect is, we have a large collection of utterly unremarkable scrap metal in various pointy shapes, stabbing rioters, for the use of. But on the off chance this isn't the case, I thought I'd ask around to see if anyone can ashed any light.

Exhibit A:
Two swords, marked "Made in India" and a very confusing series of features. On one hand it appears they've put some patterning on the blade and they've got these soft velvet scabbards. On the flip side the pommel a nut threaded onto a screw that forms the grip with some cheap nasty wood around it. It screams something trying to look a lot flashier than it is. All I can think of is a Khyber Pass Enfield, or similar.


Exhibit B
Two different basket hilted straight swords. Very little in markings on either. One carries "AA.5.95" and "88 WD" on the scabbard. The second mark has some kind of arrow over the top of it, which puts me in mind of makers marks you get on headstamps. The other sword is utterly devoid of markings, but does have a crest etched into the blade, and a stamped circle just above the hilt.


The mystery mark on the sword with the etched blade:


The scabbard markings, which belong to the second sword:



We also have a large collection (~20) of general issue cutlass, to be handed out en mass to the coppers for dealing with rioters.

Any help would be gratefully received.
Thanks.
The WD with arrow head indicates it was the property of the British War Department which was renamed in 1857 as the War Office.
 
As others have said, the two Indian made swords are probably meant for hanging on the wall of pubs or studies as decorations. They are made in European style, not "native" style. The nut securing the tang is typical of, although not exclusive to, cheaper swords. Velvet scabbards would seem to point to Indian origin, even if the "Made in India" didn't.

With regards to the two swords you referred to as "basket hilted", what is most commonly referred to a "basket hilted sword" is actually a different type of sword and hilt altogether than what you have there. These hilts might be referred to as a sabre hilt, or very occasionally a "half basket". If the blade is curved, even slightly, then it's a sabre in British terms, if the blade is straight, even with the same hilt, then it's simply a "sword". This may sound like nit picking, but if you find yourself asking a sword expert (which I'm not by the way) for information about these swords and you describe them as "basket hilted" then he is likely to assume you are talking about a highland officer's sword and some confusion may result.

The "mystery mark" is what is called a "proof mark" or "proof disk". I can't really read it, but it may say "proved". Different makers used different proof disks at different times, so whether it says "proved" or something else isn't significant. The proof disk means the sword was tested by the maker. A blade from a poor quality maker may not be proof marked. I don't know enough about swords to recognise the maker from the proof mark.

With regards to the scabbards, I don't know what the alpha-numeric codes mean, but the arrow mark is the UK government property mark, it's called the "broad arrow" and is still used to this day. The "WD" below it I assume stands for "War Department".

Check the spines of the swords (the good ones) to see if there are any markings there. You may find a maker's name and possibly a serial number. If it's a Wilkinson and the sword was a private purchase by an officer, then you may be able to trace it to the original owner via the Wilkinson registry. Being able to trace it to a specific owner may be of interest to a museum.

I'm not going to try to pin down an exact make and model for these swords as British swords are quite complex in this respect, with subtle differences in hilt and blade which can vary by branch of service, and that's before you get into non-regulation swords (more of a problem with officers' swords). The identification pointed out by other posters is probably a good starting point though.

Military sabres were often used by senior police ranks as dress items. These may possibly have belonged to someone of note in the police force. Or they may have just been confiscated from someone.

While you are looking through the museum you may wish to look for other kit as well, including truncheons. Some of the Victorian era truncheons were painted quite elaborately and this can help you identify the date and police force which purchased them.

The following is the Youtube channel of someone in the London area who is a noted sword collector, antiques dealer, and fencing instructor, and who also happens to collect Victorian and Edwardian police kit such as truncheons. If you search through the channel using the information you have so far you might be able to learn a bit more about what you have.

He has a Facebook page and various other social media presence as well as his antiques company web site. If you can contact him he may be able to answer some questions about what you have if you can send him some pictures and tell him that you're doing this on behalf of a museum.
 
As others have said, the two Indian made swords are probably meant for hanging on the wall of pubs or studies as decorations. They are made in European style, not "native" style. The nut securing the tang is typical of, although not exclusive to, cheaper swords. Velvet scabbards would seem to point to Indian origin, even if the "Made in India" didn't.

With regards to the two swords you referred to as "basket hilted", what is most commonly referred to a "basket hilted sword" is actually a different type of sword and hilt altogether than what you have there. These hilts might be referred to as a sabre hilt, or very occasionally a "half basket". If the blade is curved, even slightly, then it's a sabre in British terms, if the blade is straight, even with the same hilt, then it's simply a "sword". This may sound like nit picking, but if you find yourself asking a sword expert (which I'm not by the way) for information about these swords and you describe them as "basket hilted" then he is likely to assume you are talking about a highland officer's sword and some confusion may result.

The "mystery mark" is what is called a "proof mark" or "proof disk". I can't really read it, but it may say "proved". Different makers used different proof disks at different times, so whether it says "proved" or something else isn't significant. The proof disk means the sword was tested by the maker. A blade from a poor quality maker may not be proof marked. I don't know enough about swords to recognise the maker from the proof mark.

With regards to the scabbards, I don't know what the alpha-numeric codes mean, but the arrow mark is the UK government property mark, it's called the "broad arrow" and is still used to this day. The "WD" below it I assume stands for "War Department".

Check the spines of the swords (the good ones) to see if there are any markings there. You may find a maker's name and possibly a serial number. If it's a Wilkinson and the sword was a private purchase by an officer, then you may be able to trace it to the original owner via the Wilkinson registry. Being able to trace it to a specific owner may be of interest to a museum.

I'm not going to try to pin down an exact make and model for these swords as British swords are quite complex in this respect, with subtle differences in hilt and blade which can vary by branch of service, and that's before you get into non-regulation swords (more of a problem with officers' swords). The identification pointed out by other posters is probably a good starting point though.

Military sabres were often used by senior police ranks as dress items. These may possibly have belonged to someone of note in the police force. Or they may have just been confiscated from someone.

While you are looking through the museum you may wish to look for other kit as well, including truncheons. Some of the Victorian era truncheons were painted quite elaborately and this can help you identify the date and police force which purchased them.

The following is the Youtube channel of someone in the London area who is a noted sword collector, antiques dealer, and fencing instructor, and who also happens to collect Victorian and Edwardian police kit such as truncheons. If you search through the channel using the information you have so far you might be able to learn a bit more about what you have.

He has a Facebook page and various other social media presence as well as his antiques company web site. If you can contact him he may be able to answer some questions about what you have if you can send him some pictures and tell him that you're doing this on behalf of a museum.


Thanks to yourself and @Kinch, its certainly helping us build up a picture.

But a question.
The Sabre you've both ID'd as having a War Department mark, Kinch says it was renamed in 1857. The numbers on the scabard look a lot like a date, AA.5.95. would this be the case?
 

BuggerAll

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Nevermind all this guff about what they are, as a Tax payer I want to know why all this issue equipment has been sat doing nothing when there is Ruffians and rapscallions out there needing a good dose of cold steel.
Tell whomever is in charge I will be contacting my MP and the Home secretary...

Yours Outraged of Dunny-on-the-Wold.
Depending on what happens next Thursday we may need them to defend ourselves from the Home Secretary.
 

Richie_B

Old-Salt
Thanks to yourself and @Kinch, its certainly helping us build up a picture.

But a question.
The Sabre you've both ID'd as having a War Department mark, Kinch says it was renamed in 1857. The numbers on the scabard look a lot like a date, AA.5.95. would this be the case?

AA.5.95 could also be a unit marking.
 
Thanks to yourself and @Kinch, its certainly helping us build up a picture.

But a question.
The Sabre you've both ID'd as having a War Department mark, Kinch says it was renamed in 1857. The numbers on the scabard look a lot like a date, AA.5.95. would this be the case?
A speculative but possible link mightcexist with the East India Company which had a militia of over a quarter of a million men.
 
Any reason why you think that?
The 'Company' military side was twice the size of the British Army in India. It had similar structures and an officer corps. Possible that older weapons could find there way to,the 'Company' arsenal ....maybe restamped?

ETA The East India Company was rendered defunct in 1858 by legislation that facilitated a government takeover of Indian affairs ...so an 1895 date dtamp eould not have any Company connection. Nevertheless, the 1857 WD date limit may have little connection to the date of manufacture of the sword. What I do find interesting and persuasive is the inclusion of ghe arrowhead - still used on miliary items used during my own service in the 1960s-80s.
 
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Thanks to yourself and @Kinch, its certainly helping us build up a picture.

But a question.
The Sabre you've both ID'd as having a War Department mark, Kinch says it was renamed in 1857. The numbers on the scabard look a lot like a date, AA.5.95. would this be the case?
I'm not an expert on sword markings, but I don't think that affected how the equipment was stamped. I can find examples of WD marked swords that are very late 19th century, if not later.

Here's some examples of sword markings.

 
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