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Anyone know anything about swords?

Any reason why you think that?
"WD" = War Department, for the British Army.
ISD = "India Stores Depot", for the British Indian Army on India's budget.
EIC = East India Company property. However, EIC swords are not always marked as such, so lacking any marks doesn't mean that it isn't one.

Officers were required to purchase their own equipment, so as private purchases their swords wouldn't be marked as government property. That means that if the sword in question is marked WD, then it is probably a British Army sword issued to a cavalry trooper, or someone like that. A sword expert can look at a sword and tell if it's an officer's sword or a trooper's sword just by how it is made and finished (there are generally subtle differences, or in some cases they were completely different patterns). Officers' swords may also be completely non-standard, as it was their own property and they were only required to comply with standards up to a certain point.

Where this gets more complicated is that it was found in a police museum. It it was WD marked, then it was British government property. I don't know how this affected swords which were issued (as opposed to private purchases) to police, or if they had a different marking system, or what happened if they were issued swords which came out of army stores. Check to see if the swords themselves are marked, not just the scabbards. I'm assuming they go together just because you've shown them together, but I don't know that.

Of course the swords may have nothing to do with the police, they may have simply been confiscated from someone and kept around because someone thought they were too nice to throw out.
Here's a couple of videos which might tell you a bit more about police swords. I would suggest watching both, as he covers some details about them which you may not have noticed.



Any chance of some pics of your cutlass haul? That's a fascinating find, at least for me. I'd assumed anything like that would have been shipped off/sold off/binned decades ago
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.

Made me laugh...have a like :)


Book Reviewer


Book Reviewer
It would be nice if one of them were mine, stolen 3 months before I left the Army...
Any chance of some pics of your cutlass haul? That's a fascinating find, at least for me. I'd assumed anything like that would have been shipped off/sold off/binned decades ago

I'll be down there next week, so I'll try to get some pictures. From what I've read online we've actually got a combination of River Cutlasses and Police Hangers.
IIRC, I read somewhere Police issue Hangers were the same as RN issue Hangers.
The common names used today by collectors for swords are not necessarily the same as used then. Back then they were not as concerned about distinguishing between a wide variety of types as collectors are now.

The 19th century police typically called their shorter swords "cutlasses", although they didn't have much physical resemblance to naval cutlasses. Rather, they resembled 18th and early 19th century infantry hangers (short sabres carried as secondary weapons by some infantry). Naval cutlasses of the 19th century had heavier blades and large sturdy hilts with a lot of hand protection, while police cutlasses had more slender blades with just a simple knuckle bow on the hilt, like many infantry hangers (or civilian hunting hangers). Thus modern collectors often call police swords hangers, but the police themselves will have typically known them at the time as cutlasses.

I don't know the reason why the police called their swords cutlasses. It is possible that police sword drill was based on naval cutlass drill rather than army sabre drill. The two are similar (one is derived from the other), but naval cutlass drill was simplified with for example fewer cuts at the legs due to naval cutlasses, like police cutlasses, being shorter. This however is purely my own speculation and I have no hard evidence for it.
Any chance of some pics of your cutlass haul? That's a fascinating find, at least for me. I'd assumed anything like that would have been shipped off/sold off/binned decades ago

Right, been there and got the requested pictures.

We have three types. From links posted here and your advice I think I've ID'd at least two of them. The presence of the River style makes sense as we're in quite a soggy area of the country, and we had lots of waterways etc.

All have very similar grips, so we can conclude mid-1800's style.

We've also got an Officers sword made by Wilkinson, and its got a serial. But the only way to get the details seems to be lob some chap £20. Which maybe a bit out of our museums capabilities (and I'm an unemployed bum at the moment).

We also have a nice collection of Sticks, Perp, Whacking, for the use of:
Looks like an Infantry hanger, though I'm thinking that it's not British. Don't think it's a civilian hunting hanger because of the hand guard but that's not conclusive.

sword .png

Any markings/etching?
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