Army Rumour Service

Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

Anyone know anything about swords?

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:

The short sabres are all very likely police cutlasses of one variety or another. They all have a spring catch to prevent them from being snatched from their scabbard by an opponent, something which is normal for police cutlasses but not for military hangers. "Police cutlass" in this case though could also include those belonging to prison guards or customs and excise, whom although they are not themselves "police" would get the same style of swords.

I would be very reluctant to identify the individual swords as belonging to any specific police force though without either consulting an expert on this or an authoritative reference work written by an expert. Variations in blade length or profile may simply be due to different manufacturers or changing styles over the years. I believe they are a fairly simple type which were common over many decades.

If there are any markings on them that would be more definitive.

The serial number of the Wilkinson sword can be used to help narrow down the period in which it was made, even if you cannot trace the owner (something that is not always in the Wilkinson registry anyway). Wilkinson started serialising their swords in 1854, beginning at 5000, so we know the sword dates from no earlier than that. Here's a list of serial numbers and dates put together by the same fellow who was in the videos I posted previously. This list should at least enable you to attribute the sword to a particular year, unless it's from later than this list.

With regards to the truncheons, have a close look at the painted ones. The symbols may tell you something about when and where they are from. For example, if they have the monarch's cypher on them that would give you the era they are from, and a city or police crest would tell you where they are from. Also have a look at the butt or pommel to see if there is a maker's (or retailer's) name and address. That is historical information in itself, but also changes in name or address may also possibly tell you something about the date it was made, if you can trace anything about the company history.

Here's an example of information:

The author of this particular site is apparently a retired policeman and says he is happy to help identify truncheons.
To add to my previous post, check to see if any of the swords (particularly the Wilkinson) have been sharpened. I'm less familiar with police swords, but military swords were not normally sharpened unless the owner was going on campaign and expected to be using it in combat. The result is that the majority of officer's swords were never actually sharpened.

If a military sword was "service sharpened" that tells you that it was likely taken on campaign, and that is noteworthy information. If it is not sharpened, then that is not noteworthy as the majority were not.

I don't know if police swords were sharpened, or whether they were left with whatever edge came from the factory. An unsharpened sword may still be sharp enough to do some serious damage without necessarily being sharp enough to say lop limbs off. Police may have preferred a the somewhat less lethal option while still being able to mete out some serious damage. I'm not that familiar with police swords, so don't take what I have written here as being an informed opinion.


That's some brilliant stuff, thanks for the extra pictures. I know the idea of having a bayonet pointed at me isn't my preferred afternoon activity, but facing down one of the old style coppers (Was it just urban myth about the required 6ft+?) slashing around with one of about a deterrent

Latest Threads