Curved, single-fullered sabre blade with spear point, three-bar steel hilt with quillon and thumb guard. Full-width exposed tang, black chequered wood grips secured by rivets. No leather washer. Plain steel scabbard with two hanging rings.
The blade and scabbard are unmarked apart from the word ‘PATTERN’ etched on the spine of the blade.
The 1853 Pattern was the first ‘universal’ cavalry trooper’s sword, replacing both the 1821 Light Cavalry and 1821 Heavy Cavalry swords. It was therefore carried by all British cavalry troopers, as well as troopers of the Royal Horse Artillery. It was designed to be an all-round sabre, capable of both cutting and thrusting, and the prominent sword cutlers Henry Wilkinson and Charles Reeves liaised with the Board of Ordnance to produce its design.
Reeves in particular prompted the inclusion of a full-width, exposed tang, which he had developed in the early 1850s as his ‘Patent Solid Tang’ (not actually patented until October 1853) and included in his own custom swords. The tang on typical swords was much narrower than the blade, passed through the centre of the hilt and was hammered, or peened, flat at the pommel to permanently attach the hilt to the sword. With the solid tang no peening was required, the grip was formed by riveting slabs to either side of the grip. This design completely removed two known points of failure: breakage where the thin tang joined to the blade, and failure of the peening which would detach the hilt from the blade.
War with Russia was looming and the new sword was rushed into service a little ahead of schedule – it was only in 1856 that the pattern was officially sealed. Some examples can be found with German maker’s marks, because several firms there were contracted to boost production as much as possible. Even so, some cavalry regiments went into the Crimean War still carrying the 1821 Patterns, while others had the brand new 1853. By 1855 all the deployed cavalry were carrying the new model. It was superseded by the 1864 Pattern, which was identical except for a new bowl hilt to increase hand protection.
This is probably a commercial version of the 1853, perhaps produced for the export market. It is known that a large number of 1853s were purchased on the open market for use in the American Civil War, primarily for the cavalry of the Confederacy. The Confederate states had less weapons manufacturing industry than the Union and therefore imported a great deal of weaponry throughout the conflict. Some swords were bought by agents of the Confederate Government, some orders were made on behalf of individual states and still more were brought across the Atlantic by private arms dealers breaking blockades for profit. None of these purchased swords had British military markings and most had no identifying markings at all, to obscure their point of origin and avoid diplomatic repercussions. One cannot be certain that this is a Civil War purchase, but its lack of markings and slightly simplified construction would support that.
£675 including UK postage - see the Blackthorn Antiques website for purchase, for details on postage elsewhere and for more antique arms not shown on Gunstar.
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