Sunday, January 27, 2013

An 18th Century British Short Sabre

The short sabre is an 18th century infantry officer's weapon which has a  blade typically measuring in the two foot range.   Blades are usually slightly curved, but some are found with a straight blade.  The guards range from plain and utilitarian to extravagant.    Grips are of a variety of materials -- polished wood, shagreen (fish skin), bone, ivory, etc.

This sword is of British origin.  The blade is marked "Harvey" indicating its manufacture by a well known 18th  century maker located in Birmingham, England.   The steel guard is of a four slot type, meaning that there are four, segmented openings in it.  The pommel (the butt of the sword) is urn shaped and gadrooned (refering to the grooves cut into the metal).  The branches of the guard are flamboyant (wavy pattern).  The grip is bone and bears two strands to twisted copper wire bordering a strip of copper tape.    This sword is elegant, but certainly made for field use.   It had a leather scabbard with metal hardward matching the metal of the hilt, but it is long gone.  Most likely the sword was carried by an over the shoulder leather belt.

While there is no provenance for this sword indicating any particular use,  it is typical of the type that were carried by British (or American) officers during the era of the American Revolution.    French and Hessian officers carried swords that are distinctly different.   At this time, there was no "official" sword pattern for British officers.  The regulations called for an officer to carry a sword fit for use with the metal fittings matching the color of the uniform lace.   That is, silver lace meant a steel hilted sword. Gold lace meant a brass or gilded brass hilted sword.   The regiment's colonel decided upon the sword, but I have a feeling that in active service a wide variety of swords  were carried.

I purchased this sword  directly from a dealer in England.  It is no longer in my collection and I  regret having parted with it.