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Basket Hilted Scottish Officer’s Back Sword – Circa 1740

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Price: £4,500

Ref: 10.45

Item Description

A fine example of a horseman’s back sword made for an officer in a North British regiment of dragoons towards the middle of the 18th century. The form of fluted exterior decoration to the flat rectangular section bars emulates the “Glasgow” style developed earlier in the century by hilt makers based in the city such as John Simpson (I and II) and Thomas Gemmill.

The fully formed basket is pierced with triangles and circles in the main front and side panel guards which are also finely fretted at the edges with chevrons and merlons. The flattened bars are decorated with a central groove flanked by incised lines in the “Glasgow” manner. In this hilt one of the more usual frontal guard plates has been replaced with an oval ring in “horseman” fashion.

This hilt is further elaborated with cross-hatches and lines which give it a distinctive appearance. A sword with a similarly decorated hilt is in the Warwick Castle collection but its basket is badly damaged. As a result the decoration of this sword is not unique but part of a small but hitherto unexplored group.

The arms of the guard are forged onto a circle of iron into which the base of the bun shaped pommel sits. The pronounced pommel button is integral with the pommel and not of separate manufacture. The pommel is decorated with three sets of grouped curved lines similar to those present on the main bars of the hilt. The original grip is of wood which retains its well preserved shagreen cover with copper wire binding and “Turk’s Heads” top and bottom.

The robust blade is single edged for three quarters of its length. It has a short ricasso, the shoulders of which fit nicely into a purposely cut rectangular groove beneath the cross bar in the Scottish manner. Beyond the ricasso on both sides of the blade the GR cipher and crown is visible. Some six inches (15 cm) from the ricasso a long central fuller commences and extends for the full length of the blade flanked by a narrower fuller which extends for the length of the blunt back edge until 10 inches (25.5 cm) from the tip after which the blade is double edged.

Overall the sword is in fine and original condition. The length is 42 inches (106.5 cm) and the blade is 36 inches (91.5 cm) long.

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