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A fine example of the distinctive brass basket hilted sword introduced for Scottish infantry officers in Highland Regiments in 1798. It was replaced by the regulation steel basket hilted 1828 pattern sword three decades later. The sword type was used throughout the Napoleonic War period.
The brass basket guard is made of rounded bars and flattened plates in the usual manner with forward loop guards and a scroll guard terminal to the rear quillon. The upper terminals of the guard arms are attached to a ring of brass inside which the stem of the mushroom shaped pommel is fixed. The pommel is dome-shaped on top with four sets of triple grooved lines radiating from the pronounced upturned urn-shaped pommel button, the middle line wider than that on its flanks in each case. The hilt retains much of its original gilt coat.
The double-edged gently tapering blade is 33.5 inches (85 cm) long, of lenticular section and of fine quality. A central fuller commences an inch from the hilt either side and is 8 inches long. Inside this the maker’s name “J . J . R U N K E L” is stamped followed by his place of work “SOHLINGEN” (Solingen). The blade is a high-quality German import which was standard for this sword type. The grip is spirally grooved with a fish skin cover and bound with twisted copper wire and mounted with a woollen claret-coloured fringe between the base of the pommel and top of the grip. Protective brass ferrules are applied top and bottom of the grip.
The original leather scabbard is stitched down one side and tooled with diamond shaped patterns and retains its mouthpiece and chape. The mouthpiece is engraved in a panel with “John Grant Goldsmith & Sword Cutler Cockspur Road Charing Cross”. Beneath the base of the panel the letters “M M” are applied. John Grant is recorded in Grimwade as a jeweller and goldsmith who worked at various addresses in London and at 3 Cockspur Street, Haymarket, from 1784 to 1793, and was probably based at this, his last recorded address, thereafter.
An example of this sword type is illustrated in John Wallace, Scottish Swords & Dirks, Fig 47, Arms & Armour Press, 1970, which is displayed in the Scottish United Services Museum. See also Mazansky, Boydell Press, 2005, “British Basket-Hilted Swords”, pages 131 to 133, for examples housed in various Scottish museums.
Brass is less robust than iron and as a result these swords were more susceptible to damage. Many surviving and published examples have bars missing, are out of shape and often with repairs. This one is a fine example, in original and untouched condition, although the rear guard bars of the hilt are slightly stressed forward. The survival of its scabbard is an added bonus.