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A fine silver mounted late 19th century Gordon Highlanders Officer’s dirk by Robert & Henry Bruce Kirkwood, of 65 & 66, Thistle Street, Edinburgh, with Scottish hallmarks for Edinburgh 1883 / 1884. This trading name is recorded as an important Edinburgh Silversmith and Cutlery business from 1882 to around 1910. The date of manufacture is shortly after the Secretary of State for War Hugh Childers reforms to the British Infantry in 1881 when the Gordon Highlanders was created from the merger of two Highland Regiments of Foot, the 75th and 92nd. The dirk was probably carried by an officer serving in India and in the Boer War.
The dirk, by-knife and by-fork grips are made from black hardwood finely carved with a basket weave pattern of interlace with silver studs at the intersections. The pommels of the dirk, by-knife and by-fork are designed as cups supported with vertical bars separated by oak leaves above which broad silver rims, decorated with foliage, are mounted and topped with finely cut multi-faceted citrines with orange coloured backing. The dirk grip has a silver base decorated with thistles to the front and the by-knife and by-fork are mounted with silver basal truncated cone-shaped ferrules.
The bright dirk blade is single edged for just over half of its length with a scalloped back edge and a double fuller either side. The upper fuller nearest the spine being narrower and deeper than the shallow broad fuller beneath. The base to the dirk grip fits snugly over the scabbard mouthpiece. The bi-knife blade is also single-edged and also has a scalloped blunt back edge.
The dirk is housed in a wooden scabbard covered with black leather and with silver mounts. The throat mount to the front is decorated with the Cross of St Andrew above a platform of thistles at the base. A semi-circular arch above is applied with the name of the regiment “GORDON HIGHLANDERS” and beneath this a figure of the Sphynx with “EGYPT” beneath, and below, a Tiger with “INDIA” beneath.
The back of the throat mount has a carrying strap bar with the name of the maker in raised relief inside a rectangular shield beneath, plus hallmarks consisting of three stamps, one for the city of Edinburgh, the Scottish Thistle mark and the date mark. Further along the scabbard the pocket throat mounts for the by-knife and by-fork, plus the chape, are decorated to the front with a triple thistle motif and at the back each mount is stamped individually with the Edinburgh hallmarks, thistle and date stamp. The overall length of the dirk in its scabbard is 17.5 inches (44.5 cm) and the main blade length is 12 inches (30.5 cm) long.
The dirk is in fine original condition. The main dirk blade retains its original polish with a few minor blemishes in places which are visible in the photographs.