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A very fine example of a transitional military sword which displays features of both the 1798 and 1828 pattern basket hilted swords introduced for Infantry Officers in Scottish Highland Regiments. The sword is in excellent condition and retains its original scabbard. The sword is interesting, if not unique for the time of its production, given its silver plated steel hilt and scabbard mounts plus the engraved designs of thistles and foliage to the hilt and mounts which are also etched into the blade. The sword is probably a private commission taken into service by a Highlander Officer.
The basket guard is made of rounded bars and flattened plates in the usual manner with forward loop guards and a scroll wrist guard terminal to the rear quillon. The upper terminals of the guard arms are fixed onto a ring inside which the stem of the mushroom shaped pommel is fixed. The pommel is dome-shaped with a pronounced button of separate manufacture over which the blade tang end is peened to permanently hold the hilt structure tightly together. From the button four equally spaced grooves radiate down the pommel to its edge, each with narrower grooves on its flanks. The grip is of spirally grooved wood covered with shagreen bound with decorative twisted copper wire. An iron ferrule is present at the base of the grip and a substantial red woollen fringe is attached at the top. A full liner fits into the basket aperture made of buff leather to which red velvet cloth has been attached to the outside stitched at the hem with blue thread. The scabbard is made of black leather and stitched down the middle of one side.
The double-edged broad sword blade gently tapers to its tip and is 29.5 inches (just under 75 cm) long. The blade has a short ricasso after which it is of lenticular section for the rest of its length. A single central fuller commences 3.5 inches (9.0 cm) along the blade and extends for 9.75 inches (25 cm). The blade retains its original polished finish.
The 1798 pattern brass hilted swords and the early versions of the 1828 pattern iron hilted swords were mounted with similar broad double edged blades to our sword with the same type of short ricasso and central fuller. The fullers are often stamped with the blade smith’s mark JJ Runkel of Solingen indicating that blades for both sword types were imported from Germany in the early 19th century. These blades ceased to be used some time into the 1730’s. The liner of this sword is very similar to those liners which survive on many 1798 pattern swords, still being quite soft and malleable rather than hardened with lacquer. Another feature which this sword has in common with the 1798 pattern brass hilt is that the solid primary and secondary guard plates are not pierced with heart designs whereas the heart shaped apertures in the panels of more usual 1828 and later pattern swords is a fundamental part of the design.