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British Basket Hilted Cavalry Sword Circa 1780

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Price: £4,250

Ref: 080.23

Item Description

A very nice example of a horseman’s basket hilted broad sword made for an Officer in a North British / Scottish Regiment of Dragoons in the mid second half of the 18th century. These swords were issued by the Board of Ordnance to British regiments mainly with Scottish associations and were manufactured in the traditional Scottish style.

Swords of this military type were first issued towards the second quarter of the 18th century to officers and men and were used throughout the periods of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, Britain’s wars in Europe and the American Revolutionary War. They went out of use towards the end of the century when different regulation patterns started to appear. Subtle differences in the features of the hilt indicate that this sword is late in the production period and represents the last phase of its type. It is a rare survivor.

The fully formed basket is pierced with hearts and circles in the main front and side panel guards which are also finely fretted at the edges with chevrons and merlons. One of the usual primary frontal guard plates has been replaced in this  hilt design with an oval ring in the “horseman” fashion. The hilt is decorated with patterns of incised lines and grooves more profusely than is usual and the oval ring is grooved in a gadrooned manner which is unique for this sword type. These embellishments indicate that the sword is an Officer’s weapon.

The arms of the guard are forged onto a circle of iron into which the base of the bun shaped pommel sits. The pronounced button is central to the pommel dome and of separate manufacture. Four grooves radiate from it flanked by narrow incised lines. The original spirally grooved grip is of hardwood and retains its shagreen cover, twisted wire binding and grooved iron ferrules top and bottom.

The tapering double edged blade is of fine quality.  It has a short ricasso after which a triple fuller commences and extends to a distance 7.5 inches (19 cm) from the tip. The middle fuller is slightly longer than those on its flanks. The blade is 32 inches (81.25 cm) long and overall the sword is 38.25 inches (just over 97 cm) long.

Overall the sword is in fine and original condition. The metal parts are very well preserved. The hilt maintains its original profile and is without damage or repairs.

For further examples of this sword type, although much plainer and slightly earlier than ours, see Cyril Mazansky, British Basket-Hilted Swords, Boydell Press / Royal Armouries, 2005, plate F1e page 97, for a sword in the National Museums of Scotland, collection reference LA33, and page 125 plate F17c for one in the late Anthony Darling Collection

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