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Rob Sully

Location: Bristol UK
Joined: 17 Mar 2012

Posts: 7

PostPosted: Thu 09 May, 2013 10:18 am    Post subject: Sabre info         Reply with quote

Hi all,

I recently bought a 1912 British Cavalry sabre.

My question is this-

At what stage or year do swords specifically British stop being made for battle if sharpened?

What i mean is today most military swords are stainless steel display pieces. The sword i bought is marked George VI so is second world war era and well beyond the cavalry charge. It has a nice patina and a wicked point but a dull blade and wouldn't have seen action. Would it be manufactured to the same quality of say a blade in 1914 which was actually expected to be used?

I've also got my eye on a 1897 infantry sword and the same question springs to mind. One is Edwardian so just before WW1 and again the other George V or VI (sorry cant remember). The price is similar so ignoring condition is the quality the same etc?

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Jonathan Hopkins

PostPosted: Thu 09 May, 2013 11:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have not handled many post-WWI swords, but many collectors have told me that they feel the quality dropped off after WWII. I am not sure if they mean to say that the quality of the sword as a weapon was reduced, or simply that the decoration (e.g., blade etching) was not up to previous standards. Based on what I have seen, I would say the latter is definitely true. Most British swords, even those made today by companies like Pooley Sword are made of "carbon steel" rather than stainless. But that will depend on the maker. Who made your P1912?

Regarding the P1897s, the answer is "it depends". Many P1897s were made during the Great War, and quality varied quite a lot as many firms that previous made other steel products began to produce swords. And by "many", I mean there was a huge leap in production. For example, from 1910-1913 Wilkinson made a total of 1,903 swords for officers (not just P1897s), and between 1914-1917 they made 10,562! If you then imagine the total output of the industry in general, well, that is a lot of swords (and most would have been P1897s). A GRV sword of the WWI era made by Wilkinson would be of excellent quality, but a sword made by a Sheffield maker may not be. It may be a sturdy weapon, but not comparable to a Wilkinson in its execution, balance and detail. Quality varied during the reign of Edward VII, also, but perhaps not quite as much as during WWI. For me, the appeal of an Edwardian sword would be knowing it pre-dated WWI and would likely have been owned by a man who served in the Great War, whereas with most non-Wilkinson GRV P1897s (and therefore harder to date precisely) the sword may well date to after the war.

Consider that a Wilkinson will be a better investment than most other swords by other makers, and any marks that would establish provenance would also enhance the value and desirability of a sword.

Hopefully there is something that makes sense in my rambling reply!

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Rob Sully

Location: Bristol UK
Joined: 17 Mar 2012

Posts: 7

PostPosted: Mon 13 May, 2013 10:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the advice. I can't actually see a makers mark on the blade. It has a made in England stamp and a number on the spine. It has the star motif at the base of the blade that i believe many makers used. It also has extremely feint lettering on the other side and all i can make out is gers and London.

Thanks also for the 1897 advice. The shop i browse in seems to usually keep a few in so i'll hang on for an Edwardian Wilkinson if possible.

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