Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Dress Swords and Fighting Swords Reply to topic
This is a standard topic  
Author Message
Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Sat 23 Feb, 2008 12:26 pm    Post subject: Dress Swords and Fighting Swords         Reply with quote

Given the recent discussions of military swords of the 19th century, I thought this might be of interest to some here at myArmoury (cross-posted in the A&M section at SFI). I am providing temporary housing for a British Pattern 1845 Infantry Officer's Sword of picquet/levee weight (meaning a dress sword), and thought it would be interesting to illustrate the differences between a dress sword and a service sword that are of the same pattern. When viewing photos of swords online, the swords are often isolated (i.e. photographed alone). This can make it difficult to visualize how swords are either similar or different. Hopefully this little comparison helps. Feel free to add your own observations and photos of picquet and service weight swords.

Jonathan



The service sword is a P1845 retailed by the firm Millan & Mann of Edinburgh. Its dimensions are as follows:

Overall length:38 1/2"
Blade length: 32 5/8"
Blade width at shoulder: 1 1/8"
Weight: 1 lb. 15 oz.



The levee sword is a P1845 retailed by the firm J. Jones of London. Its dimensions are as follows:

Overall length: 36 3/4"
Blade length: 32 1/8"
Blade width at shoulder: 11/16"
Weight: ~15 oz.



Last edited by Jonathan Hopkins on Sat 23 Feb, 2008 2:53 pm; edited 1 time in total
View user's profile Send private message
Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
Joined: 10 Feb 2005
Likes: 1 page

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 1,532

PostPosted: Sat 23 Feb, 2008 2:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I personally really appreciate you taking the time to put your post together. Thanks.
This is pretty interesting to me, and gives credence to a concept of a possibly smaller sword (maybe arming swords or riding swords in earlier eras) being worn for non combat situations.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
View user's profile Send private message
Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Sat 23 Feb, 2008 2:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is a rare sight (from a Thomas Del Mar auction last year):



Quote:
A RARE CASED PAIR OF VICTORIAN 1845 PATTERN INFANTRY SWORDS BY PHILIPPS & SON, GEORGE ST., HANOVER SQ, LONDON, CIRCA 1864-70 with standard and piquet-weight etched blades, each decorated with foliage, the crowned Royal cypher, the owner's initials, 'A. H.', crested arms including three Eagles displayed, and motto 'Vive ut Vivas', regulation brass hilts, one retaining its leather liner and bullion knot, in their brass-mounted leather scabbards, contained together in their original mahogany case with flush-fitting brass carrying handle, and lined in padded red velvet (the lining worn) 82cm; 32 1/4in and 78cm; 30 3/4in blades Philipps & Son traded at this address as Philipps, Lawrence & Son circa 1864-70.


Last edited by Jonathan Hopkins on Sat 23 Feb, 2008 7:23 pm; edited 1 time in total
View user's profile Send private message
Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Sat 23 Feb, 2008 2:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
I personally really appreciate you taking the time to put your post together. Thanks.
This is pretty interesting to me, and gives credence to a concept of a possibly smaller sword (maybe arming swords or riding swords in earlier eras) being worn for non combat situations.


My pleasure, and thanks for looking! I am glad it gave you food for thought for earlier swords.

Jonathan
View user's profile Send private message
Allen Andrews




Location: Maine USA
Joined: 17 Oct 2006
Reading list: 5 books

Posts: 305

PostPosted: Sat 23 Feb, 2008 5:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very interesting to see the two swords, side by side. I find that I have a growing interest in the military swords of the 18th and 19th century; anytime you wish to present information on these weapons it will be much appreciated.
" I would not snare even an orc with a falsehood. "

Faramir son of Denethor

Words to live by. (Yes, I know he's not a real person)
View user's profile Send private message
Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Sat 23 Feb, 2008 7:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Allen Andrews wrote:
Very interesting to see the two swords, side by side. I find that I have a growing interest in the military swords of the 18th and 19th century; anytime you wish to present information on these weapons it will be much appreciated.


Thanks, Allen. I will try to come up with something on British military swords every once and a while.

Jonathan
View user's profile Send private message
Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Sun 24 Feb, 2008 5:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is an excerpt on picquet weight infantry swords from Robson's Swords of the British Army (revised ed.), p.159:

Brian Robson wrote:
In addition to the normal pattern sword, light patterns of sword, (known as picquet weight swords in the Foot Guards) were introduced in which the blades are narrower (3/4") and the hilts correspondingly smaller and lighter. These were intended for wear off duty, in the evenings and in frock coat order. Although I have not found a specific authority for their introduction, the use was widespread and continued throughout the life of the Gothic-hilted patterns, so it was clearly known and accepted by the authorities at the Horse Guards.
View user's profile Send private message
Konstantin Tsvetkov




PostPosted: Sat 01 Mar, 2008 1:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello Jonathan,

I can see a proof mark on the blade of the dress sword. Does it mean that any sword of the period, including dress sword, was supposed to be tested for a certain level of durability? I have a mid 19-th century British light cavalry officer sword in my collection, it looks and feels sturdy and solid enough for combat use and there is a proof mark on the blade, but nice etching, shark skin on the grip and hilt silvering make it look like a dress sword also. The blade is almost identical to those of P1853 cavalry swords.

Thank you,

Konstantin.
View user's profile Send private message
Shayan G





Joined: 26 Sep 2006

Posts: 140

PostPosted: Sat 01 Mar, 2008 2:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you indeed for this comparison! Ironically, I find the combat saber to be prettier than the dress saber. What's the story behind the Star of David on its ricasso?

Thanks again!
Shayan

You have to be a man, first, before you can be a gentleman!
~the immortal John Wayne
View user's profile Send private message
Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Sat 01 Mar, 2008 3:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Konstantin,
The proof mark (brass proof slug in most cases) does not necessarily mean that a sword has been tested, although it can. The dress sword may have been subjected to a bend test, but I doubt it was subjected to any type of striking test. Proof slugs on Victorian era swords, like the name of Andrea Ferara on 17th and 18th century swords, became associated with quality and were used for marketing.

The blade does have a superficial resemblance to the blades found on cavalry swords. One of the biggest differences being that this officer's sword has a traditional tang, whereas the P1853 Cavalry Trooper's Sword has Reeve's Patent Solid Tang (essentially a sandwiched tang construction, not dissimilar from a messer hilt) with chequered leather scales.

Shayan,
I am not sure about the origins of the six pointed star used on many British military swords. The owner of Arms2Armor presents a few theories on his website. Some of the information to which the article links is controversial and very off-topic to this forum.

I, too, prefer the service sword to the dress sword. Its proportions are more pleasing to me, and the larger surface area allows for more and higher quality decoration. The more robust brass hilt has also survived quite well compared to the delicate hilt on the dress sword.

Thanks for reading and responding!

Jonathan
View user's profile Send private message
Shahril Dzulkifli




Location: Malaysia
Joined: 13 Dec 2007
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 1,265

PostPosted: Sun 02 Mar, 2008 12:33 am    Post subject: Dress Swords and Fighting Swords         Reply with quote

I have one question, Jonathan -
Were the guards of both swords folded?
View user's profile Send private message
Dmitriy Sobolev




Location: Moscow, Russia
Joined: 20 Apr 2006

Posts: 15

PostPosted: Sun 02 Mar, 2008 1:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I like fighting sword more, too.

Dress sword looks impractical - while having same cross-section (single-edged flat blade with large fuller), it's blade too light and narrow to produce any significant cut. And I wonder if this blade is stiff enough for thrusting. Perhaps triangular blade would've suit it better. I don't think there is a parallel betwenn this pair of swords and practice of carrying a lighter sword in non-combat situations in Middle Ages and later - looks like here dress sword is just not intented for use at all.

And fighting blade looks impressive, especially it's wide two-edged fighting end.

Thanks for sword stats, I always like to know dimensions and weight of 19th century swords!
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Kelly Powell




Location: lawrence, kansas
Joined: 27 Feb 2008

Posts: 123

PostPosted: Sun 02 Mar, 2008 6:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

They said it was an off duty dress sword.....I do not know what the dueling laws were for off duty officers.....But maybe it became traditional to carry a sword more designed for first blood duels(maybe get that nice dueling scar the german university students thought were so sexy)?
View user's profile Send private message
Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Sun 02 Mar, 2008 6:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Shahril,
Yes, both guards fold on the inboard side (the side that faces the hip when being worn). This was a feature of the P1822 and P1845 and was intended to prevent the fraying of clothing. The 1854 regulations called for a fix inboard guard, and the P1854 was born.

Dmitriy,
The dress sword was intended for off duty social functions. I have not heard any accounts of an officer using his picquet weight sword to defend himself.

Jonathan
View user's profile Send private message
Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Sun 02 Mar, 2008 6:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kelly Powell wrote:
They said it was an off duty dress sword.....I do not know what the dueling laws were for off duty officers.....But maybe it became traditional to carry a sword more designed for first blood duels(maybe get that nice dueling scar the german university students thought were so sexy)?


There is no way to say that one of these swords never saw use of some kind, but there is no evidence of any wide-scale use of these weapons for dueling. I am not sure what the laws or customs were regarding dueling, but I do not think it was permitted in the British Army in the 19th century.

Jonathan
View user's profile Send private message
Thomas Watt




Location: Metrowest Boston
Joined: 19 Sep 2006
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 159

PostPosted: Sun 02 Mar, 2008 2:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jonathan thanks for posting this info. I find this to be an interesting look at the two kinds of blades... I also have noted that you have a certain amount of expertise with later European swords. Hats off to you!
Have 11 swords, 2 dirks, half a dozen tomahawks and 2 Jeeps - seem to be a magnet for more of all.
View user's profile Send private message
Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Sun 02 Mar, 2008 5:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thomas,
Thanks for reading and commenting. European military swords from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries were (are) most common on the antiques market when I got into collecting about 15 years ago, and my interest in these swords is still going strong. One of the conveniences of British military swords is that when it comes to official patterns there is generally quite a lot of documentation; governmental, manufacturer, written accounts of specific swords in action, artwork, etc. This creates a very rich historical record, and this information was beautifully collected and presented in Swords of the British Army by Brian Robson--the "bible" of British military sword collectors.

Jonathan
View user's profile Send private message
B. Fulton





Joined: 28 Dec 2004

Posts: 180

PostPosted: Wed 05 Mar, 2008 12:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

While not "in period"........ a few years back some house robbers broke into a house owned by a retired British officer with knives in hand. They come through the front door weapons ready, he gets up, crosses to the mantel, whips out his saber (dress, more than likely) and prepares to defend himself.

The robbers decided not to mess with the man with the large pointy piece of steel and left. Happy

Sometimes the look and the attitude, whether or not the weapon is terribly functional, are what matters....

Back in the '80s didn't a Brit officer during a parade saber some idiot who went after the Queen with a blank firing pistol? Broke the blade if I remember correctly, since it WAS a dress weapon.....
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Dress Swords and Fighting Swords
Page 1 of 1 Reply to topic
All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2020 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum