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The 1796 P infantry officer's sword of Lt.Col. Denis Pack (sold)

This is the sword Denis Pack bought after he was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel of the 71th Highlanders; he assumed his duties with them on the 6th December 1800. Lieutenant-Colonel Denis Pack having previously served with the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards and 5th Dragoon Guards cavalry regiments went on to have a highly distinguished career in the Peninsula War (possibly with this sword) and then as Major-General Sir Denis Pack K.C.B, one of if not the most important general in the 100 Days War and Waterloo itself.

1796 P British Infantry Officer's Sword1796 Patt British Infantry Officer's Sword

Sold Item Notice

If you would like to read a little about Denis Pack, an excellent summary exists here: Denis Pack Epitaph.

Facts / Provenance
This sword came from Christies, London. I have written statements from them the sword is known to have come from the Pack family home, that it was the property of Major-General Sir Denis Pack. I purchased two swords from Christies which have both been period marked to Denis Pack after the event (his name was added after). The markings are sure to have been done by Denis Pack's family, probably after his death. The markings on the two swords I bought have clearly been done by the same engraver.

image Capt Denis Pack

As you can see the guard detail is incorrect for three reasons; the first is the sword is an infantry sword and the 5th Dragoon Guards are cavalry; the second is they spelt his name wrong (it was Denis with one "n") and thirdly his rank at the time was Lieutenant-Colonel, not Captain. This engraving is clearly period though, so the mistake was made many years ago. In addition the scabbard mouthpiece is marked to sword cutler Salter at 35 The Strand; Salter is noted to have been at this address from 1801. So the etching of his Pack's name was done in retrospect.

image salter sword cutler

As the sword is known the be that of Pack's, the explanation is his family, probably his wife, added these details to his swords after his death (24th of July 1823) in his memory. Probably aware of when about he bought them, the perceived facts were added to this and Pack's other sword or swords. The misspelling and style of engraving being repeated on the other Pack family sword I bought: Sword of Major-General Sir Denis Pack K.C.B. So his wife or his children had the swords engraved in his honour and the engraver spelt his name wrong with the most common spelling of Dennis. The above mistakes are not those of a unscrupulous dealer of antiques as they would not make such errors. Plus the fact both these swords came from the family home of Denis Pack which is confirmed in writing by Christies of London and, again, they are clearly period anyway.

I do not know how long Denis Pack wore this sword for but he almost certainly wore it when he played a key role in the recapture of the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa) from the Dutch in 1806. He may well have worn it when he did battle with Napoleon's forces during the Peninsula War.

Copies of statements (including emails) from Christies London can be made available to serious purchase enquirers.

The sword is in good condition overall but the grip has been replaced some time ago with what looks like walnut, plus the knuckle bow has some damage cracks with some earlier repairs; the quillon also has been broken off and reattached. The gilt has worn and the leather scabbard at one point has a crease in it which means it flops down at that point. It should be noted a specialist restorer such as Crisps on England would be able to fully restore the sword if required for around £550 (create silver wire grip, repair hilt damage, regilt the hilt and scabbard fittings, make a new leather scabbard).

Further / full sized photos / further information available upon request. Item reference number 313.

Blue and Gilt etch

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