1808-1818 Napoleonic Wars Household Cavalry
Trooper's Sword (sold)
This is an exceptionally rare early 19th Century household cavalry
trooper's sabre, circa 1808 to 1818, with battle damage from the
Napoleonic Wars, almost certainly Waterloo.
Very rare heavy cavalry sabre of the household cavalry (Royal Horse
& Life Guards) made between 1808 and 1818; damage to the blade
indicating it was decommissioned after being damaged in battle.
This sabre is so rare it does not appear in many reference books
(because the authors can not get their hands on one to photograph
and because it was not an "official" pattern per say),
but it does in the all important "Swords of the British Army"
by Brian Robson.
This "pattern" of sword was never an official pattern
such as the 1796 P heavy cavalry sabre used by regular regiments.
The brass hilted household cavalry sabre clearly mirroring the grandeur
of the French cuirassier sabre's brass hilt. However, this household
cavalry pattern was less effective than the steel disc hilted sabre
issued to regular troopers in Dragoon Guard, etc. heavy regiments
because a) it is slightly heavier (making it hard to hold in charge
position, arm outstretched) and the hilt was much weaker defensively.
Collectors and experts debate when this sabre was actually carried
by household cavalry troopers due to paintings of a few just before
and after Waterloo clearly showing the standard steel disc hilted
version. However this sabre indicates it was at Waterloo simply
because its original hatchet point has been ground down to spear
point, which was a field order given by the British commanders just
before Waterloo (caveat: not all British heavy cavalry sabres were
ground down to spear point in time for the battle).
In addition, records exist which indicate this sabre was still
being made at the time of Waterloo (with a hatchet point) and just
beyond, 1818; the pattern being officially replaced in 1820. It
is difficult to imagine the cash strapped British army ordering
a sabre which some say was obsolete at the time! So, on this basis,
given the spear point, the blade damage, the fact all the household
cavalry regiments were at Waterloo and fact this sabre pattern was
still very much alive at that time, I am very confident this sabre
was involved in the famous cavalry charge by the Household Brigade
on one side and the Union Brigade the other.
The 34 and a bit inches blade clearly has lost nearly an inch in
length and I suspect not just from the tip being modified to spear
point (this might explain half and inch loss). Given the blade is
bent in a couple of places, I suspect the tip was ground once to
spear point and then again to take off battle damage. The forward
cutting edge section has some pronounced nicks to the blade indicating
close quarter battlefield action. In any event, this blade has seen
action, for sure, and the spear point indicates it was at Waterloo.
The blade appears to have the remnants of a maker's name to the
spine, but as I can clearly see an "8" I am pretty sure
it was made by Osborn of Birmingham as they were given this number
in the original inspection / view mark issue.
The hilt has cuts and some (repaired) breaks to it as you have
to expect, though is in very good order considering. The grip has
been replaced with a modern composite material (professionally done).
The blade is firm in the hilt. Given the incredibly rare nature
of the sabre, I believe the price is exceptionally good. Further
/ larger photos available upon request. Item reference number 97