Boer War British 1st Life Guards Officer's
In very good condition, a high quality unusual and very interesting
Boer War British 1st Life Guards officer's sword.
Yes, this IS a 1st Life Guards officer's sword. Yes, we know it
is an 1821 pattern for light cavalry! But the unmistakable badge
of the 1st Life Guards is on the blades, along with battle honours
for that regiment until and including Egypt 1882. But there is more
to the intrigue. The blade has had the maker's name and proof slug
(which would have identified the maker) removed from the ricasso
and the serial number from the spine. However, because the "By
Appointment and Welsh feathers still remain on the blade, we know
this sword was made by Wilkinson. Why would anyone remove the maker's
name and serial number? Most likely, to hide the identity of the
original owner. No doubt, gentry / nobility selling off some of
their assets, somehow unable to advertise the fact of their new
found financial status.
This is one of several swords we bought from a prolific
Canadian collector, Gary Bates, bought by him 20 to 50 years
before, whose several other swords also were so anonymised, including
a sword which subsequently transpired to have been owned by one
of Britain's greatest prime ministers.
What we do know about this sword and its original owner is that
it was purchased after 1882, as it has the battle honours for Egypt
1882 on the blade. The 1st Life Guards did not receive any further
battle honours until the Boer War, when they were involved from
the very beginning in 1899. As the blade bears the Victorian Cypher,
we therefore know the sword can be dated from 1883 to 1901. What
shows it was in the Boer War are two facts; a) the sword is an 1821P
for light cavalry, and the Boer War would have been the only logical
reason for a heavy cavalry 1st Life Guards officer to have such
a special order sword made; b) the scabbard is covered in black
leather at a time when British officers did what they could to disguise
their swords (stop them standing out) so as to avoid the attention
of highly skilled Boer marksmen (snipers).
See the Welsh feathers above and "By Appointment", indicating
the sword was from Wilkinsons, despite the removal of the maker's
name from the ricasso.
It is a shame the original owner's name is not known and probably
will never be, but the facts remain that this is a 1st Life Guards
officer's sword which speaks of the Boer War in itself. Perhaps
the fact this is an 1821 Pattern light cavalry sword indicates the
officer was on a temporary transfer to a light cavalry regiment
in South Africa. Oh, if only we knew his name and could thereby
The 34 1/2 inch blade is of very high quality and in very good
condition. The point has been later unsharpened but this does not
detract from the sword, it only adds to the intrigue. There are
a few tell tale small nicks to the forward blade section. The blade
is firm in the hilt, the hilt with some signs of scuffing and age
but overall very good and sound. The fishskin grip has some signs
of wear, clearly the sword has been tightly held for extended periods.
The typical Wilkinson style twisted grip wire bindings are in excellent
condition. The black leather covered steel scabbard is in very good
condition for its age. The sheathes and draws very well. It is a
real beauty of a sword and we only wish we knew its full history.
But still, imagination, the 1st Life Guards emblem and the quality
of the sword make the £650 price tag a very enjoyable good
investment for someone. Further / full sized pictures available
upon request. Please quote item reference number D16 (700)