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Boer War British 1st Life Guards Officer's Sword, sold

In very good condition, a high quality unusual and very interesting Boer War British 1st Life Guards officer's sword.

Unusual & Interesting Boer War British 1st Life Guards Officer's Swordimage D16 1

Sold Item Notice

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.

image D16 2 1st life guards

image D16 3 Victorian cypher

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).

image D16 5

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 found out!

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)


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