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1804 Pattern Royal Navy Cutlass, HMS Victory Provenance, sold

An 1804P Royal Naval cutlass, correctly marked for a British First Class Ship of the Line (large multi-deck gunship), reportedly from HMS Victory.

1804P Royal Navy Cutlass, HMS Victory / Battle of Traflagar Provenance

Sales enquiries

Yes, we know every dealer claims their 1800 and 1804 pattern cutlasses are reported to have come from HMS Victory and been at the Battle of Trafalgar, but this one is different, there is good reason to believe the previous owner's assertions. This 1804P is correctly marked by the Board of Ordinance and has a brass plate bolted to the guard stating "44 QD". This means this scabbard was once on the Quarter Deck of a Georgian British Royal Navy warship. The fact it is Quarter Deck weapon 44 tells us the ship was big, very big, a First Rate Ship of the Line, of which there were only four in active service at the time of the Battle of Trafalgar; HMS St Lawrence, HMS Royal Sovereign, HMS Britannia and HMS Victory.

Research shows that HMS Victory carried both 1804 and 1800 Patterns at the Battle of Trafalgar. The newer 1804P's with their ribbed grips to allow a firmer hold, would have been located on the top fighting decks, especially the Quarter Deck, where boarding actions and hand to hand combat were a reality; the older 1800P's would have been placed in crates on the gun decks, in case the gunners needed to defend themselves against boarders. Cutlasses on the upper deck would be in scabbards, as this one is, and positioned in rows along walls for sailors to grab in a hurry and wear. The scabbard of this 1804P is original and has the correct Board of Ordnance marking.

The cutlass generally is very sound but there is a lot of age and rust. The 27 9/10 inch blade is in very good shape except for the point area, which has rusted, clearly while in the scabbard. The blade is marked with Georgian crown and a Crown over 2 inspection / acceptance mark. The blade is firm in the hilt, the hilt with some rusted area but generally little / light in comparison with most cutlasses of this age. The grip is good, some rust. All of the rust is now stabilized of course. The Guard bears the brass plate seen above. The original leather and steel toe scabbard is generally very good, just one kink / repair near the end. The brass frog loop is still present and in good order. The cutlass draws and sheathes very well.

If there were a certificate firmly linking this cutlass to HMS Victory and the Battle of Trafalgar, it would be worth over £10,000. As it stands it is a very rare item in any event, especially as it clearly was on a very large British ship of the line. We think the price tag is justified without any documented connection to HMS Victory as this is an exceptional, well above average example with clear provenance to a multi-deck gunship. Further / full sized pictures available upon request. Please quote item reference number E05

Footnote:
We have an email from someone with a virtually identical cutlass (except for the brass plate QD number of course) which his family has firm provenance through their ancestors (a family of RN seafarers) that their cutlass was on HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar and who states with all certainty that our cutlass would have been on one of the big four British vessels at that battle, most likely on the Victory itself.

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