In good condition, the Gill of Birmingham Prototype for the 1796 Pattern British Heavy Cavalry Trooper’s Sword.
This is the / one of the prototypes put forward by renowned Birmingham maker Gill for the eventual 1796 pattern heavy cavalry trooper’s sword. How do we know? Because it can’t be anything else. Unfortunately, the appointed British Board of Cavalry General Officers went for a near copy of the Austrian 1775 model pallasch, which produced the 1796P heavy cavalry troopers’s sword (a deservedly much derided weapon). I know which sword I would rather fight with, this Gill prototype, as the blade is strong and perfect for piercing, plus has a wicked cutting edge for slicing into any Frenchman.
The “Gill Warranted” etched tablet to the blade is late 18C. The straight through large blade tang fixed at the pommel conforms to Le Marchant’s specification, as does the blade length. The scabbard is clearly both a prototype with its screwed o-ring suspension rings and heavy overall construction. The disc guard conforms to the unofficial specification by Le Marchant (the British cavalry officer who pushed for new sword patterns). The backsword blade has been period field grinder sharpened (there is patina over the sharpening commensurate with the blade as a whole) is still very, very sharp and covers the forward point section of the spine plus the entire length of the cutting edge.
This sword is so much better than the adopted 1796P and goes to show that British General Officers had very little field experience and were out of touch with the needs of the front line soldier. This sword would have devastated the French as much as the superb 1796P light cavalry sabre did. What a shame!
The 35 5/8 inch blade is in very good condition and firm in the hilt. The hilt with patina / rust is good, as is the fishskin grip; a small bit of the grip wire remains if replacement is desired. The heavy steel scabbard has inert rust but is in good sound order. The sword sheathes and draws well.
Into 1796P’s? You will not find another. A great sword for £2000. Please quote item reference number W11. Further / full sized pictures available upon request. Box 121x19x16 (2.728).