British 1821 Pattern Cavalry Officer’s Sword, 1901-1912, Owner's Initials
Slightly curved, single fullered blade with spear point, basket guard with pierced foliate ‘honeysuckle’ decoration, brown leather washer, wire-bound shagreen grip, chequered steel backstrap and integral smooth oval pommel. Steel scabbard with two hanging rings. Overall length 42 ¼ inches (107.3cm) blade length 35 ¾ inches (90.8cm).
The blade is etched on one side with a six-pointed star surrounding a brass proof slug with ‘PROVED T’, probably indicating the manufacturer Thurkle, as well as the owner’s initials ‘W.M.’, the royal coat of arms and foliate motifs. It is etched on the other side with the retailer’s name ‘Lehmann Aldershot’, the crown and cypher of King Edward VII, and further foliate motifs.
H Lehmann & Son was a military tailor and outfitter based in Aldershot, a military town sometimes called the ‘home of the British Army’, as the Aldershot Garrison was its first permanent training camp when it was established in 1854. Active from around 1900 until the 1920s, Lehmann also had a fitting room on Savile Row in London open by appointment. Like many other such tailors it would have purchased swords from a manufacturer with its own branding applied, which would then be sold together with a new officer’s uniform.
The 1821 Pattern sword for heavy cavalry officers drew inspiration from its predecessor the 1796 Pattern, with a similar ornately pierced guard. The earliest version had an unfullered pipeback blade with quill point, this was replaced in 1845 with the fullered, spear-pointed ‘Wilkinson’ blade. In 1896 two important changes took place: first, the 1821 Heavy Cavalry Pattern was henceforth to be carried by all cavalry officers, both Light and Heavy, and second, the backstrap of the 1821 was slightly redesigned, going from a curved, partly chequered form to a straight and fully chequered form, with a flat squared thumb rest next to the hilt. This was a design element borrowed from the 1895 Pattern infantry officer’s sword, intended to improve grip and handling. The now-universal 1821 Pattern was later replaced by the 1912 Pattern which is in use to this day.
This sword must have been purchased in the period 1901-1912, between the coronation of King Edward VII and the introduction of the 1912 pattern. It is very likely that an officer starting his career in this period would go on to serve in WW1, and it is at least possible that it may have been a purchase for the later stages of the Boer War. I would like to be able to give you the owner’s full history - however, searching for a newly gazetted cavalry officer with initials ‘W.M.’ over that twelve-year span turns up too many candidates.
The blade has some tiny spots of dark patination, but is otherwise clean and bright with no damage and all of its etching visible. All other metal parts have been nickel-plated and this plating is in very good condition, with only tiny areas of wear on the hilt, scattered areas of wear on the body of the scabbard, particularly the ring mounts, and an area lost at the chape, with the revealed steel beneath having a dark patina. The wire binding of the grip is all intact and there are no losses or visible handling wear to the shagreen.