British 1855 Pattern Land Transport Corps Sword
Straight unfullered single-edged blade. Ribbed solid brass hilt with cross guard, symmetrical round finials and oval pommel. No scabbard.
The ricasso of the blade is stamped on one side with a knight’s helm, this mark signifies the maker as C F Kirschbaum of Solingen. Imported German blades are not uncommon on British swords of the period, even those produced for the government. English firms would often buy in German blades then hilt and finish them. On the other side it is stamped with a crown inspection mark.
Sidearms with the form of a neoclassical ‘gladius’ appear to have originated with the French 1771 ‘Eagle Head’ Artillery sword. A series of very similar-looking short swords were subsequently designed, including the French 1816 & 1831 Artillery, the US Model 1832 Foot Artillery, the Swiss 1842 Pioneer’s, the Russian 1848 Pioneer’s and the British 1855 Land Transport. While durable and simple to manufacture, they were not particularly useful for combat (the gladius having become obsolete for good reasons) so remained either ceremonial items or in the role of a machete for various field tasks such as clearing brush.
The Land Transport Corps was formed in great haste in 1855, in the midst of the Crimean War: the British Army’s disorganized transport had resulted in disastrous supply breakdowns during the harsh winter of 1854, and a rapid response was required. Officers of the new unit carried the 1822 Light Cavalry sword while other ranks were armed with the 1855: a near replica of the French 1831 Artillery sidearm, making this the only British sword to follow the Continental gladius trend.
A few dents to the brass hilt as expected for its age. The blade has speckled pitting overall and some areas of more significant pitting.
This sword formed part of a decorative pair, the other example can be found in its own listing.