British 1892 Pattern Infantry Officer’s Sword, Royal Army Medical Corps, George V
Single-fullered straight blade with spear point, the blade 32½ inches in length, the sword 38½ inches overall. Distinctive pierced brass ‘Gothic’ hilt with crowned GVR cypher within an oval and small quillon. Gilt brass chequered backstrap with integral pommel, grey shagreen grip bound with gilt wire, brown leather washer. Bullion parade knot (currently fitted to the sword), steel parade scabbard, brown leather sword knot (not fitted), brown leather field scabbard, brown leather frog.
The blade is extensively etched with star & diamond patterns, flowers and foliate motifs on both sides. It is also etched on one side with the badge of the Royal Army Medical Corps (a rod of Asclepius surmounted by a crown within a laurel wreath, the regiment’s motto ‘In Arduis Fidelis’ in a scroll beneath) and the Royal Standard of a quartered shield with the national emblems of England, Scotland and Ireland, and on the other side it is etched with the crown and imperial cypher of George V ‘GRI’ (Georgius Rex Imperator). The use of the imperial cypher may suggest this sword was intended for an officer posted to the Indian Army. At the ricasso on one side there is a six-pointed star proof mark surrounding a brass proof slug, which is stamped with ‘PROVED’. The ricasso on the other side is etched with the retailer’s name ‘C. Boyton & Son Clerkenwell EC’ within a shield. The spine of the blade is stamped with the serial number ‘2672’.
The firm Charles Boyton was a silversmith and cutler. Founded in 1807, it registered its first silver hallmark in 1825. It moved from St Luke’s to Northampton Square, Clerkenwell in around 1849, and became ‘Charles Boyton & Son’ in 1894 - at that time owned by Charles Boyton II, son of the founder, working alongside his son Charles Boyton III. In 1919 it became ‘Charles Boyton & Son Ltd’ – which suggests that this sword was made before that date.
A number of silversmiths and other metalworking firms who did not usually produce blades briefly turned their hands to making and/or finishing army officer’s swords during WW1, existing manufacturers being swamped with demand. All the swords made by Boyton I have seen are WW1 era officer’s patterns bearing George V cyphers, so I think it is very likely it was one of these wartime-only makers, making this probably a WW1 sword.
In 1933 the company experienced financial difficulties. Charles Boyton III left and set up his own silver business at Marylebone Lane and Wigmore Street under the name Charles Boyton, which closed sometime after 1948, while the old Charles Boyton & Son Ltd reformed and carried on at Wardour Street, Soho until its closure in 1977.
The 1892 Pattern Infantry Officer's Sword was the last pattern to have the ornate gilt brass 'Gothic' hilt, used since 1822. This old hilt was paired with the brand-new blade design introduced in 1892: straight and optimised for thrusting. In most regiments this transitional sword was quickly replaced by the 1895 Pattern, which used a new steel hilt, then the slightly modified 1897 Pattern came in which is still used today. The RAMC was an anomaly in that it retained the 1892 Pattern sword until 1934.
The sword is complete with both of its original scabbards and knots – these would have been changed over for parade vs field wear. The blade is bright with crisp etching, some small areas of dark patination and a few forging marks. No fraying to the sword knot, although it has a dark finish. The shagreen of the grip is all intact with very light handling wear and all grip wires are present with only slight movement. The field scabbard has lost its leather covering at the chape end, exposing the wood core on one side. I have glued down the leather where it was hanging loose on the other side of the chape to prevent further losses.