British 1905 Pattern Infantry Staff Sergeant's Sword by Wilkinson, George V Rehilt and Conversion
Curved single-fullered spear-pointed blade. Pierced hilt of the 1897 pattern infantry model, with pierced decoration including the crown and cypher of King George V. Fully chequered backstrap, integral oval pommel with tang button. Wire-bound shagreen grip. No washer. Blade length 32¼ inches, 38¼ inches overall. Brown leather field scabbard with brass throat.
The blade is stamped at the forte on one side with the maker’s mark ‘Wilkinson London’ (partly removed by reshaping), the manufacture date 5 ’01 (May 1901), an issue stamp ’02 and three crown inspection stamps with ‘W’ for Wilkinson. It is stamped on the other side with a broad arrow, indicating War Department property, a further crown inspection stamp for Wilkinson, and an ‘X’ indicating that the blade passed a manufacturer’s bending test. The spine of the blade is stamped with /99, indicating the pattern, and one more crown inspection stamp.
Unlike officers who privately purchased and owned their own swords, staff sergeants were issued their swords from regimental stores like a musket or bayonet, and the swords remained government property. The 1905 Pattern staff sergeant’s sword was unusual in that it was manufactured using surplus 1899 Pattern cavalry trooper’s sword blades, which is thought to have been done to replace swords lost in the Boer War without too much expenditure. As originally produced the 1905 combined an unmodified 1899 Pattern blade with new slab grips secured with rivets and an 1897 type infantry hilt bearing the cypher of Edward VII.
In 1912 both the 1898 and 1905 Pattern staff sergeant’s swords were officially rehilted to replace the old royal cypher with that of King George V. It appears to me that other modifications are often seen on these post-1912 examples beyond simply replacing the hilt, which vary but tend to bring them closer in design to the infantry sword. This example has been rehilted, but it has also been slimmed, resharpened, plated and given a new shagreen grip in the infantry style.
The blade has been shortened by about an inch and narrowed (1.1 inches wide at the shoulder and 0.9 inches at the end of the fuller), with material removed from the belly and the false edge, also reshaping the point to be much more acute. It has been kept at about the same thickness. This would have removed the edge and false edge, but they have been restored by reprofiling and the reshaped blade is sharp. The blade has then been nickel-plated.
The blade has some wear to the plating on the spine towards the point, exposing bright steel. The tip has rolled and a small patch of plating has been lost from the tip. The hilt is bright with some light pitting to the inside of the guard. The shagreen of the grip is all intact with very little handling wear, the wire binding is all present with slight movement to the loops. The scabbard leather has surface scuffing and flaking and some losses near the throat, the frog strap has been lost or removed, some patination to the brass throat piece.