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British Circa 1840 Cavalry Officer’s Mameluke Sword, 10th Royal Hussars (Prince of Wales’s Own)

£1,250.00
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Description

Curved, single fullered, spear-pointed blade. White leather washer, mameluke hilt with ball finials. Ivory scale grips secured with rivets, the heads of the rivets in the form of a rosette. All the metal parts of the hilt and grip have been gilded, the blade nickel-plated. Silver-plated steel scabbard with two hanging rings.

The blade is etched with foliate and sunburst motifs, the crown and cypher of Queen Victoria (crowned 1838), and regimental motifs differing on each side: on one side ‘Royal X Hussars’ surrounded by laurels, on the other side the badge of the Prince of Wales: three feathers emerging from a coronet and ‘Ich Dien’ (I Serve), which was the motto of both the Prince and the regiment. Below that is an oval cartouche containing an ‘X’ surrounded by ‘The Prince of Wales Own Hussars’, below which is two scrolls with the battle honours ‘Peninsula’ and ‘Waterloo’.

The retailer’s name is etched at the ricasso: ‘Wheeler & Robinson 9 Princes Street Hanover Squ London’. Wheeler & Robinson were tailors based at Hanover Square from around 1840. John Wheeler was the main partner and owner of the premises, and there are some references to a John Wheeler trading as a sword cutler in this period, so this may be an unusual example of a London tailor making very high-end bespoke swords in house: most bought their swords from manufacturers and sold them as a package with a uniform to the gentleman officer. Records suggest the partnership was dissolved on June 7th 1849, so this sword must date to at least that year.

The 10th Hussars was first raised in 1715 at Hertford as Humphrey Gore's Regiment of Dragoons. Intended as a temporary unit to put down a Jacobite uprising but too late to actually take part, it remained in existence as a garrison unit and later put down the 1745 Jacobite uprising instead. It was renamed the 10th Regiment of Dragoons in 1751. In 1783 King George III made his son the colonel-in-chief of the regiment, and it was renamed the 10th (Prince of Wales's Own) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons. This close association with the heir to the throne, who lived an extravagant lifestyle, loved military pomp and dreamed of earning glory in battle, made the Regiment, which became known as the 'Shiny Tenth', a home for rich, fashion-conscious young men like Beau Brummel who bought commissions, it would seem, mostly for the chance to wear lavish uniforms and enjoy royal patronage.

In 1806 the Prince, now Regent, had the authority to make his Tenth a 'Royal' regiment and convert it into the first full-fledged British Hussars regiment, with even more lavish dress in the Continental Hussar style. It took part in several key battles of the Peninsular War, including Benavente, Corunna and Vitoria, fought in France in 1814, and charged the French at Waterloo in 1815. It was deployed in India from 1846-54, returning to fight in the Crimean War, including the Siege of Sevastopol and Battle of Eupatoria. In the latter part of the 19th century it fought in Afghanistan, Sudan and South Africa and remained a cavalry unit on the Western Front in WW1, before becoming an armoured unit during WW2. It was merged with the 11th Hussars in 1969 to form The Royal Hussars (Prince of Wales’s Own), which merged with the 14/20th King’s Hussars in 1992 to form the present-day King’s Royal Hussars.

This style of sword was popular during the 19th century, initially introduced to Europeans during Napoleon’s Egyptian campaigns of 1798-1801, where he fought against and was impressed by the Mameluke cavalry. The Duke of Wellington owned and carried a mameluke sword from his service in India, and it became an outright craze among British officers to have one as a dress sword, officially acknowledged with the 1822 cavalry dress regulations and the 1831 pattern staff officer’s sword, which is still carried by General Officers to this day. Among the light cavalry the mameluke sword was of iconic status: even after Dress Regulations were brought in every Lancer and Hussar regiment retained its own unique variation on the type: always flashy, made to very high standards and incorporating regimental motifs as a stamp of identity. See Chapter 12 of the British Cavalry Sword 1788-1912 by Richard Dellar for extensive discussion of these variations.

The blade has some scattered pitting, some of it impacting the etching. The hilt has one small chip to the ivory next to a rivet and a hairline surface-level crack to the ivory on the same side. The scabbard has only a few miniscule dents and retains all of its silver plating. This is a highly decorative piece in fine condition, which the photos do not really do full justice to!

Due to the ivory used in the grip, this sword cannot be exported from the UK.

 

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