Friday, 18 September 2015

Infantry Officers 1845 Pattern Sword

"The Infantry officer's regulation weapon was his sword, this still being of the Gothic-hilted 1822 pattern with brass guard but with the 32½-inch, fullered blade introduced in 1845, carried in a steel scabbard. To supplement this elegant but useless weapon, officers would equip themselves with revolvers, the most popular types being the Webley and the Adams."
Michael Barthorp - The Zulu War, A Pictorial History.

Just recently I was offered a family heirloom that turned up in house clearance, well more like shed clearance, on Carolyn's side of the family.

My new sword standing in my old golf ball holder soaking in a vinegar solution
Probably, as in most wargamers extended family, it soon becomes common knowledge that you have a passion for military history and you get offered various bits and pieces that no right minded person would be interested in but that you might just find some fascination in.

So it was with some interest that my son Tom came back from doing a bit of shed clearance announcing he had a present for me.

No one seems very sure of the provenance of this interesting piece of militaria, only that it has been in the said shed for "donkeys years" and if the damage to the hilt and accumulated rust mixed with cob webs is anything to go by that looks pretty likely.

From my initial research it would appear we are looking at an 1845 pattern British Infantry Officers sword, and a proper fighting sword, not some little dress piece. As you can see the years and storage have not been kind but the vinegar solution is starting to reveal the blade below all that rust.,_1827,_1845,_1854_and_1892_Patterns)

As you can see in these pictures, the hilt has the folded down section to allow it to be carried close to the wearer, this feature was dropped with the 1854 pattern and the remnants of the fish scale handle would indicate an officers weapon rather than a sergeants.

Who knows perhaps this old blade saw service in Zululand or even El Teb. The research into where this came from goes on as does the cleaning.

Simon Smith's "Saving the Colour" really captures the look of the ornate gothic hilt of the 1845 pattern infantry officers sword

So on to part two of this post and my new sword just about ready for moving into JJ's toy-room.

As you can see the vinegar solution did a good job on removing the years of accumulated rust which as well as revealing the pocked marked damage done to the blade also showed up the proofing mark just below the hilt in the picture below.

The handle is in a terrible state but at least some of the original fish scale grip is still in evidence and I have started on removing years of grime on the brass work to reveal the splendour of the Royal monogram VR, on the superb Victorian style hilt. In addition the fold down thumb guard is back in working order and can be seen folded down in the picture below.

In the picture below you can see the thumb guard up and a closer look at the remnants of the fish scale grip.

Further cleaning of the hilt revealed the lovely ornate scrolling on top of the pommel

The close ups of the blade reveal the damage done by years of rust. However on cleaning there is still an edge in parts to this blade and I had to take care when applying the turtle wax to prevent further rusting to the revealed steel.

Despite the damage done to this fine looking weapon, I am pleased with the state I have managed to bring it back too and love the history behind the period this old blade represents. The 1845 pattern sword can truly be described as the sword of empire.


  1. Nice, good work on the clean up.

    1. Hi Tony, much fun trawling various YouTube clips of ways to clean brass and remove heavy concentrations of rust. It was great to see the detail gradually reveal itself.

  2. What an amazing thing to have! Heaven only knows how those notches were knocked out of the blade, possibly on some poor chaps skull! Good luck restoring it, that'll be a labour of love. Remember we only ever custodians of such things. Best wishes as ever, Jeremy

    1. It is lovely old piece of history and I am sure it would have a few tales to tell before its retirement to the shed. Only glad to have been able to rescue it before any more damage had been done and given it a good home. Just got to work out how to hang it in the play room.

  3. My wife's family in Ohio have an 1861 Springfield proudly displayed hanging from a basement wall. Problem was, in an effort to preserve it, someone in the family had liberally applied shellac to the metal parts. Took a lot of elbow grease to remove it, but it was worth it. The shellac had actually done a reasonable job preserving it.
    At some point they'd opened up a wall in the house and hidden behind the plaster was a socket bayonet. It was completely unrelated to the rifled musket but it now hangs alongside the firearm.

    1. Hi Nigel, wow what a lovely piece of history to have plus a great back story to go with it. I am eyeing up certain spaces around the toy room to hang the sword. I think it will go quite nicely over the old fire place.
      Further research with Carolyn's wider family suggests this old sword came back with Carolyn's Great Grand-dad after WWI and became a familiar ornament in the garden shed along with an old German picklehaube that has since been lost over time. I seem to remember seeing my Dad's old WWII helmet hanging in the garage when I was little kid, so probably shows what happened to a lot of this stuff after a war was a dim distant memory. I don't know what happened to Dad's old "battle bowler".

  4. Nice find, even if the years have not been too kid to it. You did a good rescue job on the blade, it was unfortunate the binding on the grip could not be saved.

    That pattern of sword was replaced by the much more "user friendly" 1854 pattern. Typical of British side arms; wait until they are out of date to produce a good one !


    1. It has been a labour of love over the last few days trying to get this old lady back to a semblance of her former glory. I will stick some pictures up later of her new place in the toy room.

      Yes British sidearms and WWII tanks make classic case studies of "how not to do things". I did enjoy trying out my classic Micheal Caine on Tom, sword in hand, exclaiming in my best cockney accent "don't point that bloody thing at me!"

  5. My father has a a Martini-Enfield rifle circa 1899. It was not his he had to "procure" it, but it is nonetheless a fabulous piece of nostalgia.

    1. Very nice indeed. These old weapons certainly give an intangible sense of the era in history they represent when you get up close to them, much more than any picture can bring