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Tim Simmons 12th August 2006 02:32 PM

?1900s Indian Army saber?
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Not really my thing this but when you have OCD these things happen. Heavy blade, wood grips, leather covered wood scabbard. No marks!! Wide fuller on both sides. Very nice balance to a heavy and quite flexible bladed weapon. Just a little damage to the scabbard tip :( . Some of you seem a little keen and knowledgeable about this sort of creation, I do not really go for service stuff so any info about it would be nice to hear.

Tim Simmons 12th August 2006 04:53 PM

I got this sword this morning, it was bit of an impulse buy. Now I have had time to look in some books I think it is the Indian Army version of the British Cavalry troopers 1853 saber. Obviously the blade is made to the local fashion.

Rick 12th August 2006 05:23 PM

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Is there a name for this feature on the spine where the false edge begins ?
Looks like a good no nonsense weapon Tim; fully functional beauty .

Tim Simmons 12th August 2006 05:54 PM

The few books I have on military swords only have a slight mention of Indian Army swords except the 1903 or is it 06 pattern adopted by all English speaking countries. I can find no mention of the piece before the false edge. The sword has certainly see some action. Border line ethnographic but tells a story.

Flavio 12th August 2006 05:58 PM

Hello Tim, I like it :) :)

Lew 12th August 2006 06:36 PM


A nice blend of east and west :) The blade seems to be typical tulwar style in design. If you really hate it I would be glad to take it off your hands :D


Tim Simmons 12th August 2006 07:17 PM

Thanks Lew you are making me feel better for spending money when I really should be thinking about the bloody stupid car. I think I shall hang on to it for the moment. A car does not last long so it can wait a few more weeks, and I hate it anyway. I know there are some nice heavy talwars but this sword is heavier than most one sees.

Tim Simmons 13th August 2006 06:59 PM

Stuff on Indian Army cavalry swords
It seems that Indian Army cavalry swords vary considerably this only represents some. The following pages come from " Pictorial History Swords & Bayonets, R.J.Wilkinson-Latham " He suggests that the three bar hilt took over from the stirrup hilt in 1860. I find it a trifle amusing how authors who were not there and not manufactures come out with such bold and definite opinions.

Some swords and steel scabbards made in the UK. Others were just the sword and Indian made scabbards and some were Indian made swords with the hilts supplied by the UK

spiral 13th August 2006 07:12 PM

Actualy Tim I think you may find Robert Wilkinson-Latham was the fifth generation running of his family to be involved with Wilkinson Sword Ltd.


Tim Simmons 13th August 2006 07:19 PM

Yes indeed but they did not make them all and certainly not when he was a boy.

katana 13th August 2006 08:13 PM

Originally Posted by Rick
Is there a name for this feature on the spine where the false edge begins ?

It obviously was forged during the manufacturing process.......but is it to re-inforce the spine at the point that the back becomes a false edge....I haven't seen this feature before.

Jim McDougall 14th August 2006 11:11 PM

While the progression of British military regulation pattern swords was well documented and has very good resources identifying them ("Swords of the British Army" by Robson, the most recent and comprehensive), the swords of the British native cavalry units are only vaguely described.
It is true that Wilkinson-Latham is one of the famed sword making dynasty in England, and as others, such as John Wilkinson, who has also written on these weapons, have had considerable resources which describe the historical data involving that firms extensive production.

This sword certainly is in the style of the regulation M1853 cavalry sabre, although it is of course not one of the regulation issue examples. There were examples of these produced for native regiments in India, one group having been produced by a Rodwell & Co. I think around the late 19th c. but I do not have details handy at the moment. The typical colonial sabres made in around the 1880's for some of the cavalry units were made in the form known as the 'gothic hilt' and were patterned after the M1821 light cavalry sabre with three bar hilt.
It is also known that the stirrup hilt sabres of the M1796 light cavalry sabre, with the hatchet point, were produced also in the latter 19th c. by makers who consigned to supply forces in the Raj, one such firm was J.Bourne & Sons. These stirrup hilt sabres were still in armouries as late as the 1930's

This sabre is likely end of 19th c. to early yrs 20th and as noted the 'step' preceding the false edge is most interesting, forming a form of 'choil' on the sharpened back edge.

Most interesting sword!!
Best regards,

Tim Simmons 15th August 2006 08:24 PM

Jim I can see the feature "choil" working on a knife/ survival knife, being very handy, but I cannot see that function on a sword. Is it possible that the chiol on the sword is more of a sighting device to ensure the best delivery of sword cut. By the way google images "British India army cavalry" some interesting pictures, skinners horse ect.

Jim McDougall 15th August 2006 09:03 PM

Hi Tim,
Without martial arts expertise it is difficult for me to offer qualified opinion on practical application of such features, but it would seem most likely it was simply to strengthen the sharpened back edge. It is interesting to see the application of the yelman on what would certainly be a latter 19th century sword blade, at least in the mounts of this example. I am still trying to recall where those other '1853' patterns were used, I think it was Baroda province?
I do know that a number of illustrations of British native cavalry did indicate these patterns, but again cannot place specifically.
I have always enjoyed this extremely colorful period of cavalry history, and one of my most treasured experiences was interviewing a British brigadier who had led one of the last cavalry charges near the Khyber in the 1930's.He was with a Bengal lancer regiment, and among his swords were one of the stirrup hilted sabres I mentioned (13th Bengal Lancers).

All the best,

spiral 15th August 2006 10:45 PM

On the Indian/Afghan swords I have handled with this feature it has always struck me that the sweat spot of the blade was just an inch or two below the visible spine projection, so I think your theory could be possible Tim.

Another possibility that occors to me is maybe you only want a sword to penetrate to that depth ? any more is a waste of both sword blade & your energy?

Perhaps its also like the cross bar on a boar spear? in a more minimal fashion? you dont want a determined but run through man coming at you up the blade beyond that point?

Just a few thoughts that popped up.


Tim Simmons 16th August 2006 05:53 AM

I like the almost "gone native" british officer in this picture of irregular cavalry.

Tim Simmons 19th August 2006 08:29 PM

Nice pictures.

Tim Simmons 21st August 2006 07:35 PM

I took this sword to a military sword buff and he said it is 100% Indian manufacture just a copy hilt. it also appears that the grip is not wood or leather as on the British swords. What ever it is it is hard and in parts there seems to be something like a grain structure. Could it be stained ivory? That seems rather extravagant but in the late 19th early 20th cent it was used with gay abandon. I am not sure if it is safe to speak like that these days :o . I dare not clean a section to look see.

donaghy77 29th October 2017 03:17 PM

1900s Indian Army Sabre
Hello, I realise this quite an old thread, but I have just come into possession of the exact same sword and wondered if anyone knew the history of the one in this thread

Ian 29th October 2017 05:51 PM

Welcome to the forum, donaghy77.

More pictures of this sword would be helpful I think.


Jim McDougall 29th October 2017 06:09 PM

This was a wonderful thread and good to see it up again,
the M1853 was indeed used as a select pattern for certain units. The Wilkinson Latham book lists these in its survey of chosen types for the units. It is a shame that Mr. Wilkinson Latham has dropped out of the forum scene as SFI has gone defunct.
There is no doubt there are others of this India made pattern out there and he would know of them.

donaghy77 31st October 2017 07:33 PM

1900s Indian Army Sabre
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I have just worked out how to add pictures, poor show when a lot of my job involves IT, I hope you like them, I have spoken to Jim who has been brilliant with bringing his encyclopaedic knowledge to bear

RobT 2nd November 2017 01:51 AM

51 on Blade
Hi All,

I believe the marks on the blade next to the hilt are the Gujarati number 51.


donaghy77 2nd November 2017 12:04 PM

Thanks Rob

I think thats right, it would refer to the rack number

Jim McDougall 2nd November 2017 09:35 PM

Excellent Rob!!!
That makes perfect sense!! and thank you for spotting this,
I have found that pretty much there were two units using the M1853 pattern hilts per R. Wilkinson-Latham "Pictorial History of Swords and Bayonets" (1973), ...these were one listed as 'Fanes Horse' which is shown as 17th lancers.
This unit was situated in Bengal and actually the unit known as Fanes Horse was the 19th Lancers. These were both Bengal units and I have always thought they used the1821 type hilts.

On the other one, 31st Duke of Connaughts Own Lancers, which was commanded by the Duke of Connaught, who was also governor of the Bombay Presidency.
This huge administrative region of the British Raj, extended from Bombay all the way to Sind which of course included Gujarat mid way in the time period we are considering, c. 1880-1905,
The Gujarati numerals would have likely been rack number.

RobT 2nd November 2017 11:37 PM

Glad I Could Help
Happy to help out. The same sort of thing goes on with a lot of the Royal Nepalese khukri (see Guns of the Gurkhas by John Walters). The battalion abbreviation plus the battalion unit and weapon numbers are frequently inscribed on the spine. Save for the 6, 7, and 10, the Devangari numbers used on the khukri are pretty much the same as the Gujarati numbers. As an interesting aside, it would appear that the so called Arabic numbers were actually a Hindu invention and that invention also included the concept (and digit) of zero. The Moslems picked-up the numbers from the Hindus and in turn gave them to the Christians.


RobT 3rd November 2017 12:14 AM

I meant to say that the Gujarati and Devangari numbers 6, 7, and 9 are dissimilar. Sorry about that.


Tim Simmons 3rd November 2017 12:21 PM

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Very good. here we can see the late 19th century Lancers with the same sword. Front row second from the left.

What a shame that the owner or owners after me should damage the scabbard even more rather than try to repair or re-tip with metal.

Tim Simmons 3rd November 2017 12:35 PM

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WW1 19th lancers. That chap really does carry the sword in question.

Jens Nordlunde 3rd November 2017 02:22 PM

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Here is another one.Showing the later Major-General Richard Hilton together with some Indian officers. I dont know when the picture was taken, but it was before WWII started.
Richard Hilton did service in India for fifteen years, and was especially fond of working with the Indian regiments.

Jim McDougall 3rd November 2017 05:42 PM

Tim and Jen, thank you guys so much for these most helpful photos!!!!
It really means a lot to see the weapons we discuss in real time images and in use.

Likhari 18th November 2017 12:02 AM

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Originally Posted by Rick
Is there a name for this feature on the spine where the false edge begins ?
Looks like a good no nonsense weapon Tim; fully functional beauty .

Do you mean the part in this interesting example covered in gold and in the shape of a makara ?

ariel 18th November 2017 08:40 AM

Some time ago I asked a question whether tulwars with classical indo-persian handles continued to be manufactured in the 20th century as regulation swords for Indian military. The answer was inconclusive: Swords were made for the cavalry, but what kind?

From this thread it appears that there already were regulation swords with EUROPEAN style handles.

So my question still stands: were tulwars still used by the Indian military or were they summarily replaced?

Likhari 18th November 2017 08:59 PM

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Originally Posted by ariel
Some time ago I asked a question whether tulwars with classical indo-persian handles continued to be manufactured in the 20th century as regulation swords for Indian military. The answer was inconclusive: Swords were made for the cavalry, but what kind?

From this thread it appears that there already were regulation swords with EUROPEAN style handles.

So my question still stands: were tulwars still used by the Indian military or were they summarily replaced?

Ariel the Indian Military in the 20th century was not a homogenous unit. It was made up of the British Indian Army and the armies of the Princely States. Some of the State Forces did carry the traditional tulwars as the attached picture of a Sate Cavalry Trooper shows. The British Indian Army did not carry traditional tulwars. After independence for a brief period in the 1990s one of the Indian Army Chiefs changed the ceremonial sabre to the tulwar form but they reverted back to the European influenced straight sword when he left office.

Jim McDougall 21st November 2017 05:55 PM

There was no doubt a great deal of diversity in the swords used in the British controlled armies of India, that is the Native forces. These were of course primarily supplied by the British government, in the early days of the Raj, the East India Company.
Certainly later in the century, there would have been few traditional or native made tulwars in the ranks, beyond of course, those used by officers who may have used heirloom weapons.

Actually, while 'colonial' forms of British pattern swords were produced by makers in England, there were instances of 'traditional' style (Indo-Persian hilt) tulwars also made for these forces. According to records from John Wilkinson-Latham using records from c 1903, a number of the Native Cavalry units selected tulwars of traditional form.
Realizing that the term 'tulwar' is used collectively for 'sword' in Indian parlance, it is noted that the other swords selected by other units are described by pattern type, (i.e, M1796; M1853 etc. ).

I have seen examples of brass cast traditional tulwar hilts made by MOLE and there have been others seen over the years. These seemed to be almost
'rack' type weapons, though I do not recall numbering.

I have also seen Indo-Persian hilts on M1796 blades bearing the etched cartouches of British officers blades; M1788 blades mounted in traditional shamshir style Indian hilts and koftari decoration added to blade; and examples of khanda hilts on British military blades later in the century.

It would be difficult to say how late tulwar forms might have been produced for Indian forces, but British sword making firms produced ethnographic form weapons for colonial regions well into the 20th century. While it would be difficult to specify the many cases, that is my opinion in general.

Likhari 22nd November 2017 03:59 PM

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I would beg to differ with you on this one Jim.

To the best of my knowledge in the 20th Century not a single unit in the British Indian Army carried the Indian hilted tulwars. I would love to be persuaded otherwise. If you can provide any photograph or painting to prove your point I will gladly eat some crow.

The forces of the Native Princely States of course carried Indian hilted swords well into the 20th Century as I have already stated.

In the 19th Century on the other hand there was significant laxity allowed in the uniforms of the British Indian Army so much so that some soldiers in one unit would carry tulwars and others British Pattern swords as the attached picture shows:

Jim McDougall 22nd November 2017 08:59 PM

Well its Thanksgiving day tomorrow, and I'm afraid I'm the one who will have crow instead of turkey! :)
You seem to be correct, and I am afraid that my recollection was swayed by those MOLE tulwars I once had, given that MOLE was also the maker of many of the three bar hilt forms I have seen.

In "Pictorial History of Swords and Bayonets" by R.J. Wilkinson-Latham, 1973, pp.28-31, there are lists of the sword types preferred by cavalry and infantry regiments 1850-1918. I think that the instances of State troops vs. The British Indian Army also brought my misperception,
"...state troops raised and maintained at the expense of their rulers did not always follow the style used in the regular army and many variations exist in this category, some weapons engraved with the state badge while others had distinctive hilt designs made for them by British manufacturers".

"...officers swords also varied but were in the main confined to two patterns, the light cavalry of 1822 and the heavy cavalry pattern of 1856 and 1896.
Dress swords were either like the British style levee swords, or COPIES OF THE NATIVE TULWAR PATTERN".

I think this may have added to my confusion.

Thank you so much for bringing this up, and for the clarification.
It really is good to be looking into these Indian units and weaponry here, and to get back to studies from quite a long time ago.
Really glad you're here on this, and look forward to more talks!

Jens Nordlunde 23rd November 2017 03:26 PM

Likhari could you please show a close up of the yelman shown in post #32, and of the whole sword if possible?

Likhari 24th November 2017 03:47 PM

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A sword or talwar with a curved blade and an iron hilt with knuckleguard and circular pommel gilded and inlaid with diamonds and rubies around edge of pommel. The edge section of the blade near the bottom overlaid with gold to represent a makara, a dragon-like mythological creature associated with Hindu iconography. The black velvet covered wooden scabbard embroidered with seed pearls and silver gilt mounts set with diamonds.


Presented to King Edward VII, when Prince of Wales, during his tour of India in 1875-76 by Mahendra Singh, Maharaja of Patiala.

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