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Old 8th November 2022, 09:14 AM   #31
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Gill definitely had some questionable actions involving these matters, and there were claims that Gill even may have had connections to Matthew Boulton (London inventor and swordsmith) who is believed to have invented the machine used.
Thomas Gill II is the Gill we are discussing, it gets confusing as his son Thomas III was involved for a very short time in the business.
You need to get Richard Dellars book on the British Cavalry Swords, he has two excellent chapters on Gill and J J Runkel which covers this period in a lot of detail.

Thomas Gill II did a lot of machining work for Matthew Boulton and was openly praised by the latter for the precision and quality of his work. They almost certainly worked together on the testing machine that was used.
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Old 8th November 2022, 03:55 PM   #32
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I found this interesting thread from a while back concerning the Swedish edition of the m1804. Can anyone confirm if there truly was a version in Sweden called the m1849?? I'll have to do some searching when I get a moment. Celtan mentions the German version, no doubt the S&K we mentioned. The Americans were copying the m1804, but instead of the ribbed iron grip, we usually see either a smooth-core wooden grip or a ribbed curly maple grip. From these U.S. private purchase-types of the period, we begin to see the so-called Baltimore pattern cutlass appear (ribbed maple grips, figure-of-eight hilt of black iron with rolled quillon with either straight, spear-point blades or curved clip-point blades). This article mentions a Portuguese and Spanish version or after-market use of this model? Fernando, are you aware of any such influx? This old thread hints that the crown by itself models weren't Swede? Could they be for the Portugal market?

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=7240
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Old 8th November 2022, 04:10 PM   #33
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The answer to the conundrum! Very interesting history that covers the Spanish, Portuguese and Swedish connection. These swords certainly made their way around!

http://myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.12781.html
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Old 8th November 2022, 06:37 PM   #34
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I get the impression that you are mixing your history together. The so-called 'Sword Scandals' are a specific event that occurred in the 1880s which Matt Easton describes in the following video:

When 'Made in Germany' Meant Bad!

Essentially cheap mass-produced German swords and bayonets were found to be of unreliable quality resulting in a number of noticeable failures in the field. Hence the 'Scandal'.

The tests you are referring to were initiated by Gill after much lobbying to the Ordnance board (who refused to conduct them as it was a matter for the supply officers) and were finally done for an order placed by the East India Company, were a response to complaints by British Cutlers.

The cutlers were complaining that existing taxes on German blades should be lifted because they were protecting inferior British-produced blades. Gill, seeing that his business was threatened, lobbied that his British-made blades were superior to the German imports, and challenged the Ordnance board to test his claims.

When Gills swords were tested, they were shown to be markedly better than the ones supplied by J J Runkel and Wooley (I have posted the numbers previously). However, the Runkel blades performed much better than the Wooley ones, confirming that, except for Gills blades, the German-made blades were better than those manufactured locally. This is the opposite of what happened with the actual 'Sword Scandals' in the 1880s.
I suspected that by using the word SCANDALS, even though I specified 1790s and Thomas Gill, you might have misunderstood what I meant. Indeed the issues with the quality of blades persisted THROUGH the 19th century, and involved pretty much every pattern of sword in one way or another. While these issues (or scandals) prevailed, in the 19th century matters it was not so much on German imports as designs, quality etc.
Matt Easton is an excellent researcher so his coverage on this is great.

The issues brought forth by Thomas Gill were indeed as you describe, but the matters at hand involved in many clandestine dealings and issues which were deemed unsavory, thus considered scandalous. While not specifically labeled by that term in references, the conditions using the term were my own description (though I have seen it used in reference in other sources in the same manner).
So actually I am not confusing history, but used a common term which described the events I referred to, and specified in my comments exactly the period to which it applied. I am sorry you misunderstood, so thank you for clarifying.

Yes, I have had Richard's book since it came out, and his chapters on the Gill's and especially Runkel are brilliant!!! I cannot say enough on the excellence of his research and the thorough coverage. For years, since I first began using Robson (1975) that was my primary resource as in those days I was collecting every British cavalry pattern (took a while but I did it .
Richard's book does not supercede Robson directly, but perfectly augments it, which is why "new perspectives" is included in the title.

Having discussed Gill as one of the apparently numerous makers of the British 1804 pattern cutlasses, in interesting detail, I hope we can see more examples, marked, by other makers of the period. On that note, if these were as suspected, around in some from before the 1804 regulation I wonder if Thomas Gill II might have been involved. It seems in the 1788 period of the 'scandals' his swords were primarily for officers, while those by Wooley were with simple name stamp on back of blade.
It would be most interesting if Thomas Gill II might have made a cutlass prior to his death in 1801.

The others marked Gill (by John) would seem post 1806 or thereabout?

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Old 9th November 2022, 04:11 AM   #35
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I just got the Sim Comfort volumes!!! and they are unbelievable!

To answer some of my own questions in first browsing,
it seems the double disc cutlass as a form may well have been created by Thomas Hollier, between 1716-1727 and was around variously through the century. I did find an example by Thomas Gill from 1780-85,
the blade was stamped on face, upper quadrant at forte, Tho. GILL

Thomas Gill was registered c. 1774 as a steel worker toys, files, razord.
About 1783 listed as sword maker, but it is suggested may have done so earlier due to the Revolutionary War.
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Old 9th November 2022, 07:50 PM   #36
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Jim, I hear that Sim Comfort's books are monumental and the photographs like art pieces! I, unfortunately, don't have his two volumes, but hope to get them someday.

So, we've got the classic m1804s from the period 1804/5-1815, with the GR marking either scripted (early issuance?) or block letter, indicating officially government-used, we have many with the makers of the period without the GR stamp (of the period, but made for the private market, but only for British privates/frigates? Or for Britain's allies of Sweden, Portugal, etc?). We have the models with just the crown, which were made for the Swedes (the question here was when? Some say as the wars were going on. Others say they weren't issued until nearly the 1830's?). Finally, we have the completely unmarked examples that might or might not be in the 1805-15 timeline. Still so many questions...

To add to the puzzle, many of the original ordnance of the early period would have been re-issued out at later periods. Maritime weapons were, above all other military force weapons, reused well past the days of Figting Sail. Gilkerson notes well that boarding pikes from 1812 had new hafts made with reused pike heads and these stayed on some ships up until WWI!! Cutlasses likewise remained on the private fleets into the era of the China Clippers. The reason for their continued use was they were second to none in the prevention in boarding. Many of the mid to late 19th century watercraft that were sailing through the South China Sea, off the Philippines, near Borneo or the Aceh peninsula had much to worry about with pirates. Likewise, some of the ethnographic tribes in the Solomons and places like the Kingsmill Islands (for example) were not always friendly to European visitors. Thus, we have another colorful and exciting period for these antiquated weapons.
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Old 10th November 2022, 01:16 PM   #37
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Markings on the m1804 vary. The classic fancy-scripted GR under a crown marking (for George Rex, Latin George III and IV for these pattern swords) are found on many of them. When i first purchased mine, the cutlass had block letter GR under crown, which both intrigued and concerned me. I had heard of spurious markings of this block letter type appearing on later swords of the m1804 pattern made by Schnitzler and Kirschbaum in Solingen after 1850. However, upon doing research, I soon came across information that many different cutlers and merhants were involved in supplying the British Navy and many of them used the exact marking (block letter GR with this specific crown) as found on my example-
I thought I would post pictures of this British Coastguard cutlass because it has a good example of the block GR and is also marked Enfield and a rather worn crown. The cutlass can be dated to between 1823 and 1830 as Enfield did not make swords before 1823 and William came to the throne in 1830.

It is also interesting because the shape of the blade looks like it took its inspiration from the very rare 1814 cutlass. Sim Comfort suggests that the 1814 exists with two different grips (page 235) - the same as the 1804 grip and a later version.
The coastguard cutlass grip is like the later version. It is more shaped at the palm and the end with 20 spiral rings and does not have the vertical slots of the 1804 grip.
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Old 10th November 2022, 08:34 PM   #38
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The cutlass can be dated to between 1823 and 1830 as Enfield did not make swords before 1823 and William came to the throne in 1830.

Unfortunately the 'end date' of 1830 cannot be ascribed and should be extended to c1840 given the evidence of other blades of later date with the same stamps. Take for example the early Brunswick Rifle swords that are also stamped ENFIELD and have that same crown/GR stamp - those date to the early reign of Queen Victoria.... an example from my collection below. I have yet to come across a convincing reason for this other than that they had yet to replace the GR stamp that was used for such blades; Blackmore cites evidence that the 1800 dated storekeeper's stamp, applied to the stock (butt) of small arms, was still being used in 1824, so it would not be an isolated case of an 'old' stamp continuing in use.
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Old 10th November 2022, 09:02 PM   #39
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Also a photo of an unusual Sappers & Miners style sword socket bayonet with the same stamp. Two examples of the longarm with this bayonet are known and have been varying identified as P/1836 Sea Service Muskets or as early prototype Sappers and Miner Pattern 1841 Carbine - new research however shows such ascriptions as incorrect, they are 'Presentation' carbine & its bayonet, made at Enfield in about 1838-40.
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Old 10th November 2022, 09:07 PM   #40
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Thanks Adrian. Just when you think there is something definite!

Interesting that the GR was still being used right through William's reign and into Victoria's.
I know carving out the mirror image cypher onto a steel punch to form the stamp must have required a large amount of skill. There is a Victoria cypher which has been made by removing part of the W from a William cypher. I'll look out the pictures.
Tends to support the theory that it took awhile for new stamps to get made.
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Old 10th November 2022, 10:14 PM   #41
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Thanks Adrian. Just when you think there is something definite!

I study the longarms more so than the blades and I do agree that, frustratingly, there almost always seems to be an exception to any 'rule'.

Interesting that the GR was still being used right through William's reign and into Victoria's.

William did have his own cypher placed on locks set-up to arms within his reign. However most barrels used in his reign were 'old' from Store & therefore have their original GR proof stamps. The only proof stamp that can confidently be ascribed to William is the 'crown/TP/arrow' stamp (sometimes in different config) and that can be found on the few 'new made' barrels from his reign, such as on the Manton P/1833 Cavalry Carbine. His reign was a 'quiet' time for arms manufacture as the old war store was still being 'run down' and experimentation was being conducted on the percussion system.

I know carving out the mirror image cypher onto a steel punch to form the stamp must have required a large amount of skill.
The stamps appear to have generally been ordered from makers, there are records of purchase but it does seems to have been rather frugal in the way we see old stamps being used much later.

There is a Victoria cypher which has been made by removing part of the W from a William cypher. I'll look out the pictures. Tends to support the theory that it took a while for new stamps to get made.

I would be most interested to see that - a separate thread perhaps. I doubt it would be a lock plate cypher, due to the engraving method of application at that time. I suspect therefore that you mean the Crown/MR proof stamp which is most often misinterpreted as Crown IVR and ascribed to William IV (Blackmore has that misinterpretation) or as VR and ascribed to Victoria, as it is often mis-struck but is different to her much later VR proof stamp. The Crown/MR stamp actually dates to no later than 1816. (ref Bailey, The Armoury Mills Kent, JAAS Vol 21 No.6)
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Old 11th November 2022, 01:56 AM   #42
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Thank you, CC and Adrian, for your input. I, too, am flummoxed by the quite late usage of the block GR stamping! Is there any significance, though, to the fact that the early block letters found on blades were in-line to the hilt whereas these are perpendicular?

CC, That is an amazing and beautiful example of a Coastguard cutlass! You mentioned William stamps and I was wondering if you could have a look at the sheet metal cutlass I posted earlier(#6), which classically resembles a merchant type of the first quarter of the 19th, has a very weak crown stamp with either a WR or VR. I had assumed it was a later stamping, as it is weak and the style of sword from earlier. But with all of this new information on WR markings made into VR stamps and GR stamps still around in the mid-19th, the puzzle continues!

And do I dare say I've seen British 1845 cutlass marked simply with RN (Royal Navy? Yet, no crown or Victoria, or??? My head is about to explode!)
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Old 11th November 2022, 02:33 AM   #43
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You mentioned William stamps and I was wondering if you could have a look at the sheet metal cutlass I posted earlier(#6), which classically resembles a merchant type of the first quarter of the 19th, has a very weak crown stamp with either a WR or VR.

As you suspect it is a VR stamp, if WR it would be too 'off center'.
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Old 11th November 2022, 04:10 AM   #44
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Makes sense. Have you seen the RN stamps on any of the later Brit pattern cutlasses? A while back, there was an online auction with several naval pieces marked as such, but again, no gov't issuance mark?
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Old 11th November 2022, 07:13 AM   #45
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Have you seen the RN stamps on any of the later Brit pattern cutlasses?

Not that I recollect, however my interest in cutlasses does not run to any great depth.


A while back, there was an online auction with several naval pieces marked as such, but again, no gov't issuance mark?


Whilst I am familiar with various items & ordnance intended for sea service often bearing the letter 'N' to distinguish that it is for Naval issue those items were Ordnance supplied and as such they bear Ordnance inspection stamps etc. An item dating from the Georgian to the mid/late Victorian period marked RN would therefore get my attention as being outside of this, and if it bore no Ordnance markings then I would consider it to be highly suspect as far as it being a British sea service item. For anything later, I do not know enough to do other than speculate.
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Old 11th November 2022, 07:30 AM   #46
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Thanks, Adrian. Just wanted to get your opinion. Perhaps these cutlasses were more of the private purchase type for merchantmen or direct export and the RN might have simply been a maker's stamp?
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Old 11th November 2022, 09:13 AM   #47
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The British 'Coastguard' cutlass has a ribbed steel grip and a brass guard, the blade suggests it was influenced by the 1796 LC sabre, but shorter. The scabbard was steel, with the centre section japanned black.


The sword was carried on horseback by the Coastal riders of the ;ate 18c & early 19c. They were essentially customs agents looking for smugglers. Much like the USCG, which started as the 'Revenue Cutter Service'. The Present UK Coastguard is not an armed service, unlike the USCG, which is.


the British Coast riders were recommended for disbandment in in 1783, but became the UK Coastguard, formed in 1822 from a merger of the Revenue Cruisers, the Riding Officers and the Preventative Water Guard. There were at their peak only 291 riding officers to guard the whole UK.

When they were later disbanded & disarmed, many of the swords were reissued later to the hospital corps in the later years of the 19c.

Mine:
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Old 11th November 2022, 03:46 PM   #48
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My main reason to post the Coastguard cutlass was to support Mark's view on the block GR by British manufacturers. I have to admit though that my knowledge of cyphers and crowns is limited. It would be a good thread on its own as Adrian suggests.

In the meantime this neatly brings us back to Mark's 1804 thread. There are at least two 1804's with a VR cypher. I owned one of them in the past and can vouch that it is a genuine 1804 cutlass and not a replica. It has been discussed before and opinions vary as to why an 1804 would have a VR stamp when no new cutlasses had been made for many years. Some think that the cypher is fake, but it looks OK to me - any thoughts?

My own theory for the contradiction follows. A large number of existing 1804 cutlasses had been sent to the tower for modification, which included a new hilt, when a serious fire at the Tower in 1841 destroyed large numbers of these. In order to make up the the serious shortage these were re-issued with a VR stamp in the 1840s. There is no proof of course and unless there was a stock of unmarked spares it does not explain why there are no signs of a GR or other markings.

The cypher seems to have been made by altering the W to a V. Perhaps because a new cypher was not yet made for the new monarch.
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Old 11th November 2022, 03:54 PM   #49
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You mentioned William stamps and I was wondering if you could have a look at the sheet metal cutlass I posted earlier(#6), which classically resembles a merchant type of the first quarter of the 19th, has a very weak crown stamp with either a WR or VR.
Hi Mark, I'm thinking VR as well although hard to tell. It looks more like the end of a V and note the 'modified' W above has a horizontal serif at the top.
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Old 11th November 2022, 04:20 PM   #50
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Reference the VR cutlass. It was the faded cypher I owned and it was very well used and worn. I spotted the other one go through an auction and stole the pictures.
I'm told the crown is correct for the period a James Crown - again my knowledge is limited in that area. It does look similar to the crown on Adrian's two examples and the coastguard with the two crosses at the front of the same period.
But it is very different from the GR crown on Mark's 1804 in post 3.
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Old 11th November 2022, 10:34 PM   #51
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It has been discussed before and opinions vary as to why an 1804 would have a VR stamp when no new cutlasses had been made for many years. Some think that the cypher is fake, but it looks OK to me - any thoughts?

Thank you for posting the photos of this intriguing WR modified to VR royal cypher. I can only draw a parallel with muskets of the same period. The war store of these (complete muskets) was so vast, by 1816, that it was not worryingly low until 1838, and measures were then undertaken to address that, while awaiting the new percussion arm to be finalised. The Store of parts was also vast, and it was that 'store' which provided barrels & locks for the new arms. The barrels had their GR era proof & view stamps, they were not erased & re-stamped, merely viewed & approved as regards their 'percussioning'. The locks did not anyway have any engraving & bore only an acceptance stamp - so they acquired the current royal cypher as part of the work of setting-up an arm. The number of muskets made using up the 'old' stock of barrels & locks comprised about eight patterns and numbered well over a quarter of a million muskets, the vast majority being Extra Service Muskets.

Quite why these blades have been stamped with a royal cypher is unknown to me, however it is clear that the cypher has been altered from WR to VR and that it looks to be authentic.



My own theory for the contradiction follows. A large number of existing 1804 cutlasses had been sent to the tower for modification, which included a new hilt, when a serious fire at the Tower in 1841 destroyed large numbers of these. In order to make up the the serious shortage these were re-issued with a VR stamp in the 1840s.

The fire at the Tower was, if one reads modern references, a major watershed in the direction of British Ordnance small arms due to it, supposedly, wiping out all percussion muskets made to date, wiping out a vast number of a new design of flintlock muskets that were going to be converted to percussion and wiping out a vast store of parts that were going to be used. This belief is largely false. I won't go into detail but would instead point any interested student of arms to a new book that will be published by the Royal Armouries next year in which chapter 7 covers that fire and the number of arms lost in detail, the book 'British Ordnance Muskets of the 1830s & 1840s'.
I have to say that it is unlikely that your quite sound theory will hold up to scrutiny as the official return for swords lost in that conflagration is 1,376 swords & 2,271 sword blades - it provides no distinction between sea service or land service, nor does it distinguish between those services for pistols, muskets, etc. How many of those 'swords' were cutlasses is therefore uncertain, but the overall number is anyway too small to have any import.

However, the Tower was only one of many Stores - which is why there was so little impact as can be seen by the aforementioned vast number of muskets made with barrels & locks from store, altered to percussion. So perhaps some cutlasses were made/altered at a different location, indeed I would have thought that Enfield, and not the Tower, would have been tasked with the changes you describe in your theory especially given the period under discussion.
Indeed there was 'Sea Service swords, alterations proposed on, by Storekeeper, Enfield. Approved by Admiralty.' and although that was in 1852 it is logical to speculate that this was not the first such instance of such work to sea service swords.

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Old 12th November 2022, 05:58 AM   #52
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Thank you for posting that incredible modified WR marking! That really is an interesting adaptation from the original stamp! It is interesting that we obviously have the m1804s that are being used into William's and Victoria's era. No new pattern was created until the forth decade of the 19th, but still the odd fact that the GR was still being found on later pieces.

I had heard of the Tower fire, but always assumed it had mostly destroyed the stored guns. I wasn't thinking that there was a cache of the ole m1804's being kept there (duh!). That could explain the re-usage of the earlier blades when the stockpile was depleted and new ones weren't being issued. As Adrian points out, pure speculation, but at least a possible theory to this situation. I confess that it is mostly for selfish reasons why it bothers me! If the GR markings were used later (after Age of Fighting Sail), then they were used in an era where they were obsolescent. Likewise, how does one know if 'this cutlass over here' is of the period, but that one was post-1830 or whatever. I could see questioning the crown-marked Swedish imports or even the unmarked examples. But an 1804 with the GR has always been solidly assumed by most to be of the time period of the two Georges...until now, I guess!
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Old 12th November 2022, 12:12 PM   #53
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This belief is largely false. I won't go into detail but would instead point any interested student of arms to a new book that will be published by the Royal Armouries next year in which chapter 7 covers that fire and the number of arms lost in detail, the book 'British Ordnance Muskets of the 1830s & 1840s'.

Any new research is, of course, always good and it will be interesting to see the results.

My theory, and it is just that, was based on the information in Swords for Sea Service (p80) whose authors had access to the relevant records.

'All available swords were to be sent to the Tower for modification. The modified cutlasses were coming into service by the end of March 1841, but before little more than 1000 had been modified and issued a fire at the Tower destroyed large numbers and left the Navy seriously short of weapons, and on 9th November, 1841 it was recommended that 10,000 new cutlasses be ordered.'

This was approved on 3rd December 1841.

Note that May and Annis are specifically talking about cutlasses there is no mention of firearms or other swords or how many were destroyed or unserviceable due to heat damage. According to the footnotes the information comes from War Office documents hence the exact dates. New information can always come to light with further research.

What is definite is the shortage of cutlasses at this time and the subsequent difficulty in obtaining new ones when none had been made for decades.

One of the stopgaps to cover the shortfall was making cutlasses by cutting down the blades of 1796 heavy cavalry swords (there were 12000 in storage) and fitting them with cutlass grips and guards. It is unclear how many of these were made but there are a few examples extant, but probably no where near the 8-10,000 ordered as the manufacturers were starting to get their act together and produce new cutlasses in quantity by 1845 or so.

'However, the Tower was only one of many Stores'
This is a good point - perhaps there were other 1804's in storage elsewhere that could have been brought into service, but again surely they would have been stamped with a cypher at manufacture not issue, like the large stocks of GR firearms you mention, that lasted into William's reign.

The VR 1804 remains a mystery, I guess.

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Old 12th November 2022, 09:58 PM   #54
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Thanks for posting that passage from 'Sea Service Swords', most interesting indeed.

All available swords were to be sent to the Tower for modification. The modified cutlasses were coming into service by the end of March 1841, but before little more than 1000 had been modified and issued a fire at the Tower destroyed large numbers and left the Navy seriously short of weapons, and on 9th November, 1841 it was recommended that 10,000 new cutlasses be ordered.

It indicates that these were being sent to the Tower in quite small batches, taking over ten months to achieve a number of 1,000 that had been modified & returned, that parallels similar practice with small arms modifications. So the aforementioned number of swords & sword blades combined, of 3,647 (contemporaneous quote from an official return of military and naval stores destroyed, an accurate figure and not a vague quantity), quite likely included several small 'batches', some hundreds. Not a large number by any means, unlikely to leave the Navy seriously short of weapons. It is difficult to determine the level of conjecture within that sentence without the inclusion of actual evidence that a large number of cutlasses/naval swords/swords, were destroyed in the Tower fire, which should ideally be quoted or referenced, especially if there is contrary evidence which can bring confusion. Does the book include a reference/citation for that sentence?


Drawing from research into the muskets of this period is a 'similar' passage in a very well know and excellent standard reference on British Military Firearms, by H.L. Blackmore, with, arguably, unparalleled access to Ordnance records, is written, ‘280,000 stand of arms, including most of the new percussion arms, were lost’. Simply put this has proved to be inaccurate but, and more importantly, it distorts the degree of significance of this 'event' as regards British Military arms manufacture. Had it been written that 'the Store was nearly depleted as regards serviceable flintlock muskets & only a small number of new percussion arms were lost' then the degree of significance in the mind of the reader is almost the opposite.

I mean no disrespect to the above authors, without such works our hobby would be a very hollow thing, and they are to be thanked & lauded for sharing the results of their long years of dedicated research and for their passion and enthusiasm which many benefit from & share. Scrutiny of a small sentence here & there such as we are doing now would simply not be possible without such important contributions and is a commendation of such works.

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Old 13th November 2022, 06:00 PM   #55
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It will be interesting to see the new book.

The fact that the navy ordered 10,000 replacements after the fire is well documented and eventually resulted in the new model 1845 cutlass. The existence of cutlasses made with 1796 heavy cavalry blades as a stopgap supports the claim there was a real shortage.
How much of that was a direct result of the fire is now not clear, but as the fleet had shrunk from 840 ships at the height of the Napoleonic wars to around 140 in 1845 the navy should have had large stocks of spare 1804s. So the numbers lost would have had to be high to cause a shortage, unless of course they had previously reduced the total by scrapping some.


Does the book include a reference/citation for that sentence?

There are three references for that sentence - I have never followed them up!

P.R.O. W.O.47/1849 19th April 1841
P.R.O. Adm.2/1648 p.156, 2 December 1841 and W.O. 47/1917 December 1841,p 15881
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Old 13th November 2022, 07:31 PM   #56
Jim McDougall
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I mean no disrespect to the above authors, without such works our hobby would be a very hollow thing, and they are to be thanked & lauded for sharing the results of their long years of dedicated research and for their passion and enthusiasm which many benefit from & share. Scrutiny of a small sentence here & there such as we are doing now would simply not be possible without such important contributions and is a commendation of such works.[/QUOTE]


While not toward the general discussion, I'd like to say this is beautifully written Adrian, and something that should always be remembered, that we owe all these authors a great debt of respect for what they got right. The things they had wrong, in whatever degree, were the benchmarks for what we pursued to make right.
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Old 13th November 2022, 09:08 PM   #57
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Thank you for this detailed reply and it is good to read that there are references cited for anyone wanting to research the conclusion in more detail.


The fact that the navy ordered 10,000 replacements after the fire is well documented and eventually resulted in the new model 1845 cutlass. The existence of cutlasses made with 1796 heavy cavalry blades as a stopgap supports the claim there was a real shortage. How much of that was a direct result of the fire is now not clear, but as the fleet had shrunk from 840 ships at the height of the Napoleonic wars to around 140 in 1845 the navy should have had large stocks of spare 1804s. So the numbers lost would have had to be high to cause a shortage, unless of course they had previously reduced the total by scrapping some.

There was a shortage of muskets also at this time, the many hundreds of thousands of spare muskets in Store in 1816 was still quite high in 1829 at about 700,000, by 1838 it was so low that measures were taken to provide more flintlock arms until new muskets in percussion were available. From 1829 nearly 500,000 went to foreign allies. It would make sense that other arms were being included in such transfers, perhaps sea service swords also.

The Board ordered what amounted to over 100,000 P/1842 Muskets after the fire, however the pattern was sealed before the fire & parts arrived from contractors so quickly one gets the impression that their manufacture had been underway already. The fire had no bearing upon this yet is often assumed to be the reason for the new musket pattern.
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Old 14th November 2022, 11:01 AM   #58
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Excert from The 1842 Rifled and sighted Musket which mentions the fire (debatable as a reason) ... and adds details.
It also mentions the RN Marines being issued percussion muskets in the full dissertation. Sadly, no mention of cutlasses...

================================================== ===============

... the Tower of London fire, which left the British short of infantry arms, and the Crimean War, which erupted in October 1853 and found the British military woefully unprepared to field and equip a large expeditionary force. As a result, the line infantry regiments went off to war carrying a mixture of older Pattern 1839, more newly produced Pattern 1842 and the newest Pattern 1851 muskets. By the end of the war, in March 1856 most of the regiments were no longer armed with smooth bore muskets and were primarily carrying Pattern 1851 and new Pattern 1853 muskets, as well as some rifled and sighted Pattern 1842 muskets.

The adoption of the Pattern 1851 Mini” Rifle meant the end of the smooth bore era in the British military. At the suggestion of Lieutenant Colonel Sandham of the Royal Engineers it was undertaken to upgrade some of the existing stocks of Pattern 1842 muskets by rifling and sighting them. A total of 26,400 of the muskets were modified between April 1852 and April 1855, allowing the newly improved guns to be issued simultaneously with the new production Pattern 1851 Mini” Rifles. The initial supply of rifled and sighted Pattern 1842 muskets were issued to the Royal Marines, but it appears that as the war in the Crimea erupted that additional rifled and sighted Pattern 1842 muskets were issued to line infantry regiments as well.

The improvements were simply to rifle the bore, which slightly increased the nominally .75 bore (actually .753”) to about .758” with four grooves, and to add a Pattern 1851 adjustable backsight. After the adoption of the Pattern 1853 Enfield with three groove rifling, this pattern of rifling was adopted. Thus, earlier upgraded P1842s have four groove bores and later ones have three groove bores.

Although the Rifled & Sighted Pattern 1842 was produced in very small numbers for a rather brief period of time, it was an important stop-gap weapon at a time when Great Britain was in desperate need for modern rifled infantry arms. Even though the small-bore P1853 made it nearly anachronistic by the end of the Crimean War, the gun filled an important role and saw service during one of the toughest campaigns that the British military would endure until the Great War a half-century later.

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Old 14th November 2022, 08:27 PM   #59
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Excert from The 1842 Rifled and sighted Musket which mentions the fire (debatable as a reason) ... and adds details.
It also mentions the RN Marines being issued percussion muskets in the full dissertation. Sadly, no mention of cutlasses...


There is no mention of cutlasses as the Royal Marines did not carry them, they were, in effect, Infantry & were armed in similar fashion. The cutlasses were carried by seamen, along with other small arms. In this period the intent was to arm the Royal Marines with the exact same pattern arms as the infantry, however for a short time the arms shortage of the mid 1850s saw them armed with Altered Pattern 1842 Rifled Muskets.

The Extract from College Hill Arsenal contains several minor inaccuracies that new research corrects. Tim's write ups are first class and this does not disparage his work in any way. Just a couple of quick points: The Army did not fight with a mix of muskets & rifles, only the 4th Division had smoothbores, the other Divisions were armed with P/1851 Rifles until quite late in the war when the P/1853 began to be issued there; this was only battalions at the conflict, 'Home' battalions did have a mix of muskets & rifles though very few were rifles as most of their quota of P/1851 rifles was recalled & went with the fighting troops, muskets of a 'Home' battalion included a mix and the most extreme saw 'Home' Foot Guards with P/1838, P/1842 & even a few P/1845 Extra Service Muskets, other regts had the P/1839, P/1842 & a few regts also had a few P/1845 ESMs.

The Altered Pattern 1842 Rifled Musket was not issued to land-based infantry in the Crimea - just imagine the ammunition calamity - it was for that reason it was forbade. The only force of import that was issued with it, besides the Royal Marines, were the Channel Island Militia who received 6,000 of the 27,400 AP/1842 RMs made. (All this is covered in detail in the aforementioned book coming out)

Apologies for again straying from the topic of cutlasses.

Last edited by adrian; 14th November 2022 at 08:39 PM.
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Old 15th November 2022, 08:22 AM   #60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adrian View Post
. ...
There is no mention of cutlasses as the Royal Marines did not carry them, ...

I was not implying that UK Marines carried Cutlasses, they had bayonets. I just mentioned them as the main topic of this thread was cutlasses and there was no reference to cutlasses in that article being carried by anyone, let alone what model. The thread here was about cutlasses, not muskets. I was just emphasising that my excerpt had nothing to do with cutlasses, and was just adding to the item on muskets.
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