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Old 6th January 2021, 02:41 AM   #1
Jim McDougall
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Default Charge of the Light Brigade, Balaklava, 1854

On October 25,1854, at Balaklava, the British Light Brigade cavalry with five regiments led by the 17th Lancers charged down a valley into Russian guns and immortality, thanks to the poem by Tennyson.
Always fascinated by British cavalry in my youngest years of collecting, I sought to put together an assembly of swords as used by these units that day.

While the swords only serve as 'of the type', they present a view of what the swords carried in 'the charge' looked like, and are not claimed to have been actual examples of that event.
Attached:
The painting of the 'charge' with 17th Lancers leading; the cap badge of skull and crossbones; the leather sabretache (pouch to carry orders) is believed or the period with the simple skull and crossbones.

The photo of landscape is the Balaklava valley as seen today, now a vineyard.

The M1821 light cavalry saber with three bar hilt as carried by the troopers of all four regiments 17th Lancers, 11th Hussars, 8th Hussars, 4th and 13th Light Dragoons.

These were being superceded by the new M1853 saber for both light and heavy cavalry, as seen in the example which is by Kirschbaum, Solingen who produced many of the first examples. It is now known that many of these Solingen examples by this maker were among the swords carried by both light and heavy brigades at Balaklava.
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Last edited by Jim McDougall : 6th January 2021 at 03:23 AM.
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Old 6th January 2021, 04:53 AM   #2
Will M
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Some of the earliest 1853p swords were also Liege marked. There were soon reports of the new 1853p blades bending at the hilt due to thinner tangs as these two 1853's have. The guards themselves thinner with thinner bars than later examples by Mole and Enfield.
Pictured are two 1853p Liege marked 1853p swords, marked to the 11th Hussars and 4th Dragoon Guard. One 1821p HC sword marked to the 4th DG.
And for interest a 17th Lancers and 11th Hussars martingale.

I am hoping to see more crimea swords conme to light.
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Old 6th January 2021, 04:29 PM   #3
Jim McDougall
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BRILLIANT WILL!!!! Thank you.

It is truly exciting to see examples of these swords of the types used and with regimental markings which of course profoundly suggest their presence in the famed charge is possible.
This was what my young collecting mind dreamed of all those years ago

The information on the M1853 is most interesting, and I was not aware of the Liege examples. Richard Dellar's outstanding book was where I had heard of the Kirschbaum models which were supplied to the units for Crimea.

It seems that Reeves produced these as well, as he had established the new patent hilt with the tang sandwiched with grips riveted to it.

As shown in the last image the 'bowl guard' M1829 saber for heavy cavalry was used in the not as well known charge of the 'heavy brigade' just subsequent to that of the 'light brigade'.
From what I recall both the light and heavy versions of these sabers were initiated in 1821, with issues developing and production was halted until 1829...thus confusion on 1829 vs. 1821.

Attached are the two 'bowl' guard 1829s I have, the one without the 'ears' on grip has a curious straight blade (by Mole) which I have believed was a modification for use in training?
In those days(only references were Robson and Wilkinson) mid 70s it was believed these were hard to find because of many of these used for naval cutlass conversion prototypes, training swords and numbers destroyed in a fire. It took quite some time too find these examples I have, though not exactly stellar quality.

The officers version of the 'bowl' guard heavy cavalry was pierced, this example by the Hamburger, Rogers outfitters.
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Old 6th January 2021, 05:08 PM   #4
Will M
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Jim your straight bladed Mole 1921p if for training would most likely have a rounded point as seen on other training swords.
I would suggest Mole made some prototypes or an officer had this one made as a fighting sword.
At the onset of the Crimea War Enfield was struggling to supply war materials. European made 1853p swords were inspected at Liege as not to make a trip to England and back just for proving, even furthuring the wait times.
The 11th Hussars sword interstingly has a 16th Queens Lancers scabbard which makes sense since the regiment was posted to India for 10 years after being in the Crimea as was the 16th QL. Procurment of sword parts seemed to be scavaging parts to more quickly equip the troops. Since the British Crimean cavalry were outfitted with the new 1853p sword before the war ended, it makes sense these Liege swords were one of their first issues.
I was under the impression the Kirschbaum swords were made and issued later in the Crimea War. Being govt. issue swords none of the 1853p swords became presentations for the war and we see the previous pattern, the 1796 LC swords with inscriptions on them.
It can be debated Liege and or Kirchbaum but the thin tangs that drew criticism for bending with the first issue 1853's are evident on the Liege marked swords. The tang may look thicker in the photo, but there is sheet metal on either side of the tang as grip backing plates which makes them appear slightly wider. These tangs do measure considerably less than later 1855 made Mole swords. Liege tang thickness at guard: 0.210 and the Mole of 1855 manufacture: 0.340 Both taper towards the pommel. 0.130 difference in thickness is not manufacturing tolerance but a change made to strenthen the tang of the 1853p.

For an interesting read, a book first published in 1864 titled "Englands Workshops", by Gustav Louis Maurice Strauss. One section is on Reeves, another electroplating and more. As I recall it's an inexpensive print on demand softcover book. Describes the manufacturing processes of swords/bayonets and much more.
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Old 6th January 2021, 05:25 PM   #5
Norman McCormick
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Hi,
The P1821 L.C. sabre I have is by Osborn. The single number acceptance mark denotes, as far as I can remember, a date of issue prior to the 1840's. I have photographed it with a later P1821 H.C. officers sword by Wilkinson. They have similar profiles but the L.C. sabre is much more robust in all directions.
Regards,
Norman.

P.S. The old photograph is from the Crimea and I believe the sword is the P1821 L.C. version.
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Old 6th January 2021, 05:52 PM   #6
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Thank you Will!
That is interesting on this curious blade, and perhaps that an officer might have had this fabricated as a fighting sword makes sense. That would explain the absence of 'ears' , but the acceptance marks on the blade (which do not typically appear on officers sword blades) threw me off.

The straight blade intended as a fighting sword also makes sense as the conflict of thrust vs. cut had been ongoing since the late 18th c. I'm sure there were officers who were proponents of the thrust who might have followed this course.

Interesting note on the M1796 light cavalry sabers being present at Balaklava.
This has been a bit of a conundrum to me as I had thought these were swords presented to survivors of the charge at later events with commemorative marked plates on them.
The 1796 had remained is use in India, and with the difficulties with both the M1821 and 1853 forms it does seem feasible some of these might have prevailed with some of the men. I am not sure if this would be possible with 'other ranks' as they had 'issued' rack weapons typically.
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Old 6th January 2021, 06:00 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Norman McCormick
Hi,
The P1821 L.C. sabre I have is by Osborn. The single number acceptance mark denotes, as far as I can remember, a date of issue prior to the 1840's. I have photographed it with a later P1821 H.C. officers sword by Wilkinson. They have similar profiles but the L.C. sabre is much more robust in all directions.
Regards,
Norman.

P.S. The old photograph is from the Crimea and I believe the sword is the P1821 L.C. version.



Thank you Norman, great entry!!!
TheM1821 by Osborn would seem to have predated the 1840s as that maker did not prevail much past 1820s I dont think. He was of course involved in the sword scandal issues vs. German blades in the 1790s and the main developer of the M1796 pattern, but perhaps family still in business then.

Wilkinson was not making much in the way of swords except limited numbers of officers swords in the 1850s but began broader production I think in 1860s.
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Old 6th January 2021, 06:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
TheM1821 by Osborn would seem to have predated the 1840s as that maker did not prevail much past 1820s I dont think. He was of course involved in the sword scandal issues vs. German blades in the 1790s and the main developer of the M1796 pattern, but perhaps family still in business then.


Hi Jim,
Thought this might be of interest. Seems Osborn sword making may have ceased in the 1830's.
My Regards,
Norman.

Henry Osborn

of Bordesley, Birmingham
1812 Patent No. 3617 for machinery for welding and making barrels and firearms and other cylindrical articles. 1813 Patent No. 3740 for 'machinery for tapering gun barrels, &c' using grooved rolls [1]
1820 Osborn started making gas pipes using the method he'd patented for gun barrels [2].
1827 'DIED.- On the 11th inst. at his residence, Whitmore House, Small-heath, Mr. Henry Osborn, many years an eminent gun and sword manufacturer of Bordesley ;-and on the same day, and within a few hours, his brother, Mr. John Osborn, of Cheapside, in this town.'[3]
1832 'TO MANUFACTURERS AND OTHERS. TO be LET, and may be entered upon immediately the extensive Manufacturing Establishment called BORDESLEY MILLS, for many years carried on the late Hr. Henry Osborn, and now by his Widow, consisting of capital Counting-houses and Workmen's-houses, Grinding and Rolling Mills, Forging, Polishing, and other Shops, and most commodious premises, with two Steam Engines in excellent order, one of 56-horse power and the other of 28-horse power.
At the above Establishment, which lies close the town of Birmingham, the lucrative trades carried on by the late Mr. Osborn may be continued, or the premises are capable of conversion to any of the other trades of the midland manufacturing district, and may be occupied as a whole or in two or more parts.
For particulars and to treat apply to Messrs. Arnold and Haines, Solicitors. Birmingham.'[4]
1835 'BORDESLEY MILLS, BIRMINGHAM.
THOMAS OSBORN begs most respectfully to thank those parties who have given him their support since the decease of his late brother, Henry Osborn, and to inform them and the Public generally, that he has made arrangements for carrying on the Trades of SWORD-CUTLER and GUN-MANUFACTURER in all their branches, for the joint benefit of himself and sisters, and assures them that all orders entrusted to him shall have his strictest attention. October 10, 1835.'[5]
1836 'PURSUANT to a Decree of the High Court Chancery, made in a cause of Osborn against Osborn, the Creditors of HENRY OSBORN the elder, late of Whitmore House and Bordesley Mills, Birmmgham, Swordcutler and Gun-maker, who died in the month of August, 1827, are, on or before tbe 28th day May next, to come in and prove their debts before Sir Giffin Wilson, one of the Masters of the said Court, at his Chambers in Southampton Buildings, Chancery-lane, London, or in default thereof they will peremptorily be excluded tbe benefit of the said decree.
Dated the 10th of April, 1836. SANGSTER and PUGH, Solicitors, 1 Bond Court, Walbrook.
F. MOLE, solicitor. Carr's-lane, Birmingham.
'PURSUANT to a Decree of the High Court of Chnacery, made in a cause of Osborn against Osborn, the Creditors of HANNAH OSBORN, late of Whitmore House, Bordesley Mills, Birmingham (widow of Henry Osborn of the same place, Sword-cutler and Gun-maker) who died in the month of April, 1833, are, on or before the 20th day of May next, to come in and prove their debts before Sir Giffin Wilson, one of the Masters of the said Court, at his Chambers in Southampton Buildings, Chancery-lane, London, or in default thereof they will peremptorily be excluded tbe benefit of the said decree.
Dated the 10th of April, 1836. SANGSTER and PUGH, Solicitors, 1 Bond Court, Walbrook.
F. MOLE, solicitor. Carr's-lane, Birmingham.'[6]
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Old 6th January 2021, 09:30 PM   #9
Jim McDougall
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Very much so Norman! Thank you.
I had not realized Osborn had continued that long into the century, and I honestly had never seen a M1821 by Osborn as his activity was so much more situated with the 1796 swords. It would seem that one of these by him would indeed be unusual and well before 1840s.

Interesting to see the MOLE name in capacity of solicitor. I of course always think of that name with the sword maker in Birmingham said to have begun c.1832, and well known with British military swords through the century.
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Old 6th January 2021, 10:01 PM   #10
Will M
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Jim I've seen the Mole name on hangers circ 1800.
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Old 7th January 2021, 03:23 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Will M
Jim I've seen the Mole name on hangers circ 1800.



Ahah! I knew MOLE had to have been before 1832, after all the Mohll family from Shotley had been around since the 17th c. so the 1832 was kinda suspect.
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Old 7th January 2021, 04:11 AM   #12
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I have a sword of General Pavel Liprandi, who was a commander of Russian forces at Balaclava.
He came to inspect the just captured Turkish battery and happened to witness the entire charge of the Light Brigade from the receiving end.

The entire affair was a glorious stupidity.
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Old 7th January 2021, 05:34 PM   #13
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Can you post photos of General Pavel Liprandi's sword?
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Old 19th January 2021, 07:08 AM   #14
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G'day Guys,
Here is the sword of Lt Edward Lavallin Puxley who served with the 4th Light Dragoons in Crimea. He arrived in Crimea after the charge. It is not maker marked, but the proved poincon is the same one I have seen on some Reeves marked swords. It is pictured above a Wilkinson of the same vintage for comparison.

Cheers,
Bryce
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Old 19th January 2021, 04:30 PM   #15
Jim McDougall
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryce
G'day Guys,
Here is the sword of Lt Edward Lavallin Puxley who served with the 4th Light Dragoons in Crimea. He arrived in Crimea after the charge. It is not maker marked, but the proved poincon is the same one I have seen on some Reeves marked swords. It is pictured above a Wilkinson of the same vintage for comparison.

Cheers,
Bryce



This is great Bryce!!! These sabers are always intriguing and exciting to me, probably that the three bar hilt was such an attractive design, and that it was the next light cavalry design after the 1796, the first 'official pattern'.
The design was copied in the US as the M1833 dragoon saber by Ames.

I have always understood that Wilkinson did not start using that
proof' poincon with the 'Star of Solomon' surround until post 1854 when I believe he was only beginning with officers swords. His production of other ranks swords followed.

This provenanced example of 4th dragoon officer in Crimea reveals possibly the earliest use of this feature? as the war ended in 1856.
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Old 19th January 2021, 08:36 PM   #16
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G'day Jim,
I think Wilkinson began using the proof disc from around 1845 when his "new" blade design was introduced. This period isn't my main area of focus, so someone more knowledgeable may be able to confirm this. Certainly they were used well before 1854. 1854 was when Wilkinson began numbering his swords. Here is the proof disc on Puxley's sword. The Wilkinson example above is pre numbering.
Cheers,
Bryce
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Old 19th January 2021, 11:46 PM   #17
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I have a Wilkinson sword circ 1846-47 with an "HW" disc. David Fitzgerald Longworth led the 31st Regt. of Foot at the Battle of Sobraon.
All field officers were either dead or wounded so the duty fell onto Capt. Longworth. He was promoted Major for gallantry after the battle.
This Wilkinson sword would have been most likely purchased with the field officers brass scabbard after the Battle of Sobraon for his promotion to Major. His will mentions two swords, the other unknown and likely the sword he carried during the battle.
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