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Old 28th July 2015, 01:16 PM   #1
Jens Nordlunde
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Default Anglo-Indian army swords

Ok, I admit it at once; I dont know anything about these swords, but on another thread it seems as if Chris, Simon and Jim knows a lot, so this thread is for them and others who want to join.

In the picture you see Major-General (I dont think he had that title then) Richard Hilton (b. 1894 d. 1981 at the age of 87 years) together with a few Indian officers - one seems to be sleeping.
Hilton was an artillry officer and did service for 15 years in India. During WWII he was moved to Europe(?) where he participated in several of the important battels.
He wrote several books, one of them about the Mutiny in 1857.
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Old 28th July 2015, 05:43 PM   #2
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I confess to knowing very little Jens, and what little I do know I have gleaned from other esteemed writers and collectors such as yourselves and Robert Wilkinson-Latham.
And also from books like 'Swordsman of the British Empire' and 'Through The Indian Mutiny' etc
I started to collect Indian sabres influenced by the 1796 LCS, but family life put an end to that!
I am in the hope that this thread gets going so I can learn more, all the best Simon
PS great photo Jens
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Old 28th July 2015, 06:02 PM   #3
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Thank you so much Jens!
I am looking forward to what we can develop on this thread which will attend to these interesting regimental and hybrid forms, which of course were concurrent to the traditional form discussed on your other thread

I think one instance (which I need to retrieve the source) where British soldiers were amazed at the incredible (though ghastly) effectiveness of the Indian swordsmen with their tulwars. To their astonishment, they soon discovered that these tulwars were often mounted with British blades, mostly from their now obsolete M1796 light cavalry sabres, but honed razor sharp.
I have seen a good number of these, one with an Osborne & Gunby blade, another, actually a M1788 blade in a 'Persian shamshir' style hilt, and of course others.
When British swords contractors began supplying swords to the native cavalry regiments, it is interesting to note that some of these, notably Bourne & Son, continued making the M1796 stirrup hilt type into the late 19th century due to their extreme favor by the Indian troopers .

The famed Wilkinson Sword Co. produced many swords for the Indian units, and if I recall they came in varied blade lengths, according to preferences in Bengal and Madras. These were also of another supplanted pattern, the M1822 light cavalry sabre, and in the Wilkinson catalogs known as the 'colonial style', with the three bar 'gothic ' style hilt.
A good number of these were made by MOLE, Robert Mole * Co. of Birmingham, in around the 1880s and were subcontractors to Wilkinson.
I have seen cast brass hilt of traditional tulwar form also produced by Mole.

In one of the books written by Wilkinson, there are listings of the type or pattern swords preferred by various units, and as mentioned. I need to find it!

Some of the units chose the M1853 pattern cavalry sword, and in a most interesting case, a number of these were produce by a private firm, the Rodwell Co. for one of the railways! Many of the large firms and organizations maintained their own security forces, such as with this case .


These are just opening thoughts recollected to get things going, and I really look forward to additions and observations. Meanwhile, to see if I can find those notes!!!
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Old 28th July 2015, 06:19 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
The famed Wilkinson Sword Co. produced many swords for the Indian units, and if I recall they came in varied blade lengths, according to preferences in Bengal and Madras. These were also of another supplanted pattern, the M1822 light cavalry sabre, and in the Wilkinson catalogs known as the 'colonial style', with the three bar 'gothic ' style hilt.


Just to get the ball rolling, here is one such catalogue advertisement, dating to 1912. Some of these patterns had very long service lives.
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Old 28th July 2015, 07:52 PM   #5
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Old 28th July 2015, 08:33 PM   #6
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Hello,

I have a sabre with a European influenced hilt but an Indian blade. The hilt has Urdu script on it so could be from Afghanistan or modern day Pakistan. Will share photos soonish :-)))
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Old 28th July 2015, 09:02 PM   #7
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Great link Ted,
Scott I think Robert Wilkinson-Latham put similar pictures up on SFI with details if I remember correctly
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Old 29th July 2015, 04:58 AM   #8
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Back to a reply I posted a week or so back under the Afghan Pistols thread...

Anyone with sabers or swords attributed to the Poonah Irregular Horse?

I posted a pistol from c. 1850 marked to this unit and would love to see the blades they carried, specifically during the Persia campaign mid 1850's.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 29th July 2015, 10:51 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Simmons


That's an interesting sword Tim,

I had one of those in my collection. The hilt is certainly based on the 1853 type, and I had a whole subsection of swords with various styles of hilt and blades which looked like they had been chopped together from various pattern designs!

Back to you're sword, I shall have to check my notes to see if a unit attribution was ever made for it. I can't remember if mine was marked or not.

Kind regards,

Chris
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Old 29th July 2015, 11:07 AM   #10
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Here is a comparison shot between an early 1796 pattern light cavalry troopers sword (produced 1798) and an Indian Cavalry sword with three bar hilt.

Note the similarity in blade shape. Some of these early 1796 patterns were used in India in there own right by East India Company units, as were old stocks of the 1788 LC sword.
I have also seen original 1796 blades rehilted with the three bar hilt for Indian use.

However, the design proved so popular that 1796 style blades were reproduced under various guises right up until at least the First World War.

Robert Wilkinson Latham and I have shared various correspondence and images over the years. I shall ask him if he will give me permission to share some images from Wilkinson circa 1914, showing these 1796 style blades being finished.

There also similar British made blades, known as "Paget" pattern, which are not as beefy as the 1796 style, but do feature on many Indian cavalry swords with distinctive broad curved cutting blades which remained popular in Indian service, long after the much straighter and only slightly curved cut & thrust type sword became prevalent in UK service.
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Old 29th July 2015, 11:30 AM   #11
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Two very nice swords there Scott, that would be great if you can get permission from Robert, he was incredibly helpful to me on the Mk4 kukri, top chap.
PS There is quite a bit about the Indian Cavalry refusing to use the straighter English pattern and holding out for the 1796 LCS type blade in 'Swordsman of the British Empire'
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Old 29th July 2015, 02:18 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirupate
Two very nice swords there Scott'


Thanks Simon. Given our recent discussions over various fora, I thought you might recall that my name is infact, Chris. I'll happily respond to Mr Scott or mrcjgscott also if you prefer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sirupate
PS There is quite a bit about the Indian Cavalry refusing to use the straighter English pattern and holding out for the 1796 LCS type blade in 'Swordsman of the British Empire'


That sounds relevant to our current discussion, perhaps you would transcribe it for us?
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Old 29th July 2015, 04:09 PM   #13
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Sorry Chris, you can download a PDF version (which I have on one of my memory sticks), if that doesn't appeal I'll see if I can find it for you, all the best Simon
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Old 29th July 2015, 04:29 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Thank you so much Jens!
I am looking forward to what we can develop on this thread which will attend to these interesting regimental and hybrid forms, which of course were concurrent to the traditional form discussed on your other thread

I think one instance (which I need to retrieve the source) where British soldiers were amazed at the incredible (though ghastly) effectiveness of the Indian swordsmen with their tulwars. To their astonishment, they soon discovered that these tulwars were often mounted with British blades, mostly from their now obsolete M1796 light cavalry sabres, but honed razor sharp.
I have seen a good number of these, one with an Osborne & Gunby blade, another, actually a M1788 blade in a 'Persian shamshir' style hilt, and of course others.
When British swords contractors began supplying swords to the native cavalry regiments, it is interesting to note that some of these, notably Bourne & Son, continued making the M1796 stirrup hilt type into the late 19th century due to their extreme favor by the Indian troopers .

The famed Wilkinson Sword Co. produced many swords for the Indian units, and if I recall they came in varied blade lengths, according to preferences in Bengal and Madras. These were also of another supplanted pattern, the M1822 light cavalry sabre, and in the Wilkinson catalogs known as the 'colonial style', with the three bar 'gothic ' style hilt.
A good number of these were made by MOLE, Robert Mole * Co. of Birmingham, in around the 1880s and were subcontractors to Wilkinson.
I have seen cast brass hilt of traditional tulwar form also produced by Mole.

In one of the books written by Wilkinson, there are listings of the type or pattern swords preferred by various units, and as mentioned. I need to find it!

Some of the units chose the M1853 pattern cavalry sword, and in a most interesting case, a number of these were produce by a private firm, the Rodwell Co. for one of the railways! Many of the large firms and organizations maintained their own security forces, such as with this case .


These are just opening thoughts recollected to get things going, and I really look forward to additions and observations. Meanwhile, to see if I can find those notes!!!



Jim mentioned in this thread a variety of British influences on Indian blades. Below are some examples of Indian blades and one Afghan one that borrow both from British characteristics/styles/makes that blade smiths sought to mimic, combined with hundreds of years old native influences.
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Old 29th July 2015, 04:31 PM   #15
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More pics of the poulowar....note also the military style steel chape.
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Old 29th July 2015, 04:39 PM   #16
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Charles,
Interesting pictures - I have ligthened the Afghan one so you see the details better.
The Afghan hilt is quite unusual, and the hand guard added later - a very nice one.
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Old 29th July 2015, 04:58 PM   #17
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OMG!!! THIS THREAD IS PHENOMENAL!!!
Thank you so much everybody for these amazing entries, and now that I catch my breath, Charles, that is the most amazing example of these British Raj hybrids I have ever seen! the paluoar!!! and then there is the tulwar with British 'gothic' folding guard!!

Chris, I cannot thank you enough for being the motivator in creating this thread as you have well initiated more activity in the study of the Indian tulwar concurrently on its own thread.

I think this is a textbook example of how to split an interesting item or topic from one thread to another so that the comingling does not defeat discussion on either. Jens, thank you for starting this thread, and everyone for participating with such great entries .

Chris, note on Charles 'paluaor' the fluting and the quadranted cross guard. This is what I was mentioning on the tulwars Jens and I were talking about on the tulwars from these Northwest regions. I would point out that Afghanistan in these times was distinctly considered part of India. Also that these 'paluoars' are actually a form of tulwar, notably associated with Afghan regions and reflecting Deccani and Mughal influences.

Charles, it is fascinating to see this blade, especially designated to MOLE!
It looks like watered steel, and with my incredibly poor understanding of the metallurgy of these blades, how is that possible ? I have seen plain tulwars attributed to MOLE, but nothing like this.

Its great that you guys have been in touch with Mr Wilkinson-Latham, who is probably one of the most phenomenal knowledge bases on these swords and Indian army weaponry. I do hope we might see some of the material mentioned here.

Chris, well noted on those 'Paget' pattern sabres, which indeed were M1822 hilts, and as mentioned, using the distinct heavier M1796 type blades.
I have only one of these (by MOLE) designated to 21C, 21st cavalry (Dalys Horse if I recall) which was in the Frontier Field Force.

Shake the Trees , still looking for data on Poona Horse, and also would like to see a sword of thiers!
I have seen Bombay Cavalry examples, but those are only ones so far that I can recall.

Thank you everyone, this is a great discussion.
and Charles, thank you again so much for that 'centerfold' !!! paluoar and the tulwar with British guard.
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Old 29th July 2015, 05:41 PM   #18
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Hi,
This old thread should be of interest. http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...sh+made+tulwars


Regards,
Norman.
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Old 29th July 2015, 05:46 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesS
Jim mentioned in this thread a variety of British influences on Indian blades. Below are some examples of Indian blades and one Afghan one that borrow both from British characteristics/styles/makes that blade smiths sought to mimic, combined with hundreds of years old native influences.


Charles, those are some truly jaw dropping pieces! Thank you so much for posting them up here. Simply stunning!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Chris, I cannot thank you enough for being the motivator in creating this thread as you have well initiated more activity in the study of the Indian tulwar concurrently on its own thread.


The pleasure is all mine. It is refreshing to be part of a forum which is so willing to freely share information for the greater benefit of all members.

Many thanks for pointing out the subtle stylistic differences on these tulwars. It is so important to note such clues, especially when dipping ones toe in an unfamiliar collecting area.

I have been in touch with Robert, and he has very graciously given me permission to reproduce his photographs and information here, which I shall do in due course. Robert is the very epitome of a true researcher, and his generous approach of freely sharing his discoveries and information is an inspiration to all.

Kind regards,

Chris
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Old 29th July 2015, 06:12 PM   #20
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Jim,

Thanks for all the kind remarks. The MOLE blade is homogenous steel.
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Old 29th July 2015, 06:20 PM   #21
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this one was in my collection. Blade and scabbard are wootz but dont think its Indian?
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Old 29th July 2015, 06:43 PM   #22
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Some fabulous swords and information arising through this fabulous thread
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Old 29th July 2015, 06:45 PM   #23
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another one.
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Old 29th July 2015, 09:43 PM   #24
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Jonathan Hopkins over on SFI once posted the following image and statement, which shows one of these curved 1796 style blades in use in 1911:

"The sword pictured in the 1911 Cavalry Training Indian Supplement looks remarkably like the P1796, but the blade appears to be narrower and without a hatchet point."
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Old 30th July 2015, 12:32 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shakethetrees
Back to a reply I posted a week or so back under the Afghan Pistols thread...

Anyone with sabers or swords attributed to the Poonah Irregular Horse?

I posted a pistol from c. 1850 marked to this unit and would love to see the blades they carried, specifically during the Persia campaign mid 1850's.

Thanks in advance!



I spent some time with a few more references.
Staying with the pistol you originally posted on the 'Afghan pistol' thread, the example you have with the lionhead butt cap has an example illustrated in "British Military Pistols 1603-1888", 1978, Robert Brooker, plate 124.
On the lock, the same POONAH IRREGULAR HORSE in same location, in lieu of the EIC rampant lion which is on earlier EIC pistols.
Apparantly Garden & Son, Piccadilly, were one of the largest outfitters to these 'irregular cavalry units' through the 1850s.
In the Brooker reference, there are pistols to the IRREGULAR 2ND CAVALRY and SCINDE IRREGULAR HORSE, both stamped in this same manner and most notably with the same lionhead butt cap.

As the designation POONAH IRREGULAR HORSE was used from 1847 until 1861, it is likely the pistol is of this period, and of course may well have been used during the Persian campaign of 1856-7, in which this unit participated in the charge at Kooshab. As you noted, your pistol was made by Harrington & Scott of Birmingham (who became partners in 1849).

The illustration of a Ratore Rajput of 34th Prince Albert Victors Own POONA HORSE was a watercolor by Maj. A C Lovett, CBE, in 1910 and appears in "The Armies of India" by Lt. Gen. Sir George MacMunn, 1911 (repr1984).
These illustrations are held by the National Army Museum.

The book "The Indian Army" by Boris Mollo, 1981, has an illustration of Col. Charles Swanston, Poona Irregular Horse c.1818 (p.42) by an unknown artist. The figure is standing next to a horse, and has a pistol in sash and apparently a mameluke type officers sabre There is no other detail in text as far as I could find.

As far as swords used by this regiment in the Persian campaigns, since the Paget pattern swords were not around until 1860s, it might be presumed that East India Company swords or outfitted officers type swords might have been in use. The 'Company' had ordered as many as 10,000 of the 1796 type light cavalry sabres in the 1790s. According to David Harding, no EIC markings were ever on swords (I do know earlier they were on bayonets).

Though after the 1857 mutiny, the EIC was effectively ceased, it seems possible some regular British military patterns might have been in use, but I have not yet found more on that.

At this point it is far more likely to find examples or data on the weapons for officers of this unit than the troopers. It is interesting that the Garden & Co. lionhead butt caps seem peculiar to that firm, and supplying these 'irregular' units. The term is with regard to the fact they these units were usually 'sillidar' (troopers supply own horses) and usually had just a few officers controlling the unit. The squadrons (risallahs) were as many as ten with up about 500 men in each.
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Old 30th July 2015, 01:29 AM   #26
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THIS IS VERY INTERESTING AND A FIELD I KNOW VERY LITTLE OF SO LOTS TO LEARN. I SEE LOTS OF METALS ON THE INDIA TROOPS SO THEY MUST BE WARRIORS OF NOTE AS METALS WERE NOT LIGHTLY GIVEN IN THOSE TIMES. PERHAPS IT MIGHT BE POSSIBLE TO LEARN ACTIONS WHERE EARNED AS WELL AS THEIR IDENTITY'S FROM A CLOSE UP PICTURE BY ONE FAMILIAR WITH INDIA AND METALS.
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Old 30th July 2015, 03:16 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A.alnakkas
this one was in my collection. Blade and scabbard are wootz but dont think its Indian?


Hello A.alnakkas,

Many thanks for posting these examples. The first one you show looks very similar to some Imperial Russian swords I have seen. Does it carry and markings to the blade?

I have two similar to the second sword you show, but both with different crests to the grip. I presume they are for different Indian states. I shall take some photographs of my examples for comparison.
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Old 30th July 2015, 03:37 PM   #28
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The following images are reproduced here by the kind permission of Robert Wilkinson Latham. Naturally all copyright belongs to Robert, and they are not to be reproduced without his permission.

The first images shows India Office "tulwar" blades and 1907 pattern bayonets being finished at Wilkinson's factory in Acton in 1915.

The second shows an Apprentice handing three bar hilts to a fitter, working on the bending and shaping machine in 1916.

The third shows a pattern photograph of the hilt of a P08 Indian cavalry troopers sword.

The fourth images shows pattern drawings for a three bar cavalry sword circa 1914.
Robert notes "I am sure that the so called Bengal, Paget etc patterns referred to blade type and hilts were different depending on the regiment, there being a variety of known but mainly unidentified hilt types. The most common is of course the 3 bar version. (When it comes to the maharaja's forces, this three bar hilt was often fitted with a medallion on the hilt for whatever state and there are of course regular cavalry variations.!!!!

Eventually the 3 bar hilt dominated circa 1914 when the India Store Depot produced a full size drawings (Ref 9470) and specification for the 3 bar hilted sword (Pattern 6480) which was designated Sword Tulwar Cavalry."


The final image shows a hilt detail of an Indian Cavalry sword. This type of walnut grip is peculiar to swords made for Indian service and others of the type have been associated with private purchase officers swords of the period.

Kind regards,

Chris
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Old 30th July 2015, 03:58 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrcjgscott
Hello A.alnakkas,

Many thanks for posting these examples. The first one you show looks very similar to some Imperial Russian swords I have seen. Does it carry and markings to the blade?

I have two similar to the second sword you show, but both with different crests to the grip. I presume they are for different Indian states. I shall take some photographs of my examples for comparison.


hmmm, although the design is Russian I think its Persian. Qajar used Russian designed sabres as far as I know. It also had the Qajar crown on the hilt. Will annoy my friend and ask him to snap photos of it :-)
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Old 30th July 2015, 04:14 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A.alnakkas
hmmm, although the design is Russian I think its Persian. Qajar used Russian designed sabres as far as I know. It also had the Qajar crown on the hilt. Will annoy my friend and ask him to snap photos of it :-)


Ahhh I see, that is certainly a new one on me, every day is a school day!

Further images would certainly be most enlightening, thank you!
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