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Old 4th September 2017, 02:12 AM   #1
BBJW
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Default W.I.D.C. Cutlass Maker's Mark ID?

Can anyone ID the maker's mark on this West Indian Dock Co. cutlass? The museum told me the date was circa 1812-1820 and was for dock security guards. They also wanted to know if I wanted to donate it to them. Any info on this cutlass would be appreciated.--bj
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Old 4th September 2017, 05:34 AM   #2
Helleri
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Don't know enough about that to help with the mark. But I will say. Don't donate it. If you do it will go on display most likely for a while then at some later point get shoved in box and shelved somewhere for possibly decades. Even lost in their catalogue of items. I would say Loan it to them for the duration of display. And have them credit it as being part of your collection (which sometimes turns out to be a good way of networking).
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Old 4th September 2017, 10:58 AM   #3
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Sorry can't help with the mark but its a lovely beefy cutlass blade.
You don't see many with that width.
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Old 5th September 2017, 02:42 AM   #4
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I've seen this exact marking before (a sort of sailboat or scale design), did research and never found out more on it. The item it was on was a mid-19th c. ax, possibly a boarding piece.

There is a WIDC hanger featured in "Naval Swords' by the renowned P.G.W. Annis. That piece features a single edge cutlass with simple brass knuckle bow and ribbed black iron grip. It is marked 'WIDC No.11' and a block letter GR under crown, ca.1805. The India Dock police patrolled and protected the company docks and ships along the river Thames. They were the predecessors to the Thames Division of Metropolitan Police. These type swords are excessively rare and interesting. I'm in agreement to the dates on your sword, ca. 1805-20. I'm glad you didn't part with it!
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Old 5th September 2017, 02:50 AM   #5
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I suspect that the WIDC stores used pre-existing swords refurbished for police usage. We see this in all manner of swords from this period. Your broad blade reminded me of the so called 'lead cutter' swords of the period, which possessed a figure-of-eight hilt refurbished from the old m.1803's with a massive straight blade with blunted tip for cutting lead sheets. While I'm not suggesting yours isn't a weapon, I bring this up to strengthen my theory that old hanger hilts, cutlass parts, etc, were refitted with blades for other uses. All you have to do is look at the multitude of private purchase type cutlasses of the era.
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Old 5th September 2017, 04:43 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BBJW
Can anyone ID the maker's mark on this West Indian Dock Co. cutlass? The museum told me the date was circa 1812-1820 and was for dock security guards. They also wanted to know if I wanted to donate it to them. Any info on this cutlass would be appreciated.--bj


I should have mentioned that on the maker's mark of the sail boat there is an F on the left that does show in the photo and an H on the right that doesn't show well in the photo.-- bj
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Old 7th September 2017, 09:12 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helleri
Don't know enough about that to help with the mark. But I will say. Don't donate it. If you do it will go on display most likely for a while then at some later point get shoved in box and shelved somewhere for possibly decades. Even lost in their catalogue of items. I would say Loan it to them for the duration of display. And have them credit it as being part of your collection (which sometimes turns out to be a good way of networking).



Totally agree!!! In many cases (too many) there are tons of items just boxed up and never see the light of day again. Often there is a degree of de-accessing to of course gain ever necessary funding.
One museum I just visited had amazing displays, but the person I was speaking with noted that the volume of items stored dwarfed those on display, and of course hoped some day for expansion. \

Not discounting the fine and commendable efforts of museums, but in these times of economic strife, they are financially unable to do nearly what they would like to.
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Old 8th September 2017, 08:45 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Totally agree!!! In many cases (too many) there are tons of items just boxed up and never see the light of day again. Often there is a degree of de-accessing to of course gain ever necessary funding.
One museum I just visited had amazing displays, but the person I was speaking with noted that the volume of items stored dwarfed those on display, and of course hoped some day for expansion. \

Not discounting the fine and commendable efforts of museums, but in these times of economic strife, they are financially unable to do nearly what they would like to.


Museums want to expand like churches want a new roof. Better for them in theory than in practice. Something to add here is if one does lend an item to a museum. If it's anything of any substantial value to them they should check-in on it frequently. Maybe even once a month. They need to be reminded about what they do and don't own. Or they will forget. If an item goes off display and they have not heard from the owner in 3-6 months. They will just assume the owner is dead or something and treat it as bequeathed.

Goto make sure everyone who works there and even every new hire knows what belongs to who in those regards as well. Wires get crossed. And once it gets lost. The chances of it turning up are next to none. Of course you're welcome to look through there warehouse to find it yourself usually. This is a rough approximation of what awaits you btw.



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