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Old 9th July 2021, 04:03 PM   #1
Will M
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Default 9th regt. of foot, Royal Norfolk Regt.

An interesting sword to a Capt in the Crimea with the 9th Foot. Later to be general staff with transport and commissionariat. Medal and clasp for Sebastopol and 5th class of the order of Medjidie 1856, Turkish War medal 1859. In 1884 he was with the Nile Expedition as commissary general.
The blade is etched with 13 battle honours, IX, Britannia, HJ Wilkinson and his family crest. The guard has had the VR replaced with the general officers crossed sword and baton. Fenton was nice enough to have taken a photo of HJ Wilkinson on horseback.

What is somewhat unclear is the Wilkinson blade proof page, some of it has not been deciphered yet.

illustration of Nile Expedition from 1884 Graphic, online by lookand learn.com
HJ Wilkinson is bottom right corner.
If anyone has a higher resolution picture of the Nile illustration I'd be interested in it.
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Old 9th July 2021, 09:57 PM   #2
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What is somewhat unclear is the Wilkinson blade proof page, some of it has not been deciphered yet.

There would be a reasonable number of forum members who regularly wade through copperplate in their research & it may well be worth indicating the words that have yet to be deciphered.
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Old 9th July 2021, 10:40 PM   #3
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I didn't want to guess at the words which can lead to someone being unable to look past what I wrote. Other than the dates, anything under the entry for the blade size.
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Old 10th July 2021, 10:32 AM   #4
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I read it as:

Sword steel
hilt Grenadr ((the r (it might be an 'e') is super script which this forum's text range will not allow me to do)) - short for 'Grenadier'
(the next word baffles me) Centi??


(last line) NP Gren Guards (NP usually represents ‘New Pattern’)

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Old 10th July 2021, 04:51 PM   #5
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The guard is the new pattern for the non folding hilt. He would have had the VR replaced with the general officers crossed sword and baton.
I'm guessing that Gren could be Gen for general officers?
What appears obvious does not match the sword. The swords blade measurements are correct. Searching pages either side of 5955 did not reveal anything.
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Old 10th July 2021, 09:51 PM   #6
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I'm guessing that Gren could be Gen for general officers?

There is unquestionably an r in that word.

I am not a sword expert, was there a pattern of sword specifically for Grenadier Guards officers in this period? If so was there anything that could have prevented this gent from wearing one? I wonder if, when he ordered this sword, he had expectations of holding a commission in the GGs, one could of course speculate endlessly but there was something that 'changed'. The hilt appears to be brass, not steel, have you tried a magnet on it, just in case.... In any event it would seem that either the sword was re-hilted in brass or the order was altered and the records not amended - it was after all a fairly regular sword & I know from years of experience in the modern building industry that many changes are requested during construction and not all of those end up as written contract variations and the changes are just simply done with no record other than the evidence of what one can see.
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Old 11th July 2021, 05:10 AM   #7
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Adrian the guards regiments got new pattern steel hilts in 1854 with their own crests in the ovals.
This sword has the brass infantry officers hilt and the oval originally contained the "VR" and now has the crossed sword and baton for general and staff officers for when he went to Control Department.
All the blade etching is 9th regt. of Foot from Britannia and regimental battle honours.
I think reading "Gren" though it sure appears this way may be misleading, unless an incorrect notation was put on the page (known to happen on these Wilkinson entries on blade proof pages).
It seems the writing has lower case letters that look like uuu and are difficult to distinguish from an r,n, u or ??.
The page does have the officers name and correct size of blade.
Part of it reads like "sword steel" when it is actually "sword med". with the "d" having the upsweep not attach to the last loop appearing as an "L" Attach the upsweep and L and it reads as "d" as it should. so "sword med".
It reads "hilt? remove??" and his sword would have had the "VR" removed to add the general officers crest.
Under "hilt ??" is lent?? I have no idea what that is, and under that is "m w d"? again not sure.
Back to "np gren guard" could be new pattern for general officers guard?. 1854 is the year that began the non folding guard, therefore a new pattern of guard without the hinged section.
The year 1854 for folding guards being abolished was not strictly adhered to and officers could still purchase their sword with a folding guard.
Top left on a slant, is written "had taken"? and under that "fitten Wilkinson" with Wilkinson improperly spelt and whatever fitten is supposed to be.
The sword shown in the officers photo shows a non folding guard. Of course the scabbard was replaced with a brass one when he became a major.
I appreciate all the input and believe we are getting closer to this mystery with illegible writing. If it were too easy there would be less enjoyment in trying.
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Old 11th July 2021, 09:12 PM   #8
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Hi Will,
It is certainly an intrigue. I don't think the word that looks like "steel" can be "Med", it is not how the "M" was written & the "d" at the end is very unlike his "d" at the end of "sword". I sent this over to Christopher Roads (author of standard reference "British Soldier's Firearm 1850-1864") as I know that he reads copper plate with no hesitation at all. In our subsequent discussion he said that it definitely says "Hilt Grenade Centre" and at the bottom "NP" for New Pattern & "Gren Guards" for Grenadier Guards. He was curious to know what the grenade in the centre of the hilt wouldhave looked like (he is ex R.A.) and also wanted me to ask if a sword such as this was actually screwed together, or pinned/peened? He was also surprised when I mentioned Crimean War provenance and said that one would need be quite cautious re that given the 1856 date in this document and that the war ended in February of that year. I asked what he read the word "steel" as & he will go back and look at that.
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Old 12th July 2021, 02:43 AM   #9
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I don't see any 1856 dating only 1855.
Try blocking out letters either side of the letter you are looking at.
By taking each letter individually you can see "Med" instead of "Steel'
Same for "Gren" can ge "Gen" or "Srew" or "Screw guard", and I have seen the same notation on other proof pages for "screw guard".
There is no Grenadier guard military history to the officer, no etching on the blade, nothing to maintain this point . ​
To maintain Grenadier guard would mean the page is not for this sword at all but the serial numbers match and Wilkinsons name is on the page also.
The Wilkinson name appears to be misspelt, but we know what it should read in this case. This makes me believe the penmanship of the person was so bad it looks like he added letters, made incorrect ones and does not form them correctly.
i hope I'm explaining this satisfactorily. With there being no steel hilt, no Grenadier guard insignia, nothing, and everything is 9th regt. of Foot, the logical conclusion is we're being duped by poor 176 year old penmanship!
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Old 14th July 2021, 06:36 PM   #10
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To add some details, the notation of "NP" as some say represents "nickel plated" may be recording the swords scabbard screws? Normally the blade proof page is the blade only but in this case the whole sword was returned to Wilkinsons. The screws are nickel plated showing no corrosion on themselves or surrounding brass. The brass scabbard replaced the leather/brass upon his promotion to field rank. Maybe if I look on and off enough something will jump out at me?
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Old 15th July 2021, 12:46 PM   #11
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Could 'np' be 'nb', as in 'nota bene'?
Regards
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Old 16th July 2021, 03:43 AM   #12
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Richard that had crossed my mind. Good to know I'm not the only one!
We somewhat lose track of HJ Wilkinson once he became a controller. 1 Jan. 1870 he is listed as assistant controller.
In 1862-63 was in Ionian Islands 10 Jul 1862- 31 Aug 1863. Later 1 Sep. 1863 West Indies.
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