Easton Antique Arms

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This page is intended to help researchers of British military swords.

 

Articles by Matt Easton

 

Videos by Matt Easton

 

I run a YouTube channel which has a great quantity of educational videos. I have a playlist specifically for antique swords here:

Matt Easton's YouTube playlist for antique swords.

 

 

 

 

Identifying British Military Swords

 

For British military swords, the 'bibles' are:

  • Swords of the British Army, by Robson

  • The British Cavalry Sword, by Dellar

You will find on my website here archives of previously-sold items, with descriptions. This should help you to learn the different patterns and variations.

For example ARCHIVE 1 - ARCHIVE 2 - Further items can also be found on my 'Antique Swords for Sale' page.

 

If you have a sword that you cannot identify then I recommend enquiring on the Antique & Military part of Swordforum International, where you will also find a great many other useful resources for the hobby. Another very useful resource is Oldswords.com - this contains a database of military swords from across the world, as well as details about makers, retailers etc. I am afraid that I do not have the spare time to identify your sword for you myself.

 

If your sword has initials etched on the blade, a crest or some other identifying feature linking it to an officer, then you can research the military careers of British officers through Hart's Annual Army Lists. You can search through scans of many of these on archive.org

 

 

Wilkinson swords

 

Private puchase Wilkinson-made swords from 1854 onwards carried serial numbers and most of the records for these sales survive and are accessable through Richard Milner. These records give the date of manufacture of each blade and sometimes include the buyer's name, which can aid in researching the officers who carried these swords. You can contact Richard Milner and find out how to order a record here: http://www.armsresearch.co.uk

 

John Latham of the Wilkinson Sword Company (he took over after Henry Wilkinson died) gave a fantastic lecture in 1862 on the shape of sword blades - this can be read here.

 

For interest, the chemical composition tolerance of steel used by Wilkinson in the 19th century was:

Carbon................0.90 to 1,00%
Silicon.................0.20% Maximum
Manganese..........0.15 to 0.35%
Sulphur...............0.02% Maximum
Phosphorous......... 0.02% Maximum

This is a high carbon steel, approximately equivalent to modern 1095 steel, but it was specially made for Wilkinson and is not exactly matched by modern steels.

 

I have compiled a list of Victorian-era Wilkinson serial numbers and dates here below, which I hope will ease quick dating for fellow sword collectors (the 'from' and 'to' show the range of serial numbers). I have stopped at the end of the Victorian era, but you can find the dates for later serial numbers on the Oldswords.com website.

 

I have added a graph below to show annual production levels, which I think is of interest - note that certain Victorian campaigns, such as the Crimean, Egyptian and Sudanese expeditions, and the Boer War, seem to have resulted in an increase in production of officer's swords. If you want to access the specific record for a numbered Wilkinson-made sword then please contact Richard Milner.

 

 

 

 

 

If you would like to enquire about an item here or contact me for any other reason, then please use:

schola-gladiatoria@hotmail.co.uk