Fine Antique Arms & Armour

Scottish Officer's Back Sword - Circa 1750 Ref: 10.45



A Fine Scottish Officer's Backsword circa 1750 Ref: 10.45


Price: £4,250


A particularly fine example of a horseman's backsword made for an officer in a North British regiment of dragoons in the middle of the 18th century. The form of decoration emulates the style developed earlier in the century by the Glasgow sword makers such as John Simpson (I and II) and Thomas Gemmill.


The fully formed basket is pierced with triangles and circles in the main front and side panel guards which are also finely fretted at the edges with chevrons and merlons. The flattened bars are decorated with a central groove flanked by incised lines. Two main front guard panels are present on the more usual fully formed Scottish basket hilts of the 18th century but in this "horseman's" design one of these has been replaced by an oval ring.


This hilt is further elaborated with cross-hatches and lines which give it a distinctive appearance. A sword with a similarly decorated hilt is in the Warwick Castle collection but its basket is badly damaged. As a result the decoration of this sword is not unique but part of a small but hitherto unexplored group.


The arms of the guard are forged onto a circle of iron into which the base of the bun shaped pommel sits. The pronounced pommel button is integral with the pommel and not of separate manufacture. The pommel is decorated with three sets of curved lines similar to those present on the main bars of the hilt. The original grip is of wood which retains its shagreen cover with copper wire binding and "Turk's Heads" top and bottom.


The robust blade is single edged for three quarters of its length. It fits tightly into the hilt and has a short ricasso. Beyond this on both sides of the blade the GR cipher and crown is visible. Some six inches (15 cm) from the ricasso a long central fuller extends for the full length of the blade flanked by a narrower fuller which extends for the length of the blunt back edge.


Overall the sword is in good and original condition with some russet patination overall. The length is 42 inches (106.5 cm) and the blade is 36 inches (91.5 cm) long.


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