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Jonathan Hopkins

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Everything posted by Jonathan Hopkins

  1. Jonathan Hopkins

    Order of Medjidie

    How can one distinguish between the various Classes of the Order of Medjidie awarded to British officers for their service during the Sudan campaign of the late 1890s? What is the significance of the round bit on the medal's ribbon? I am especially interested in the differences between 3rd and 4th Class. Thank you, Jonathan
  2. In March of 2008 I decided that I wanted to take my collection in a new, more focused direction. Soon after making this decision I was able to buy a nice Pattern 1897 Infantry Officer’s Sword to an officer of the Indian Army. Researching his life and career sparked an interest in the Indian Army and the various campaigns in the North West Frontier and Afghanistan. I decided to further narrow my collecting efforts to Indian Army officers’ swords. After that initial purchase, however, I struggled to find swords which fit into my framework, and when I did they were out of my price range, or scooped up by other collectors. I was able to satisfy my interests in India, the NWF, and Afghanistan by pursuing swords of officers of the British Army who served in my region of interest. Now, just about a year and a half later, I have had the good fortune of finding a sword to another officer of the Indian Army, and better yet, a special pattern favored by officers in India. Originating from John Jacob of the Scinde Horse, the scroll hilt (or acanthus hilt) is best known for its brass incarnation in the form of the British Pattern 1857 Royal Engineers Officer’s Sword. But well before 1857 a steel version was favored by officers serving in India, and continued to be produced for discerning officers of both the British and Indian Armies who wanted good fighting swords. My sword, serial number 13539, was made in 1865 for Captain Richard Topham of the 16th Bengal Cavalry. The 1 lb. 14 oz. sword is an excellent example of a weapon intended for service. The steel guard is engraved with an acanthus leaf design. The rest of the weapon is rather Spartan in design. Aside from the standard Wilkinson Pall Mall, and the proof disc, the only blade decoration is the officer’s family crest. The rest of the 34 ¼†blade is plain, and has been sharpened for service. The sharpening begins 8†from the guard and continues to the tip, while almost 7†of the false edge has been sharpened. The scabbard is steel with a German silver mouth, and the inside is lined with wood. Richard Topham’s first commission was as an ensign in the Royal Lancashire Militia (1st March, 1855). Soon thereafter, he was promoted lieutenant (June, 1855). In July of the same year, he purchased his first regular army commission as a cornet in the 4th (The Queen’s Own) Regiment of Light Dragoons. Less than one year later, on 14 March 1856, Topham was promoted lieutenant (without purchase). At some point in 1857 he transferred top the 7th (The Queen’s Own) Regiment of Light Dragoons (Hussars) and embarked for service in India. Topham served with distinction during the Indian Mutiny (also known as India's First War of Independence, the Great Rebellion, the Indian Rebellion, the Revolt of 1857, the Uprising of 1857 and the Sepoy Mutiny). The Hart’s List for 1860 records: Topham’s mentions in dispatches are recorded in the London Gazette: Gazette Issue 22143 published on the 25 May 1858: Gazette Issue 22259 published on the 5 May 1859: And his actions in the field are recorded in several texts, including The Life of General Sir Hope Grant with selections from his correspondence: Following the Mutiny, Topham remained in India and was attached as commandant to the 16th Bengal Cavalry in 1860. Topham purchased his captaincy 16 October 1863. In 1865 Topham officially transferred to the Bengal Staff Corps, and the occasion merited the purchase of his scroll hilt sword. He continued to serve as commandant of the 16th Bengal Cavalry—a position he would keep for the remainder of his career. Topham’s next and final active service was during the Black Mountain (sometimes called 1st Hazara) Expedition of 1868. He would have carried his new scroll hilt during this campaign. Topham ably commanded his regiment and was mentioned in despatches for his service (William Henry Paget , A Record of the Expeditions Undertaken Against the North-West Frontier Tribes): He received further commendations, as well: The remainder of Topham’s career appears to have been relatively quiet. He continued to command the 16th Bengal Cavalry: Parliamentary Papers, 1877: Topham was promoted Major on 27 July 1875. Sadly, he died the following year while his regiment was station in Bareilly. I have not been able to determine his cause of death, but cholera seems a likely suspect as there was an outbreak in Bareilly just before he died. Based on the regiments with whom Topham served, he was probably quite familiar with special patterns and may have owned several throughout his career. The 4th Light Dragoons carried a variation of the scroll hilt which feature their regimental device (see Stephen Wood’s “Swords for the Crimea: some Scottish officers’ swords manufactured for Britain’s war with Russia 1854-56â€, Journal of the Arms and Armour Society, London, Vol. XVIII, No. 3, pp 115-135.) In addition to the individual flair of his previous British regiments, Topham would have been influenced by the fashion and preferences of officers of the HEIC and Indian Armies (see Graeme Rimer’s “The swords of John Jacobâ€, Royal Armouries Year Book 2, 1997), which probably led to the purchase of his final fighting sword.
  3. Jonathan Hopkins

    Tercentenary Sword

    I am not generally a fan of Wilkinson's late 20th century presentation or commemorative swords, but that one looks very nice. Thank you for sharing!
  4. Jonathan Hopkins

    The British Cavalry Sword 1788-1912: Some New Perspectives

    Thank you, Mervyn! I am glad the review was of help. I have known Richard through online fora since 2006 and I have had the pleasure of meeting him in person. He is the sort of person who is a font of knowledge, and after speaking with him one thinks, "He should write a book!" And now he has!
  5. I just wanted to alert members to a new book by Richard Dellar; The British Cavalry Sword 1788-1912: Some New Perspectives. It is a very well researched and high quality publication and it is generously illustrated with color photos. I highly recommend it! Here is a link to the book's website: http://thebritishcavalrysword.com/
  6. Jonathan Hopkins

    The British Cavalry Sword 1788-1912: Some New Perspectives

    I have added links in the book reviews section. Thank you!
  7. Jonathan Hopkins

    The British Cavalry Sword 1788-1912: Some New Perspectives

    Here are links to my REVIEW of The British Cavalry Sword 1788-1912: Some New Perspectives and my INTERVIEW with the author.
  8. Jonathan Hopkins

    The British Cavalry Sword 1788-1912: Some New Perspectives

    Mervyn, It has been a while, hasn't it? My absence is due to a few factors; a cross country move, being a member of too many internet for a and getting a bit burned out, and I have not been actively collecting for a few years. But all is well with me, thanks! Richard's book is of a similar scale as Brian Robson's book, but with a focus on cavalry swords. As far as I know there are two distributors of the book--Richard himself through his website, and Stuart Mowbray in the USA. Jonathan
  9. Jonathan Hopkins

    FYI: Stolen Sword Collection

    A large collection of British military swords from the Victorian period through WWI was recently stolen. All are Wilkinsons and should be easy to spot based on the serial numbers. Here is a link to a complete list and other details: http://www.tokenpublishing.com/news.asp?gid=14&nid=776
  10. Jonathan Hopkins

    FYI: Stolen Sword Collection

    I agree on all points, Brian. I will post this in the lost/stolen section, too (I just noticed it ).
  11. Jonathan Hopkins

    Named Nth. Staffs. Regt. Sword

    Mervyn, I have not been able to find a match. Admittedly, my post-1900 sources are thin on the ground. Perhaps a member with Army Lists of the period can help. Jonathan
  12. Jonathan Hopkins

    For Identification ?

    It looks like some Dutch and Danish hilts c.1800. I do not think it has Indian origins.
  13. Jonathan Hopkins

    For Identification ?

    Not my area at all, but it looks like a Continental sword from c.1800 give or take.
  14. Jonathan Hopkins

    Named Nth. Staffs. Regt. Sword

    Mervyn, The 1st VB may have had its own special pattern, or the officer may have transferred to an artillery unit or the ASC and elected to simply have his sword re-hilted rather than endure the expense of a completely new sword. Have you looked into the initials at all? I will see what I can find... The cypher looks like the double reversed initials ER, for Edward VII, so this is a post-1901 sword. Jonathan
  15. Jonathan Hopkins

    1850's French Heavy Cavalry Sword

    Mervyn, It has been a slow year for me, unfortunately. Jonathan
  16. Jonathan Hopkins

    1850's French Heavy Cavalry Sword

    Mervyn, Not my area of specialty at all, but it looks more like a French Mle. 1845 infantry officer's sword, or possibly a Belgian Mle. 1850 (based on the French Mle. 1845). I can't make out the etching on the blade--what does it say? Are there any other markings on the sword? Jonathan
  17. Jonathan Hopkins

    1796 BRITISH LT. CAVALRY SWORD.

    I don't recall if the alleged complaint is covered here, but for further reading on the 1796 patterns I highly recommend the articles by Richard Dellar which are online here: http://www.swordsand...ageNum=1&aID=10 It is possible that you sword (and mine) were actually assembled in England with English-made hilts and German blades.
  18. Jonathan Hopkins

    1796 BRITISH LT. CAVALRY SWORD.

    Mervyn, I think you may have a plain officer's sword (or the decoration has been polished away). Troopers' swords did not have wire binding on the grips and they tended to have plain half-circle ears on the back strap. This would also explain the lack of government markings. I also have a plain officer's P1796 LC sword (scabbard is associated and not original to the sword) marked J.J. Runklel Solingen on the spine:
  19. Jonathan Hopkins

    British Swords pre 1901

    Really stunning sword, Cathey & Rex! Best of luck pinpointing the original owner. I think you meant to type "early 19th century" in the description. ;)
  20. If you are referring the whatever is hanging from the scabbard ring, then I can't comment on it. Do you have a close-up? I do not know much about Italian edged weapons, but I believe that this model was used as late as WWI (so 1871-1918). You may want to Google "Italian 1871 cavalry sword" to find additional information and photos, or you could check the database at OldSwords.com. Jonathan PS--It could also be a similar, but later sword, the Italian M1909. PPS--This information might also be of use: CALAMANDREI C., Storia dell' Arma Bianca Italiana, Firenze, Italy, 1999. http://users.skynet.be/euro-swords/IT1873.htm
  21. You may have since identified this sword, but just in case you have not, it is a battered Italian M1871 cavalry trooper's sword.
  22. Cathey, the sword of Lt.-Col. McCall is to die for. I absolutely love it. I really need to add a Crimean War period sword to my collection. Thanks for posting! Jonathan
  23. Jonathan Hopkins

    KING GEORGE 6TH SWORD

    Mervyn, Nice one--the condition is great. It is unfortunate that there is no maker or outfitter name and that the proof disc is plain. Also, one small correction--it is a Pattern 1897. Keep the swords coming! Jonathan
  24. Jonathan Hopkins

    BRITISH MIDSHIPMAN'S DIRK

    Mervyn, Yes, I am a moderator at victorianwars.com . I am looking forward to seeing your swords! Jonathan
  25. Jonathan Hopkins

    BRITISH MIDSHIPMAN'S DIRK

    Nice dirk, Mervyn! I hope you can ID the midshipman and share a bit of his story with us.
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