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Brian Wolfe

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Posts posted by Brian Wolfe


  1. Interesting. It seems ages since I took out my collection of Indian Police Service Medals and looked them over. I'm sure adding the COVID19 service medal to my collection will not be something that I'll see anytime soon, perhaps not even within my collecting lifetime. 

    Thanks for this new information and the excuse for me to go over my medals collection once again.

    Regards

    Brian

    India Police Medals.JPG


  2. Very nice sword and the history that comes with it makes it a one of a kind. He may have had the final guard installed as the Pattern 1897 guard had the inner edge turned down to protect the uniform from wear commonly caused by the guard of the Pattern 1895. I would assume that he anticipated that he would only be using the sword for ceremonial purposes during his retirement. Not that it couldn't have had the guard changed as a gift, that is totally possible. It also, of course depicts the cipher of the reining monarch of that time. The leather scabbard is the field issue and I would bet there was a steel version in his possession for parade duty. 

    Thanks for sharing this exceptional sword and its owner's most interesting history with us aussiesoldier.

    Regards

    Brian

     


  3. Peter, I have been following this thread and was also looking in my WWI material for photos of these "masks" to no avail. On the other hand if I had been a betting man I would have made a small (very small) wager that these were fairly modern remakes or even fantasy items. After reading Bayern's reply I'm happy I didn't waste my money, once again proving, "Wagering bad, collecting good" is the best motto.I also wish this was the first time I was wrong. A few years ago I passed by a really nice supposed British sword at a show thinking there was never such a thing only to find out recently that it was a very rare experimental Pattern. It is so hard knowing everything while I lack so much knowledge. 😞

    Regards

    Brian

      


  4. The Meiji Period (1868 – 1912):

     

    The end of the feudal system along with the Shugunate (War Lords) and samurai was the beginning of modern Japan under Emperor Mutsuhito. The name of his reign or nengo was Meiji. Upon his death, as with all emperors, he himself became know by the name of his reign, in this case he was known as Emperor Meiji. Many think that the end of the samurai period coincided with the restoration of the Emperor in 1868, however the wearing of swords was not abolished until 1876. Further confusing the question of the end of the samurai period was the short lived rebellion of 1877; an effort to reestablish the old ways of the Shoguns with the Emperor only in the roll of a figurehead. The defeat of the rebellion army in 1877 brought an end for all time of the Samurai era, Therefore the date of the beginning of the Meiji Period of 1868 should be called the transitional period.   The dating for what is known as Modern Swords starts with 1868 to the present.

     

    Emperor Meiji.JPG

    Police Sword, second pattern, early Meiji Period:

     

    There is not a lot to be found in the way of research on these swords that I can find and I take what little I know from Richard Fuller and Ron Gregory’s book, Military Swords of Japan 1868-1945. I have found some auction house descriptions that the police were armed with theses swords but like a lot of auction houses they are in the business to sell not to educate so you to take what they say with a grain of salt. I believe from what I do know about Japanese swords and their use, that these were dress swords for senior police officials; a true civil service dress sword. As you can see from the description below and the attached photos, while capable of being used as a sword much as the Wakizasi (short sword) there were available to the police weapons designed and made that would have better served the purpose. There was also a move to copy European swords and sabres so a traditional Wakizasi blade would not likely have been used and the traditional style blade more desirable for official and court functions. I base this supposition on my studies in Toyama Ryu Iaido in both the tactics and techniques of Classical Japanese swordsmanship.

     

    Second Pattern Japanese Police Dress Sword Description:

     

    Overall length: 28" (71 cm) 

    Blade length: 21 11/16" (55.1 cm) (this is longer than the first Pattern)

    Grip" Black same, or ray skin. (the first Pattern was white ray skin)

    Back strap has Police badge (on all police swords)

    The inverted cross guard has a ring in the front while the pommel incorporates a smaller one for a brown leather sword knot. The first Pattern used a chain guard.

    Both First Pattern and Second Pattern blades were handmade.

     

    Regards

    Brian

     

     

    Japanese sword complete.JPG

    Japanese sword hilt.JPG

    Japanese Police crest.JPG


  5. Thank you Bayern for your input. Those horrible times were much worse than today, as your story reflects. Perhaps this new era where the news comes into our lives through our computers, phones and tablets on almost a minute by minute basis makes today seem almost as frightening. 

    I think that we can take comfort in the knowledge that if we stay strong we will get through this.

    Regards

    Brian

     

     


  6. Hello Everyone,

    Great topic!

    In the areas of military black powder firearms and swords I tend to be more of a preservationist than a restorationist. Helmets? Not an issue as who collects helmets anyway? I’m only kidding of course, I also have helmets; besides Peter knows where I live so even if I thought it I would never say such a thing.

     Automobiles, trucks, tanks and aircraft I like to see restored to their former glory. I’ve seen artillery pieces in “as found” condition and to be honest they just don’t have the same feel for history that “like new” holds, at least for me. Never been a fan of rust and decay. As far as what I collect it’s remove the active rust, clean and put on a protective coat of oil or Conserver’s Wax, I think it is sold under Heritage Wax in some parts of the world.

     A fellow sword collector whose collection is nothing short of jaw dropping always restores each and every sword he purchases and he has become a pro at turning out magnificent pieces. The problem for me is that using buffing wheels even with the finest of grit removes a small amount of metal. The trick is to know when to stop and this is where the problem starts. How many pieces are ruined while learning such a craft? I see a lot of blades that have been subjected to a wire wheel and then to a buffing wheel in an attempt to undo the deep scratches left by the wire wheel. These are usually on a dealer’s table for years before some novice collector makes the mistake of adding it to his or her collection; that is if it ever sells at all.

     We had these “debates” here on the GMIC many times before and each time I think we have come to the same conclusion. It is all a matter of personal choice with the overall advice to use caution and better less than running the risk of crossing the line and producing junk from what could have been a historically significant artefact.

     I hope more members will weigh in with their opinions.

     Regards

    Brian

     


  7. The Pattern 1816 Baker Rifleman’s Sword

     

    One of the more interesting and perhaps least recognized British sword is the Baker Rifleman’s Sword Pattern 1816.

     

    Interesting in the sense that this particular sword demonstrates that the British military finally got the idea through their heads that a large bayonet or combination of sword and bayonet attached to the front of a rifle adversely affected the users aim. It should be pointed out that those in power for making such decisions lapsed back into the old ways and issued long bayonets for use on the SMLE rifle of WWI fame, not to mention the Brunswick and several other rifles. The point is that any rifle with a heavy bayonet attached is of limited use. An example of the Baker Rifle Bayonet (c. 1801, second pattern) may be seen below. The overall measurement is 28½ inches (72.5 cm) with a blade length of 23½ inches (approximately 60cm). The most obvious difference between the first pattern (P.1800) and second pattern (P.1801) is that the first pattern has a “D” shaped guard. A later Pattern (P.1806) had a saw back and this may have been the inspiration to include a saw back on the Baker Rifleman’s Sword, though this is pure conjecture on my part.

     

    The Pattern 1816 Baker Rifleman’s Sword also qualifies, in this author’s opinion, as one of, if not the least recognized of the British swords. This was due to an error in identification made in earlier books identifying British swords, an error that was repeated by several authors since. I will not go into naming these authors or their books  because to do so is to risk besmirching their names over a simple error in what are otherwise excellent research references. These authors incorrectly identified the Baker Rifleman’s Sword as a Pioneer or Artillery Sword based mainly on the saw tooth back found on these swords. Research by the late Howard L. Blackmore published February 1997 in the Arms Collector, Volume 35 No. 1 Pages 9 – 15 and in British Military Flintlock Rifles (1740 – 1840) by De Witt Bailey Ph D., Page 143, published 2002, A. Mowbray Publishing, has shed light on the actual identification of these swords. Upon me making this information available on a well known sword forum the post was understandably met with scepticism at first. It quickly became evident, upon reading the post, as to why this sword’s identification had been accepted incorrectly for so long. One response was that they were unable to see the connection between this sword and the baker Rifle. The respondent was, of course, correct in that it is not directly associated with the Baker Rifle but with the Rifleman himself. It is a sword for the soldier and not for use on the rifle.

    Pictured below

    The Pattern 1816 Saw-Back Baker Rifleman’s Sword, Overall length: 26 ¾ “ (88cm), blade length: 22” (59 cm) 1½” (3.5 cm) wide, weighing 1100 gm.                                                                      Author’s collection

     

    Baker sword.JPG

    History of the Pattern 1816 Baker Rifleman’s Sword.

     

    During the Napoleonic wars there appeared the famous Baker rifled musket with its improved accuracy and range, Pattern 1800. With the war seemingly over with the signing of the Treaty of Paris 30 May 1814 the British Government could now draw its attention to improving the Baker Rifle and address the problems discovered during the Napoleonic Wars. One of the glaring issues was with the sword bayonet that had been developed to be used with the Baker Rifle by the Rifle Companies. The affixing of a long (28½” or 72.4 cm) and heavy (957 gm) sword bayonet to the relatively short Baker rifle adversely affected accuracy; the very advantage of a rifled musket.

     

     

     

    The production of the Baker Sword Bayonet continued to 1815 when it was superseded the same year by the Pattern 1815 Socket Bayonet. Following some discussion it was decided to equip the Rifle Companies with a new sidearm in addition to the new socket bayonet on 22 May 1815. While as of 12 June 1815 the proposed rifleman’s sword was approved an additional specification on 23 June 1815 was made for a saw back blade. This decision for a saw back blade was to confuse the identification of this sword as a Pioneer or Artillery sidearm in works written on the subject from 1967 right up to as late as 2013. The new pattern was put into production in March 1816 as the Pattern 1816 Saw Back Rifleman’s Sword.

    Pictured below

    The Baker Sword Bayonet Pattern 1801. Overall length: 28½” (72.4 cm), blade length: 23½ “ (60 cm) Blade width: 1¼” (31 mm) with a weight of 957 gm)                                                  Author’s collection

     

    Baker Bayonet.JPG

    The new “improved” sidearm for the Rifle Companies was slightly shorter than the sword bayonet it replaced yet the wider blade and heavier guard with its lion head pommel weighed 143 gm heavier. This resulted in not everyone being a fan. In 1816 Colonel Norcott of the rifle brigade wrote:

     

    “As the bayonet has been lately substituted to fix on the rifle in place of the sword [he is referencing the socket bayonet], I would suggest that it be abolished altogether; the soldier has no use for both. It was always a preventive to his easy marching from the manner in which it was slung, and is very heavy. If it be said that it must be of use upon service in order to cut wood, or to hut, I can testify that the light division in Spain carried small felling axes, purchased by the captains for their men at the particular request of the latter, ... and used them in preference to either sword or bill hook ...indeed, I scarcely ever knew the soldier [to] use his sword, but for the purpose if dividing the meat, or for clearing ground to lay on.”

     

    Pictured below

    The Pattern 1816 Baker Rifleman’s Sword lion head hilt and blade detail.                       Author’s collection

    Baker hilt.JPG

    Baker lion.JPG

    A total of 5,194 Baker Swords were supplied between 1816 and 1818 with Craven supplying 650. Thomas Craven made swords in Birmingham from 1818 to 1890, therefore the sword featured in this article would have been among the last manufactured. The exact date when these were discontinued in the field is unclear. It is interesting to note that these swords, or any sword bayonet for that matter, have never been documented as being used as a sword in any engagement, though the creation of such weapons seemed to be thought necessary by those making such decisions.

     

    Author: Brian Wolfe, New Hamburg, Ontario Canada. April 2020

     Bibliography

     Bailey, De Witt, British Military Flintlock Rifles (1740 – 1840), Page 143.

     Blackmore, Howard L. The Baker Rifleman’s Sword – Arms Collector Volume 35, No 1 (Feb. 1997) Pages 9-15.

    Latham, John Wilkinson, British Military Swords, From 1800 To The Present Day, Plate 35

     Robson, Brian, Swords of the British Army, The Regulation Patterns 1788 to 1914, The Revised Edition, Page 232 and 233, Plate 209.

     Withers, Harvey, British Military Swords, 1786 – 1912 The Regulation Patterns, Page 81.

     Pictured below

    A rifleman of the North Yorkshire Militia loading his Baker Rifle. Note the sword he wears with the animal head (lion?) pommel. This period drawing would seem to verify that the sword was issued to Riflemen and not Pioneers or Artillerymen.                                                                                     Author’s collection

     

     

    Baker rifleman.JPG


  8. Funny,as I am sort of a "sword guy" and I just realised that the sword is the Pattern 1845 Infantry Officer's sword. The hilt is actually the 1822 as if you look at it closely you can see that the side that would be against the uniform in wear folds up to prevent wear. This was changed in 1854. This is not as important in dating the photo as officers often carried a sword with the older hilt. What I can say for certain is that the sword would have to date no earlier than 1845 when the fullered blade was mandated. This Pattern sword was in use from 1822 (in this case 1845) up to 1895 when the pattern changed drastically. 

    Regards

    Brian

     

     


  9. I would like to add photos of the swords covered in this series from time to time, when I find them. With that in mind here is a photo from around the early part or just prior to WWI (going from the equipment) of a group of the 7th Hussars at their barracks holding their Pattern 1908 Cavalry Swords. Check further up in this section for an article on these swords under Britain's Last Sword.

    Regards

    Brian 

    7th Hussars photo.JPG


  10. A little over 100 years ago a pandemic spread out over the world with devastating results. Misnamed the Spanish Flu it seemed to accompany the soldiers returning from the Great War. In actuality started in the State of Kansas in the United States, spread through the thousands of American volunteers for war service then crossed the Atlantic. Recent research has shown that the facts involving the influenza, or flu, were withheld from the general public so as not to start a panic and the thinking was that the governments didn’t want the public to think that there was a another threat to their “boys” besides German bullets. The one country that remained neutral was Spain and the news media in Spain reported the virus infection in its fullest thereby giving the influenza of 1918 the name of “The Spanish Flu”. The soldiers returning home brought with them a new wave of infections that, in the end, resulted in 500 Million people worldwide, or about ¼ of the world’s population being infected with deaths of from 17 to 50 million people worldwide. The 1918 Influenza Pandemic was the first of two pandemics caused by the N1H1 virus, the second being the so-called Swine Flu of 2009.

     The reason that the first pandemic in 1918 was so devastating was due to the general poor health of the soldiers as well as the general public at the time, coupled with overcrowding and unsanitary conditions. Having said that, we are at a point in history where we can only hope that the current pandemic will not eclipse the devastation of 1918 to 1920.

     I have taken this opportunity to present to you an item from my collection that is very important to me and is a small part of the story of a contemporary of mine. This sounds strange, even to me, that a man who served in the Great War was a contemporary of mine but such is the case and sadly such is my age. More about this in another post I will start soon.

     Sherman De Groat, Private, number 3137517 was drafted into the Canadian Army 21 November, 1917 at the age of 24 and discharged 17 May, 1918. During this time he fell ill with the 1918 Influenza and was hospitalized at the Beach Hill Hospital, Sheffield,  where he recovered before being shipped home, a survivor of the Great War and the greatest pandemic to hit the world to date.

     Below is a section from his Medical Records along with his BWM. There is a photo of a group of soldiers as well. It was easy for me to pick him out as he looked a lot the same when I knew him and I will bet you too will be able to recognize him as easily. He is in the middle row, second man from your left.

     Regards

    Brian

     

    Sherm's medal.JPG

    photo of Sherm.JPG


  11. In looking through my German collection I realised just how many groups and individual medals I really liked. I do tend to purchase only those I like rather than attempting to get one of every type of medal  issued. Not that there is anything wrong with that as a quick look around the collection room would prove me a hypocrite if I were implying there was anything wrong with one of each type.

    With that in mind I decided to pick out no more than two groups that I would hate to sell almost no matter what.  Here they are. not the most glorious of groups I am sure but the ones I like the most.

    Regards

    Brian

    German medal group 1.JPG

    German medal group 2.JPG


  12. Everything so far is just my guess but I'd say that you are correct regarding the numbers on the back strap area. I have been through every book and listing I have for the British and Canadian regiments and even delved into Indian regiments. Shows how desperate one can get. 😄 I even considered Provost Division but that quickly went nowhere.

    When and if I find out I will post a photo of the whole sword and scabbard. It happens that the scabbard is not original to this sword and is marked 21 L for 21st Lancers. It is in excellent condition so if I see a sword marked to the 21st I'll snap it up as a match. 

    The search continues, and like the search for the Northwest Passage I am starting to feel like a member of the Franklin Expedition.

    Thanks for your efforts.

    Regards

    Brian

     

     

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