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Please can anyone help? In 2006 Thomas Del Mar held an auction that included a Bow Street Horse Patrol light cavalry sabre plus and original armband. I have the catalogue for this auction as a pdf document, and although the sabre was illustrated the armband was not.

By chance I came a cross an illustration of said armband sometime thereafter and saved (or so I thought) to disc. However, when last night I tried to find the image it appears to have disappeared - dumped, erased, whatever.

I wonder does anyone have this illustration - or any of a horse patrol band?

If someone can help then I would be indebted.

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Welcome to GMIC - sorry for the delay in answering, we had a small technical problem. May we ask that you use your first name

- much friendlier then your avatar ?

Del Mar bought a franchise from Sotheby's - they are not particularly strong on historical Police items. The sword you mention is

a short curved one - originally known as a Hounslow Hanger ,in the mid.17th C. Civilian horsemen carried them as a handy weapon

againgst footpads and highwaymen - who infested the area. The correct name is therefore, a Police Hanger and they were supplied

by the firm of Parker Field - who became Armourers to the Met. Police in 1829. You describe your sword as being a light cavalry sabre

- this would not be correct. The later Met. Police issue had a straight blade - with other Forces using the Hanger.

There were two Bow Street mounted units. The first was the Bow Street Patrol - set-up by Sir John Fielding in the 1750's it

consisted of approx. 60 members. They patrolled in units of a Captain and four Constables from Charing Cross to a distance of

approx. 20 miles (30Kms) in all directions. The primary purpose being to try and control the ever growing number of highwaymen.

The Captain carried a carbine, two pistols and a hanger. His constables - a sword and a decorated truncheon.

Their weaponry is very rare and I know of only one sword in the Museum of London. It has "HP" engraved on the button of the guard.

One of the interesting things that we discovered when I was researching my book, was that they attended King George 3rd. at all

public functions and also to Parliament.

In 1805 the Chief London Magistrate reformed them into the Bow Street Horse Patrol. They were enlarged in number to about 80

men but, continued with similar weapons and served the same purpose by patrolling until midnight . What was different was that

they became the first English civilian body of policemen to wear a uniform. Bi-corne hat, black tunic and white trousers - with a bright red

waistcoat. They immediately became known as 'Robin Redbreasts' - a name they never lost. Their hangers were the same but,

had an engraving along the blade which read 'Swordmaker to his Majesty'.

They were followed by a Dismounted Patrol who walked around the Charing Cross area and in 1820, Sir Robert Peel - the Home

Secretary allowed a 100 man foot patrol to be formed to deal with an enlarged area. Despite the small numbers they were very

succesful and there is no doubt that Sir Robert used their experiences when he formed the Metropolitan Police in 1829.

With regard to the Armband - I have never seen or, heard of them wearing one. That , obviously, does not mean that they didn't exist.

I could see times when either Patrol would want to identify their constables - or, show which Captain they served with ?

Coud you perhaps see if Del Mar would send you a picture from the catalogue. Personally, I think we will find this was added

to the sword at some time in the past. I hope this quick resume will help you. Mervyn

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you for your response. I have tried Thomas Del Mar but no luck I'm afraid.

On the subject of the Bow Street office and with reference to your work THE POLICEMAN'S LOT, you refer to the tipstaves held in collections of the Canterbury Museum and at Bramshill. I have seen an illustration of said item in Fenn Clark’s book. Have you any idea of proposed date for these?


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Lee - some of the truncheons are bearing the cypher of King George 4th. This puts them between 1820 and 1830.

I am going to illustrate the page from Dixon's book - published privately in 1952 and quite rare, and also, the three

examples from my book.

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_06_2012/post-6209-0-24470300-1340976273.jpgCLICK TO ENLARGE

He identifies the first two as Bow Street Horse Patrol - no.3 as the dismounted patrol - and the one with P.O.H.G.

as the standard constable's truncheon for Police Office Hatton Garden - which was established in1792.

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http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_06_2012/post-6209-0-04567000-1340976614.jpgCLICK TO ENLARGE

The truncheon on the left is for the Foot Patrol - George 4th. - about 1820 to 1830.

The next two are for the Bow Street Horse Patrol - King george 111 and therefore, 1805 to 1820.

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Dixon's b&w exampe for Hatton Garden has the lettering running along the body of the

truncheon - my example has it in a band underneath the Crown. Anything from 1792 to 1820.

Lee I hope this will be of some help. We must keep a lookout for the Del Mar catalogue. Mervyn

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Thank you Mervyn for the information.

Regarding the Thomas Del Mar sales catalogue. You will see from my original post that I in fact have a copy of this as a PDF document. The problem from the outset is that whilst the armband is refferred to as part of a combined lot including the light cavalry sabre it was never illustrated. Only the sabre was illustrated.

I could let you have a copy of this if you wish.

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Hope that this works. If so there should be an immage of the light cavalry sword. Unfortunately despite description in sales catalogue:-


there is nothing visible in the photo to support this.


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Lee - I think the auction confused the two patterns. Remember, the Constabulary sword dates from the 1750's.

Perhaps this throws some doubt on the origins of both pieces ?

I am showing a picture of the 1805 pattern for the Bow Street Horser Patrol. You will see the appointment

to the King along the blade.

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_07_2012/post-6209-0-88072900-1341763440.jpgCLICK TO ENLARGE

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  • 3 years later...

I was fascinated to read this thread as I was the purchaser of the sword and armband at the 2006 Del Mar auction. I also had the privilege of knowing the previous owner who sold these, along with many other rare items at the auction. If anyone is interested the armband was also illustrated in the excellent book 'Those Entrusted with Arms' by Frederick Wilkinson. It is worth noting that the 1796 pattern sword, is just that, a pattern, which was used for many years and probably dates from 1805 when the patrol was re-formed. Wilkinson made a specialist study of items relating to the London Public, or Police, Offices and in my view knows more about this subject than most others I have ever encountered.

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As requested I'm pleased to share a photo of the armband and sword.


This is to my knowledge the only example of a Horse Patrol armband. The royal arms are difficult to determine, but do appear to have the central escutcheon, which would date the armband as being pre 1837. As the Horse Patrol was not reinstated until 1805 it probably dates between 1805 and 1837.

I am currently in the process of researching information for a book on the Bow Street Patroles (old spelling), so any information about this piece would be most welcome. I have not yet found any record of the Patrole being issued with armbands, but am happy to with this attribution, unless anyone can tell me something different.

The sword is the 1796 light cavalry pattern with 'W. PARKER MAKER TO HIS MAJESTY, HOLBORN, LONDON' down one side and 'HORSE PATROL NO 55' down the other.


If you look carefully at the hilt, you will notice a small circular metal disc. This is an exhibition label from the Tower of London. This along with a number of other early police items were previously loaned to the Royal Armouries and were displayed in the White Tower for a number of years.

Back in the 90's I visited the White Tower and took photos of the items while on display. Never did I dream that one day I would own them.

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