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British 1885 Cavalry Sword


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Pattern 1885 Cavalry Troopers Sword. The guard is sheet steel with a part rolled edge and a pierced Maltese Cross design. The checkered black leather two piece grip is attached to the tang with five rivets and the back strap has the double arrow sale mark. The slightly curved blade has a single fuller to each side that ends 8.25 inches from the double edged point. The sword was made in 1886 and was issued to the 13th Hussars (D squadron, weapon #33) in Sept. of 1888, and retested by armourers before then passed on to the Hertfordshire Yeomanry (weapon 58) in August of 1893. The 'YC' = 'Yeomanry Cavalry'.

 

1885 Pattern Cavalry Sword After a false start in 1882, the 1885 pattern was developed following committee input on improving the sword. The first opposite ringed scabbard came out of this process along with a slightly shorter blade. This sword saw extensive use in the campaigns in Egypt and the Sudan during the 1880s and 1890s. The shortening of the blade did allow some opponents along the Nile to lie on the ground, putting themselves out of the reach of the trooper's sword! This problem was rectified in the 1899 pattern. Still this sword represented an important step in the evolution of British Cavalry swords and was used by the 21st Lancers at the Battle of Omdurman in 1898; amongst the daring lancers was a young Winston Churchill.

Blade: 87.5 cm (34 1/2 inches)

Overall: 106 cm (41 1/2 inches)

1885 1.png

1885 5.png

1885 4.jpg

1885 3.jpg

The Hertfordshire Yeomanry as a fighting unit found its roots way back in the 1790's as a county based cavalry unit tasked with civil defence at a time of considerable unrest both at home and abroad. It underwent various changes throughout the 19th Century, including being disbanded and re-raised twice before earning its first battle honour in the Boer War of 1899 - 1902.

The Hertfordshire Yeomanry, a volunteer force at the time of the Boer War supplied troops to the newly raised Imperial Yeomany who saw service in South Africa from 1900 onwards, taking part in many campaigns now synonymous with the conflict such as; LadySmith, Mafeking and Operations in the Orange Free State.

The Yeomanry's involvement in The Great War came about through a shake-up in the United Kingdom's Territorial Forces in 1914. Upon the outbreak of war, many men serving in the Yeomanry (a home service unit) volunteered for 'Imperial Service' overseas, and as a result, the Herts Yeomanry, like many other Territorial Force units was split into two; the 1/1 and 2/1 Hertfordshire Yeomanry.

Photo of a member of the Yeomanry equipped with either an 1885 or a very very similar, 1890.

Hertfordshire Yeomanry 1890's.png

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Thank you for this educational write up.  What does the market look like for these swords?  I have to say that they have a desirable historical significance to them.  Are examples like the you have pictured very expensive?  How sharp did these cavalrymen keep their blades? I know that we were instructed not to sharpen our bayonets. 

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What an interesting post, aussiesoldier, thank you.

 

Still this sword represented an important step in the evolution of British Cavalry swords and was used by the 21st Lancers at the Battle of Omdurman in 1898; amongst the daring lancers was a young Winston Churchill.

Indeed he was, and a very sobering read his account of the realities of the charge of the 21 Lancers is too (particularly from p.190 onwards), which can be found at this link,

https://archive.org/stream/rovingcommissino001321mbp#page/n219/mode/2up

Particularly germane to your post is that, due to a preexisting injury - a dislocated shoulder caused in an accident when boarding a boat - Churchill went into the battle with his famous Mauser pistol as his sidearm rather than a sword. He wrote (p.101)

This accident was a serious piece of bad luck. However, you never can tell whether bad luck may not after all turn out to be good luck. Perhaps if in the charge of Omdurman I had been able to use a sword, instead of having to adopt a modern weapon like a Mauser pistol, my story might not have got so far as the telling.

 

Edited by Trooper_D
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Paul,

The market price varies enormously.  I was lucky enough to pick this up with sword hanger attached for approx US$350 but I have seen them in worse shape for much more.  Maybe you can be lucky.

This one came with an edge and some evidence of sharpening but it is hard to tell when this occurred. I have other swords that were almost certainly used in WW1 that show deliberate grindstone sharpening (a KD89) and another that shows considerable wear at the front edges indicating sharpening in an previous life ( a RMLI 1897 sword).

Over the next few days I will start to post these various swords with an educational component.  It's what happens when a history teacher starts collecting swords!

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To give you some idea - Sword on offer through eBay at US$400 + US$67.55 post = AUS$541 + AUS$91.46.

This is simply prohibitive.

I have only seen replicas on sale in Australia OR originals were on sale at a time I did not have the interest or money.

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I see... postage has gotten to be insane for us here too.  I can definitely see where this is not worth the expense.  Are there  a lot of militaria shows there in Australia?

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