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"Triple S" Basket-Hilted Cavalry Sabre

Origin: England
Overall: 40 1/2" Blade: 34 1/4" x 1 7/16" Hilt: 6 1/8"
Steel, iron, brass, wood and shagreen
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1958-351
Cast brass basket-hilt composed of bars and three "S" panels above a heart-shaped counterguard, a bilobate wristguard and a turned, bun-shaped pommel topped by a capstan. Its spiral wooden grip is secured on both end by a brass ferrule and covered with coarse shagreen bound by a strand of twisted brass wire. Straight single-edged blade with a narrow fuller running most of its length on both sides, a narrow ricasso and a false edge.
Label:Distinctive for its brass basket guard set with three large "S" scrolls, this pattern stands out amongst the corpus of mid-18th c. British cavalry sword hilts. Many examples, like Colonial Williamsburg's, are known with the "Broad Arrow" mark, denoting Crown property, showing the type was adopted as an Ordnance Pattern. These "Triple S" sabres may be amongst the 2309 swords with "Brass Basket Hilts" recorded as being in Tower of London stores in January of 1755. Today, dozens of these sabres are still owned by the British Government, and can be seen on exhibit in places like Edinburgh Castle and in store like the Royal Armouries in Leeds.

The most famous "Triple S" sabre is that carried by Private Thomas Brown of Bland's Dragoons, at the battle of Ettinger in 1743. Brown was shot twice and suffered eight swords cuts during the battle, in which he saved one of his regiment's guidons (flag). With his nose and upper lip nearly cut off Brown was revered as a hero, but lived only two miserable years afterwards. Brown's sword, identical to this example, it is still owned by his family.
Provenance:One of three identical swords purchased from W. Keith Neal (1958-351, 352 and 353). These sabres were likely released from Ordnance Stores at the Tower of London before the official "Tower" auction sales of the 1960s and 1970s.
Mark(s):Both sides of the blade are struck with a large mark resembling an anchor, and the inboard ricasso is impressed with a "Broad Arrow." A tiny "R" is struck into the top of the wristguard at its midpoint.