Swords, New Brunswick Military History Museum (NBMHM)

Swords in the Collection of the New Brunswick Military History Museum, 5 CDSB Gagetown

The majority of the swords found on this web page can be viewed in the New Brunswick Military History Museum, 5 Canadian Division Support Base (5 CDSB) Gagetown, Building A-5, Oromocto, New Brunswick, E2V 4J5.  506-422-1304.  Captain David Hughes, Executive Director, and Troy Middleton, Technical Advisor.  Website: http://nbmilitaryhistorymuseum.ca/en/new-brunswick-military-history-museum-home.html.

This page of selected swords on display the New Brunswick Military History Museum has been compiled by the author, a volunteer and one of  the Friends of the NBMHM.  Corrections, amendments and updates to the data on this page would be most welcome.  Additional photos of the tanks, artillery and major weapon systems and displays in museums in the province may be viewed in the Armoured Fighting Vehicles preserved in Canada section and in the Artillery preserved in Canada sections on this website.  Other military weapons and historical artifacts on display in New Brunswick, including Aircraft, Armour, Artillery and Naval weapons and equipment found in the province may be viewed on these webpages under the heading of New Brunswick Military Museums and Monuments.  An excellent collection of swords may also be viewed at the Fredericton Region Museum.

Photos are by the Author unless otherwise credited.

Swords in the NBMHM

(NBMHM Photos)

British King William IV 1822 Pattern Infantry Officer's Sword

The NBMHM recently received a pair of British King William IV 1822 Pattern Infantry Officer's Swords, dating from the short reign of King William IV (1830-1837).  They each have a distinctive Gothic hilt with fold down guard and a grip of fishskin wrapped with brass twistwire.  The blade is of pipe back form.  The original swords came with a leather and brass mounted scabbard.  Both are slightly different in details.

William IV (William Henry; 21 August 1765 – 20 June 1837) was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of Hanover from 26 June 1830 until his death. William, the third son of George III and younger brother and successor to George IV, was the last king and penultimate monarch of Britain's House of Hanover.

The 1822 Pattern Infantry Officer’s Sword was a radical departure from previous designs, with its half basket hilt becoming the standard format for British infantry swords until the end of the nineteenth century.  Distinctive features of the sword include the “Gothic” style pierced hilt, so-called after its resemblance to the shapes of windows in Gothic architecture, and the “s-shaped” folding guard.  Elegant in design, the slender pipe backed blade was sheathed in a black leather scabbard with decorated gilt brass mounts.  The royal cypher was placed within an oval hilt cartouche and during its lifetime, this pattern featured three monarchs (George IV, William IV and Victoria).  Victorian examples are pretty common with many varieties of design interpretations to the royal cypher. The blade's foible is intricately etched with a crowned William IV monogram and decorations.

Later versions have the single fullered 1845 Pattern “Wilkinson” type blade that became the army standard.  The pipe back version is more elegant in profile and truer to the original design.  There is a “picquet”, “levee” or dress form of this sword which is a lightweight version with a much narrower blade.  It was carried by the officer at social functions including balls, mess dinners and probably at Court.

As a fighting weapon, the 1822 Pattern was rather unsatisfactory, the blade being far too weak and the hilt bars affording little protection.  When the 1845 Pattern blade was introduced, officers were not required to immediately change to the new pattern.  They were allowed to carry the old pipe back sword blade until it became unserviceable.  As with many new items of equipment introduced into a regular army, it was unlikely to have been a seamless and rapid introduction.  Some years would pass before all officers carried the new official regulation sword.  The idea that in 1845, all British infantry officers suddenly discarded the 1822 Pattern pipe back blade in favour of the 1845, would be a little fanciful and completely impracticable, and not to say, uneconomic.  The purchase of an officer’s sword was a major financial strain on many officers and they were not likely to discard an expensive sword because the authorities deemed it necessary.

Both George IV and William IV had relatively short reigns and, consequently, examples are scarce, especially in good condition.  They tend to be more delicate than later Victorian pieces and many are found with broken or missing folding guards, and damage to the hilt piercings.  It is a good idea to check carefully to see that the folding guard is working properly as they were easily damaged.  Also take care when folding guards as they were held together with very thin pins and can easily snap.

Late Georgian blades are very finely etched with much less decoration than later Victorian examples.  Consequently, the pre-Victorian swords tend to have very worn etching (sometimes to the point of obscurity).  Up until around 1835, there would also have been a black leather hilt lining.  Very few of these survive intact.

German Police Officer's Sword, Second World War.

German Kriegsmarine (Naval) Officer's dagger, Second World War.

Japanese Officer's Gunto Sword, Second World War.

Japanese Airman's dagger, Second World War.

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