Posted: 13/04/20 (12:43pm)
I hope that you had a happy and safe Easter despite the strange and unsettling situation that we find ourselves in. My heart goes out to anyone who has lost someone, and to those suffering in isolation, old and young alike who live alone and are unable to leave their homes because of existing medical conditions. The isolation, worry and boredom must be terrible.
While the current global pandemic has brought out the worst in some people, these people are a very small minority. The rest of the world seem to have rallied brilliantly and with a "can do" attitude, are making the best of the situation.
Whether it’s clapping on the doorstep to show support for our health workers, singing from balconies or just placing a rainbow in the window, shared adversity really does seem to unify and bring out the best in people.
I stood at the kitchen window yesterday morning and listened to the birds singing. It was amazing how many I heard and how loud they are now that there is no traffic or sounds of industry to drown them out. It was an absolute joy. I recommend it to everyone.
I first experienced this a few days ago (on my 51st birthday actually) and now make it a daily thing to enjoy the bird song for 5 minutes each morning.
While I was listening to the birds, my neighbour was in his garden hiding Easter eggs. Later, his grandchildren and their parents (who also live in the village) shared an exciting and enjoyable time tracking them down while their grandparents (my neighbours) watched safely from their conservatory. Despite not being able to spend physical time together, the grandchildren’s Easter egg hunt was a resounding success.
The show must, and does go on.
As this is an edged weaponry website and my blogs are usually about these things, I feel that I should at least mention something pointy.
At the beginning of lockdown I bought a very rare and exciting Napoleonic Wars period Celtic hilted heavy cavalry sabre. I haven’t had the pleasure of holding it or even seeing it in person yet as I followed government advice and bid remotely. The day after I bought it, the auction house closed its doors, having first made sure that I and everyone else had paid their invoices!
I am eagerly awaiting its arrival, which will not be until after the lockdown is lifted but it gives me something else to look forward to and get excited about.
Earlier I listed a beautiful British Indian army Mountain Battery sabre on the website. There often seems to be some confusion regarding this sword. I have seen dealers failing to differentiate between the British mountain artillery sabre (described by Robson as the rarest British regulation pattern sword) and the British Indian army version. There is really only one difference between the two but it is easily noticeable. The guard on the India pattern sabre is a brass stirrup while the guard on the British pattern is a steel, broad D-guard. I have owned and sold both patterns over the years. The British pattern can be viewed on page 20 of the sold products section for comparison.
The British Indian army issued sabre can be viewed in the “Newly Added” section of the website. The British pattern sabre is, as described by Robson, extremely rare. The India pattern is not nearly as hard to come by but is still a scarce sword. Both sabres have the same blade and scabbard, the blades being almost identical to the century earlier 1796 light cavalry sabre. They are beautiful swords.
Posted: 06/04/20 (11:34am)
These are unprecedented and worrying times for everyone. I sincerely hope that you and your loved ones are keeping safe and well.
International customers will have noticed that there has been no movement on their deliveries and that the tracking information has not been updated. I have been in touch with the courier company that I use and at present, international deliveries are being collected and prepared for export but are then being held in a transit warehouse until cargo flights resume. As such, I have decided to hold all new international parcels here until normal services resume.
I am confident that the international deliveries that have already been sent will reach their respective destinations in due course but as they are not currently being moved and a backlog is building up I feel that any new international sales/parcels will be better off staying here with me for the time being.
I hope that this situation will soon be resolved. In the meantime, stay safe and well.
Posted: 03/03/20 (15:44pm)
At least one person reads my blog and he emailed me today to ask why I hadn’t written for so long? The answer is the same as always – I am very busy. I mean to write, I plan to write. I even tell myself which day I am going to do it on. But then something comes up. And so the story goes.
But he is right. My next blog is way past due.
I was thinking about what to tell you? What would be of interest to you?
I could tell you about the restorations I have been doing for a local Masonic Lodge. But then they are rather secretive (or so I believe) and might not appreciate their business being discussed.
I have told you about auctions I have attended several times in the past and despite my blogs being few and far between, I wouldn’t want to bore you by going over the same ground.
So, what should I tell you?
Budapest has a fantastic museum. It is one of the best I have visited anywhere. Sue and I spent Christmas and New Year in Hungary’s beautiful capital city and about six hours of it in the National museum.
I totally lucked out because at the time of our visit they had an amazing exhibition called “Steel and Heart: 1000 Years of Weaponry.” It was an incredible display of swords and side arms mainly from the Ottoman and Austro Hungarian Empires.
I walked through the rooms drooling! I tried taking some photos but was very soon jumped on by one of the ever present and watchful members of staff, who helpfully pointed out that if I wanted to pay for a permit I could take as many photos as I wished.
Needless to say, I rushed back to the entrance lobby and joined the throng at the ticket office. Ten minutes later, proudly displaying my newly purchased permit, I re-entered the exhibition and, phone in hand, proceeded to photograph just about everything – much to the security staff’s amusement.
I can’t possibly share with you all the photos I took, but here are some of my favourite swords in the exhibition – Ottoman Empire Killij.
I don’t know how long this particular exhibition will be on but if you are in Budapest, I whole heartedly recommend a visit to the museum. As well as the additional exhibitions, their regular exhibits include a couple of rooms full of incredibly well preserved Bronze Age and Iron Age weaponry as well as several rooms of all things Roman. In fact, the Roman exhibits were among my favourites – “Terrific race the Romans!”
And what, you might ask, was the very patient and long suffering Sue doing while I was running around like a kid in a sweet shop?
So now I have told you about a marvellous exhibition in Budapest and shown you a few pictures of some items we will never get to handle let alone own, I will leave you with a couple of photos of swords that I have just bought and which one day could be yours…
Honourable East India Company Naval Officer's Sword with Prosser blade circa 1829.
1796 light Cavalry officer's sabre by Thomas Gill circa 1800.
Posted: 24/12/19 (10:47am)
The end of another year is rapidly approaching. It has been a year of highs and lows - such is life. I am very grateful for the continued support of all my repeat customers and delighted to welcome all my new customers and everyone who enjoys looking at and reading my listings. Thank you, and a very happy festive season and New Year to you all.
I look forward to continuing our relationship in 2020.
All the very best,
Posted: 25/11/19 (15:56pm)
I bought this Pattern 1857 Royal Engineers Sword earlier this year. It is one of only two that I have owned. The pattern is one of the harder to find British swords and as swords go, I think it is one of the most beautiful. The sword is in excellent condition and the blade richly etched. The blade had been service sharpened. The etching included the owners’ initials, “EPL.”
According to Harts Army list of 1870, 1871, 1879 and 1882, the only officer with the initials “EPL” was Edward Pemberton Leach commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on 17th April 1866.
A major part of collecting and owning swords is the pleasure of researching their past. Often this isn’t easy and we are left wanting to know more and lamenting the fact that we probably never will. Swords that were bespoke orders with corresponding serial numbers and those with etched or engraved owners names and initials make research easier.
Quite often, the research uncovers little more than the owners’ name, his military career having been either short or unremarkable.
Occasionally, a named sword will have a story to tell and the owner can be placed at specific engagements in known conflicts.
Sometimes the story is…
Edward Pemberton Leach was born in Ireland on the 2nd April 1847 and on the 17th April, 1866 at the age of 19, was commissioned into the Royal Engineers.
Posted to India during the second Anglo-Afghan War (1878-1880), the 31 years old Captain Leach served along-side the Bengal Sappers and Miners (British Indian Army). It was during this posting, on 17th March 1879 near Maidanah, Afghanistan that he won the Victoria Cross.
The citation read:“For having, in action with the Shinwarris near Maidanah, Afghanistan, on 17 March 1879, when covering the retirement of the Survey Escort who were carrying Lieutenant Barclay, 45th Sikhs, mortally wounded, behaved with the utmost gallantry in charging, with some men of the 45th Sikhs, a very much larger number of the enemy. In this encounter Captain Leach killed two or three of the enemy himself, and he received a severe wound from an Afghan knife in the left arm. Captain Leach's determination and gallantry in this affair, in attacking and driving back the enemy from the last position, saved the whole party from annihilation.”
Edward Pemberton Leach’s military career went from strength to strength. In 1885 he was appointed commander of the 24th Field Company (Royal Engineers) during the Suakin Expedition in Sudan. His role was to assist in the supervision and protection (from the Mahdist forces) of the construction of the Suakin-Berber Railway. The Suakin Expedition fought two notable engagements, the Battle of Hasheen, on the 20th March 1885 and the Battle of Tofrek on the 22nd March.
On 1st October 1897, Edward leach was promoted to Major-General. In 1899 he was in Northern Ireland as the General Officer Commanding Belfast. From 1902-1905 he was the General Officer Commanding the 9th Division, Third Army Corps in Ireland. In 1905 he was appointed as Commander-in Chief for Scotland. He retired from the army in 1912 and moved to the Lake Como area of Italy.
Less than a year later, General Sir Edward Pemberton Leach VC. KCB. KCVO passed away on 27th April 1913.
His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Royal Engineers Museum, Chatham, England.
This sword is now part of a cherished private collection in America.