British Constabulary Hanger. Early 19th Century Police Sword

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Constabulary short swords were standard issue in the 19th Century for members of the British police and prison wardens.

The lack of a locking catch dates this hanger to pre-1850. Around 1850, the locking catch was added after a number of incidents in which police officers and prison wardens had their swords snatched out of the scabbards and turned against them.

The 560mm broad, curved blade has a flat spine above a long single fuller on both sides. The fuller continues almost to the spear point. The single-edged blade has a 196mm unsharpened false upper edge. The blade is in very good condition with minimal use related marks and retains its original leather washer.

The steel guard has a “D” shaped knuckle bow with stepped oval pommel and is stamped with the rack number 85 on the quillon.

The contoured wooden grip is wrapped with shagreen and a single strand of twisted wire. This is the first time that I have seen wire on the hilt of a constabulary hanger. Usually, police swords have ribbed grips with the grooves beginning after the grip collar and ending before the pommel cap. This clearly indicates that no wire was intended to be used. However, on this sword, the grooves continue into the grip collar and pommel cap, allowing for the wire to be securely attached. This suggests that the wire is unlikely to be a post production addition. The grip is in good condition with excellent use related wear and some loss to the shagreen. This sword clearly spent a lot of time in the users’ hand. The twisted wire is intact and tight. The blade is firm in the hilt.

The sword is complete with its original leather covered wooden scabbard with steel furniture. The steel locket has a vertical frog bar and bears a War Department type arrow stamp. The locket and chape are in excellent condition with a pleasing patina. The leather of the scabbard is in great condition and the stitching is intact and strong. The sword sheathes and draws smoothly from the scabbard.

This is an excellent example of an early Victorian British constabulary short sword, possibly issued to the military police or guards in a military prison as suggested by the military sword style wire wrap on the hilt and the War Department arrow on the scabbard.