This is a fantastic example of a pre-regulation Infantry Flank officer’s sabre dating from between 1796 and 1804. The Flank companies of the British army (so called because when deployed in line formation they occupied the right and left flanks) were the Grenadiers and Light companies, including the newly formed Rifle companies.
The grenadiers and light companies of a battalion were considered the elite of these infantry regiments, often fighting out in front of the main army as skirmishers. Grenadiers were also the senior company of any infantry battalion and would typically lead an assault.
The added risk associated with skirmishing meant that flank company officers needed a more robust fighting sword than the unpopular regulation 1796 infantry spadroon. Despite regulations, flank officers turned to using sabres based on the new P1796 Light cavalry sabre. The need for a more robust weapon was formally acknowledged by King George III in 1803, when he approved “a Pattern Sword for the Officers of Grenadiers and Light Infantry.” The newly adopted sword was the 1803 pattern Flank Officer’s sabre with its iconic lion-head pommel and George III cypher on the guard. This sabre pre-dates the 1803 pattern.
The gently curved 740mm single-edged blade has a flat spine above a wide, shallow fuller and terminates in a hatchet point. The short blade is an ideal length for fighting on foot. The blade is in excellent condition and I believe that it was plated at some point in the 19th Century.
The blade retains its original washer and has been service sharpened, retaining its fighting edge with a few tiny nicks.
The gilt brass stirrup hilt is in excellent condition, retaining its gilt finish. The shagreen covered grip is in very good condition with two strands of twisted copper wire binding. The grip is solid and strong and the blade is firm in the hilt with a tiny movement in the knuckle bow.
The sabre is complete with its gilt brass scabbard with two suspension bands. The scabbard is in good condition with some small dings and dents below the second ring band and towards the shoe. The sabre sheathes and draws smoothly and is held firmly within the scabbard.
This is a beautiful and scarce pre-regulation flank officer’s sabre in museum quality condition and dating from the Peninsular and Napoleonic Wars period.
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