British George V WWI P1897 Infantry Sword

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This interesting WW1 production Infantry Officer’s sword was made by the company of J. R. Gaunt & Sons, of London and Birmingham, formerly manufacturing swords as Edward Thurkle.

The 840mm single edged blade is of dumbbell form with a short, wide single fuller on both sides and a flat spine tapering to a spear point. The blade is in very good condition and is etched with foliate scrollwork surrounding the Georgian crown and King George V Royal cypher above a laurel wreath and bow. The obverse bears foliate scrollwork surrounding the Georgian crown but the panel below, which is usually etched with the Royal cypher or coat of arms is curiously blank. The ricasso is etched with the maker’s name “J. R. Gaunt & Sons Limited, Late Edward Thurkle London & Birmingham.” The obverse ricasso bears the Thurkle proof stud. The blade is firm in the hilt.

The steel bowl guard is of 1897 pattern but is thinner than pre and post war production guards. The guard bears the royal cypher of George V amidst a pierced foliate design. The plating is in good condition with some tarnish and flecking. The guard itself has minor dents, which can be corrected. The crosshatched back strap has an oval pommel and rounded tang nut. The tang nut is made of plated brass as opposed to the steel used on pre and post war examples. The back strap may also be plated brass. The wooden grip has been painted black to simulate shagreen and the original twisted white metal wire is intact and strong.

The brown leather covered field scabbard is in good condition and remains strong with all the stitching intact. The scabbard has minor use related scuffs, marks, and wear to the drag. The sword sheaths and draws well and is held firmly in the scabbard.

This is an interesting example of a WW1 expediency sword by a prestigious British maker. The absence of a second royal cypher or coat of arms on the blade suggests that this sword was completed in a hurry – perhaps for a newly called up and commissioned officer. This, combined with the thinness of the steel guard, the substitution of brass for steel on the tang nut and possibly the back strap, and the lack of shagreen on the grip all point to the sword being produced in the latter part of World War one. Steel was in short supply, and needed elsewhere and exotic leather like shagreen was not easy to come by.