SCOTTISH OFFICER’S BASKET HILT BROADSWORD OF THE BLACK WATCH, ROYAL HIGHLANDERS, WITH SCABBARD BY KIRKWOOD OF EDINBURGH WITH VR CYPHER

$2,450.00 SOLD

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Item Code: 1164-16

This is the 1828 regulation pattern basket hilt sword for officers of Highland regiments with its correct all-steel scabbard with ball finial introduced in 1834 and made regulation with the sword in 1868. The blade is the regulation configuration- straight, double-edged, with two median fullers. The hilt is regulation open-work basket hilt pattern with its white buff leather and red wool liner in place, with the leather showing some dirt and staining inside from use and the red wool a few stains and a couple of small holes. The shagreen grip wrap and triple binding wires are in place, complete, in very good condition and secure. The thistle-shaped pommel nut and pommel are in place and secure. The surface of the steel hilt shows as a muted silver-gray with some darker gray and thin brown stains, but the metal surface is generally smooth.

The blade is bright, etched on both sides in the lower portion with floral motifs. The obverse ricasso has an inset brass “proved” disk. The reverse is etched, “KIRKWOOD / THISTLE ST. / EDINBURGH.” The blade etching includes a thistle and floral motifs, as well as, 'The Black Watch Royal Highlanders,' and a figure of St. Andrew with his cross over the motto 'Nemo me Impune lacessit' in a belt around an elaborate foliate VR cypher. The other side includes the Sphinx with “Egypt” below, commemorating the service of the 42nd Regiment in the Egyptian campaign of 1801 where it took a French eagle at the Battle of Alexandria. There are a few thin gray spots, but nothing objectionable. One edge of the blade shows three nicks and the other edge one. The scabbard is complete with brass throat, the carrying rings, and ball finial. It shows no dents, but does show overall fine dark gray spotting and shallow pitting. It obviously saw service and use, but shielded the blade very well and does not contrast overly with the hilt.

Robert and Henry Bruce Kirkwood, were silver and goldsmiths, operating at 66-68 Thistle Street from about 1872 to 1915, after apprenticing with their father, James, whose working life was roughly 1834 to 1872. They produced work of very high quality and several beautiful presentation dirks are known. A report of the 1888 International Exposition in Glasgow offers the following: “An exhibition in Scotland without some distinctly national exhibits would be an anomaly, but this is averted by the display of Messrs. R. & H. B. Kirkwood, Thistle Street, Edinburgh; a case of Highland ornaments of similar character and design to that which attracted so much attention in the Edinburgh Exhibition. The officers' ornaments and badges of most of the Highland regiments are arranged in the lower portion of the case. We rather fancy from their gorgeous appearance that our officers must be worth the plundering if they go forth on a campaign thus equipped. The crest brooches of the Highland clans, facsimiles of some of the famous historic brooches shown in the Bishop's Castle collection, and a unique display of sporrans, dirks and belt furniture–most of it reproductions of fine old designs–go to make up an exhibit unsurpassed in its own line in the whole exhibition.”

The Black Watch, Royal Highlanders, was created in 1881 by the amalgamation of the old 42nd Regiment, the Black Watch, with the 73rd Regiment, and known as the Royal Highlanders to 1931, when it changed to the Royal Highland Regiment. Given the presence of the VR cypher and Victoria’s death in January 1901, we would date the sword 1881-1900, spanning several of “Queen Victoria’s Little Wars” in which the regiment took part, including Egypt, the Mahdist Wars, the Boer War. This is a nice sword and offers a pleasant surprise when drawn since the scabbard indicates use, but the blade shows it was well cared for.  [sr] [ph:L]

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