This fine example is a pattern 1788 British Sword/Sabre. The scabbard is a rare shagreen/ray skin scabbard with brass accents, a wood grip and monkey's head pommel.
The blade is signed Tho. Gill, Birmingham. Thomas Gill was a well known sword maker in Birmingham in the late 18th century and he was in part responsible for heightening the reputation of Birmingham as a sword making center. He famously advertised his blades as “warranted never to fail” and most of his swords bear those words as markings. This sword has these words clearly marked along the back/flat of the blade along with the date 1791.
Many Gill swords went into battle in the Napoleonic Wars and many were known to be present at the Battle of Waterloo. His swords were famed for their high quality, equaling those of Solingen in construction and durability.
The blade also has what we believe is a regimental mark- a shield with a griffon/gryphon passant below a crown. The mark could also be a stylized Welsh dragon. We've been unable to find a match to this badge, so if you recognize this mark please get in touch with us.
It's likely this was an officer's campaign sword, privately purchased as it bears no acceptance marks. The officer's sabre had a lighter scabbard to that of the trooper and the fact that this has fine accents and the ray skin would have made it more expensive. Officers frequently bought campaign sabres to save their fine officer's swords from being sharpened, and to make them less of a target with the enemy- the blue and gilt officer's sabres made the bearer easily identifiable and a favored target on the field.
Thomas Gill's swords and other artifacts are well represented in British Museum collections including The Royal Armouries, The British Army Museum, The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich and the British Museum.
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