A scarce mid-19th Century British gladius short sword. Brass hilted gladius-type short swords, based on the French infantry gladius were popular throughout Europe during the early and mid-19th Century.
This short sword, made around 1855, was intended for use by the 8000 enlisted men of the British army’s Land Transport Corps. The Land Transport Corps (LTC) was formed during the Crimean War, in January 1855 and suffered the highest mortality rates (mostly due to disease and exposure) of any army corps during the Crimean War, resulting in their reorganisation as the Military Train in 1856. In 1870 the Military Train was itself reorganised and re-designated as the Army Service Corps.
The unmarked 446mm blade is double-edged and has a raised medial ridge. The blade terminates in a spear point. The blade is in excellent condition with minimal age related scratches and marks. The blade is firm in the hilt and retains most of its original leather washer.
It seems that there were two variants of this short sword. Robson reports that the blade, as with this example, was double-edged, but single-edged examples are more numerous. These single-edged examples are all German made, by the Kirschbaum factory, Solingen and are marked accordingly. The rarer, double-edged examples bear no markings and it is assumed that they were produced by a private contractor in the UK at or around the formation of the Land Transport Corps in January 1855, during the Crimean War.
The cruciform hilt of the LTC gladius strongly resembles that of the French 1831 gladius, but is around two-thirds of the size. The 127mm long, cast brass hilt has 26 ribs and a flattened oval pommel with round button, through which the tang is peened. The cross-piece terminates with flattened disk finials incised with concentric circle. The hilt is in very good condition and has a pleasing patina.
The gladius is complete with its original leather covered scabbard with brass mounts. The scabbard is in very good condition. The leather is strong and the stitching intact. The sword sheathes and draws smoothly from the scabbard.
This is an excellent example of a scarce British short sword, seldom encountered or offered for sale.