British Celtic Hilt Heavy Cavalry Sabre. Prosser Quill Point Peninsular Wars Sword

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The very rare Celtic Hilt (Dellar, 1995) Heavy Cavalry officer’s sword first appeared on the battlefields of the Peninsular around 1811/1812, approximately four years after Britain’s entry into the conflict in 1808.

The Celtic-Hilted sabre was developed by John Prosser, probably in consultation with Dragoon officers, as a replacement for the regulation pattern Ladder-Hilt Heavy Cavalry sword. The officers having had first-hand experience of the regulation pattern’s inadequacies.

The few known examples of the Celtic hilt heavy cavalry sabre that have regimental attribution are all named to the Dragoons; the 4th Dragoons in particular. One example exists in the Edinburgh Castle museum, Scotland, marked to the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (although the officer who owned it served with the 4th Dragoons in the Peninsular). Another example held in the Edinburgh Castle museum is marked to the 3rd Dragoons. The 3rd, 4th and 5th Dragoons made up the Heavy Brigade, commanded by John Le Marchant until his death at the Battle of Salamanca on 22nd July 1812. The Heavy Brigade shipped to Portugal, billeted together and fought side by side throughout the Peninsular Campaign.

The 880mm single-edged, pipe-back blade has a large 310mm re-curved yelman terminating in a quill point. The blade is 38mm wide at the forte and is in very good condition with a pleasing pale patina and speckles of darker tarnish along its length. The blade was service sharpened and has one small nick to the edge. The blade retains its original washer.

Despite its 38mm width, spine thickness - 9mm down to 6mm at the beginning of the yelman and length, the balance point of the blade is only 140mm in front of the guard. In the hands of experienced heavy cavalry officers this sword would have been devastating.

The pierced and incised decoration on the steel bowl guard is reminiscent of Celtic designs, giving the sword its name. The guard is in overall great condition. The shagreen wrapped grip is in good condition and retains its twisted silver wire. The blade is firm in the hilt.

The sword is complete with its original steel scabbard with keyhole throat to accommodate the pipe-backed blade. The scabbard is in overall good condition with some dings, shallow pitting and tarnish. The sword sheathes and draws smoothly from the scabbard.

This is an excellent example of an exceptionally rare Celtic hilt heavy cavalry fighting sword that would have seen service in the Peninsular campaign.