1800's Strap Guard Napoleonic British Royal
Naval Cutlass, for sale
In very good condition for its age, a rare "Strap Guard"
British Royal Naval cutlass made by Woolley and Deakin of Birmingham,
England, with period enlarged grip.
A rare Napoleonic British RN cutlass we
have had examples of before but not like this one. This cutlass
has had the grip enlarged, clearly period, almost certainly by the
ship's / squadron's blacksmith (they used to have blacksmiths on
ships), plus with hammered guard, again likely to have been the
possibly idle work os the ship's smith. The original (slimmer) grip
appears to be complete under the enlarged grip. The narrow smooth
grips of the so called 1800 pattern cutlass was its greatest issue
and the reason it was quite soon after replaced by the 1804P.
This was probably done under the order of the captain or even the
Admiral of the squadron. The idle time unofficial enhancement of
the guard suggests a time at sea when the ship was in clam waters
waiting for enemy vessels to come out from their harbours, such
as the time spent by the English fleet under the command of Lord
Horatio Nelson as he waited for the French and Spanish navy to leave
the Port of Cadiz, just before the Battle of Trafalgar. Clearly,
the grip modification shows the cutlass was expected to see action.
Clearly, the dimpling shows signs of a lazy wait before action (sea
bound RN ships would be rolling around in the waves and swell to
make such idle work impossible). Given this model of cutlass was
superceded in 1804, it was however still the one mainly in use on
RN ships at the time of Trafalgar and beyond. There is a very good
chance this cutlass was at Trafalgar.
Strap guard cutlasses are much rarer than figure of eight hilt
cutlasses. Strap guard cutlasses take up less storage space than
those with full disc guards, so this cutlass was most probably stowed
in an open barrel or trunk on one of the gun decks of a British
warship, amongst the canons, the noise, the smoke, the splintering
The 25 5/8 inch blade is in good condition for its age, with markings
still clear, but is very slightly shorter than other examples from
Wooley and Deakin (others being 26 1/4 inches), and has some damage
evident to the forward / end cutting edge that appears to be period
and suggests it may well have seen action and been repointed during
its service life (it would likely have stayed in service for several
if not many years after Trafalgar). The blade is a tiny bit loose
in the hilt. The guard is very good, as is the grip.
What a rare and evocative cutlass; an absolute must for the serious
cutlass collector. Our price is just £1250. Please quote item
reference number O77. Further / full sized images available upon
request. Box 1391-1m (2.178)