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Imperial Japanese Cavalry Trooper (Japanese Civil War) Sword Sold

British Pattern 1853 Cavalry Trooper's made especially by Wilkinson for forces successfully supporting Emperor Meiji's attempt to wrestle power from the Tokugawa Bakufu (feudal samurai).

Japanese Civil War Imperial Cavalry Trooper's SwordSpecial P 1853 Cavalry Sword by Wilkinson

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This is one of around twenty specially made 1853 Patt calvary trooper sabres by Wilkinson Sword in 1866 for forces supporting Emperor Meiji's efforts to gain authority and control of Japan from the feudal samurai during the Japanese Civil War of 1863 to 1868.

Yokohama Mounted Volunteers

The distinctive black hilt and scabbard immediately set this sabre apart from other P 1853's and upon closer the inspection the high quality non-regulation 34.5 inch central fullered blade with special tip, etched with the Wilkinson logo and "Yokohama Mounted Volunteers" confirm this is a special edition sword; very special indeed in fact as the serial number "14433" is aside John Latham's (the then owner of Wilkinson Sword) personal signature stamp showing he was involved in the making and / or testing of this sabre.

John Latham Wilkinson Sword

The Wilkinson sales ledger reveals around 23 swords, of which 20 are believed to be of this pattern, were sold to a "C. F. Harper Esq. Japan". I am not sure who C. F. Harper was or even if that was his real name, given the sensitive conditions surrounding Japan of the day. What I do know is this sword was made during the Japanese Emperor supporting Satsuma daimyo mission to London in 1866 seeking and achieving political support and arms for their fight against the Tokugawa Bakufu (controlling samurai family in Japan's then feudal system).

The Japanese Civil War was also a struggle of colonial imperialism between the English, who supported factions who wanted Imperial (Emperor) rule, and the French who were supporting the existing and challenged feudal samurai families / system. In 1865 Britain, which had established a garrison in Yokohama, while still courting the Tokugawa Bakufu (feudal samurai) began pricing its military services much higher to them, while secretly then recognizing they should deal with the emerging Imperial opposition. As a result, the Tokugawa Bakufu enlisted French military expertise through French loans, a fact which Japanese officers serving for the feudal state bemoaned as they preferred British military methods and training over French.

History took its course, likely with the help of this sword in the hands of forces loyal to the Emperor. In 1866 the main "Choshu" rebels allied themselves with neighboring Satsuma and defeated the feudal Tokugawa Bakufu, creating Imperial Japan and the basis of the modern Japanese state we know today. As a consequence of Britain being on the winning side, the Japanese developed based on the British model, hence the reason Japan drives on the left and their railways are the same gauge as the British. The British did very well out of the Japanese Civil War, their nemesis France lost their shirt!

This sword in many ways dispels the commonly held contention that Japanese made swords are the finest in the world. Although there is some truth in that, ultimately western battle techniques and their equipment defeated the Japanese samurai and their swords. Although most Japanese forces at that time still carried katanas as dress swords, they use British made swords (and guns, and artillery) and techniques in battle. Only later amidst anti-foreign sentiment were western style swords replaced with katanas once more for combat. This sword is generally in very good condition with no movement or looseness anywhere. Further pictures available upon request.

 

 

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