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This hanger, marked 'T[homas].CRAVEN' at the forte alongside a Tower of London 'view' mark, was in all probability a surplus item which the Board of Ordnance sold off in the late 18th century to government contractors (eg Craven, a Birmingham sword and bayonet-making firm in business from c 1798 to 1820).
Craven had a contract in 1798 to supply 200 cutlasses to the Royal Navy. It is my contention that my 1751 cutlass might well have been part of that contract. In 1768, by Royal Warrant, swords were abolished for infantry use, except for Grenadier companies and sergeants, while the first regulation pattern Navy cutlass was only introduced in 1804. There would, therefore, have been tens of thousands of these swords floating around as surplus in the late 18th century, so why make new ones? The condition of the leather on the scabbard is also consistent with an earlier date. In my opinion, therefore, the Craven stamp is an ownership rather than a maker's mark.
This type of hilt replaced an earlier version with a straighter, longer blade and a wire-wrapped wooden hilt. The date of 1751 is taken from the Morier paintings of this period. Typically, these swords would have been carried in the American Revolutionary Wars until they were abandoned after this conflict and sold off for militia use. The fact that this one does not have any militia markings reflects its continued use as a line regiment weapon until its reissue at the end of the century to the RN. The Figure 8 cutlass replaced all the previous extempore arrangements of the RN.
From 1796, all swords from whatever source had to be inspected for quality at the Tower of London and then imprinted with their 'view' mark if found fit for service. They appeared initially in the form of a crown over a single number; in this case, the number 2.
The principal charm of this sword lies in its having its original scabbard with the seam intact. There is a small fracture at the juncture of the outer bar and the main D-guard, a small split on the leading edge of the bottom chape, old sharpening marks on the facing edge of the blade, old grinding marks on the spine of the blade, with a few scattered pitting stains and the usual bruising associated with a piece of this age.