Comparing a Standard Hilt and a Patent Solid Hilt
Above are two British Pattern 1845 Infantry Officers’ Swords, the sword on the left dates to c.1848, and the sword on the right to the late 1850s. The sword on the left is quite standard, having a normal blade tang with fishskin-covered wood grip bound with wire. The sword on the right features “Patent Solid Hilt” construction, which includes a tang that is the full width of the grip and pressed leather grip slabs. The “Patent Solid Hilt” was patented in 1853 by Charles Reeves and was quickly adopted as the method for hilt construction for all cavalry swords for enlisted men from 1853-1908. Reeve’s hilt, also sometimes called a “Patent Tang”, was also popular among officers who wanted a solid and reliable fighting sword. The Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny / Indian Rebellion / India’s First War of Independence were hard-fought conflicts in which men depended on the quality of their sidearms and helped popularize the “Patent Solid Hilt” and other non-regulation fighting swords. Also not the small section of guard that can fold up and down–this was to help prevent wear to the uniform.