Combative celebrity: The 1796 Rules and Regulations

marchant 1796 Rules and RegulationsLeafing through the most recent issue of the Smithsonian magazine, tellingly titled 101 Objects that Changed America, you can admire Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers, Bell’s telephone, and the titillating  tassels of the Talahassee Tassel Tosser.

(Alright, I made up the last one.)

Unfortunately, no fencer, swordsman, or whatever the appropriate term is that sectarian xiphomachophiliacs apply to their respective niche, made it into the issue. 

Are there artifacts whose provenance can be traced to individual celebrities of bladed combat? Luckily, there are a few things in the Amberger Collection that can make up for that shortcoming… and perhaps, with the help of our readers, we can come up with at least a Dirty Dozen…

No doubt about it, the most influential military sword manual of the 19th century is the British Rules and Regulations for the Sword Exercise of the Cavalry, developed by John Gaspard Le Marchant (whose initials JGLM conclude the text on page 90), edited by Adjutant General William Faucett and published in London by the War Office in 1796 at our long-term acquaintance Thomas Egerton’s printing and book-selling establishment.

(Click on the thumbnail images for the larger picture!)

marchant2Marchant not only was responsible for the “curriculum”, he also had a hand in designing the 1796 Light Cavalry saber, possibly the most iconic weapon of the Napoleonic Wars—if you’re an Anglophile that is.

Both the book and the weapon were widely copied, among others by the fledgling U.S. military. (I wrote an article about that a while ago.)

We have three original first editions of this work in our shelves. One of them, a surplus copy sold off imprudently by an English library, bears the signature of the author:


Marchant’s autograph!

Since there’s no further dedication, could it be possible that this was Marchant’s private copy? We don’t know and we don’t care: To us, it’s Object 1 in our copy-cat Sword Smithsonian endeavor!

One response to “Combative celebrity: The 1796 Rules and Regulations

  1. Reblogged this on Lancet Fencing and commented:
    Always interesting.

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