The 1796 P infantry officer's sword of Lt.Col.
Denis Pack (sold)
This is the sword Denis Pack bought after he was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel
of the 71th Highlanders; he assumed his duties with them on the
6th December 1800. Lieutenant-Colonel Denis Pack having previously
served with the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards and 5th Dragoon Guards
cavalry regiments went on to have a highly distinguished career
in the Peninsula War (possibly with this sword) and then as Major-General
Sir Denis Pack K.C.B, one of if not the most important general in
the 100 Days War and Waterloo itself.
If you would like to read a little about Denis Pack, an excellent
summary exists here: Denis
Facts / Provenance
This sword came from Christies, London. I have written statements
from them the sword is known to have come from the Pack family home,
that it was the property of Major-General Sir Denis Pack. I purchased
two swords from Christies which have both been period marked to
Denis Pack after the event (his name was added after). The markings
are sure to have been done by Denis Pack's family, probably after
his death. The markings on the two swords I bought have clearly
been done by the same engraver.
As you can see the guard detail is incorrect for three reasons;
the first is the sword is an infantry sword and the 5th Dragoon
Guards are cavalry; the second is they spelt his name wrong (it
was Denis with one "n") and thirdly his rank at the time
was Lieutenant-Colonel, not Captain. This engraving is clearly period
though, so the mistake was made many years ago. In addition the
scabbard mouthpiece is marked to sword cutler Salter at 35 The Strand;
Salter is noted to have been at this address from 1801. So the etching
of his Pack's name was done in retrospect.
As the sword is known the be that of Pack's, the explanation is
his family, probably his wife, added these details to his swords
after his death (24th of July 1823) in his memory. Probably aware
of when about he bought them, the perceived facts were added to
this and Pack's other sword or swords. The misspelling and style
of engraving being repeated on the other Pack family sword I bought:
Sword of Major-General
Sir Denis Pack K.C.B. So his wife or his children had the swords
engraved in his honour and the engraver spelt his name wrong with
the most common spelling of Dennis. The above mistakes are not those
of a unscrupulous dealer of antiques as they would not make such
errors. Plus the fact both these swords came from the family home
of Denis Pack which is confirmed in writing by Christies of London
and, again, they are clearly period anyway.
I do not know how long Denis Pack wore this sword for but he almost
certainly wore it when he played a key role in the recapture of
the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa) from the Dutch in 1806. He
may well have worn it when he did battle with Napoleon's forces
during the Peninsula War.
Copies of statements (including emails) from Christies London can
be made available to serious purchase enquirers.
The sword is in good condition overall but the grip has been replaced
some time ago with what looks like walnut, plus the knuckle bow
has some damage cracks with some earlier repairs; the quillon also
has been broken off and reattached. The gilt has worn and the leather
scabbard at one point has a crease in it which means it flops down
at that point. It should be noted a specialist restorer such as
Crisps on England would be able to fully restore the sword if required
for around £550 (create silver wire grip, repair hilt damage,
regilt the hilt and scabbard fittings, make a new leather scabbard).
Further / full sized photos / further information available upon
request. Item reference number 313.