A swagger stick was a popular military accessory carried by soldiers for many decades from the mid-19th century until the latter half of the twentieth. It served the purpose of keeping the soldier’s hands occupied so he did not put them in his pocket, and the natural inclination with the stick was to tuck it under the arm, the act of which forced the soldier to stand smartly and present a soldierly appearance. Over time the design of swagger sticks evolved and it became very common for them to be adorned with the badge of the owner’s regiment. Whilst some designs had a simple plain head that followed the lines of the stick, others had a much more defined ‘bulb’ shape such as today’s example:
This particular swagger stick is actually from the Indian army, and the badge on the pommel is that of the 6th Rajputana Rifles:
The 6th Rajputana Rifles were an infantry regiment formed in 1922, after the Indian government reformed the army and the regiment was formed from a number of pre-existing units:
· 1st Battalion ex 104th Wellesley’s Rifles
· 2nd Battalion ex 120th Rajputana Infantry
· 3rd Battalion ex 122nd Rajputana Infantry
· 4th Battalion ex 123rd Outram’s Rifles
· 5th Battalion ex 125th Napier’s Rifles
· 10th (Training) Battalion ex 13th Rajputs (The Shekhawati Regiment).
To return to the swagger stick. This example is made of wood, wrapped tightly in leather and sewn up one side:
A small silver ferule is attached to one end:
Whilst the large pommel is made of two pieces of stamped metal, soldered around the join to make a single, hollow bulb:
Unfortunately the hollow nature of these pommels does make them vulnerable to dents and damage, as can be seen on this example which has a few dings! From my own point of view I actually quite like this as it adds character, even if it would no longer pass a Sergeant Major’s inspection!
Might have belonged to a Sgt-Major, ‘dinging’ troops was allowed in those days 😉