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Blog posts of '2013' 'September'

The Art Of Sword Manufacturing
Henry Wilkinson

Henry Wilkinson was bestowed with the gift of sound education. At thirty years of age he joined the business of his father, James Wilkinson. It can be seen on Circa 1840- the double barrelled percussion belt pistol, that the company moniker was now know as ‘Wilkinson & Son’.

Henry was well aware of the world of arms technology and innovation. Working closely with many contemporaries of note both in the world of sporting and military arms, he soon expressed a passion and skill reminiscent of Henry Nock. Two of his early successes were the very early breach-loading carbine of 1832, ‘The Clanricarde’ and ‘Vivian’ carbine, a double barrelled weapon for the Irish Constabulary. Henry Wilkinson equated his peers in gun making. His exceptional knowledge of arms and his inventive genius were attributes he would dedicate to the pursuit of sword making which eventually lead the business to an unrivalled reputation in this art and ultimately the company changed its name to ‘Wilkinson Sword’, thus including the weapon sword in its name.

In 1819 Henry married Margaret Elizabeth Champion and along with his father and mother lived at Ludgate Hill, London. But by 1827 he moved with his family to Brompton Square in West London and shifted the business headquarters to 27 Pall Mall, just next door to the offices of The Board of Ordnance. This is a pure example of his sharp business acumen.In 1841 at just 40 years of age Henry’s wife Margaret died. In 1844 the company was joined by John Latham, who as an accomplished swordsman brought practical perspective to the sword making business. Wilkinson & Son continued to grow and expand under the leadership of Henry and the capable assistance of John Latham.

After Henry Wilkinson’s death in 1861, John Latham had continued to run the company with great success.Thus history is a witness to the fact that the dexterity and ability of Henry Wilkinson was the equal of both his father and grandfather.

Henry Nock - The Wilkinson Sword Founder

Early Days and the Inception of Wilkinson Sword

Henry Nock was born in 1741in Staffordshire, in the vicinity of Birmingham. He learnt his trade as a gun locksmith in Birmingham, one of the largest industrial cities of England. At the age of 27 he made his way south to London.

In 1768, he set up his workshop on Elm Street in the Parish of St. Andrew, Holborn. His initial enterprises revolved around his trade of gun locksmith. It is recorded in the Board of Ordinance for November 16, 1770 that he submitted for approval a Tower Musket Lock. By 1772 Nock had taken on additional premises in Mount Pleasant. This exactly is the epoch of the creation of Wilkinson Sword

Apart from being a fine craftsman, Nock was a consummate pioneer in the realm of firearms. He has to his credit many innovations and inventions. One such patented invention was a removable octagonal barrel that could be easily maintained. This development came to be known as ‘Knox Form’. It is described in the patent application that the Barrel could be taken from the lock, which would render the Barrel exceedingly easy to be cleaned, and there would be no obstruction of the Breech Pin as in case of the other guns. Another exquisite example of his work was seven barrelled gun.

The Circa 1780- seven barrelled volley gun was a part of an order of 500 such weapons made and supplied by Nock during 1780 to the British military for £13 each. He was an astute businessman. He could understand that diversification was paramount to a successful business. The man credited for manufacture of edged weapons is none other than Henry Nock. In the Board of Ordnance records for December 20, 1777 it is recorded that he was advanced £200 for providing bayonets.

Undoubtedly, Henry Nock was one of the finest and the most influential arm makers of his time who produced some of the finest and the most exquisite guns of that era including the flintlock duelling pistols. In November, 1804 Henry Nock died and with no apparent heirs his business and stock in trade was left to James Wilkinson who was the husband of Ann, his adopted daughter. James Wilkinson went on to continue the legacy of exceptional gun making.Truly, Henry Nock personifies the literal meaning of ‘nock’. Just like an arrow placed on the bowstring ready for shooting, his success journey also followed a swift smooth course, hitting right at the target.