That is an interesting idea, but in my limited experience I have not seen any swords sharpened that way (well, except for P1892/95/97 blades). Looking at my small collection, all but two were sharpened carefully and neatly so as to minimally infringe upon the blade decoration. Looking at John's examples I'd say that his follow suit. Based on this I would guess that a thin margin was not considered a bad thing. I would also guess that most officers would rather have a sharp service sword than one with pristine etching, although it appears that in most cases (based on our small sample) a balance was often sought and achieved. Have you seen other officers' swords sharpened like yours? What do you think, John, Gordon, etc.?
All the best,
PS--Thank you for adding to our knowledge base, Gordon (I was still typing while you posted). I always appreciate your observations!
At present I've only got two European sabres. The 1845 and an 1896 pattern Imperial German dovehead combat artillery sabre which has an untouched and completely blunt edge.
The last 45-54 pattern that I had was *mumble* years ago and it also had very clean undamaged etching. If memory serves (and it might not) I think it was also sharpened toward the business end like the one I have now. But its also part of the reason why I think of that pattern as pretty blunt ineffectual things and not as serious weapons.
I'm trying to remember if the other 19thC military swords I've had over the years were sharpened or not.
I had a beautiful 1899 Cavalry troopers sword with Dragoon Guard stamps and it had been very carefully sharpened nearly all the way up.
To be honest, I'm only now beginning to really appreciate these swords, in the past I would only have bought ones that were cheap and in great condition (so bad scuffs on an etched blade would have put me off).
I'm going to take better notice of them now because I'm going to have to buy more so they don't look lost among the rapiers, Tulwar, Shamshir, Golok etc.