1868 Writing Slope - Color Sergeant WIlliam Berry
2005: Last week I bought this Writing Slope as a present to myself for finishing the book project which I've been working on since the beginning of the year.
When i got it, it was completely black, covered with dirt and muck! I could feel metallic bits with my fingers, so I spent a few days cleaning it up ... lo and behold, this is what i found! A wooden writing slope with brass, silver and ivory decorations. The silver rectangular bits bear an inscription that says that the writing slope was presented to a "Color Sergeant William Berry, 1st battalion 14th regiment" as "a slight mark of the respect and esteem in which he was held".
It is not dated but his regiment and battalion date between 1795 and 1860.
The brown parts of the slope are wood. The large rectangular plates are silver. The long strips and diamond shapes are ivory. The round pieces are a mixture of brass, copper and iron.
The long rounded piece on the right hand side flips up, and then the other section flips the other way, like opening a book ... to reveal a felted writing surface. Inside, are also a compartment to keep paper, pens, a ruler and two ink bottles.
2010 Research Update: I have found WIlliam Berry! He was born 1829 in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, England. He served in the 1st Battalion 14th Regiment (commonly known as the Buckinghamshire regiment) for 25 years, in Malta, the Ionian Isles and in the West Indies. He retired from his West Indies post in 1868, returning to England with his wife and two sons. This writing slope was a gift to him by his fellow officers and friends. William was 5'7" tall, had hazel eyes and dark brown hair. By all accounts, he was a very well liked fellow.
Re: Color Sergeants - Historically, Colour Sergeants of British line regiments protected Ensigns, the most junior officers who were responsible for carrying their battalions' Colours (flag or insignia) to rally troops in battles. For this reason the Colour Sergeant rank was considered a prestigious one given normally to courageous Sergeants who had attained accomplishments in battles.