Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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urbanspaceman 25th September 2017 04:45 PM

I know I am wandering from the principle point of the thread here but, just briefly, to follow up on Ibrahiim's post (thank-you Sir) I have heard it said that the Colichemarde gave the ability to fend-off blows from the heavier blades such as rapiers and trans' rapiers due to its reinforced upper section, but that once rapiers left the duelling business then the constant gradual taper became the go-to blade for the de rigueur gentleman about town.
The French officer's sword photos I posted earlier is the style to which I refer.

urbanspaceman 25th September 2017 05:00 PM

Cut or thrust
Again, allowing the detour, I came across this statement made by Henry Wilkinson c.1850 with regard to the thrust as opposed to the cut (I have to say that surely from horse-back there is only the cut, but that aside):
"An old officer of the 11th Dragoons told me that it was proverbial through all the Peninsular War, that our Dragoons who were mostly brought into the hospital with slight punctured wounds in the chest or abdomen almost invariably died. The French Dragoons on the contrary had mostly cut or incised wounds and almost all recovered."

Jim McDougall 26th September 2017 12:00 AM

Originally Posted by urbanspaceman
Again, allowing the detour, I came across this statement made by Henry Wilkinson c.1850 with regard to the thrust as opposed to the cut (I have to say that surely from horse-back there is only the cut, but that aside):
"An old officer of the 11th Dragoons told me that it was proverbial through all the Peninsular War, that our Dragoons who were mostly brought into the hospital with slight punctured wounds in the chest or abdomen almost invariably died. The French Dragoons on the contrary had mostly cut or incised wounds and almost all recovered."

Through the entire century the argument between cut and thrust went on, and invariably the effort was for a sword blade which could deliver both effectively. The first British regulation sword was the M1796 light cavalry sabre, which was considered most effective at cuts resulting in ghastly wounds, and which the French considered barbaric. However in any cases they were survivable, where the thrust favored by the French was virtually always fatal, and in usually a long very painful way.

The heavy, chopping blades of the M1796 were ultimately replaced by the M1821 cavalry sabre with a 'spear' point' which could be used in a thrust with the sword held in high tierce, then used in slashing cuts as well.
There were of course issues in production, design and as always blade quality, which had plagued English sword making for the previous centuries.

Jim McDougall 26th September 2017 06:31 PM

Some years ago Ibrahiim was involved in trying to learn more about the basket hilt swords which were used in the border regions between England and Scotland, where groups of what were known as "border reivers' would take varying sides in the Scottish rebellions (1689-1746).

While the Scottish basket hilt forms which had evolved in the 16th century from apparent German and North European hilts are of course well known, the remarkable spectrum of usually more austere hilts of basket form and characteristically 'English' have been the subject of much investigation and discussion.

The wonderful book "British Basket Hilted Swords" by Dr. Cyril Mazansky (2005) presents thoroughly illustrated details on the Scottish and these English forms, however is focused entirely on typology. For illustrations accompanied by intriguing and pertinent details on the historical detail of these and many other European swords, the venerable "Sword and Blades of the American Revolution" by George Neumann (1973) has never been surpassed.

The reason I bring these up is that the questions pertaining to these English swords and where they were made lent to the idea that perhaps at least numbers of them were made at Shotley Bridge. Ibrahiim had brought up the crossed basket hilts device and other factors, but it was still unresolved back then.

As though many of these basket hilt type swords date from the early years of the 18th century and through the Revolutionary War, the question has been, did Shotley possibly provide some of these swords as it seems to have been active given records noting certain smiths there into the 19th c.

It is known that despite the primary sources of English sword making in some of the 'garrison' locations such as Glasgow and Sterling, in the east Edinburgh tended more Jacobite if I recall notes, and there were smaller locations throughout who would fabricate hilts and used the usually mostly German blades. This of course was standard throughout Scotland, the Highlands, and apparently of course England.

While Birmingham blades had been touted as terrible in times earlier in the century, by mid 18th century, the quality had been improved no doubt thanks to German presence in the industry in the early 17th century with Hounslow, followed by the much clouded Shotley Bridge entity.
It is well established that numbers of these English military form basket hilts were produced by Drury and Jeffries of London, as well as the much discussed Samuel Harvey of Birmingham.

What has drawn us to Harvey has been his propensity to use the running fox in the manner of the much purloined running wolf of Passau, which was used by Solingen, and later carried forth by the German makers in England.
It appears his activity began around 1750, and many of his blades, probably earlier ones, had the 'fox' with his initials.
I think this likely was to draw to the earlier use of the running wolf on both Hounslow and later many Shotley blades and to suggest that degree of quality as opposed to the Birmingham stigma.
I would point out here that a John Dawes of Birmingham seems to have also used the fox, but instances of his blades are far less known.( fig.10a, "the British Basket Hilted Cavalry Sword", A.D. Darling, 'Canadian Journal of Arms Collecting', Vo.7, #3, Jan. 1974, the example is the animal alone and suggests either Harvey or Dawes as producer, c.1750).

It has been suggested that the Hounslow makers did not use the running wolf, however in looking at the many examples in numbers of references the last few days, I have found considerable examples which did have the mark.
The running wolf of Passau began appearing on Solingen blades actually in contracts for makers of that city from a reference I have seen but have yet to retrieve.

In the advent of the English Civil Wars, Hounslow became a primary Parliamentary supplier (though several went to Oxford for the King), which was why a great many backswords, most of the 'mortuary' half basket hilt type were with German blades. Most of these have the sundry devices and markings well known in Europe and spuriously used in Solingen. One example (Neumann 250.S) has the running wolf and talismanic number 1469 (these are combinations not dates). Others of this period also have the well known ANDRIA FERARA so much associated with Solingen blades destined for Scotland. These often have the 'Genoan' sickle marks which were as widely copied as the running wolf.

Though it is clear that imported blades from Solingen were profoundly used (as recorded) and hilted in Hounslow, there were of course blades which were produced there, and some of them did bear the running wolf.

To Shotley Bridge:
The idea that there may have been some fabrication of military blades here does seem of course probable, but in what degree is unclear. We know of course that blades were being brought in for finishing, and it sounds as if hangers may well have been among them. However, there are numbers of the broadsword blades which are clearly military as in Neumann (p.146, 254.S) a semi basket hilt has a DE blade with pronounced mid ridge, and SHOTLEY BRIDG with date 1690 and WR (King William). William was of course William III of Orange and of the English crown.

It has been suggested that Shotley had supplied for both sides, and this blade so marked presents compelling suggestion that they may have.
The earlier notes regarding the numbers of Jacobite supporters in the Shotley venture presents the dilemma existing with this Dutch 'King'.
While the Dutch were Protestant and vehemently against the Catholic rule of Spain, this was directly in league with the English crown against the Jacobite cause in Scotland.
As typically German blades were typically it seems transported from Solingen via Holland, it presents interesting case.
The ship with blades for Mohll to Shotley (1703) was from Rotterdam.

To the Colichemarde:

According to Aylward, the term has not been reliably traced to any English of French literature. It is however generally held that the term is cognate interpretation alluding to John Phillip, Count von Konigsmark, a Swedish soldier who was a renowned duelist. It does appear he may have designed this anomalous blade profile in which the proto examples were of flat longitudinal section which left the upper portion wide for parry but the lower portion narrow for speed and thrust.
He was in London around 1661, which suggests that terminus post quem, but that this style went rather quickly out of fashion in civilian blades, giving way to the gradual taper of the triangular (hollow) blades. While mostly gone by first part of 18th c. with military officers, with their flair for flamboyant hubris, seem to have kept the form around, and even as late as 1780s, George Washington had one and other military use was known.

I just wanted to add results of past few days of research to continue this most fascinating topic.

urbanspaceman 26th September 2017 09:40 PM

Hounslow .
I think the presence of the wolf/fox on Hounslow swords may be due to Benjamin Stone, a London Cutler and Freeman, who, from 1613 till 1642, was buying blades from everyone: including Solingen, Passau, Venice, Milan, Toledo and finally – of course – Hounslow; then selling the finished swords primarily to the Board of Ordnance.
For example: in June 1628 he delivered 800 swords to the Board of Ordnance: 350 Italian blades and 450 Solingen; all of these swords had basket hilts.
He finally set up his own mill in Hounslow by converting a corn mill on the New Cutt River. He then bought forged but unground blades from the local Germans, ground, polished and hilted them before putting them in his own scabbards and selling them with belts to the Tower.
He also re-fitted and re-furbished for the Board; plus, he sold finished blades to London cutlers. An enterprising chap!
Because Hounslow was then not part of London, the London Cutlers Company could not interfere: for example, he used predominantly cast brass hilts from his own foundry and this was not favoured by the London Cutlers.
By 1631 he was really cooking and delivered 4,356 swords at six shillings each - all with basket hilts – to the Tower. The numbers just kept rising after that to such a degree that in 1637 he petitioned the Privy Council not to use German imports as he could supply swords of equal quality made entirely in England.
The civil war had him re-locating to Oxford and he probably set up the king's Wolvergate mill there.
If during all that time and amongst the thousands of blades he supplied to the Board of Ordinance, there wasn't some marked Hounslow and also featuring a wolf/fox then I would be very surprised.
Information collated and published by Richard H. Bezdek; what an endeavour!
I've heard about Konigsmark Jim but also been told the Colichmarde existed prior to his birth. Where else it could have come from seems to baffle a lot of folk.

urbanspaceman 26th September 2017 09:52 PM

non sequeter
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I've been told the crown and number 9 is an Ordnance inspector's proof mark; and that the hilt mark stands for 2nd battalion. Can anyone confirm this and possibly expand on this information. It is the hilt of what I believe to be an Oley of Shotley Bridge blade.

Jim McDougall 26th September 2017 11:58 PM

Looking further,

While many Parliamentary 'mortuary' type swords were certainly made in Hounslow, or at least using blades from them, other centers probably Oxford, Greenich or London probably were mounting German produced blades as well.

In 1620s, some references claim that the German makers left there to escape religious persecution. While the Thirty Years war was indeed an issue, one of the primary reasons for their departure was largely the collapse of the iron industry in Germany and their sources of supply. Actually one source claims that permits from Solingen were obtained by the British board of ordnance for them to work abroad. Actually they were already in Holland, and came from there.

From "Hounslow Hangers" by Anthony North, Spring 2004 London Park Lane Arms Fair journal.
"...although the factory at Hounslow seems to have closed in the 1670s, the blades made at Hounslow were obviously prized. They are often found on high quality English officers swords of the early 18th century. They are also found on some high quality silver hilted hunting hangers of the 1730s and 40s".

In some early narratives there are references to 'Dutch' hangers. These were actually often German ones transported to Great Britain.

In Aylward (1945, p.33), "...such SHOTLEY BRIDGE swords as are commonly seen are big, double edged weapons bearing the words Shotley Bridge in their fullers, and fitted with the Walloon hilts used by the cavalry in the Monmouth rebellion (1685) and the Marlborough campaign periods, but as the factory always claimed to specialize in HOLLOW BLADE small swords mounted with their productions might exist, though it does not seem that the tang mars which identify them are known.
It looks as though the company imported forgings from Solingen which it ground, tempered and finished at Shotley".

Many of these swords with Hounslow and Shotley blades were apparently well used in the American Revolution as illustrated in Nuemann (1973), so whether in original mounts, or just blade rehiltings, they had a long work life.

The mystery of the Shotley 'hollow' blades remains, and while begun as an enterprise to produce these fashionable gentlemans blades in 1685 it does seem likely that production of military swords was covertly intended. While the 'Hollow Sword Blade Co.' title was in place for this enterprise, it does seem that it was actually more intended to operate as a bank (against the Bank of England monopoly) and engage in real estate and trade ventures in South America and environs (South Sea trade).

The notions of religiously persecuted Germans relocating to this area to practice their faith and protect the secrecy of their craft is of course not the case. Actually some of the original German makers of Hounslow were engaged, and had of course been in England for some time as were their descendants. The notion of the iron deposits there are also questionable, as while iron there was present, it was not of the quality and nature for the processes of blade making.

The political turbulence mentioned with the Monmouth Rebellion, Jacobite Rebellions 1689-1746 and the Marlborough campaigns may well have accounted for the actual requirement for sword production of military type, rather than the civilian small sword form pretended in the original permits.

After the failure of the Hollow Sword Co. and subsequent degeneration of the sword production, it does seem that in some form, Shotley Bridge remained in some capacity, perhaps cutlery as in many other locations. The Oley family who seems to have perpetuated the Shotley tradition is another matter which needs more research.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 27th September 2017 03:34 AM

Salaams Jim, It is certainly an interesting discussion and again your excellent pointers are very much appreciated.
The entire region in the days of the German immigrant sword makers was a hotbed of intrigue~ The whole business of the Jacobite rebellion was in ferment and it is here I wish to start. What degree of collusion was there with the sword-makers of Shotley Bridge? After Culloden many fighters from the Scottish side ran to the wilds of Durham, Northumberland and Cumberland where they formed an entirely separate although probably linked clan organisation known as The Moss Troopers who stole and robbed ...and were often caught and executed! It may be noted that Lord Derwentwater was tried and found guilty and executed for being a supporter of the Jacobite cause. Indeed such was the fervor and hatred for these brigands that the English set up a formidable military force at Newcastle and were unrelenting in tracking down sympathizers that many people caved in to government demands and openly expressed their government support. Mohll was caught with a load of swords and placed in jail only to harness important support and so he was released. It is said that there was some religious implication in pushing the Germans to elope with their sword secrets ...That would make the reasons Political and Religious ...a powerful enough combination linked to the obviously difficult situation in Solingen with the 30 year and later fighting taking place. That coupled with the intent in England to raise their game as far as sword making quality was concerned would probably suffice as to the reasons why they went.

If I may jump to the use of kilns at Shotley Bridge .. They were built certainly one at the south end of the Bridge and others further up river probably at the Forge and further up river a few miles on to Alansford . There is a even street in Shotley Bridge called Kiln Street. Somewhere I noted that materials were inported from Sweden ...ore?... for these kilns? No mines are reported in Shotley Bridge; coal or iron ore. There was plenty of wood... The swordmakers house stood in Wood Street..and Derwent meant oak valley. There was abundant Beech forest in the area. The water was excellent for tempering steel and for water wheel power. It is understood that the sandstone grit on the riverbed was ideal for sharpening and grinding blades.

In a further leap~ I question the Colichimarde situation...and the swords imported but initially confiscated when Mohl got arrested. If they were from Solingen they would surely have been stamped...My question being when was a sword stamped? There were a lot of these 1400 apparently but no definite detail of what sort of blades...nevertheless they would have been stamped I suspect...Solingen ! In all the examples seen so far ... and as far as I can see... No Colichimarde examples exist out of Shotley Bridge because they never had a machine capable of such grinding. Although this may not have been the only reason for its demise as other swords were being used...particularly in the Military ...It may have been a factor and why specialists were dispersed either back to Germany or to other English factories like Birmingham.

Post 28 sets another conundrum here... How do swords stamped with the Solingen mark of the running wolf appear with SHOTLEY BRIDGE stamped down the fullers? Are these examples of blades fetched by Mohl already with the wolf stamp or did shotley swordmakers place these ...It may mean they used both fox and wolf... but it seems odd. It is in fact the case that the hilts were often wire adorned in what is described at;

which is a must read for this style.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 27th September 2017 04:13 AM

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Here is a half basket... as I begin to examine Scottish Basket hilts and since The Crown and Crossed Swords owned by the Swordmakers sports two giant swords as their Hotel Sign under a Crown..

Also below for library purposes sword blade marks.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 27th September 2017 05:53 AM

:shrug: I note that Blade making in Britain had fallen off so much that in 1783 the London Cutler’s Company sought government permission to import blades duty free from the Continent and this provoked a Birmingham tool maker, Thomas Gill, to declare that he could produce British blades of equal quality. In 1786 the Honourable East India Company ordered 10,000 blades and each was to be subjected to a bending test. Of the 2,700 English-made blades 1,084 failed the test; of 1,400 German blades only 28 failed, and of Gill’s 2,650 only 4 failed. In addition to the bending test Gill had his blades struck flat, as hard as possible, on a block of cast iron and edgeways on a block of wrought iron and it is reported that some cut through the block.

--Frederick Wilkinson Swords and Daggers (p.58)

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 27th September 2017 05:59 AM

In a bid to tie Shotley Bridge to Scottish forms I need to prove more links and in doing so cite the trade link below where a Shotley Bridge sword is paired with a Scottish Scabbard. It was common practise to have the sword made at one place and the hilt and/or scabbard made at another. There is no picture.

A BRASS HILTED OFFICER'S SWORD, LATE 17TH/EARLY 18TH CENTURY with double edged blade retaining traces of a brief inscription within a short fuller and stamped with the running fox of Shotley Bridge on each side (pitted), brass hilt comprising double shell-guard engraved with the owner's name 'Sir H, Liddell Bt', knuckle-guard, an additional pair of scrolling bars joining the knuckle-guard to the shell front and back, and spherical pommel (button chipped, quilon removed), and wooden grip with later copper wire binding, in an associated brass-mounted lather scabbard, the locket inscribed 'R.S.' on the front and with the maker's name 'J. Hunter, South Bridge, Edinburgh' (worn) 80cm; 31 1/2in blade Sir Henry Liddell (before1660-1723) gained the title of 3rd Baronet Liddell and was M.P. for Durham City, 1688-98, and for Newcastle 1701-5, and 1706-10.

Jim McDougall 27th September 2017 07:15 AM

More interesting entries Ibrahiim. The one regarding Gill and the ongoing competition and difficulties between German sword production and the English makers struggling to prove their skills which had been going on for over a century or more and lasted well through the 19th. In the 1780s these tests mentioned led to him and some others to begin using phrases and terms such as warranted, or in his case 'warranted never to fail' on their blades.
This practice continued until around 1810 or slightly later with Gill, Osborne and perhaps one or two others.

I think that the iron deposits known in Shotley areas were mostly 'ironstone' and inadequate for quality needed in blade forging. The steel imported was from Sweden I understand, much as it was to Solingen. As noted, the wood required was abundant.
In most of the entries in references I have seen, it is suggested that primarily Shotley was 'finishing' forged blades from Germany, probably via Holland (the ship Mohll's cargo was on was from Rotterdam). These seem to have been heavier broadsword or backsword blades for military swords and hangers (which appear to have been already mounted from the sound of the single bundle in the shipment).

The running wolf conundrum :
It seems that the Solingen applied running wolf was typically an almost chop mark type image, often barely recognizable as a specific creature. This was in accord with the way these had been applied in Passau in earliest forms.
There was little, if any, uniformity in these images, and in Wagner ("Cut and Thrust Weapons", Prague, 1967) the chart of these 'wolf' marks depicts the variation, but misleadingly adds years, suggesting any such chronology existed. It was entirely a matter of the worker applying the mark in nominal form.
Actually, by the time of Shotley Bridge in the latter 17th century, as far as I have known, the running wolf occurring on Solingen blades would have been an anomaly. In my opinion the blades with Shotley Bridge and running animal (looking more like a dog and actually recognizable) were probably finished there, and likely 'blanks' from Solingen.

The later canine figures used by Harvey (and possibly Dawes) in Birmingham seem to be a running fox (note plumed tail) and with Harvey using his initials enclosed. It would seem these were in earlier blades and alluded to the German quality which had been known from Hounslow times and Shotley. Remember that these blades were highly esteemed and still circulating. In later Harvey blades there were various marking with his name and initials but no fox.
The fox may well have recalled Shakespeare who used the term 'fox' to describe a fine sword blade in some of his works, and for a time became a colloquial term (' thou diest at the point of fox').

It seems like there were some blades with Shotley marks which were more of the rapier form with central fuller known on some of the English cup hilts, but I have never heard of a Shotley colichemarde. But then as previously noted, it is really unclear what they actually produced aside from the examples of military backsword or broadsword blades and some hangers.

Maybe somebody out there has seen Shotley marked blades and might post here in addition to those already shown.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 27th September 2017 08:04 AM

Thanks Jim, It does seem that the formation of The Hollow Blade Company... and with it The Sword Blade Bank were subsidiary to the Sword Makers of Shotley Bridge but entirely separated by some sort of legal wizardry!... This allowed the Banking arm to operate in very murky waters indeed and with the South Seas Company (later implicated and of the South Seas Bubble fiasco) who were up to their necks in the slavery business. Many would argue that the slave trade financed in part the Industrial Revolution in the UK.. :shrug: The upshot being that the big names simply used the Swordmakers credentials in pulling in finance and other names for their own grandisement.


The thrust of this segment of my input suggests that the naming of the company and its association with the Shotley Bridge sword makers was irrelevant except for the prestigious linkage with certain branches of Royalty and influential business names and of no substance to do with blade production whatsoever. It therefor largely represents a degree of importance in the general smoke screen when unraveling this puzzle along with the blade in the hat story and the mercury in the hollow blade. The biggest flanneling escapade may yet turn out to be the entire story of the Hollow blade as quite unfounded and that no hollow blades of the Colichemarde form ever got made at Shotley Bridge.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 27th September 2017 08:44 AM

[B]E. Andrew Mowbray[/B]
To underline my last words above see

Where at page 35 the author; the reknowned E. Andrew Mowbray in Men at Arms Magazine states~

Quote" There is no evidence that hollow blades were ever produced at Shotley Bridge.'' Unquote.

Jim McDougall 27th September 2017 05:04 PM

Keith, my apologies I entirely missed your post (#36) and the illustration of the hilt with marks. Could I see the entire sword?
These 'regimental' marks on the hilt seem to have been more of a convention of the mid to latter 18th c. in England, though I am not saying such cases did not exist earlier. There was little standardization and such unit stamps were simply applied incidentally it seems.
The '2' with hyper link D and 'B' would certainly be plausible as 2nd battalion.
I am curious at how the Oley attribution to the blade is made.

By the marking crown over 9, this seems indeed an inspection mark, and these are described by Robson in his "The British Military Sword" (1975) but I do not have my copy at hand. It seems these kinds of marks were not used until the second half or latter 18th c. but again could be wrong on that.

If this is as I suspect, a mid 18th century infantry hanger (possibly the heart shape guard known as 1751 due to the Morier paintings) and dating to the Revolutionary War period, then it would be fascinating to see an Oley blade from Shotley confirmed. If Shotley was indeed producing military swords that late, I am curious why it is not included in any of the literature that are compendiums and listings of such makers over the past 60+ years.
It could be of course that old hanger blades from Shotley were remounted just as the case with numbers of blades with both Hounslow and Shotley markings, however evaluation of the sword as a whole is necessary.

Ibrahiim, thank you so much for the link to the wonderful article by Andrew Mowbray, which if not mistaken was in the first volume of "Man at Arms" magazine back in 1979. He was one of the most helpful and knowledgeable men in the arms community, and truly an inspiration to me.

I think he well surmised the Shotley situation, and there was indeed no doubt that blades were being brought in to 'salt' the works, and to appease investors anxious about the production. His description of the colichmarde matter is excellent, and well explains the purpose of the heavier forte section of the blade in dueling, which of course inherently exceeds fencing parameters in use of these unusual maneuvers. I had not thought of grabbing the blade in the manner described in the article. That the feature on a blade suddenly appeared is no more reliable a notion than its alleged limited use and sudden disappearance.
The curious blade profile with dramatic reduction in the blade to narrow foible to point is known in more ancient swords in blades known as 'carps tongue' if I recall correctly (Oakeshott, 1962, "Archaeology of Weapons").

The idea that some rather showy instances of blade production were probably emplaced in degree seems logical, but it would be unlikely to find accurate detail considering the covert and rather unconventional legal matters at hand.

Keith, it has been known that Benjamin Stone was very much the driving force in Hounslow, and though he was not a maker or craftsman, but an enterpreneuer/deal maker, he did have his own stamp or mark....a bunch of grapes. That he was getting blades from these many centers is not surprising as trade in blades was long a key industry, though he likely acquired these in lots through locations such as Holland, which like Liege, were international arms dealers.
Naturally the occurrence of various marks, names and inscriptions would be seen in almost a happenstance manner in these dynamic dealings, so to try to set rigid guidelines, axioms or classifications would be futile.

Keith, it is great to be discussing this intriguing topic with you and Ibrahiim as it seems at last I am learning more on what seemed quite baffling as I tried studying it decades ago. I hope you will keep us posted on progress on your book and looking forward to it!!

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 27th September 2017 06:57 PM

Thanks Jim, In bringing on Benjamin Stone he was indeed a maverick dealer...and outlined at is probably the real reason why the Germans were brought in to rejuvenate English sword making ability...

urbanspaceman 27th September 2017 09:59 PM

sealing wax and string
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Hello Folks. As I have mentioned earlier in this thread, I am still 'on probation' so my postings must pass muster with Mr. Moderator, which means I'm appearing out of sequence.
I posted a picture of a running fox inscribed on a blade with a verifiable probity, as the vendor was from SB and knew the history of the sword i.e. an Oley blade. This style of fox is identical to the one on the blade I bought some time ago. Also, the sword that Nicholas Oley is shown holding i.e. the last blade made in SB by his grandfather (which puts it at approaching 1840) looks identical to the one sold by the ex. SB resident and also to my acquisition.
Non-the-less, in the case of my sword, it looks to me like a poor fit in the hilt, but the blade looks like it has been much used, sharpened and polished in its life, so it may indeed have been re-hilted.
I will post pictures of the verifiable sword first, then pictures of mine.

urbanspaceman 27th September 2017 10:02 PM

Ignore that earlier statement, I am now appearing instantly; thank-you Mr. Moderator.
Unfortunately the images I've just posted are out of stated sequence: so my sword is the one with the bone grip and the faded fox.

urbanspaceman 27th September 2017 10:16 PM

I haven't researched this issue yet, but it looks to me like the inscribing of Shotle & Bridg, or in some cases the full name Shotley Bridge, was an earlier practice restricted to Broad Swords. If Solingen imports were being passed off as SB swords then perhaps this is why they restricted indications to simply the fox/wolf.
Also, referring to an issue raised earlier , surely blade marking would have to be applied after grinding and polishing?

urbanspaceman 28th September 2017 06:58 PM

Background detail
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I mentioned earlier that my first encounter with the tale of the SB sword-makers was through the reading of David Richardson's book (published by Frank Graham in 1973 and long since unavailable) and I want to return to this work because he, more than anyone before or since, did so much detailed research (the hard way) that each chapter is a mine of information. There is one chapter, however, that gives light to a period much discussed but rarely substantiated. I don't know if I can link a pdf of this chapter into my post but I will attempt it; it might be too large. Failing that, I will simply paste the writings into a post. A pdf is better because it can be saved for future reference.
Incidentally, David Richardson was the grandson of Mary Oley.[IMG]

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 29th September 2017 07:06 AM

Originally Posted by urbanspaceman
I mentioned earlier that my first encounter with the tale of the SB sword-makers was through the reading of David Richardson's book (published by Frank Graham in 1973 and long since unavailable) and I want to return to this work because he, more than anyone before or since, did so much detailed research (the hard way) that each chapter is a mine of information. There is one chapter, however, that gives light to a period much discussed but rarely substantiated. I don't know if I can link a pdf of this chapter into my post but I will attempt it; it might be too large. Failing that, I will simply paste the writings into a post. A pdf is better because it can be saved for future reference.
Incidentally, David Richardson was the grandson of Mary Oley.[IMG]

File Type: pdf Richardson chapter reduced.pdf see above #50

Salaams Keith ~A stunning revelation and a must for every member to hoist in ~ This passage is amazing. It ends with the question somewhat tantalizing but perhaps not totally answered Quote" My own opinion (that of the author) inclines to the view that no machines were set up
at Shotley Bridge and that hollow blades were nevertheless produced in
some quantity by hand. Otherwise, if machines had been set up and
hollow blades mass produced in consequence, then the fortunes would
have been made of everyone concerned." Unquote.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 29th September 2017 08:26 AM

It occurred to me that the smuggling in and out of swords from Shotley Bridge had been going on for some time supported by the pdf just shown..These swords appeared to be moved in bulk and either abroad or more likely onto the London market...Could it be that they went to market not with Shotley Bridge markings...but with Solingen...since that is probably where they came from smuggled in...By Mohll ... It seems inconceivable that Shotley did not have a machine to hollow ground these items ~ unless they were all fully ground in Germany? Was the Shotley factory therefor(in the case of Hollow Ground Weapons) only fitting up blades with hilts and scabbards? and for the London specialist officers and gentlemens outfitter market. Was Mohll by sleight of hand and the fact that he must have had German friends and associates in London moving these blades through London markets German imports? It seems to me that if there was machinery at Shotley bridge then he would not have needed to smuggle stuff half finished/threequarter finished? On the other hand I agree that if there had been a machine at Shotley to do hollow grinding why the subterfuge in smuggling in and out . And the fact that they would have made a fortune if they did have the means to opperate machinery for hollow grinding there....

So I suggest...sword blades were being imported by Shotley already hollow ground and virtually complete except for hilts and scabbards...and a polish up. Mohll was the wheeler dealer fetching in and taking out to London markets fully refurbished/ refinished Solingen Hollow Blade swords...It could also be that hilts were added by the London hilt makers plus scabbards...leaving only the refinishing of Shotley.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 29th September 2017 09:00 AM

2 Attachment(s)
Salaams Jim, I have to include this...


Quote"The historic record would be incomplete without
some reference to the employment of the Oleys af-
forded to the skilled metal engravers of Newcastle,
and more especially to the great renovator of English
wood engraving, during his apprenticeship to Ralph
Beilby. Thomas Bewick was articled to Beilby on the
of October, 1767. “The first jobs I was put to,” he
says, “were – blocking out the wood about the lines
on the diagrams (which my master finished) for the
‘Ladies’ diary,’ on which he was employed by Charles
Hutton (afterwards Dr. Hutton), and etching the
sword-blades for William and Nicholas Oley, sword
manufacturers, &c., at Shotley Bridge.”

What is interesting and has yet to be unpicked is the sword at thread blade marked W HARVEY. and since there is no W Harvey in the Harvey line up who was that?... There is however a William Harvey who was a pupil under Thomas Bewick above; engraver. Could this be the same W Harvey of Birmingham who was listed as a Sword Maker but later on in proceedings and becoming somewhat clouded in the chronology but seemingly fitting the bill as the W Harvey Birmingham Sword Maker..A sideline but interesting.

That particular piece of the jigsaw can be seen at http://americansocietyofarmscollect...62_Darling1.pdf

Here is the business card of W Harvey

It states that M1751 hangers were still being used by British NCOs in the mid 19th C see

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 29th September 2017 09:52 AM

Another potential piece of this amazing story is the Royal lineage that developed placing a German King on the English throne ... here you may note the inclusion of the collapsing South Sea Company...which you may recall was so wrapped up in the Shotley proceedings with financiers in the city, big names, Royalty and world trade including slavery. Also of interest is the potential inclusion in our story of the Jacobite situation and resupply of arms thereto...for which Mohll had landed up in Morpeth jail for a month for smuggling swords thought to be for the Jacobites for which he was found not guilty.

Note~ From

Quote"George was elector of Hanover and, from 1714, the first Hanoverian king of Great Britain.

George was born on 28 Mary 1660 in Hanover, Germany, the eldest son of the Duke of Brunswick-Lόneburg. In 1682, George married his cousin Sophia and they had two children. A decade later, he divorced her for alleged infidelity and imprisoned her in a castle until her death in 1726.

In 1701, under the Act of Settlement, George's mother Sophia was nominated heiress to the English throne if the reigning monarch William III and his heir Anne died without issue. The Act sought to guarantee a Protestant succession and George's mother was the closest Protestant relative, although there were at least 50 Catholic relatives whose claims were stronger. The Electress Sophia and Anne died in quick succession and George became king in August 1714.

The following year George was faced with a rebellion by the Jacobites, supporters of the Catholic James Stuart, who had a strong claim to the throne. This was concentrated mainly in Scotland, and was suppressed by the end of the year. Another smaller rebellion in 1719 was not a serious threat.

With some Tories sympathetic to the Jacobites, George turned to the Whigs to form a government, and they were to dominate politics for the next generation. Opposition to the king gathered around George's only son, the prince of Wales, making their already poor relationship even worse.

George was active in British foreign policy in the early years of his reign. His shrewd diplomatic judgment enabled him to help forge an anti-Spanish alliance with France in 1717 - 1718.

In 1720 the South Sea Company, with heavy government, royal and aristocratic investment, collapsed. The resulting economic crisis made the king and his ministers extremely unpopular. Robert Walpole was left as the most important figure in the administration and in April 1721 was appointed first lord of the Treasury and in effect, 'prime minister'. His ascendancy coincided with the decline of the political power of the monarchy and George became less and less involved in government.

George remained unpopular in England throughout his life, partly because of his inability to speak English but also because of the perceived greed of his mistresses and rumours concerning his treatment of his wife." Unquote.

urbanspaceman 29th September 2017 08:10 PM

Talk of many things
I have an open question here to all interested: what markings can be found on English hollowed short-swords i.e. the colichmarde variety and its successor? If I had Mr. Aylward's book I could probably answer that myself.
Referring to David Richardson's book - which I do have (I wish I could find the time to pdf it in its entirety; although I can put my hands on occasional copies, if anyone is very keen to own one I can probably acquire one for them): he states that SB only ever produced blades - never finishing the sword, as that was regarded as beneath them... they were only interested in the business end of the sword. So, if hollowed small-sword blades were coming from SB then Thomas Carnforth, the Newcastle cutler, would definitely be finishing and selling them locally, and otherwise. I need to get around the big houses hereabouts and look for family heirlooms. I think I'll try an advertisement/request for info in our local paper first.
Can I rewind a tad and refer you all to that picture of Oley holding the last sword ever made in SB - at around 1838. It is quite distinctly what is described as a hangar with a cast brass hilt. (Incidentally, that photo was taken by David Richardson who was, of course, family. Oley took the sword down from the wall to be photographed holding it.) If they never finished swords in SB, how come Oley is holding a finished one? Was it sent off to be hilted then returned to his grandfather? Did we have a cutler hereabouts in the early 1800s; something else I must check.
Mention by Ibrahiim of Thomas Bewick (our much venerated local engraver) reminds me of a Beilby engraved glass vessel that once resided in the showroom of Wilkinson Sword Ltd. and read: 'Success to the Swordmakers' on one side, and on the other were the initials of William and Ann Oley with the date 1767. How did WS get it, and where is it now?
(It is something else that keeps implying that WS themselves always believed that Mohll of SB became Mole of Birmingham, which – apparently – we now know is not the case.)
However, of more importance is the date of 1767 which doesn't suggest that the Oleys were struggling; and also to that end, we know this:
"Situated thus, says Mr. Ryan, having abundance of employment and great remuneration, the Germans, and especially the Oleys, the principal proprietors, enjoyed a long-continued tide of prosperity. Their workmen had large wages, yet their own profits were very high ; the demand for their articles was insatiable ; a journey once a year to London included the whole of their travelling expenses ; and they, there-fore, soon acquired considerable property. When Mr. William Oley died in 1808, nearly the whole of the village and the immediate adjoining fields and gardens were left to his sons."
Monthly Chronicle of North-Country Lore and Legend. Vol II, No. 15. May 1888.

urbanspaceman 29th September 2017 08:28 PM

Sorry Ibrahiim, I meant to thank you for the royal heritage information. To that end, let me add this to the mix, as it presents a very good picture of just how enormous the demand must have been for good blades:
The British Army 1685–1840 conflicts and wars:
Jacobite Rebellions 1689–91; 1715–16; 1719; 1745–46
Williamite War in Ireland 1688–91
Battle of the Boyne 1690
War of the Spanish Succession 1701–1714
War of the Austrian Succession 1740
Carnatic Wars 1744– 1763
Seven Years' War 1754–1763
Anglo-Mysore Wars 1766– 1799
First Anglo-Maratha War 1775–1782
American Revolutionary War 1775–1783
French Revolutionary Wars 1792–1802
Second Anglo-Maratha War 1802–1805
Napoleonic Wars 1802–1813
Hundred Days 1815 The return of Napoleon
Anglo-Nepalese War 1813–1816
Third Anglo-Maratha War 1817–1818
First Ashanti War 1823–1831
First Anglo-Burmese War 1824–1826
First Anglo-Afghan War 1839–1842
First Opium War 1839–1842
First Anglo Marri War 1840

urbanspaceman 29th September 2017 09:34 PM

Complete D Richardson book scanned
1 Attachment(s)
OK, I set-to and scanned in the entire David Richardson book. I figured that considering how much effort he put into researching and writing it, and considering it will never see the light of day again, as both he and his publisher (Frank Graham) are - like the book - long gone, it behoved me to spend an hour and scan it in, considering I had already done one chapter anyway. So here it is; the introduction tells it all.[IMG]

urbanspaceman 29th September 2017 10:20 PM

The Hollow Blade
1 Attachment(s)
Here is the other local history book about the Shotley Bridge sword-makers, assuming I can link it. I've just tried to upload it and it's too large so I will split it into four sections.
John brought things up to date by drawing on info discovered following David Richardson's book, which he also draws on extensively.
This book is not only long out of print but cannot even be found in second-hand bookshops; plus the local library copies have all been stolen bar one kept in the archives but which has been scanned and re-printed (rather poorly unfortunately) and is available to lend providing you agree to pay c.£150.00 if you don't return it (even this photocopy is this valuable!).
As with Mr Richardson's book, I am equally certain John will be pleased to see his excellent endeavour disseminated amongst the cognoscenti et al
Here is section one.[IMG]

urbanspaceman 29th September 2017 10:21 PM

The Hollow Blade part 2
1 Attachment(s)
Here's part 2:

urbanspaceman 29th September 2017 10:22 PM

The Hollow Blade part 3
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and part 3

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