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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

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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
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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
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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
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Here's part 2:

urbanspaceman 29th September 2017 10:22 PM

The Hollow Blade part 3
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and part 3

urbanspaceman 29th September 2017 10:28 PM

The Hollow Blade part 4
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And finally part 4.
As I mentioned earlier, this is a photocopy of the last remaining copy of the book in the public library service here on Tyneside, so although the scanning is poor in places it is still a valuable document regarding the Shotley Bridge sword-makers.
The remaining work on the subject is by Richard H. Bezdek called Swords and Sword Makers of England and Scotland and this is in current production including a perfect pdf download for a very reasonable price.[IMG]

urbanspaceman 30th September 2017 10:39 AM

J Hunter Edinburgh
Originally Posted by
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 '[B
J. Hunter, South Bridge, Edinburgh[/B]' (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.

Hello Ibrahiim.
I had a look in Bezdek's book and I found four J. Hunters operating in Scotland. It looks like the scabbard was made between 1560 and 1580 then was re-used. We could probably find out what RS stood-for if we cared-to but there is no-one amongst his ancestors.
I gather there was no maker's mark on the hilt. It may have been an old hilt with his title added or he may have had a new one made. I can't say 'for his new blade' because this man never did any fighting (other than in Parliament) so the wear of the blade was not down to him or any of his descendants; one of whom was father to Alice of Wonderland fame. It was obviously all old when he acquired it - apart from his title on the hilt - and may have been assembled by various folk over the years.

Sword slipper James Hunter 1538–1548 Perth

Cutler James Hunter 1780–1810 Edinburgh
Sword slipper • Made midshipmen’s dirks and cold stream guard officers swords.

Armourer James Hunter 1560–D1580 Edinburgh
Sword maker • Master Armourer, 1570.
• When he died, he had 62 swords and 125 blades in stock.

Armourer James Hunter 1598–1608 Dundee
Sword maker • Son of David Hunter.

urbanspaceman 30th September 2017 10:44 AM

Of course, the brief (and faded) inscription may not be Shotley Bridge and the fox could have been from anywhere in the past - including Hounslow - if he bought it in London, or Solingen then hilted in Scotland in the 1500s; so the sword and hilt and scabbard may well have been contiguous.

urbanspaceman 30th September 2017 05:02 PM

recent photo
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I took this last week when I was out at Shotley Bridge.[IMG]

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 30th September 2017 05:57 PM

Thank you for the excellent additions to library ... I am on page 50 of your first copy and how interesting it is... There are many interesting features which I need to compile ..

As a matter of interest the sign on the Crown and Crossed Swords is a relatively new one ... Apparently the old one was removed in about 1965 and this new one was the replacement and quite different to the original. The previous sign being more the crossed sword form, flatter and of the basket type... :shrug:

urbanspaceman 30th September 2017 06:42 PM

Crossed in time
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Hello Ibrahiim. Yes, that is how I always think of the sign, so I must be recollecting old images of the village; can't say I'm much impressed with the replacement. I was in the adjoining bar, which is dreary and forlorn, (a typical old English village pub) and the barmaid mentioned guests, but I have to confess the hotel did not look like it was doing business; the main front door hasn't been opened in some considerable time, and the insides of the big windows were dirty. There's plenty of money thereabouts, so it could do well as a typical rural gastro-pub with the right chef and manager, but that's not the way it is at present. Sad.
However, I am certain Mr. Richardson and Mr. Bygate would be happy to know their work lives on in the right circles. Actually, I must check to find out if Bygate is still alive - he may not be dead, as it was only 17 years ago when that book was published and he was not that old then.[IMG]

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 30th September 2017 08:05 PM

I think that was the adjoining place and is mentioned in a document I saw about architecture in the village as being quite different in construction to the original Crown and Crossed Swords which was to the right. That could make that The Commercial Public House ...Possibly now absorbed... I think the Menu Sign to the right of the door has the original style of Crown and Crossed Swords on it?

It will take me a while to absorb the brilliant pdf work you have added and I have to say what an important set of documents these all are. :shrug: Thank you.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 30th September 2017 08:35 PM


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

As is commonly mixed up with the fox/wolf;...This description comes with no picture of the weapon thus it is suspect as being confused between the two animals. I think the weapon is stamped with the Passau Wolf NOT the fox. Clearly the wolf or running wolf which has several all stick like images of wolves was the Passau wolf famous on Solingen blades but reproduced in other schools of sword making excellence as a blade of quality mark. It is very different in structure to the running fox.

As will be seen ... The Running Fox was never done by Shotley Bridge...whereas the Passau wolf was... After all many of the sword smiths there were originally from Solingen. It remains to be seen if Shotley was importing a load of blades regularly from Solingen if the Passau wolf marks were all done at Shotley Bridge or already on the blades when they arrived ...or both! If Shotley was not stamping the Fox who was? It would appear that Samuel Harvey is in the frame at Birmingham...anyone else?

urbanspaceman 30th September 2017 09:17 PM

Cry Wolf
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Hello Ibrahiim. The image on the sword sold in auction last year (see post #25 of this thread) with first-person confirmation of probity i.e. an Oley blade from SB, is definitely a Samuel Harvey like fox not a Passau/Solingen/early SB wolf. I am waiting to hear from the auctioneer as to whether the vendor (an ex SB resident) will commune with me.
here's the other half, and the original half, of the pub.[IMG]

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 30th September 2017 10:37 PM

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Then it is not a Shotley product. It is however a Birmingham one. It is a Samuel Harvey. Nice picture by the way... Thanks.
The stick like construction of the Passau Wolf mark was a favourite of Solingen and often used by other sword schools of manufacture to signify a quality blade much in the same way that Andrea Ferrera was struck on blades throughout history. Swords emanating from Shotley Bridge often sported this mark...but never the bushy tailed Fox.

Jim McDougall 1st October 2017 04:03 AM

This discussion is going great! and Keith, you have brought up some very good questions on some of the blades which may well have comprised some colichemarde blades as these were often of three edge section. While the blades termed 'colichemarde' had a wide forte and to considerable length near center....the foible was dramatically narrow for speed and thrust.

You asked what marks etc. were to be found on these types of blades, which is indeed important to see if perhaps any were produced at Shotley Bridge.
As has been noted, this type of blade, much favored by duelists, seems to have appeared sometime around third quarter of the 17th c. and given way to the typical three edge (hollow ground) blades for small swords around 1720s, but in the civilian sector.
Military officers continued their favor of these, most of which seem to have produced on the Continent, and have decoration and engraving by various outfitters and furbishers. Often these were jewelers and goldsmiths, as was typically the case with most small swords.

It would be interesting to see if any small sword blades, regardless if colichemarde or other types of blade bore any mark or inscription to Shotley Bridge. As I have mentioned, the Hounslow enterprise seems well represented in many of the reference sources, however in those listing examples, only few have Shotley blades shown. Of those seen, I have not seen any small sword or colichemarde to Shotley mentioned or shown.
It would seem that they should be as a list of Shotley makers from Hoppe (Hooper) and the Oleys through the 18th c. to 1808 is listed in Aylwards
"The Small Sword in England".
Yet, in illustrations and text, no example is shown or described, despite the Oley's noted as proprietors and 'bladesmiths'.

If this was they case, why is no blade marked to any Oley?

To the WOLF/FOX:

In the considerable research I have done on these markings, which concur with Ibrahiim's notes here, I have found that the conundrum of these curious images cannot be conclusively asserted. What does seem clear is that the 'running wolf' (called the Passau wolf for its believed origin) was used in Solingen by the 16th century. These often incredibly stylized (sometimes indiscernible) 'animals' were placed on a single side of the blade and typically chop type marks filled with brass or copper.

These were not standard by any means, as they were placed by workers of varying degree of skill (certainly not artistic) and often resemble the prehistoric cave type figures almost. Thus they could never be assigned to a particular maker, nor even period or any sort of chronology (as Wagner's chart implies). They were simply and arbitrarily placed on a blade as a kind of imbuement of quality.

As the Hounslow operations ensued in the early years of the 17th century, the Solingen makers who went to England undoubtedly used these simple marks, and in the almost stick figure manner a tradition in Germany . Meanwhile many blades there were imported from Germany and fitted to the developing hilts of Hounslow form.
The reputation of the Hounslow blades was well known, and while the operations ceased by 1650s it seems, the blades continued to have long working lives as heirlooms and rehiltings, even well into the 18th c.

With the advent of the Hollow Blade Co and Shotley Bridge in 1685, it seems some of the Hounslow families were involved. Though there is a great degree of doubt on the production of 'hollow blades', there were a number of military type blades and hunting sword or hangers it seems. Some of these indeed have the German wolf (no doubt brought forth by the German members) of the stick type image with Shotley Bridg inscribed.

As noted, no Shotley Bridge blade as far as known ever used the 'fox'.

The Shotley Bridge entity is said to have continued after the collapse of the very dark Hollow Sword Co. but no swords marked with the wolf or Shotley Bridge markings are known beyond the first years of the 18th c.

The wolf as a blade marking had been long gone from Passau, but at this point it seems to be gone from Solingen as well.

By the 1750s, Birmingham was determined to redeem its value as a blade and sword producer, and the maker Samuel Harvey began to use the canine figure once again, certainly recalling the now fabled 'running wolf' character but now with a British twist was a quite discernible running fox with its distinctive plumed tail. He placed his initials SH within.
It was noted however that on occasion, the fox did not have initials (though some had only an H). It now seems that at least one other Birmingham may have used the fox, but no initials.

In a short time, it seems these 'foxes' ceased, and only Harvey's name appeared on the blade in various configurations.

urbanspaceman 1st October 2017 11:17 AM

Hollow blade marks
To simplify matters in my postings, I want to refer to the tri-form blades - be they colichmarde or otherwise - as history has done and call them Hollow Blades; which, unfortunately, is a poor term, as a hollow in a blade can mean a fuller or simply mean a hollow ground edge re. sharpening techniques; but nevertheless...
So my question is this: of the English hollow blade short-swords in existence today, do they feature any blade markings? If so, can anyone tell me what those markings are?
Coming back to Shotley: I've been considering the issue of a three-wheel grinding machine, inasmuch as I cannot find any evidence that they brought one with them; the declaration cited in the Charter by Sir Stephen Evance only states that they used such a machine in Solingen - not that they brought one with them. However, let's be realistic here: even if they didn't bring one with them, and it seems reasonable to suppose such an enterprise was impractical, they would certainly not be at a loss to manufacture one in Shotley Bridge once they got settled. So, the top and bottom of it all is that they could have produced innumerable hollow blade short-swords, if that was what was demanded.
But! The three original smiths who arrived in SB in 1685 had to be supplemented by an additional nineteen families two years later; so if the first three had no experience of the specialist grinding machine - which is not unlikely, considering they had been in England since the Hounslow days - then the new arrivals certainly did. Yet bringing nineteen families and no grinding machine indicates that the original enterprise of producing hollow blade short-swords was abandoned almost immediately as a result of the inevitable enormous demand for military blades.
Having established a company and acquired Crown approval the Company changed hands rather quickly, and two members were removed and new names introduced: such as Sir Stephen Evance; this was the transition from producing Hollow Blades as a primary enterprise to the beginnings of the dubious business practices thereafter.
At the SB end, I think that being exclusively able to supply hollow blade swords might have been of some prestige, but there is no way that it could compare fiscally with arming thousands and thousands of soldiers. Although, according to the Cotesworth documents, they were being screwed for every penny, to the extent they couldn't pay their bills; mind-you, that is a common enough excuse amongst workers throughout history, and considering Oley's wealth later on, at worst purely temporary.
This is why I am interested to learn what markings were on the hollow blade short-swords here in England at the turn of the century, is it not almost certain that they came from Germany. (When did they begin producing them in Klingenthal? It must have been decades earlier. Did we not import from there?) The statement made to the courts when Mohll was on trial was that the blades found in the river were of a type only produced in Shotley Bridge. Who says? How did they know? Why were the blades not Solingen products? After-all, the ship was coming from Rotterdam. Was that purely to evade a smuggling charge? Very grey area!
The more you delve into this business, the murkier it becomes, unless the obvious is not that obvious after-all.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 1st October 2017 05:08 PM

The more you delve into this business, the murkier it becomes, unless the obvious is not that obvious after-all.

Salaams Kieth,
Do you realize you used a very interesting phrase above...Delve ! This is old dig!! and I believe the German miners who came to England at the time were the ones initially digging at one site...They must have named it after the German word. In Delves Lane. About 5 miles from Shotley Bridge.. at Consett the nearest town.

From one of your pdfs~
Of course, the steel had to be of the highest quality, and certainly the swordsmiths would try to ensure this, by overseeing the various processes rigorously. In the beginning the Germans seem personally to have sought out and extracted the ore from sites along the Derwent and in
the surrounding countryside. One area where they almost certainly dug (or delved) was later known as the Delfts; later still this gave rise to the name of the road leading to the site (now part of Consett) - Delves Lane, at that time of course open land. Local lore also said there was a seam near Hownes Gill, known as the German Bands Seam, worked by the Oleys.ll.

urbanspaceman 1st October 2017 06:50 PM

word perfect
Hello Ibrahiim. I do stuff like that all the time, then wait for someone to pick up on it; and no-one ever does (till today!).
I've realised most folk don't read and digest anymore; I think it has something to do with writing becoming the major form of communication, instead of vocally conversing.
Now that my seem oxymoronic, but texting and emailing reduces the majority of writing to bare-bones and abbreviations.
It never fails to amaze and irritate me that, despite planning my missives carefully, and proof reading at least twice, people often don't get the message.
At first I thought it was my poor communication skills - till I realised the truth: 'haste!'
Often, when someone is faced with a screen-full of words, they speed-read and assume; which means that half the time, much of importance gets missed.
However, it does not surprise me that folks on this forum read and ruminate.
Delightfully, both you and Jim regard brevity as unnecessary... me too.
We are all on a permanent learning curve here; otherwise, what's the point?

urbanspaceman 1st October 2017 07:53 PM

Shotley Bridge foxes
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From the Royal Armouries in Leeds[IMG]

urbanspaceman 1st October 2017 07:55 PM

Note the orientation of the image on the blade.

urbanspaceman 1st October 2017 08:07 PM

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One of the above is definitely number 11 but minus the crown, and that's a variation on the wolf right? Not a fox.
I'm suspicious of the Hunting Hanger as it doesn't say Shotley or Bridge, and the animal looks more like a lion; I wonder if the RA have got it wrong and it's not an SB blade?

Jim McDougall 1st October 2017 08:31 PM

Keith, that is excellent....the orientation of the fox in the second image, which surprisingly a 'fox' NOT the running wolf of German character. If this can indeed be proven SHOTLEY, then this would dispel the idea that the fox simile of Birmingham never occurred there.
The other Shotley blades are clearly marked to that place along with the German running wolf.

This hanger with running fox is curiously similar to the Birmingham use of that image, which as I described earlier, in my opinion was quite plausibly a keenly placed simile of the British fox used in the manner of the famed running wolf of Germany.

As I mentioned, in Shakespeare, one instance ( Henry V, Act IV, scene 4; "..thou diest on point of fox". The term was used to describe a well made sword, of course probably Solingen blade rapier.

With Birmingham struggling to regain their market share against the long emplaced German domination, it would seem remarkably clever to use the fox in place of the highly esteemed German running wolf, and in its character.

I came across another case of these markings, surprisingly in an American hanger c. 1755-83, in Neumann p.88, 81.S ("Swords and Blades of the American Revolution", 1973). The blade seems clearly of the German form which also became produced in Birmingham c. 1755. It must be remembered of course that America was at this time a British colony, and though the blade is described as German has the running wolf..but on both sides of blade, and with a star.

Germany, as I mentioned, was not as far as I know using the running wolf this late. Further, it was not on both sides of the blade, only on one, and typically latten (brass) filled.

This example has the same fuller as the Birmingham blades, but has been shortened to about 20" from the usual 27". Obviously it has been rehilted with brass guard and antler hilt in British manner.

While I cannot see the mark, whether fox or wolf, the dual application is atypical, as is the star of some type.

We have seen that makers in Birmingham intended to capitalize on the German use of the wolf, and while Harvey's fox is well known, it seems almost certain that other makers may have used variations of either wolf or fox.
That may account for the blade on Keith's sword, which has the canine figure on both sides, however degenerated or poorly applied on one. Also that use of a star MAY have been applied in tandem with the wolf on some blades made by some yet undiscovered maker there.

urbanspaceman 1st October 2017 09:00 PM

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Just to wander off Piste again: is this an indication of a re-hilt?

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 1st October 2017 09:10 PM

Originally Posted by urbanspaceman
From the Royal Armouries in Leeds[IMG]

The Fox Bushy Tail... is not a Shotley stamp...Birmingham. The twig constructed wolf is Solingen and also done by Shotley. (hardly surprising since the sword makers, were as we know, mainly from there) The chart shows several different styles of twig constructed Wolf but none can be relied upon to date swords every school was capable of knocking up a simply designed stamp like those...One Mallet and a chisel!

As noted by Jim the mentions of Fox by William Shakespeare must have been reference to the Solingen mark since he died in 1616...well before the Birmingham Samuel Harvey worked at Sword making in Birmingham 1748 til 1778.

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