I have always wondered on the Passau/later Solingen wolf, which seems to have its origins in Passau quite early in around 14th century I believe, need to recheck that history. But the point is, these chop marked images are notoriously individual, invariably as a matter of fact.
They were clearly not makers marks or stamps, but suggestions are of course that they were originally some sort of guild mark. Yet they seem to be almost regularly applied, but using chisel, not stamped.
I recall once trying to find any blade which could be proven to the same maker or shop with matching wolf marks. I don't think there ever were, but once there might have been....still need to retrace notes.
The chart showing variations with years is from Wagner, "Cut & Thrust Weapons", Prague, 1967. Eduard Wagner was a museum curator, and appears to have compiled these examples from sword blades he had seen or catalogued, but that is just my presumption. There has never been any sort of pattern or consistency to any of these, so chronological development, as implied in the chart, is completely implausible.
It is almost as if the chiseling of the 'wolf' was an imbuement, and its artistic value irrelevant, but temporally observed as perhaps talismanic as much as indicative of quality. Possibly the worker who emplaced the mark felt a certain individual embellishment as a kind of personal touch.
We have seen this in many well known markings, which sometimes have deviations or nuances which might signify different family member or workshop or possibly even a heraldic kind of placement. We can only speculate as we search records, public listings and genealogical data, and evaluate examples on weapons as they are discovered.
I think the Harvey use of the fox was brilliant, and well placed in the history of this canine marking phenomenon, and the lore of swords and blades.
Still working on the problem of the Shotley blades. It seems that the Hollow Sword Blade Co. was of course a front to syndicate a bank for some very dubious ventures. The Bank of England held the monopoly on banking, so the idea of setting up sword making in these regions was somewhat under those auspices. With the advent of the political struggles that were then developing, one cannot help thinking that a supply source was intended with Jacobite leanings.
As far as finding small sword blades which are English, there are surely references which do list makers, but most attention seems given to the hilt makers which were often jewelers, goldsmiths and various outfitters.
What is most significant on the listings of Shotley in Aylward is that it refers to 'sword cutlers', and of these, the Mohl's were listed as GRINDERS and proprietors, and the Oley's listed as BLADESMITHS and proprietors.
It seems that the idea of bringing in forged and incomplete blades was indeed taking place, as we see from Mohl and his captured shipment from Rotterdam. Holland was a point of departure for blades from Solingen as the Netherlands were key international arms dealings. Many German smiths from Solingen, so the blades may well have been made there. There are profound similarities in the character of Dutch and English swords of this era.
We need to check "European Court and Hunting Swords" Bashford Dean, 1929, as it has thorough listings of many swords which perhaps might have some clues toward the blades. I don't have copy at hand unfortunately.
Auction sales catalogs such as Bonhams, Christies and others are goldmines of such detail as well.
As noted, we are not noted for brevity here, but sharing as much data as possible presents opportunity for solid thinking in solving these age old mysteries.
I've contacted the Blades Curator at the Royal Armouries in Leeds to enquire into the provenance of that hunting hanger with the curious fox stamp (post 75). It's listed as Shotley Bridge and I would be fairly surprised if they have got it wrong, but it's not beyond the bounds of possibilities. Just waiting to hear back from him. It's such a singular image that it may well be a one-off created for the occasion. Waiting patiently.
Salaams Kieth, The trouble with this animal is that it does not resemble a stick drawn wolf nor does it look like a fox... I wonder if it is a copy of the running fox mark done by who knows? We wait to see. :shrug:
Hello Ibrahiim. Yes, indeed, my thought exactly. The first thing to confirm is that it is a Shotley blade; assuming it is, then our imaginations can run amok, because - unless there is a known history - it could amount to anything. Someone went to some trouble to engrave that image though; it's not your Neanderthal stick drawing is it?
I am also looking into other marks used by the SB smiths because I can't imagine that if they were turning out the numbers of blades thus far indicated for the military, that they would be bothered chiselling Shotle Bridg et al on every blade when a tang stamp would suffice.
I'm also beginning to wonder if they ever used the Passau wolf/fox at all, or if the unfinished blades came out of Solingen already marked. How much work is done on an unfinished blade? Would it remove the marking?
There's still so much shrouded in mystery; clearly, SB sword owners are not reading this forum.
Keith , I'm glad you are contacting the RA as I would really like to hear their explanation on this one. I think you're right, there is no way they could have put out significant volume of blades and stamping or engraving all of them.
As it is, it seems only a select number of blades were so marked, and as you point out, could they have been already forged and stamped in Solingen prior to export?
In the top sword in #75, this is a Walloon type sword as thought to have been from Shotley Bridge in latter years of 17th c.
The 'wolf' seems in the proper orientation in the blade center, and the somewhat irregularly stamped letters for Shotley Bridg placed as they arrived in Newcastle. It seems that the running wolf in Solingen was always upside down, and typically in latten (brass filled) .
The second sword looks to be a hanger of mid 18th c. which of course aligns with the Birmingham works and Samuel Harvey's use of the fox. While this rendering looks atypical to the other known examples of Harvey's, it is known Dawes (perhaps others) might have also applied fox marks.
If this example could be irrefutably provenanced to Shotley Bridge it would be monumental as in my view, the fox was used by Birmingham to in effect mimic the German running wolf, in the 1750s. So why would German smiths in Shotley use a fox on a hanger blade? and when they were presumably fashioning blades for small swords? In fact, it is a puzzle why the only reference found to Shotley sword cutlers is in Aylward (1945) in the list he shows which transcends 18th c. to 1808, with about 10 names.
Possibly more will be found in Southwick, or Annis & May, both volumes listing sword makers, but cant get to my copies for a month.
Salaams Jim and Keith, Slightly to one side ...That odd grindstone that I was tod was leaning against a wall on the river...I never found it. but...have a look at these .... what are they....? They are from the Shotley Mill shown. look at the striatians in the stone grinder faces....
they are millstones for grain, the striations are grooves to allow the milled flour to work it's way out and fall down into a large funnel and then into the flour sacks underneath. the cylindrical wooden structures surround the stone and have an opening for adding the grain into the centre of the upper millstone which is adjusted in distance from the lower one depending on how fine the miller wants the flour. bit like a huge coffee grinder. the stones would wear and require regrooving , the propped up ones were likely spares. after they are too thin to reuse, they get sold to architectural salvage junkyards who resell them to trendy yuppies for inclusion as features in their homes and/or gardens.
solingen knife/sword makers used a vertically mounted stone. no occupational health and safety laws back then:
Hey Wayne! thank you for joining us here on this, and especially for the great insight on these huge wheels. In many of the references I have checked, the mills were converted from grist mills for corn and perhaps others.
Could these same wheels be used for the functions required in metal work, or are the surfaces changed in some way?
This might explain the accessibility of wheels for the makers.
see my updates above. much different stones driven at higher rotational speeds... the water driven mill wheel of course could be a power source for a variety of blacksmiting tools, grinders, drop hammers, bellows, etc. lots of open belting and gearing to grab the unwary.
Thank you for the excellent detail in your reply... I was just looking at a French sword factory and the English Reeves factory and realised the same ... The grindstone outside next to the river I was told about must have been a grain grinder and was adjacent the grain mills. I place a more ancient water wheel driven wheel arrangement for interest. Many thanks. :shrug:
once started, how do you cancel and clear a post: I can't find a button to push.
Research into the Kilns on the Derwent further up stream at Allensford..Both 17th C . The rock with a hole is a blast furnace... About 6 miles from Shotley Bridge. :shrug:
Isn't that Bertram's place?
iron in the Derwent Valley
During my research into the SB Swordmakers, I inevitably came across talk of the iron and steel industry in the Derwent Valley, ultimately culminating in, first Sir Ambrose Crowley's works, then, of course, the Consett Steel Works. Because it is all so linked in with the Swordmakers I have been researching both.
Ibrahiim's post about the blast-furnace at Allensford, which I immediately assumed was Bertram's place, turns out to be one of Denis Hayford's operations leased from and run by Bertram.
The actual presence of Hayford, not only in the valley, but according to just uncovered references, in SB itself, has set a cat among the pigeons, because I was not aware, and neither was anyone else it seems, that he was actually part of the industry in the village: (Denis Hayford, (c.1635–1733), a pioneer of the steel industry, acquired the lease of Allensford furnace and forge in 1692 which was upstream from his established business in Shotley Bridge. The lease seems to have lapsed in 1713. (Wikipedia).
It was indicated in letters from Mohll to Cotesworth that he was attempting to squeeze ownership of the Hollow Blade Company (or, at least its interest in the SB Swordmakers) away from the London directors and into his hands by putting the bladesmiths into debt over their purchase of his steel. Below, is from Richardson's book regarding letters from Mohll to Cotesworth:
Although remaining aloof from writing anything but business letters for years, in 1715- 24th May, when the works were at a low ebb he almost begs Cotesworth's permission for "we grinders to ground Mr. Hayford's blades made by our smith here .... that is when we have not full employ". He then offers to make an allowance for the use of the mill (the grinding mill), which shows that the Chartered Company could never be approached except through Cotesworth.
Two weeks later Hermann Mohll showed by an almost despairing letter that Den (or Dan) Hayford had cast conspiring glances at the Shotley works and tried to buy or rent them.
Mohll's letter runs- "Sir, I hope you understand that Mr. Hayford is for the Company Works here"-and Mohll describes how his (Hayford) engineers measured all housing, shops and mills, taking water levels and "every thing he cut gite (get), and that if he (Cotesworth) had a kindness for the works here or for me to stop him and hold the old 'husie' back for we will all make blaides for rent and pay the rent every month. Some say he is for buying the works as they say the Company will bestow no more money here . ... "
As can be seen by the letter, Mohll grows more vehement as he proceeds and now calls Hayford 'a sliye youth', threatening to buy not one iron or steel from him.
He concludes by praying for, "a line by bearer whether I have hopes to prevent his aims" then concludes, "Your obedient servant to command, Hermann Mohll".
To me, this is an historic letter for it seems to have frustrated Den Hayford's attempts to take over the works.
So, either some vital information was available to the Wikipedia writer (ref. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography) or my understanding that Den Hayward only operated outside of the area (principally in Sheffield) is wrong.
Once you start investigating the iron industry you enter an entirely new world; however, it was always my intention to show where the SB swordmakers fitted in the industrial development of the Derwent Valley but that is not an endeavour that concerns us here.
One thing is finally revealed however: an enigma that has plagued all the researchers into the SB industry, and that is the identity of Bertram: From the 1690s onwards, one of Hayford’s furnaces was operated by William Bertram, also a German, from Remscheid. Now that just leaves Vinting to discover, but I am fairly certain his ancestors came over to develop lead mining at Ryton; we'll see.
Bertram's quality marks: [IMG]
It makes me wonder if perhaps the stars found associated with the Passau Wolf markings are connected?
What the above now establishes, beyond all speculation, is why the Germans chose Shotley Bridge: it was because of Bertram.
It is also very likely that Bertram was there because of Vinting, whose ancestors (at least one earlier generation anyway) were already there.
You lost me there Kieth...I remembered reading something about Bertram and him not being traced or something ...to a German origin...(from your pdf details) but your explanation is amazing I have to say... I had been told or read somewhere that there were furnace remains up near Allensford similar I presume to the ones at the Bridge in Shotley.
The grindstone I was told about seems to be just that...for grinding grain...which is why it may well have been seen near the river at the Bridge next to the Grain Mill..(The grain mill which was part of the Swordmakers company set up) That may still be there amongst the trees or some museum...Newcastle or Beamish ...took it away...Anyway its not important now.
It is rather like reading a play by Shakespeare and discovering an entirely missing character but suddenly finding his entire script in another play wrongly applied in that scenario.
However...Bertram wasn't at Allensford or at least if he was, he was also at Blackhall Mill which is down river from Shotley Bridge; not up apparently... and for which he was famous :shrug:
I found this~ at https://studylib.net/doc/8013653/th...blished-in-1773
Quote" The Swedish traveller Reinhold Angerstein, who visited Mather’s workshop in 1754, noted that he made ‘all kinds of steel hardware required for a watchmaker’s shop’, specialising in ‘a kind of grooved steel wire for pinions in small pocket watches’. The ‘raw material for the pinion wire’ at the time was ‘Mr Bertram’s Double Shear Steel’ from the North East, not crucible steel. Torsten Berg and Peter Berg (eds), R.R. Angerstein’s illustrated travel diary, 1753-1755: industry in England and Wales from a Swedish perspective(London, 2001), pp. 313-14. William Bertram operated at Blackhall Mill in the Derwent valley, the historic centre for the manufacture of shear steel."Unquote.
I have noted Angerstein before ... Wasn't he at Shotley Bridge for a meeting?
In the early eighteenth century, Blackhall Mill changed from a mainly rural estate to a steel making village.
The Bertram family operated a steel forge from the early 1700s. It was visited in 1719 and 1754 by Swedish engineers. Both Kalmeter in 1719 and Angerstein in 1754 visited the papermill which was operated by the same millrace as the forge. Angerstein, on his visit in 1754 was studying new methods of industrial technology. At that time, conversion of iron into steel took eighteen days, with most of the time taken by cooling. Profit was sixteen per cent. There is reference to a smelt mill at Blackhall Mill in an indenture of 1773, and Mr. William Bertram of Ryton parish was owner or part owner of the sword factory at Blackhall Mill at the same period. The Blackhall Mill steel forge (later the site of the council school) used power from a dam across the Derwent near Beechgrove Terrace.
Angersteins journey can be traced at https://books.google.com.om/books?i...0bridge&f=false which indicates almost every forge and mill in the line of travel and a map can be seen... He indeed visited Shotley Bridge.
Dan Heyford was from Roamley near Pontefract and he supplied Shotley Bridge with steel...according to https://books.google.com.om/books?i...epage&q&f=false on page 302.
Further~ From http://twsitelines.info/SMR/1017
Quote"Wilhelm Bertram, a steelmaker from Remscheid in Germany, was shipwrecked off the north Durham coast in 1693. A few years later he was said to be in charge of a furnace in Newcastle. By 1720 Bertram had transferred to Blackhall Mill, acting as steelmaker for the furnace owned by Hayford. The Hollow Sword Blade Company, which was originally set up near Shotley Bridge in about 1686 by German immigrants, was apparently being supplied with cementation steel by Hayford. There is a description of the works in H. Kalmeter "Dagbok ofver en 1718-1726 Foretagen Resa", vol 1, folios 349-350. There is a picture of the furnace in R.R. Angerstein, 1753, "Resa genom England, 1753-1755". Bertram pioneered the production of German steel by forging blister steel. Angerstein says that the "Shear Steel" mark - a stamp showing crossed shear blades, was Bertram's own mark. Indded the making of "Shear Steel" was introduced into Sheffield by a workman from Blackhall Mill in 1767. Bertram died around 1740. In 1753 his son was running Blackhall Mill. At this time some 30 tons of "German steel" was made in a year with a further 100 tons or so of blister steel in simple bars. The steel from Newcastle and Blackhall Mill was said to be the best in England, due to the care taken in selecting the iron, and its processing. The furnaces had chests 127 inches long, made from sandstone. The flues and vaults were of Stourbridge bricks and the rest of the structure was in dressed stone. The furnace chimneys were 28-30 feet high with a top diameter of about 3 feet. In 1810 and 1811 the Blackhall Mill site was being worked by the Cooksons. It is omitted from a list of steel manufacturers for 1863 (see Spencer 1864), so must have gone out of operation some time between 1811 and 1863. It may have closed at the same time as Cookson's works in Newcastle, which were abandoned in 1851-53. A postcard dated 1913 shows Blackhall Mill essentially similar to the nearby Derwencote furnace, without the buttresses. Blackhall Mill was demolished in 1916 to make way for a school house."Unquote.
Although peripheral to proceedings it is interesting to note at https://www.scribd.com/document/160...rwentcote-Forge that the Industrialists... spies from Sweden Angerstein and Co were also visitors at Derwentcote ...
A site I have never spent enough time with. I have a lot on shelves over there gathering dust.
The Hollow Sword Co comes up frequently in a legal aspect. I am forgetting the particulars but the issues during the later 18th century. Worth spending a bit of time there running searches from an enormous database.
Hello Ibrahiim. You have found some vital material here, thank-you. I note Jenny Morrison's involvement in some of the material: she is head of Archaeology for the county but has just returned from her holidays so I am waiting to hear from her regarding this iron and steel issue; I have consulted her a few times in the past; she is sitting on a wealth of information that she can enthusiastically supply without effort.
"Finding a lost play" perfectly put! It is precisely why I have embraced the iron industry in general, and the Derwent Valley in particular. My research into Wootz got me started, and I rapidly began to appreciate just how closely connected are the two industries; with steel surviving, of course, and sword-making becoming a cultural craft.
This research led me - inevitably - to Benjamin Huntsman the clock-maker from Doncaster, who moved to Sheffield's environs as he began his crucible manufacturing. I came across an interesting note on Wikipedia that is apropos of little but the probability that it was Klingenthal where it went; although I am only guessing here - I am certain someone will know for sure:
The local (Sheffield) cutlery manufacturers refused to buy Huntsman's cast steel, as it was harder than the German steel they were accustomed to using. For a long time Huntsman exported his whole output to France.
As I have already stated, the arrival of the Germans in Shotley Bridge was never fully justified - considering the vast number of alternatives, but once you put the iron and steel industry into the equation it becomes far more realistic a proposition.
I don't, however, discount the abundance of necessary facilities and materials available, because they were a pre-requisite. I am particularly interested in Richardson's statement about the water being radio-active; I am determined to track down just what was meant by that and where the proposition came from, as Richardson doesn't say. There was also the business of the water being the equal of the Tagus: just what exactly are we talking about here? Mineral content? Isotopes? What else?
There is still much to confirm however: in particular, the presence of Bertram prior to 1685. I know he was shipwrecked in 1690, but I don't take that to mean he was not here before then; I have to look into that.
One thing I am learning, as I progress with researching history, is that I mustn't jump on the odd piece of information – or even a much repeated myth, like Mohll becoming Mole – just because it presents a convincing scenario. For example, three times in 24 hours I have read that in one case Bertram, and in two cases Hayford, had sword-works in Shotley Bridge: is this true? has it been overlooked by everyone so far? Like I said, don't grasp at stuff just because it fits the picture. A supreme example of this would be to consider that sword-making existed in Shotley Bridge prior to 1685, and that the three members of the Hounslow group simply came up to join existing swordmakers.
I am going to tag a couple of items: one is a report for English Heritage when they took over the care of the Derwentcote forge; the second is a clipping regarding the leading lights of the Sheffield steel industry specifically our very own Denis Hayford.
Richardson. His Spa water apparently tasted pretty bad... perhaps because of the mineral content or even H2S Sulphurous water is supposed to be good for skin ailments etc...
1847. Jonathan Richardson's Spa in Shotley Bridge
The spring anciently called "Hally Well," now Shotley Spa, was at a distant period noted for its efficacy in the cure of scrofulous complaints ( Literally, relating to scrofula (tuberculosis (or TB like bacteria) of the lymph nodes, particularly of the neck). it fell, however, into disuse, and for a long time no benefit was derived from it, till a prevailing tradition lately induced Jonathan Richardson, Esq., to commence a search upon the spot where it was supposed to exist.
The search was successful. Appropriate buildings, a wellroom, baths, &c, were erected in the rustic style; and Mr. Richardson has opened carriage-drives and promenades upon his estate.
In the village, there are two paper-mills in operation; a market for corn is held weekly, and a fair for cattle every half year.
I found Wilhelm Bertram's birth records: 1670 - 1740; born in Remsheid as previously indicated. 70 years old when he died: not bad for someone who worked in such an awful environment.
The date of his shipwreck varies however between 1690 and 1693.
Regardless of that, he was just into his twenties, very young to be put in charge of a steel-making furnace.
I need to get more details e.g. where was the ship going? coming from? why was he on it? etc, etc.
Hmmm. I think Jenny Morrison may know.
My obsession with Bertram is because here was another German who mysteriously found his way to Shotley Bridge.
Was he on his way there anyway? And if so, why? Who sent for him? Was he with other industry workers on the ship?
The North Durham coast, where he was shipwrecked, is essentially the mouth of the Tyne, and aiming for the Tyne from out at sea in those days could quite easily have you blown slightly south, usually with tragic results.
In my opinion, his business was on Tyneside; or possibly Wearside if he was going to work for Sir Ambrose Crowley at his works in Sunderland.
I'm abandoning Bertram, as he could not possibly have been here before 1685 in any capacity that might attract the Hounslow and Solingen pilgrims.
Back to the drawing board and look for Vinting, who was definitely first generation local; and I still think his ancestors were involved in the lead mines at Ryton but we'll have to find out for sure somehow.
ah I was just looking at that...i picked up the scent at ~
The letter goes on to say....
Has anyone done any research into the VINTON family?
I am particularly interested in John VINTON who was a chainmaker.
Born in about 1802, he was probably the son of William VINTON of Winlaton
However I have been unable to find a baptism for him.
William VINTON [son of Samuel] married Elizabeth FENWICK in July 1797 at
Newcastle All Saints
I believe they had the following children - baptism locations given.
Samuel 1798 Newcastle All Saints
Elizabeth 1800 Newcastle All Saints
possibly another child in 1804
Mary Ann 1806 Gateshead
Eleanor 1808 Newcastle All Saints
William 1811 Gateshead
My family history notes tell me that
"The VINTONs were one of the families who went to the Derwent
valley at quite an early time, to participate in the iron industry.
They may indeed have been one of the Shotley Bridge Sword-making
families. If not then they would have been associated with the early
iron foundry at Blackhall Mill or else the one at Derwent Cote. In any
case the original Vintons were of German extraction and many of them
ended up working for Crowleys at Winlaton, Winlaton Mill and Swalwell."
Any help finding John's baptism record in about 1802 - [or William's burial
before 1838] - would be appreciated
see also http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.c...8-07/0900255787
Hello Ibrahiim. Thank-you, very well done. Jim said you were an expert searcher, and he was right: you must have some secrets I am sure.
I have emailed the genealogy researcher (Heather) on both her email addresses, one of which bounced right back, giving her the entry from Richardson's book, in the slight hope she worked her way back further herself after all this time.
It's beginning to look like the Derwent Valley was known within the German steel/iron/mining industry. I won't venture any further speculations at this point.
Instead, I put Vinton into Google and up popped Vinton Metals/Batteries down in Kent who specialise is the safe salvage of lead/acid batteries.
I've sent them an email as well.
Good work Keith... Its just dogged hard work at this end and no secrets ....Luckily you are on the ground there... I think a lot of these names fuse together as a group of operators that essentially faded away dispersed to other centres like Birmingham and back to Europe...as the natural decline enveloped the region. I suspect the failure of the Colichemarde because of lack of machinery and the end of the Napolionic wars etc were ultimately responsible.
I suspect you may be right about the fusion of operators, but I don't believe the lack of a Colichemarde was ever a factor in their decline: I think they could have fabricated a grinding machine without difficulty; there has to be a reason they didn't.
There is another possibility could account for the choice of SB, and that is Thomas Carnforth the Newcastle cutler, who was certainly involved here and there, and to a greater or lesser degree. He was one of the people who testified on Mohll's behalf at his trial.
He wasn't one of the original four businessmen, but Johannes Dell was; along with a chap called John Sandford from Newcastle - who dropped out relatively quickly when the company began to deviate into fiscal areas; I haven't been able to find anything about him.
It may well be that the forge activity at Allensford (Vinting perhaps?) was known to Thomas Carnforth or John Sandford or both; and if Carnforth - who must have been buying Solingen blades - had trade connections with Johannes Dell (who became John Bell: one of the four businessmen starting the company) then that may have been all that was necessary to entice the two Hounslow men (Henkells and Hoppe) up here to team up with John Bell in 1685. Then Bell would return to Solingen to bring the main immigrants over when demand looked promising in 1687.
It may have been as simple as that. Let's face it: back in those days, German immigrants would almost certainly know about each other in a place as small as Newcastle (population in 1600s c.10,000) especially as the local cutler was dealing with them all.
On a separate note:
If they were turning out thousands of blades for the Crown/Government, then London cutlers would have finished them. If they were selling to the Jacobites, then Scotland's cutlers must have been involved. Who was in a position to finish thousands of blades? Trouble is, at best, SB may have stamped the tang, so who today knows where the blades came from?
Ever forwards, it's beginning to take shape I feel. Thanks again Ibrahiim.
PLEASE SEE http://helensteadman.com/blog/4592669121/Literature-Review-4-Thread-of-Iron-by-Douglas-Vernon-(A-Definitive-History-of-Shotley)/10983141
Which digs deep into the problem at Chapter 9.
One thing I note is that it is quoted as one of the reasons why the sword ,makers came to the area was fast flowing water... That is interesting for except on the occasion of heavy flooding the Derwent is not fast flowing except at about two places according to photographs ...One is at Shotley Bridge and the other is at The Rush adjacent the Paper Mill a mile up river at Shotley Grove, The Mill now vanished but where the entire river in both cases passes through rocks and only about 5 feet wide. So it is quite specific. I think also that water for tempering steel was also important. The document also mentions grit from the river bed.
let's not get our terms mixed up.
annealing is heating the metal to the critical point then cooling it slowly to make it softer and more workable. sometimes the hot steel is covered in an insulate and allowed to cool overnight of for a couple of days...
hardening is done by heating to the critical temp, at which point the steel is no longer magnetic, then cooling it rapidly in oil or water. too quickly can cause excess stress and cracks. modern steels rarely are hardened by full immersion in cool water. hardening produces a steel that can be brittle, so this hardness is then tempered to reduce internal stresses producing a more shock resistant material.
tempering is done by reheating the hardened steel to well below the critical, holding it there for a controlled time to relieve the stresses then allowing it to cool in air. tempering reduced the hardness as well as the fragility. hard edges last longer but can flake off bits or even shatter like glass, a tad too soft is better than a tad too hard. you can bend a bent knife back to shape, but not one that has snapped.
specialty alloys can have variations in the heat treatment cycles including using liquified gases for sub-cooling to produce known properties and crystal formations. morden steels have fairly strict time and temperature regimes for annealing, hardening, and tempering that are digitally controlled with little room for deviation.
heck, asian smiths have been known to produce repeatable differential heat treatments, differential hardening, and tempering in one step by pouring boiling water from a teapot onto the edge of a weapon that has been heated to the correct color as judged by the master smith. this produces a softer less fragile spine graduating to a harder edge supported by the tougher spine. only takes a few decades of training and practice.
it's all a balancing game, you must be hard enough to hold an edge thru a reasonable amount of use before it must be resharpened, but not so hard it snaps or loses chunks of the edge. the blade must be also tough enogh to flex and return to shape without either getting permanent set, or snapping. again, like in japanese swords, a bend can be field corrected by a swordsman, a fracture cannot.
p.s. - don't take 'forged in fire' as an instruction manual in how to
produce or test, or use a good knife or sword.
Thank-you yet again Ibrahiim, well done indeed. I noted mention of her blog in your earlier post (15) but I didn't read beyond that chapter on Bygate.
She is hosting an event on the 17th in Gateshead: it's for her latest book but I think I will go and talk to her anyway. She appears to be mining the same seams as us in many places. Her intent is fiction based on the SB swordmakers so I'm sure she will welcome an opportunity to swap notes.
I wondered what had happened to Jim - he was conspicuous by his absence - but he return emailed me to say he will be back soon.
I'm going to – hopefully – talk to Jenny Morrison tomorrow (head of archaeology for Newcastle county) if she emerges from the pile-up of work during her vacation.
I've had no response from the Royal Armouries, or the two Vintons I emailed at the weekend; still, patience prospers.
This is the opening chapter of my intended local-history book, starting by describing a little bit of the mystery and science behind a perfect sword-blade. I introduce this here because I know there will be many folk reading this thread who know a great deal more about the subject than I do, and will hopefully correct any/the mistakes I may have made.
It started in India around the 6th century BCE and it was fundamentally the 'crucible steel' developed by Huntsman at Sheffield in 1742; although, even to this day, and despite our scientific techniques, there remains much that is not understood or replicable about Wootz steel, which is both superplastic and very hard: precisely what you require for sword-blades. However, when you consider that India's iron-age began almost a thousand years earlier than ours, then their superiority all begins to look a little unsurprising.
To make Wootz, they sealed cubes of malleable (or pasty) iron-ore into melon shaped clay containers, along with specific chopped-up dried wood and leaves – not charcoal though which is no substitute, as it does not contain the carbon nanotubes which are vital – then put them in an oven and blasted them with high temperatures for four hours; removed the result and cooked it in a charcoal fire for several hours until the excess carbon was extracted. Hey Presto: Wootz!
It wasn't until the 1600s that high carbon alloys even became apparent over here in Western Europe; although once the Crusaders got under-way, they became painfully aware of the incredible characteristics of swords used in Persia made from Indian Wootz, and referred to as Damascus blades.
This Damascening of blades made of Wootz steel was not an entirely mechanical process – based on folding and/or twisting the steel during forging (known as 'billet' welding), and occasionally acid etching – it was also crucially dependant on the unique molecular properties of the Wootz.
Very simply put (if that's possible) it is now understood to be a eutectoid steel: analyses tell of the presence of carbon nanotubes enclosing nanowires of cementite, with the trace elements/impurities of vanadium, molybdenum, chromium, etc. contributing to their creation during cycles of heating/cooling/forging. This resulted in a hard, high carbon steel that remained malleable.
Of course, there does require the forging process, with its complex rules regarding the quenching of the hot steel in order to temper it, and therein exists a whole alternative science-fiction with 3,000 years of secrecy and fairy-tales surrounding it; and among those myths, some may well have contained an element (pun intended) of truth, for example:
According to Dr. Helmut Nickel, curator of the Arms and Armour Division of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, legend had it that the best blades were quenched in ''dragon blood.'' However, a little closer to reality – but only just: in a recent letter to the museum, a Pakistani gentleman told of a sword held in his family for many generations, quenched by its Afghan makers in donkey urine. This concurs with some medieval blade-smiths over here, who recommended the urine of redheaded boys or, more realistically, from a ''three-year-old goat fed only ferns for three days.'' Were someone to analyze these bodily fluids, they may well discover the presence of elements pertinent to metallurgy; then again, modern scientists may not have the time or inclination to start breeding goats... or red headed boys.
I found the contact number and called John G. Bygate today. I wanted to know if he had continued research once his book was published - he didn't - and also if he objected to his work being made publically accessible via this forum, and he was, as I had anticipated, very pleased to know his brief endeavour has now been disseminated amongst interested parties. I also gave him the link to this forum thread so he could monitor proceedings; and maybe offer input should the need arise.
I just wish I could have done the same with Mr. Bezdek; I have so many questions I might have put to him.
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