Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Thank you for the additional pics of the interesting Culloden House item which Norman posted in #6 and noted as a basket hilted sword. As it was not specifically identified it is interesting to know that it was a horse grenadier sword. I have always considered Robert Docherty's descriptions and detail most reliable, and this is a great example.
The Scottish regiments in the British army were receiving swords made in Birmingham and London for a good number of years before Culloden (1746). One of the first recordings of an actual supplier was 1759, when Nathaniel Jeffries was noted having delivered 3500 broadswords that year ( "Swords for the Highland Regiments 1757-1784" Anthony Darling, 1988 , p.13).
He and Dru Drury were both actually goldsmiths, who according to Darling (p.53) probably subcontracted for finished guards, pommels and blades from Birmingham and assembled them at their workshops in London, contributing their own grips and coverings.
They both stamped the blades with crown over their names in roughly similar location to these fleur de lis stamps and with similar 'artwork'.
In his interesting monograph , "Scottish Swords from the Battlefield at Culloden" (Mowbray, 1971) Lord Archibald Campbell is describing a number of blades from the tragic battle of 1746, which were rather heinously fabricated into a fence. He claims that virtually all the blades, save about two stated from the British, were all Scottish. This is most curious as he describes the blades and types noting, "...another type was a single cutting edge with a broad back. These are in many instances stamped with a FLEUR DE LIS others with a running dog or hare; another is marked HARVEY which cannot be made out of the British Isles, probably".
While we can imagine the running dog? is probably the Solingen wolf, and Harvey is noted by Darling (p53) as the probable source for the 'H' mark found on tangs of disassembled blades from these Scottish regimental swords......the mention of the fleur de lys is compelling.
Also interesting of course is the note regarding these single edged blades and calling it a 'broadsword'. In earlier times the term broadsword was in effect generally used often referring to what we now term 'backswords' as well as the more properly termed double edged blades . Why this is important is that it is generally held that true Scottish broadswords (i.e basket hilts) are invariably double edged . The backsword was favored in the 18th century for British dragoon regiments.
Looking further into European use of the fleur de lys on blades, in the Wallace Collection catalog (Sir James Mann, 1962) item A474 is a German two hand sword of 16th century with deep stamped fleur de lys on each blade face.
In "The Plug Bayonet" (R.D.C.Evans, p.76, #6) is the fleur de lys marking stated as being probably a French state ownership stamp, not the stamp of an individual cutler. It was used for example by some arms producers at Tulle and St Etienne who supplied arms to the Magasin Royal des Armes de Paris from 1666 onward . It is also found on Swiss military bayonets c.1680 so not always French.
The stamped fleur de lys depicted is deeply stamped and bold, not the 'artwork' type seen on our examples.
While all these references do not give us a final answer as to the probable origin of the fleur de lys marks found in common on these blades, the form does suggest they may have been placed on them after being received in England in the parcels of blades auctioned to cutlers. As often the case with trade blades they were likely produced as 'blanks' in Solingen and stamped as signifier of 'lots' or perhaps a quality mark alluding perhaps to the earlier marks in Germany or possibly French associations previously noted .
That is of course one scenario, but the question remains, why does this same mark occur on some blades of swords with apparent Continental provenance? There is the rub, are those simply misidentified or have been transported back across the channel in later dealings?