Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
While we have begun discussion on the use of crescent moons marking blades prompted by the present and outstanding thread on Scottish basket hilts, it seems other details pertaining to blades are apparent.
In accord with most references on Scottish basket hilts, as often with works focused on hilts, the subject of blades is typically avoided. Other authors have chosen to avoid discussions of these due to the wide variation of forms from trade and otherwise obtained blades.
I wish to offer some notes here pertaining to some examples of blades occurring on basket hilt examples so as to avoid detracting from discussion toward the hilts of these on the other thread.
In this particular example, the hilt is in my opinion of the time period estimated 1690-1710, and a magnificent Stirling example. The blade is also of course of German manufacture, and probably indeed of that period. It seems these elliptical central fuller forms are also found in schiavona of this period in a number of cases, and I would note many of these blades also found later use in North Africa in the kaskara.
I would like to point out the inscription 1*5*1*5 , and note that this is of course not a date. These are gemetrically applied number combinations which were used, often with talismanically oriented motif and inscriptions.
It is suggested in Wagner (1967, p76) that these were often used by certain makers in particular, and notes that '1515' is recorded as used by the Solingen smith Mathias Wundes, of that long standing family there.
However, Mathias worked 1750-1784.
From: "Die Klingenmarke 1414(1441) and Related Numerical Signs"
Dr. Walter Rose
Zeitschrifte fur Historiche Waffen und Kostumkunde
Vol.14, XIV, pp.131-133, 1935-36
It seems that this inscription is indeed of the style in which such numbers were applied in this magical or occult sense, as described as well by Blackmore (1971), Aylward (1945) and Mann (1962) . What is curious are the numbers in which the ones are without serif, and the fives are rather in script with scrolled flourish, done in the style of 18th century magical motif of the 18th century.
Since the hilt on this sword is clearly of 1690-1710, and though the blade also seems of this period, would we necessarily adhere to the singularly noted reference to this number used by Mathias Wundes?
The Rose reference (cited by these later writers) is the only one specifying this maker to this number. Aylward (1945, p.104) states these numbers do not appear to have been the monopoly of any one maker.
That I tend to agree with, however, it is clear that the practice of applying these numbers in that magical connotation continued through the 18th century. I would be inclined to think this blade is of the period suggested but address the numbers and their peculiarities simply in exercise here.
I wanted to point out this significance here, and invite other examples and observations to these kinds of inscriptions found on these amazing hilts from Scotland and Great Britain.
Salaams Jim...This is indeed interesting (I dive into library to study again your blade marks registry) ...and the detail on the blades must be considered along with the hilts.
These magic numbers I am more familiar with in the Islamic blade forms and it is fascinating to see the detail appear on European Swords and could they in fact be related to this ~ In ancient times, the pentacle was revered as a symbol of life, the five
classical elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water , joined with Spirit to create life. Wearing the pentagram was and is viewed as protection and as a talisman of divine life and good health..The figure 5 is a lucky number in many different parts of the world thus I point to the possibility of this ....note that the figure one is also interesting and perhaps related to the act of drawing a pentagram where the pen only needs to touch the paper once to inscribe all the sides of the 5 pointed star in the circle....and each number is interspersed with a star...albeit 8 lines but perhaps it is representative only...and of course the pentagon is a giver of life as well as a destroyer...thus the sword.
The blade origins of basket Swords are so diverse. As you know they start probably in Solingen... but fan out all over Europe....Earlier Sinclair must also be considered since he was using basket hilts very early...please see
and on that page a sketch of some of the 800 Scottish Highland Mercs wrongly named Irishmen perhaps the root cause of hilts later being refered to as Irish Basket Hilts...seen in 1630 ad near Stettin assisting the Swedish.
Then a rich Scottish banker bankroles a load of swords and guns from the French for the Jacobites but half get sunk courtesy of the English Navy....Blades appear with moons but in the European shape they are different; more clear cut and precise than the Dukie moons of North Africa...and the further we look into Arabia the rougher cut seem to be the moons....
It has always amazed me, however, how close the blades are in the Schiavona style....
For info I include the following reference http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basket-hilted_sword
I add as fuel to the complexity the following from Wiki encyclopedia
the conundrum Andrew Ferrara
Andrew Ferrara or, more correctly, Andrea Ferrara was a make of sword-blade highly esteemed in Scotland in the 16th and 17th centuries. Sir Walter Scott notes that the name of Andrea de Ferrara was inscribed "on all the Scottish broadswords that are accounted of peculiar excellence". No historical person of that name can be identified, but Scott reports a general belief that Ferrara was a Spanish or Italian artificer who was brought to Scotland in the early 16th century, by either James IV or V, to instruct the Scots in the manufacture of the high-quality steel blades current in Renaissance Europe.
According to some sources the name of the manufacturer was Andrea dei Ferrari of Belluno, according to others, Andrew Ferrars or Ferrier of Arbroath.
The term came to be used generically as a term for the Scottish basket-hilted broadsword.
Their method of manufacture remains much a mystery, but it is suspected that they were made by interlamination, a process of welding the blade in alternate layers of iron and steel. Andrew Ferrara blades were special in their extreme flexibility. For instance, it is said that Andrew Ferrara, the manufacturer of the blades, always carried one wrapped up in his bonnet. They rarely broke, even under immense force and when used to deal horizontal blows.
The reference further opens out and the reader can explore the old style fighting techniques with this weapon..
In this regard I make a plea to keep it together somehow so that the thread can be complete rather than split so ...otherwise it will be like having a huge treatise on axe handles....and another on axe heads? Perhaps there is a technique whereby two threads may be fused together later so that a whole all round concept can be seen under one roof?..Just my two penneth worth
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.