EAA Research Consultant
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Still intrigued by your query, I have looked further, and though I presently lack my notes from many earlier researches into this topic, I wanted to add more.
It is difficult to accurately fathom the Shotley Bridge situation without considering the matters of the Hounslow Heath mills, which seem to have ceased around c. 1620-30 with King Charles I bringing in expatriate German smiths of Solingen who had fled to Holland. Contrary to beliefs about religious persecution, the devastations of the Thirty Years war was more the cause, as the industry there was severely curtailed.
q.v. "British Military Swords" Vol. 1, 1600-1660, Stuart Mowbray, 2013.
Brilliantly researched, written and fantastically illustrated, there is a chapter on the Hounslow sword mills, and on p.244, a Shotley Bridge hanger (held in York Castle, #CA810) which is dated 1689, marked SHOTLEY BRIDG.
It has the characteristic 'running wolf' (termed fox in English description).
The Hounslow operations were quite turbulently impacted by the English Civil Wars of mid 17tyh century, and effectively seem to have ceased by 1658. The last swords there seem to have been navy hangers,
and a thorough paper by Leslie Southwick is presented in,
"The London Cutler Benjamin Stone and the Hounslow Sword and Blade Manufacturers", ("Royal Armouries", vol. 6, #1, 2009, pp.12-61.
Moving to the Shotley Bridge situation, I found a very good account online in "The Victoria History of the County of Durham" Vol. 2, ed. William Page (1907). p.288,
Basically other references note that the Shotley Bridge operation probably began around 1685 (the sword previously described 1689), but it seems it had troubled existence. Many of the German makers had returned to Germany after the end of the Hounslow enterprise, but some still remained as well as some English makers who had been involved, in other minor operations. By 1691 it seems that the Hollow Sword Blade Co. was formed to import and fabricate 'hollow blade rapiers' and many blades were to be brought in and furbished at Shotley Bridge. One of the former Hounslow makers, Hermann Mohll, was called back from Germany by the Company and was bringing in some 100 blades.
With profound concerns on importing these, Mohll was arrested and other intrigues continued.
By 1702, the company which was then known as the HOLLOW SWORD BLADE CO. failed with the suicide of its founder. Interestingly the Shotley Bridge term was marked on the blades along with the 'running wolf' on blades of hanger type. Still, 'hollow' simply referred to ground down blade faces to lighten blade.
While the sword business itself technically had failed, a group of shrewd business enterpreneurs took the name Hollow Sword Co. and apparently operated as a bank covertly to fund an enterprise as the South Sea Company. It seems that Herman Mohll in 1703 moved the actual sword business to London (I believe Birmingham technically).
q.v. "The Hollow Sword Blade Co. and Sword Making at Shotley Bridge"
need to locate author details.
In these times, 'South Seas' referred to South America, and involved was trade, which included providing slaves to these countries as well as the Central American.
In addition to these scandalous dealings were acquisitions of Irish lands confiscated from Jacobites in these struggles, by 1708 beginning to unravel, and in 1720 with the 'South Sea Bubble' collapse.
Hermann Mohll, in Birmingham had anglicized his name to MOLE, and Henry Nock, a worker at Shotley Bridge had gone to London to begin the fabrication of firearms, later becoming Wilkinson Sword Co. who acquired Mole in 1921.
It seems that the Shotley Bridge hangers were marked as previously noted and with running wolf.
If you could provide a photo and details perhaps we might better determine the plausibility of it being of that provenance.
The 'hollow blade' term is simply for 'hollow ground' and has nothing to do with the fanciful notions that these were actually hollow. I have seen the tales of blades hollow and filled with mercury which would move in the direction of the blow adding kinetic force purportedly etc.
These matters are as you can see a bit complicated as far as this history, but working with actual examples to be considered we can better analyze their character and probable date and source.
Looking forward to hearing from you and more on your planned project.