EAA Research Consultant
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Thank you for adding additional detail and comments as well as the pictures. As I mentioned, I have researched on these topics off and on since about the 70s (my copy of Aylward I have had since around 1976), and the complexities of the English and German swordsmiths have been at the fore many times. In those days there were no computers or web, and research was slow mail, book search with stores and inter library loan processes.
Still, material was to be found, though the very nature of most of the Hounslow, Hollow Sword Blade Co and of course Shotley Bridge relied on information at hand in old accounts and much of it quite controversial.
Inevitably there are misperceptions, misinformation, and perhaps even deliberately altered or contrived versions of data which became lodged in these accounts.
With the web we can now recheck and cross reference material, and I will say that Ibrahiim is one of our most tenacious searchers in online material. Some may prove less than accurate as we evaluate and discover more, but I do not believe most to be spurious, but as with much at hand, some less accurate than others.
Turning to the blades of Shotley Bridge, I think there are some misconceptions as I look at Aylward (1945, p.33),
"...such Shotley Bridge swords are commonly seen as big double edged weapons bearing the words SHOTLEY BRIDGE in their fullers, and fitted with the 'Walloon hilts' used by cavalry in the Monmouth Rebellion and Marlborough campaign periods, but as the factory always claimed to specialize in 'hollow' blades, small swords mounted with their productions may exist, though it does not seem that the tang marks which might identify them are known.
It looks as if the company imported forgings from Solingen which it ground, tempered and finished in Shotley".
Here I would note that the notion of Walloon type swords for these campaigns would not have been produced at Shotley Bridge which does not seem to have begun until around 1687, but then more likely at Hounslow, which seems to have ceased around 1658. However, the Hounslow mills seem to be more focused on hangers, naval types in particular.
The 'Hollow Sword Blade Co.'was formed as noted earlier in 1688, but did not charter and begin bringing in blades until 1691, apparently to mount rapier blades from the Continent.
Aylward notes (op.cit. p.36),
"...as we deduce from the name, the Hollow Sword Blade Co.' the qualities of the blade with THREE HOLLOWED FACES were beginning to find appreciation, and there is no doubt that cutlers were mounting them, though principally for duelist customers".
On p. 39, Aylward notes that these triple edged (or 'hollow') blades were characteristic of the smallsword. These were of course becoming very popular in place of rapiers.
While the Hollow Sword Blade Co. in name faltered as this was in fact a ruse to operate as a bank for the schemes of the South Sea Company with trade and slaves to South America and real estate confiscations in Ireland.
Shotley Bridge as a sword making entity apparently remained active in some fashion as late as 1808, as Aylward lists names of makers there that late.
Apparantly the mill was closed in 1702 after the arrest of Hermann Mohll for importing German blades (I believe these were the 'hollow' blades) and reopened in 1716 ...his son William sold to Robert Oley in 1724. I think this is when the business moved to Birmingham outside London (in 1690 there was a warehouse at the sign of the Five Beds in a London warehouse at New Street near Shoe Lane operated by the Shotley Bridge group).
It does not seem that the small sword blades were marked to Shotley, or anyone else as they were imported either finished or ground there.
It also seems that small swords were primarily furbished by jewelers or such outfitters who obtained blades at these kinds of outlets.
I am curious now that I think of it, of the Birmingham maker Samuel Harvey who produced hangers and sword blades around mid 18th c. He used a running wolf with the initials SH enclosed as a blade mark. It seems some have suggested 'SH' (= Shotley?) or more plausibly his own initials.
Interesting though.......the running wolf used at Hounslow and by the Shotley Bridge makers......though not seen after 17th c. maybe this was to recall those makers in a spurious application?