EAA Research Consultant
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Keith, I just noticed your previous post in which we crossed posts.
It is truly puzzling on the existence of blade producing in Shotley Bridge even in the mid 18th century let alone the 19th. The only swords I have seen marked SHOTLEY BRIDG are of 17th c.
As I mentioned Samuel Harvey using the fox/wolf, I find that many of his swords are simply marked HARVEY or SH, without fox. In those times about mid 18th c. there were only several makers producing swords for the govt. and they were in Birmingham. By the 1780s and into the early years of the 19th there were what became known as the 'sword scandals' concerning the quality of British blades and profound import of German blades. The key proponents were Thomas Gill; James Wooley and Henry Osborne. Until 1790s there were few other blade makers, and JJ Runkel was a German importing blades there in London.
It seems possible that small sword blades were either produced or finished at Shotley Bridge, but although Aylward names makers there, it seems odd more is not mentioned. In checking "The Rapier and Smallsword 1400-1820" AVB Norman, there is entirely no mention of Shotley Bridge nor Hollow Sword Blade Co.; also in "Schools and Masters of Fence" by Egerton Castle, 1885, no mention of any of these.
If these three entities were indeed prevalent or even present in producing swords for fence or dueling after the earlier period of around late 17th c. Aylward mentions, they would have been mentioned in these highly detailed sources.
Egerton Castle does mention the triangular blades (op. cit. p.238),
"...about the period of the Restoration the triangular fluted blade came into fashion in England, having been first adopted by the French between 1650-1660".
Clearly the triangular blade seemed a good prospect to create the Hollow Sword Blade Co., but the term 'hollow' seems to have totally escaped writers of the times, leading to the nonsensical notions which were later perpetuated by Victorian writers into 'sword lore'.
On April 10th, 2012 in one of our discussions, Ibrahiim found and posted this:
from "Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland" concerning the confiscated lands in Jacobite situations.
By T.U.Sadlier, Fri. 21 April, 1933, on the Hollow Sword Blade Co.,
"...engaged in the manufacture of sword blades hollowed out to contain a quantity of mercury, which falling to the inside of the point at every blow, gave added force to the stroke".
This illustrates the kind of fanciful nonsense often created by writers in earlier times, particularly the Victorian period, and this example most certainly constitutes the kind of spurious material often among data collected on these topics. It is included simply to offer perspective to the misunderstanding of the term 'hollow' as to sword blades.
Truly a great subject, and hope we can find more on just how long the Shotley Bridge entity really DID exist; why they do not appear in any blade making lists after 17th c. and what kind of blades did they produce (or import)?