Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Tyneside. North-East England
cabbages and kings
Hello Folks. It appears you have been at SB Ibrahiim; I began researching there about a dozen years ago and then again just last week, it is remarkable just how advanced is the gentrification of the place, often at the expense of heritage unfortunately; there is nothing to be learned from visiting the place now.
It was Richard Bezdek who discovered the earlier start at SB (i.e.1685 not 1687) but I think we can be certain no-one else was making swords with a running fox or wolf over here before that, as Ibrahiim so succinctly detailed in a post on a much earlier thread, 'it was never used at Hounslow'. I suppose it is just possible it was used at Greenwich, that I don't know – does anyone? Either way, it certainly wasn't used at SB in 1596.
With further regard to the use of the fox: Samuel Harvey commandeered the image of the fox to bestow prestige and quality on his blades. No doubt the dreadful reputation of Birmingham blades, back when he was starting out, persuaded him to purloin it. He always had initials in the outline however, so there's no doubt they are not SB blades; although a lot of reputable dealers in this country will tell you they are. I have even seen the H for Harvey altered to look like a B (not hard is it?).
Oleys in later years (1750s onwards) were using a distinctly singular fox impression: an auction last year sold just such a blade on behalf of an ex. SB resident who had first-hand knowledge of its provenance and indicated it was made by the Oleys.
I've found so much detail that is pertinent that I really don't think I can post it all, but maybe I can add what I've found that is missing so far - such as Bertrams and Vintings. We imported a lot of Germans to develop our lead and copper mining up here in Northern England (and probably everywhere else I suspect) in the 1500s (there was a lead mine at Ryton Village which is just minutes from SB) so I suspect Vintings may well be descended from those early settlers. Equally, the Bertrams name was in the area long before SB was developed and as a blast-furnace expert, and owner, he may well have been involved in the pre-development of the village, anticipating the sword-makers' arrivals. We had a cutler here in Newcastle also – Thomas Carnforth – who was closely involved with Mohll (testified on his behalf during Mohll's imprisonment) and was equally certainly involved with Johannes Dell (John Bell) in setting up the syndicate, as he definitely needed a ready supply of 'hollow blades'.
With regard to the yearly output of the village: I am sure they made suitable swords for the Jacobites back in 1688 and onwards; just as I am certain they made them for Parliament. I think they simply made swords for a living and did not care where they went or who used them. Let's face it: after enduring the Thirty Years War, they would definitely want to keep their heads down and get on with their work. As we move along in time, outside factors impacted to a greater and a lesser degree, but so long as the mill-wheel kept turning they kept eating.
In 1690, it was stated by Sir Stephen Evance in a petition for a royal charter that the Germans were to be using their mills and engines expressly to produce hollow blades:
Our said subjects, at their great charge and management, have imported from foreign parts, divers persons, who have exercised in their own country the said art of making hollow sword blades by the use of certain newly invented instruments, engines and mills and by the contrivance of our said subjects, have prevailed upon them to expose themselves, to the hazard of their lives to impart to our said subjects their art and mystery. I am certain they had absolutely no intention of disclosing any secrets to us Brits.
Also in 1690, from an advertisement run for a week in the London Gazette:
Whereas great industry hath been used in erecting a manufacture for hollow sword blades at Newcastle [Shotley Bridge] by several able workmen brought from Germany, which now being brought to perfection, the undertakers thereof have thought fit to settle [set up] a warehouse at Mr Isaac Hadley’s, at the [sign of the] Five Bells; New Street, near Shoe Lane [in London] whereas callers can be furnished with all sorts of sword blades at reasonable prices.
Thirteen years later this appeared:
The Hollow Sword Blade company has lately received a considerable quantity of sword blades made at their mills at Shotley Bridge near Newcastle upon Tyne. They are now on sale at their warehouse in New St. near Fetter Lane.