Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Tyneside. North-East England
Talk of many things
I have an open question here to all interested: what markings can be found on English hollowed short-swords i.e. the colichmarde variety and its successor? If I had Mr. Aylward's book I could probably answer that myself.
Referring to David Richardson's book - which I do have (I wish I could find the time to pdf it in its entirety; although I can put my hands on occasional copies, if anyone is very keen to own one I can probably acquire one for them): he states that SB only ever produced blades - never finishing the sword, as that was regarded as beneath them... they were only interested in the business end of the sword. So, if hollowed small-sword blades were coming from SB then Thomas Carnforth, the Newcastle cutler, would definitely be finishing and selling them locally, and otherwise. I need to get around the big houses hereabouts and look for family heirlooms. I think I'll try an advertisement/request for info in our local paper first.
Can I rewind a tad and refer you all to that picture of Oley holding the last sword ever made in SB - at around 1838. It is quite distinctly what is described as a hangar with a cast brass hilt. (Incidentally, that photo was taken by David Richardson who was, of course, family. Oley took the sword down from the wall to be photographed holding it.) If they never finished swords in SB, how come Oley is holding a finished one? Was it sent off to be hilted then returned to his grandfather? Did we have a cutler hereabouts in the early 1800s; something else I must check.
Mention by Ibrahiim of Thomas Bewick (our much venerated local engraver) reminds me of a Beilby engraved glass vessel that once resided in the showroom of Wilkinson Sword Ltd. and read: 'Success to the Swordmakers' on one side, and on the other were the initials of William and Ann Oley with the date 1767. How did WS get it, and where is it now?
(It is something else that keeps implying that WS themselves always believed that Mohll of SB became Mole of Birmingham, which – apparently – we now know is not the case.)
However, of more importance is the date of 1767 which doesn't suggest that the Oleys were struggling; and also to that end, we know this:
"Situated thus, says Mr. Ryan, having abundance of employment and great remuneration, the Germans, and especially the Oleys, the principal proprietors, enjoyed a long-continued tide of prosperity. Their workmen had large wages, yet their own profits were very high ; the demand for their articles was insatiable ; a journey once a year to London included the whole of their travelling expenses ; and they, there-fore, soon acquired considerable property. When Mr. William Oley died in 1808, nearly the whole of the village and the immediate adjoining fields and gardens were left to his sons."
Monthly Chronicle of North-Country Lore and Legend. Vol II, No. 15. May 1888.