Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Tyneside. North-East England
Hollow blade marks
To simplify matters in my postings, I want to refer to the tri-form blades - be they colichmarde or otherwise - as history has done and call them Hollow Blades; which, unfortunately, is a poor term, as a hollow in a blade can mean a fuller or simply mean a hollow ground edge re. sharpening techniques; but nevertheless...
So my question is this: of the English hollow blade short-swords in existence today, do they feature any blade markings? If so, can anyone tell me what those markings are?
Coming back to Shotley: I've been considering the issue of a three-wheel grinding machine, inasmuch as I cannot find any evidence that they brought one with them; the declaration cited in the Charter by Sir Stephen Evance only states that they used such a machine in Solingen - not that they brought one with them. However, let's be realistic here: even if they didn't bring one with them, and it seems reasonable to suppose such an enterprise was impractical, they would certainly not be at a loss to manufacture one in Shotley Bridge once they got settled. So, the top and bottom of it all is that they could have produced innumerable hollow blade short-swords, if that was what was demanded.
But! The three original smiths who arrived in SB in 1685 had to be supplemented by an additional nineteen families two years later; so if the first three had no experience of the specialist grinding machine - which is not unlikely, considering they had been in England since the Hounslow days - then the new arrivals certainly did. Yet bringing nineteen families and no grinding machine indicates that the original enterprise of producing hollow blade short-swords was abandoned almost immediately as a result of the inevitable enormous demand for military blades.
Having established a company and acquired Crown approval the Company changed hands rather quickly, and two members were removed and new names introduced: such as Sir Stephen Evance; this was the transition from producing Hollow Blades as a primary enterprise to the beginnings of the dubious business practices thereafter.
At the SB end, I think that being exclusively able to supply hollow blade swords might have been of some prestige, but there is no way that it could compare fiscally with arming thousands and thousands of soldiers. Although, according to the Cotesworth documents, they were being screwed for every penny, to the extent they couldn't pay their bills; mind-you, that is a common enough excuse amongst workers throughout history, and considering Oley's wealth later on, at worst purely temporary.
This is why I am interested to learn what markings were on the hollow blade short-swords here in England at the turn of the century, is it not almost certain that they came from Germany. (When did they begin producing them in Klingenthal? It must have been decades earlier. Did we not import from there?) The statement made to the courts when Mohll was on trial was that the blades found in the river were of a type only produced in Shotley Bridge. Who says? How did they know? Why were the blades not Solingen products? After-all, the ship was coming from Rotterdam. Was that purely to evade a smuggling charge? Very grey area!
The more you delve into this business, the murkier it becomes, unless the obvious is not that obvious after-all.