EAA Research Consultant
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
I have always wondered on the Passau/later Solingen wolf, which seems to have its origins in Passau quite early in around 14th century I believe, need to recheck that history. But the point is, these chop marked images are notoriously individual, invariably as a matter of fact.
They were clearly not makers marks or stamps, but suggestions are of course that they were originally some sort of guild mark. Yet they seem to be almost regularly applied, but using chisel, not stamped.
I recall once trying to find any blade which could be proven to the same maker or shop with matching wolf marks. I don't think there ever were, but once there might have been....still need to retrace notes.
The chart showing variations with years is from Wagner, "Cut & Thrust Weapons", Prague, 1967. Eduard Wagner was a museum curator, and appears to have compiled these examples from sword blades he had seen or catalogued, but that is just my presumption. There has never been any sort of pattern or consistency to any of these, so chronological development, as implied in the chart, is completely implausible.
It is almost as if the chiseling of the 'wolf' was an imbuement, and its artistic value irrelevant, but temporally observed as perhaps talismanic as much as indicative of quality. Possibly the worker who emplaced the mark felt a certain individual embellishment as a kind of personal touch.
We have seen this in many well known markings, which sometimes have deviations or nuances which might signify different family member or workshop or possibly even a heraldic kind of placement. We can only speculate as we search records, public listings and genealogical data, and evaluate examples on weapons as they are discovered.
I think the Harvey use of the fox was brilliant, and well placed in the history of this canine marking phenomenon, and the lore of swords and blades.
Still working on the problem of the Shotley blades. It seems that the Hollow Sword Blade Co. was of course a front to syndicate a bank for some very dubious ventures. The Bank of England held the monopoly on banking, so the idea of setting up sword making in these regions was somewhat under those auspices. With the advent of the political struggles that were then developing, one cannot help thinking that a supply source was intended with Jacobite leanings.
As far as finding small sword blades which are English, there are surely references which do list makers, but most attention seems given to the hilt makers which were often jewelers, goldsmiths and various outfitters.
What is most significant on the listings of Shotley in Aylward is that it refers to 'sword cutlers', and of these, the Mohl's were listed as GRINDERS and proprietors, and the Oley's listed as BLADESMITHS and proprietors.
It seems that the idea of bringing in forged and incomplete blades was indeed taking place, as we see from Mohl and his captured shipment from Rotterdam. Holland was a point of departure for blades from Solingen as the Netherlands were key international arms dealings. Many German smiths from Solingen, so the blades may well have been made there. There are profound similarities in the character of Dutch and English swords of this era.
We need to check "European Court and Hunting Swords" Bashford Dean, 1929, as it has thorough listings of many swords which perhaps might have some clues toward the blades. I don't have copy at hand unfortunately.
Auction sales catalogs such as Bonhams, Christies and others are goldmines of such detail as well.
As noted, we are not noted for brevity here, but sharing as much data as possible presents opportunity for solid thinking in solving these age old mysteries.