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Old 31st January 2010, 03:06 AM   #1
Cathey
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Default Basket hilted swords

Hi guys

My first love has always been the basket hilted sword. I do not post very often as I have little spare time working hard to pay for my collecting habit. However, between Jim McDougall and my husband’s insistence I thought I should make more of an effort. I would like to start a thread devoted to Basket hilted swords. Note I have not said Scottish as there is a fine line between the Scottish and British basket, often it is difficult to say with any certainly which is which. I have attempted to start a thread on this subject ton other forums however there has been little interest, so here goes.

I currently have 20 Basket hilted swords in my ranging in age from mid 16th century to the end of the reign of Queen Victoria, which is supposed to be my cut off date.

Reference material, from my library:
SWORDS AND SWORD MAKERS OF ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND, BEZDEK, Richard H. Not bad general reference.
SCOTTISH WEAPONS & FORTIFICATIONS 1100-1800, CALDWELL, David H. (again general)
HIGHLAND DRESS, ARMS AND ORNAMENT, CAMPBELL, Lord Archibald
SCOTTISH SWORDS FROM THE BATTLEFIELD AT CULLODEN, CAMPBELL, Lord Archibald
Scottish Arms and Armour (Shire Collections) (Paperback) by Fergus Cannan (more a history book)
SWORDS FOR THE HIGHLAND REGIMENTS 1757 – 1784, DARLING, Anthony D.
WEAPONS OF THE HIGHLAND REGIMENTS Historical Arms Series No.33, DARLING, Anthony D.
Ancient scottish Weapons a series of ddrawings by the late james drummond
THE SCOTTISH DIRK Historical Arms Series No 26 Paperback Second Printing 1993 Museum Restoration Service, FORMAN, James D.
BRITISH BASKET-HILTED SWORDS: A TYPOLOGY OF BASKET-TYPE SWORD HILTS, MAZANSKY (C.) (Probably the best reference book to come on the market).
BATTLE WEAPONS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, NEUMANN, George G. (excellent general reference to early British Swords)
EUROPEAN WEAPONS AND ARMOUR From the Renaissance to the Industrial Revolution. OAKESHOTT, Ewart
SCOTTISH SWORDS AND DIRKS an illustrated reference guide to Scottish Edged Weapons, WALLACE, John
SCOTTISH ARMS MAKERS. A biographical dictionary of makers of firearms, edged weapons and armour working in Scotland from the 15th Century to 1870, WHITELAW, Charles E.
Scottish Sword 1600-1945: An Illustrated History (Paperback), WITHERS, Harvey J.S. (great pictures)
THE SWORDS AND THE SORROWS. An exhibition to commemorate the Jacobite rising of 1745 and the battle of Culloden 1746.

If any one can recommend anything not on this list let us know.

A friend of ours the Baron of Earlshall is writing what will be the definitive work on early basket hilted swords. It will be several large volumes and stop at the end of the 1700 hundreds (18th Century).

Now for a basket hilt to start this thread:

Date Circa 1540 - 1560 (16th-17th Century)
Nationality British
Over Length Overall 36 ¼ “(87.6 cm)
Blade length blade 32” (81.6 cm)
Hilt widest point The hilt is 6 ¼ “(16 cm).

Description BASKET HILT British backsword. Three segments of the guard (each comprised of three vertical bars) are linked by two small junction plates. The upper tips insert into the large, hollow Spherical pommel. The holes into which they insert have been enlarged to allow restoration of the grip and tang button. The grip is a replacement as is the tang. The thin single edged blade is contemporary with the hilt.

General Remarks
This sword was also used by Scots in the English Civil War. A similar example was excavated on the site of Basing House which was destroyed in 1645 and another recovered from under the Mary Rose in 1545.

The Baron of Earshall has requested pictures of this sword for his book and believes it to be English c.1540-50.
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Old 31st January 2010, 04:50 AM   #2
laEspadaAncha
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Hi Cathey,

Nice sword, and great thread!

I swear your thread gives me a sense of deja vu - if the date you had joined wasn't this last October, I'd be certain I had seen this thread a couple years ago. Anyway, as I had just today tracked down a couple pictures of my own to send to someone here, I'll happily share my own (and lone!) example:

Scottish Basket Hilted Broadsword
Marked to 42nd Regiment of Foot (Black Watch)
Date: ca. 1790-1800
OAL: (approx.) 38 1/2 inches
Blade length: (approx.) inches 32 3/8








Last edited by laEspadaAncha : 31st January 2010 at 06:49 AM.
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Old 31st January 2010, 06:03 AM   #3
Cathey
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Hi LaEspadaAncha

Very nice sword, I have not seen a pattern sword actually marked to the 42nd before. Now you have me thinking abaout the black watch I will post the first of three that I have.

Date Circa 1750-70 (18th Century)
Nationality Scottish Black Watch 42nd Highland Regiment

English basket-hilted backsword A Scottish military basket hilted backsword issued to the 42nd Highlanders, circa 1750-1770, older straight single edged fullered blade marked FARARA. Regulation hilt, panels pierced with triangular and circular openings. Truncated conical pommel (marked with an ?) with special button, wire bound leather grip.

If anyone can work out what is on the pommel I would be very grateful. I think they are numbers.

Cheers Cathey
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Old 31st January 2010, 03:05 PM   #4
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Beautiful sword. I know there are a couple Black Watch swords around here, captured in 1797. I believe one is in Government hands, and out of reach for mere mortals, but I think I might have seen it once. There might be another in private hands, I'll check if its still around and hasn't left via the EB way. If I find it, I'll post some pics.

Best

M

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cathey
Hi LaEspadaAncha

Very nice sword, I have not seen a pattern sword actually marked to the 42nd before. Now you have me thinking abaout the black watch I will post the first of three that I have.

Date Circa 1750-70 (18th Century)
Nationality Scottish Black Watch 42nd Highland Regiment

English basket-hilted backsword A Scottish military basket hilted backsword issued to the 42nd Highlanders, circa 1750-1770, older straight single edged fullered blade marked FARARA. Regulation hilt, panels pierced with triangular and circular openings. Truncated conical pommel (marked with an ?) with special button, wire bound leather grip.

If anyone can work out what is on the pommel I would be very grateful. I think they are numbers.

Cheers Cathey
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Old 31st January 2010, 04:33 PM   #5
Jim McDougall
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Cathey and Chris thank you so much!!!! This is absolutely wonderful, I've been hoping to get something going on Scottish basket hilts, and you both come in with Black Watch examples!!!!! Magnificent examples both, and Cathey, thank you for the comprehensive and detailed bibliography on the subject.
Its great to know that another book on Scottish baskethilts is in process, and this is long awaited, especially on those developmental styles up until the '45. Naturally after that and the proscription, most baskethilts fell into the military classification. As noted, the Mazansky reference is probably one of the most comprehensive resources on typology to date.

Cathey, thank you for sharing the outstanding example of these very early basket hilts. There has always been a great deal of confusion concerning the development of the Scottish baskethilt, and I think Claude Blair has done a great job on clarifying much of it in his work in the David Caldwell book.
Naturally much of the nonsense that was once held, such as the ancestry of the baskethilt deriving from the schiavona of the Dalmatians in Venice, which arose in the romanticized notions of some early collectors, has been put to rest.

One thing I would really like to learn more on, and hopefully we can develop here, is perspective on the symbolism often imbued in the work in these Scottish hilts. Whitelaw was probably the first to suggest that Jacobite symbols were covertly emplaced in the piercings and styling in these hilts, and to my knowledge this subject has not been approached in any depth since.

I recall years ago the subject intrigued me, and I set out on a course trying to discover more on this esoteric symbolism. One of the most interesting to me at the time was that of the heart shaped piercings in the saltires of the hilts. I contacted a number of sources including Professor Zygulski in Poland and Mr. Blair himself, and while they considered the subject interesting, conceded it had not been sufficiently researched to comment. As my search continued even Dr. Mazansky, whose notably important book was in progress at the time, pointed out that his interest was more in classification and typology.

Some time ago there were some discussions brought up concerning Jacobite symbols, one being the five point star, but stalled far before productive ideas gained impetus. The subject has since been dormant to the best of my knowledge.
I am hoping that here might look into the development of the Scottish hilts, the styling and forms as well as the symbolism I have mentioned.

With these outstanding examples of these Black Watch baskethilts, it is interesting to consider the profound influence of the heirloom Scottish hilts to the swords used by this incredibly important Scottish regiment.

The military swords in the 1750-70 period were typically produced in England by makers such as Jeffries and Drury in Birmingham if memory serves, and were faithfully designed with Scottish style baskethilts, as seen with the example shown by Cathey, but clearly with heirloom blade as seen with ANDREA FERARA markings. If I am not mistaken, these type hilts were often attributed to the Black Watch, as her excellent example supports.

Manolo, absolutely fascinating to hear of these Black Watch baskethilts there!!! I hope you can find more on them. It seems this regiment was quite represented in the America's, and it would be great to know more on thier presence there in San Juan....it seems I once saw an article about them in Georgia (USA).

It should be noted that during the 18th century, the basket hilt sword was favored for the cavalry, and prevalent with dragoon regiments such as the Royal North British Dragoons (who became known as the Royal Scots Greys).
An interesting feature on many of these hilts is an oval aperture in the hilt which is still debated as to its purpose.

The outstanding example of Black Watch baskethilt that Chris has shared here with regimentally marked hilt, appears to be a heirloom sword, which is a distinct rarity considering the confiscation of weapons after the '45. There is a lot of history here!

It is important to note that the name 'Black Watch' has nothing to do with dark colored tartans or any of those type associations. In the parlance of the times, the term 'black' referred to semantics such as hidden, covert or unknown, and this unit evolved essentially from secret police type groups within the clans. This same application is seen in the term 'skean dubh' for the small knife hidden traditionally in the Highlander stocking. The term 'dubh' in Gaelic = black, literally, but again meant hidden or unseen...skean= knife.
It is said that after the treachery at Glencoe, where Highlanders who had laid down thier arms in a visit were slain, that a small knife kept them armed even after thier regular arms were surrendered.

Thank you again Cathey and Chris!!!!! Fantastic thread and examples!!!

All the very best,
Jim
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Old 7th February 2010, 05:35 AM   #6
Cathey
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Default BASKET-HILT English-Scottish 1714-1750 Brass S hilted

Time to post another one

Type of Weapon BASKET-HILT
Date Circa 1714-1750 (18th Century)
Nationality English/Scottish Grenadier Company
Over Length Overall 101.5 cm
Blade length blade 87cm
Blade widest point Width 4cm at widest point near hilt.
Marks, etc Mark on Sword blade, possibly German trade mark.

Description BASKET-HILT English-Scottish 1714-1750 Brass hilted backsword, makers mark and British broad arrow signifying government property on both sides of blade. English Dragoon, plain tapering single edged blade. The open “S” design was adopted for brass-hilted horseman’s swords. This one has a three-quarter basket and a modified ovoid pommel. The quillon is omitted, but the counter guard’s bar bend out on both corners to protect the hand in that area. Its straight single edged blade has a 23.5 cm false edge and a 64 cm fuller.

General Remarks
Note: In the lately discovered regimental History of the Queens Own Hussars (7th Light dragoons) by C.R.B. Barrett and published in tow volumes in 1914, this type of sword is stated to have been used by that regiment, but at a date no later than 1714.

Cheers Cathey
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Old 12th April 2015, 08:48 PM   #7
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Default Blades Found in Scottish Basket Hilts

In this particular example, the hilt is in my opinion of the time period estimated 1690-1710, and a magnificent Stirling example. The blade is also of course of German manufacture, and probably indeed of that period. It seems these elliptical central fuller forms are also found in schiavona of this period in a number of cases, and I would note many of these blades also found later use in North Africa in the kaskara.

I would like to point out the inscription 1*5*1*5 , and note that this is of course not a date. These are gemetrically applied number combinations which were used, often with talismanically oriented motif and inscriptions.
It is suggested in Wagner (1967, p76) that these were often used by certain makers in particular, and notes that '1515' is recorded as used by the Solingen smith Mathias Wundes, of that long standing family there.
However, Mathias worked 1750-1784.

From: "Die Klingenmarke 1414(1441) and Related Numerical Signs"
Dr. Walter Rose
Zeitschrifte fur Historiche Waffen und Kostumkunde
Vol.14, XIV, pp.131-133, 1935-36

It seems that this inscription is indeed of the style in which such numbers were applied in this magical or occult sense, as described as well by Blackmore (1971), Aylward (1945) and Mann (1962) . What is curious are the numbers in which the ones are without serif, and the fives are rather in script with scrolled flourish, done in the style of 18th century magical motif of the 18th century.

Since the hilt on this sword is clearly of 1690-1710, and though the blade also seems of this period, would we necessarily adhere to the singularly noted reference to this number used by Mathias Wundes?
The Rose reference (cited by these later writers) is the only one specifying this maker to this number. Aylward (1945, p.104) states these numbers do not appear to have been the monopoly of any one maker.

That I tend to agree with, however, it is clear that the practice of applying these numbers in that magical connotation continued through the 18th century. I would be inclined to think this blade is of the period suggested but address the numbers and their peculiarities simply in exercise here.

I wanted to point out this significance here, and invite other examples and observations to these kinds of inscriptions found on these amazing hilts from Scotland and Great Britain.
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Old 13th April 2015, 11:59 AM   #8
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
While we have begun discussion on the use of crescent moons marking blades prompted by the present and outstanding thread on Scottish basket hilts, it seems other details pertaining to blades are apparent.

In accord with most references on Scottish basket hilts, as often with works focused on hilts, the subject of blades is typically avoided. Other authors have chosen to avoid discussions of these due to the wide variation of forms from trade and otherwise obtained blades.
I wish to offer some notes here pertaining to some examples of blades occurring on basket hilt examples so as to avoid detracting from discussion toward the hilts of these on the other thread.

In this particular example, the hilt is in my opinion of the time period estimated 1690-1710, and a magnificent Stirling example. The blade is also of course of German manufacture, and probably indeed of that period. It seems these elliptical central fuller forms are also found in schiavona of this period in a number of cases, and I would note many of these blades also found later use in North Africa in the kaskara.

I would like to point out the inscription 1*5*1*5 , and note that this is of course not a date. These are gemetrically applied number combinations which were used, often with talismanically oriented motif and inscriptions.
It is suggested in Wagner (1967, p76) that these were often used by certain makers in particular, and notes that '1515' is recorded as used by the Solingen smith Mathias Wundes, of that long standing family there.
However, Mathias worked 1750-1784.

From: "Die Klingenmarke 1414(1441) and Related Numerical Signs"
Dr. Walter Rose
Zeitschrifte fur Historiche Waffen und Kostumkunde
Vol.14, XIV, pp.131-133, 1935-36

It seems that this inscription is indeed of the style in which such numbers were applied in this magical or occult sense, as described as well by Blackmore (1971), Aylward (1945) and Mann (1962) . What is curious are the numbers in which the ones are without serif, and the fives are rather in script with scrolled flourish, done in the style of 18th century magical motif of the 18th century.

Since the hilt on this sword is clearly of 1690-1710, and though the blade also seems of this period, would we necessarily adhere to the singularly noted reference to this number used by Mathias Wundes?
The Rose reference (cited by these later writers) is the only one specifying this maker to this number. Aylward (1945, p.104) states these numbers do not appear to have been the monopoly of any one maker.

That I tend to agree with, however, it is clear that the practice of applying these numbers in that magical connotation continued through the 18th century. I would be inclined to think this blade is of the period suggested but address the numbers and their peculiarities simply in exercise here.

I wanted to point out this significance here, and invite other examples and observations to these kinds of inscriptions found on these amazing hilts from Scotland and Great Britain.



Salaams Jim...This is indeed interesting (I dive into library to study again your blade marks registry) ...and the detail on the blades must be considered along with the hilts.

These magic numbers I am more familiar with in the Islamic blade forms and it is fascinating to see the detail appear on European Swords and could they in fact be related to this ~ In ancient times, the pentacle was revered as a symbol of life, the five classical elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water , joined with Spirit to create life. Wearing the pentagram was and is viewed as protection and as a talisman of divine life and good health..The figure 5 is a lucky number in many different parts of the world thus I point to the possibility of this ....note that the figure one is also interesting and perhaps related to the act of drawing a pentagram where the pen only needs to touch the paper once to inscribe all the sides of the 5 pointed star in the circle....and each number is interspersed with a star...albeit 8 lines but perhaps it is representative only...and of course the pentagon is a giver of life as well as a destroyer...thus the sword.

The blade origins of basket Swords are so diverse. As you know they start probably in Solingen... but fan out all over Europe....Earlier Sinclair must also be considered since he was using basket hilts very early...please see


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Sinclair_(mercenary)

and on that page a sketch of some of the 800 Scottish Highland Mercs wrongly named Irishmen perhaps the root cause of hilts later being refered to as Irish Basket Hilts...seen in 1630 ad near Stettin assisting the Swedish.

Then a rich Scottish banker bankroles a load of swords and guns from the French for the Jacobites but half get sunk courtesy of the English Navy....Blades appear with moons but in the European shape they are different; more clear cut and precise than the Dukie moons of North Africa...and the further we look into Arabia the rougher cut seem to be the moons....

It has always amazed me, however, how close the blades are in the Schiavona style....

For info I include the following reference http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basket-hilted_sword

I add as fuel to the complexity the following from Wiki encyclopedia
the conundrum Andrew Ferrara.

Andrew Ferrara or, more correctly, Andrea Ferrara was a make of sword-blade highly esteemed in Scotland in the 16th and 17th centuries. Sir Walter Scott notes that the name of Andrea de Ferrara was inscribed "on all the Scottish broadswords that are accounted of peculiar excellence".[1] No historical person of that name can be identified, but Scott reports a general belief that Ferrara was a Spanish or Italian artificer who was brought to Scotland in the early 16th century, by either James IV or V, to instruct the Scots in the manufacture of the high-quality steel blades current in Renaissance Europe.

According to some sources the name of the manufacturer was Andrea dei Ferrari of Belluno, according to others, Andrew Ferrars or Ferrier of Arbroath.[2]

The term came to be used generically as a term for the Scottish basket-hilted broadsword.

Their method of manufacture remains much a mystery, but it is suspected that they were made by interlamination, a process of welding the blade in alternate layers of iron and steel. Andrew Ferrara blades were special in their extreme flexibility. For instance, it is said that Andrew Ferrara, the manufacturer of the blades, always carried one wrapped up in his bonnet. They rarely broke, even under immense force and when used to deal horizontal blows.

The reference further opens out and the reader can explore the old style fighting techniques with this weapon..

In this regard I make a plea to keep it together somehow so that the thread can be complete rather than split so ...otherwise it will be like having a huge treatise on axe handles....and another on axe heads? Perhaps there is a technique whereby two threads may be fused together later so that a whole all round concept can be seen under one roof?..Just my two penneth worth

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Last edited by Ibrahiim al Balooshi : 13th April 2015 at 01:19 PM.
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