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Old 26th December 2017, 02:48 AM   #1
Cathey
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Default Circa 1575 Shell Guard Cutlass or Riding Sword

Hi Guys

This sword had been in a close friend’s collection for many years until I purchased it from estate at Auction where it had been described as an early Riding Sword. The look and feel of the thing screams cutlass or sabre to me and I would be interested in your thoughts.

Date: Circa 1575-1625 (16th Century)
Nationality: German
Overall Length: 86.1 cm (33.9 inches)
Blade length: 73 cm (28.7 inches)
Blade widest point: 3.011 cm (1.2 inches) near hilt, 3.115 swollen tip (1.2 inches)
Hilt widest point: 11.6 cm (4.6 inches)
Inside grip length: 7.5 cm (3 inches)
Marks, etc: So called ‘Passau Wolf’ mark 16th Century, anchor marks

Description
Shell Guard Riding Sword c1575
The steel hilt has a very large upturned guard, styled as a sea shell, and a smaller shell with thumb ring for the reverse guard. The knuckle guard and quillion are of equal length and create a most graceful sweep through the cross guard. The pommel is of a large globular shape with pronounced tang cap. The grip is turned wood covered tightly bound brass wire that is now extremely smooth to the touch and black with age in patches. Steel ferrules are fitted at the top and base of the grip. The curved single edged blade has a single fuller running two thirds of its length and is marked with the 16th century version of the Passau Wolf and early German anchor marks. The blade swells slightly towards the tip.

General Remarks
Sim Comfort has suggested that this style of sword may have a naval connection. The sword bears a strong resemblance to the ne in the early etching of the Pirate Francis Lolonois.

References:
COMFORT (S.) NAVAL SWORDS AND DIRKS: A STUDY OF BRITISH, FRENCH AND AMERICAN NAVAL SWORDS, CUTLASSES AND DIRKS DUR-ING THE AGE OF FIGHTING SAIL. EW5 Pages 5-7.
DUFTY, Arthur Richard EUROPEAN SWORDS AND DAGGERS IN THE TOWER OF LONDON plate 35 d
ESQUEMELING John The Buccaneers of America. First published in Dutch in 1684, and then subsequently in London and New York and currently in print via Naval Institute Press.
OAKESHOTT, Ewart EUROPEAN WEAPONS AND ARMOUR pp155
PETERSON Harold L. Arms and Armor in Colonial America (1526 - 1783) Bramhall House, New York, 1956.
SOUTHWICK Leslie The Price Guide to Antique Edged Weapons, pub Antique Collectors Club, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1982.
VALENTINE Eric Rapiers, pub Arms and Armour Press, London, 1968.
WALLACE COLLECTION Catalogue of European Arms and Armour, pub by the Wallace Collection, London, 1962.


Cheers Cathey and Rex
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Old 26th December 2017, 10:50 AM   #2
M ELEY
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Wow! An excellent example of a Dutch clamshell saber from the 17th century, indeed used and favored by the buccaneers and seamen of that era. i don't believe despite its size that it was used as a cavalry piece. There is much similarity with the so called Sinclaire sabers and I know we're discussed this type before. Jim is an excellent source of info on these, if we can drag him in!

Last edited by M ELEY : 26th December 2017 at 11:11 AM.
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Old 26th December 2017, 02:52 PM   #3
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indeed a beautiful Dutch hanger but not 1575 but 150-200 years later , from the 18th Century.
for examples see

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...light=amsterdam

best,
Jasper
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Old 26th December 2017, 10:50 PM   #4
Cathey
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Default Dutch Cutlas?

Hi Jasper

I also looked at the Dutch Hanger in Sim Comfort’s book but the shell and pommel configuration of this particular sword appear earlier to me. It actually compares more closely to the one featured on page 5 EW5 and this blade is also of German manufacture.

Personally, given the blade on this sword I struggle to accept that the cutlass is as late as the 18th century. The sword does not appear to be a marriage of earlier blade with a later hilt; they appear to have been together for a very long time. The balance is wonderful it is simply a pleasure to hold.

Does anyone know how long these Dutch Clam shell cutlass’s where around, and when they first started to appear. There is a lot of variation out there in the shell design and some of the other Dutch ones I have seen are far cruder than this one. The ones featured in the link do not look to be as old as this one. I actually have a Rapier with a similar shell guard, so it looks like the design was utilised across Europe for an extensive period.

Cheers Cathey
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Old 27th December 2017, 04:25 PM   #5
cornelistromp
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Hi Cathey,

The book where the etching of Francis the pirate comes from, is a book in the Dutch language published in 1678 in Amsterdam.

A.O. Exquemelin
Americaensche zee-rovers

it is quite possible and also common because most artists were not sword specialists, that a Dutch sword is used from around the period in which he made the work, but Francis has never used and seen this type of sword.
on the other hand Francis was active as a pirate in the 1660, so that would match this type of sword.



the first shellguards are from the last quarter of the 16th century.
see eg different dussage types.
The blade of EW 5 is a type of blade often used on Dutch Swords and often made by clemens Horn in Solingen

best,
Jasper

Last edited by cornelistromp : 27th December 2017 at 04:54 PM.
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Old 28th December 2017, 03:52 AM   #6
Cathey
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Default Dutch Cutlass?

Hi Jasper

I think my example is also one that has clearly employed a Solingen blade, hence my initial thoughts in agreement with that of the previous owner is a date being late circa 1500s or early 1600s. The particular wolf mark and anchor marks support this and as suggested the hilt appears consistent with the blade. No issue with it being Dutch though, until I looked through Sim Comfort’s book I was unaware of the Dutch cutlasses with shell guards.

I think, when my friend (sadly now deceased so I can't ask him) originally dated this sword he used Dufty as his reference (see attached exerts from Dufty and Peterson). It certainly looks strikingly similar and has a very similar German blade. I have been looking for a reference book on early Dutch arms but all I have found in one on Firearms at this stage. I will start collecting examples for my data base and as I am currently scanning every book in my Arms and Armour library perhaps I will come across other examples in the process.

So at this stage we agree it is not a riding sword and it is a Cutlass, age still up for further debate I think. I am leaning toward 17th century but can’t convince myself it’s as late as the 18th with that blade.

Cheers Cathey and Rex
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