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Old 4th September 2008, 09:06 PM   #1
fernando
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Default A corroded XIX century sword

It is known that corrosion or excavation evolution is not necessarily relative to age. I was aware that climate, as well as a number of other conditions, may acelerate (or slow down) things, but i didn't realise it could happen in such a tragic manner.
Attached are pictures of a sabre, brought to Portugal from Angola in 1972. The condition i have found it when they offered to me, was such that i would think this could only happen in pieces from rather earlier times (centuries). Well, its aspect is not so dramatic now, due to a strong cleaning operation and a varnish coating.
Its shape resembles the 1796 light cavalry sabre or its 1806 Portuguese derivative. However, not being an expert, i would say that it is neither one ... strict version considered. Could it be that the blade is original ( trade?) and the guard was locally made ?
Anybody here within (or without) this area, to offer their coments?
Fernando
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Old 4th September 2008, 09:28 PM   #2
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Given the condition of this sword, we can only make guesses. My first thought was that this may be German. What are the measurements?
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Old 4th September 2008, 11:31 PM   #3
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Thank you Teodor,
My fault not having mentioned the measurements.
Blade length 84 cms. (33").
Thickness 8,5 m/m. (.33").
Width 34 m/m. (1.33").
Weight 758 grams ... without grip ( wood?)
Fernando
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Old 5th September 2008, 12:28 AM   #4
Jim McDougall
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It certainly looks like the standard British M1796 to me, though the tip of the blade does not have the characteristic hatchet point.
I wonder what this was doing in Angola?
Fernando, you mention a Portuguese version of 1806 of the British light cavalry M1796. Did Portugal actually produce these?

I recall earlier discussions where it was noted that British small arms were shipped to Portugal from latter 18th century into the 19th.
I did some checking in "The Portuguese Army of the Napoleonic Wars"(Rene Chartrand and William Younghusband, 2000, p.18 ) and it is noted that the British army sent a force to Portugal in 1808 to expel French from Lisbon, and they remained for about 6 years.
It also is noted that the cavalry was badly armed and in June 1809, about 6000 swords were received from England along with other equipment. The swords were M1796 for both light and heavy cavalry.

The corrosion on this example does seem dramatic, but as noted, much depends on the environment in which it is encased.

It is definitely hard to tell the British M1796 light cavalry sabre from the Blucher sabre M1811 of Germany.....any key hints out there on telling the difference?
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Old 5th September 2008, 03:31 AM   #5
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I checked into my books and there are the measurements of the Prussian Cavalry M1811 "Blucher" pattern and the blades were 835 mm long and 38 mm, which is very close to the measurements of the sword in question.
However, both the Blucher and 1796LC have langets, and this sword does not. And I think the way the ricasso is shaped is later and more similar to later German models. I do not have a picture of the 1857 model which replaced the Blucher in the Prussian army, but if someone does, a comparison would be interesting.
Best regards,
Teodor
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Old 5th September 2008, 05:20 AM   #6
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Bonk!!
I totally missed the absence of langet Teodor!! Thanks. The M1796 British most definitely had them. Back to the books.

Fernando, still curious about the Portuguese 1806 form. I recall some years ago a paper was written discussing how widely copied these stirrup hilt cavalry sabres were, and it would be interesting to learn more on that.
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Old 5th September 2008, 06:59 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVV
... I do not have a picture of the 1857 model which replaced the Blucher in the Prussian army, but if someone does, a comparison would be interesting ...
.

I have browsed the Net looking for a 1857 Prussian pattern, but no luck. However i spoted a certain 1856 Guard Field Artillery pattern. There are also langets in this one.
On the other hand, there are no signs in my example showing that the langets were sawed off. Still i have this feeling that the guard might be a home made job ... in any case the whole sword an atypical specimen.
I wish i knew.
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Old 5th September 2008, 07:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... I wonder what this was doing in Angola? ...


That's the riddle. But after finding its origin, we (you) would develop a theory for that, in no time
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Old 5th September 2008, 07:22 PM   #9
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Outstanding Fernando!!! What a beautifully explained report on Portuguese swords of the Peninsular period, and valuable information to have here as there is extremely little published in English on these weapons. The photos are great too, and I have never seen one of those 'trigger' hilts (and I've seen many, many stirrup hilts from various countries!).

I really appreciate you taking the time to present this detail, and exactly the kind of informative posts I am hoping for here, that will serve as a standing resource for further research and collectors information.

As far as the weapon found in Angola, without some sort of documented provenance all we can assume is that it may have ended up there with a collector...I recall years ago a Hounslow hanger that was found in South Africa, and any number of cases of unusual occurrence of weapons in improbable locations. I suppose globalization has dramatically compounded the historical research on weapons!

All the best,
Jim
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