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Old 14th February 2010, 05:09 PM   #1
fernando
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Default Engravings on small sword - origin?

The silver+ivory mountings are those of what we call here "Quitó", an ostentation sword version adopted by fashionable Gentlemen towards the end of XVIII century.
I am not (yet) certain if such type of hilt is typicaly Portuguese, but i presume so.
However this is an atypical setup, as the traditional Quitó blade is rather short, around 65 cms (some 26"), whereas this blade is that used in efective small swords, with its 82 cms (over 32").
Probably the owner wished to follow ongoing fashion, but without giving away his defence possibilities.
My question goes for the blade origin. Judging by the decorations, will someone be able to tell its provenance?
Would it be German ... Solingen?
I take it that it is from the XVIII century ... correct?
Thanks in advance
Fernando

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Old 14th February 2010, 10:51 PM   #2
Jim McDougall
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Hi Fernando,
Very intriguing to see a sword with such a blade, and this courtly style hilt, which is indeed of end of 18th century. The styling seems to correspond somewhat to the cut steel type smallsword fashion of Matthew Boulton and some others in England about that time, and of course there was considerable contact at the time with the Netherlands.
The fragile beaded chain decoration is also very much in line with the beaded fashions of the period.
If I recall correctly, the type blade, especially with that petaled floral device stylized in sunbust fashion is characteristic of Dutch blades, as I believe was pointed out by Cornelis in a discussion some time ago. This may be a much earlier blade, which may account for such a long blade on a courtly weapon for dress occasions, perhaps it may be heirloom?

Just wanted to add this pending further research, and hopefully Cornelis might comment.

All the best,
Jim
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Old 15th February 2010, 02:24 AM   #3
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Going through more notes, and discovered that apparantly during the 18th century there were large exports of weapons from Netherlands to Portugal during wars with Spain. Also discovered that the cavities in star configuration at forte are apparantly a Dutch affinity seen in smallsword blades through the 18th century.....a number of blades with these are seen in "Blanke Wapens", J.P.Puype, 1981, #46,#58 and others.
These blades are from smallswords with similar section and size, and mostly about mid 18th century. The engraved motif on this blade includes groupings of the talismanically associated symbols from trade blades and military style theme such as a drum suggesting it is probably from a Dutch officers dress sword.

The English Georgian period cut steel fashion suggests this may have been a court or dress sword (of the 'quito style mentioned) during the period around the turn of the century into the first 10 or 15 years with the British interaction, and using an earlier, possibly heirloom blade.


Best regards,
Jim
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Old 15th February 2010, 11:42 AM   #4
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Hi Guys,

Agreed, seems Dutch, sunflower motif et al. Straight blade suggests infantry officer. Now, what about the sword-wielding-arm emerging from a cloud on the right? The sword of God's/ Gideon?

The french city of Brumath in the Alsace once had this shield. And it often appears in mid 17th C English and French Arms.

Is it a masonic symbol? Is there a difference in its meaning whether it appears from the right, vs from the left?

OTOH, it might suggest some sort of unholy alliance with the military might of Flying Saucers, which we all know often appear camouflaged within clouds.

Hmmm...

: )
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Old 15th February 2010, 05:58 PM   #5
fernando
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Hi Jim,
Thank you so much for your input.
I certainly remember Cornelis assumption that the star is a Dutch mark. Amazingly and since then, i have seen a few swords, both in books as also in real, that bear such motif. Despite all such swords are aledgely Portuguese, this doesn't avoid that the blades were imported, namely from the Nederlands ... although eventualy none of them had such data in the support texts or labels.
But my questioning was more directed to all those engraved decorations, most specially the arm with the sword emerging from the cloud. Once more it appears that we are facing decoration patterns that were popularized in more that one country, therefore making it hard to figure out the actual origin of the piece.
My first visual contact with this cloud sword was in the discussion we had here, through post #10, introduced from Michael Blalock;
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=5453
No precise provenance was pointed out, though.
After a couple browsings in the Net, one can read that apparently the earliest version of this mark was the coat of arms of the Duke Stjepan Vukčić Hrvatinić, a Bosnian noble of the 14th century. It was based on his coat of arms that the flag of Bosnia during the Habsburg Monarchy in 19th century was created. However these sources also refer that this mark was popularized through various European countries at such period.
A pity that things in life can not always be precise and unequivocal. I understand that for some people such riddles are chalenges to their character, but for my simple and impatient personality they are a punishment .
Let us see if other members come up with further data on this subject.
Concerning the situation of a smallsword blade mounted in court sword, i was originaly more inclined towards the practical purpose than to the simple heirloom hipothesis. This because i usualy see the heirloom or economic procedure in military officer swords, where sometimes they even have to lightly cut the old blade to follow the regulation, whereas in a civilian ambiance i observe that fashionable dundees, while wishing to follow the fashion standards, do not forget that they can be aproached by vilains while walking at night in dangerous streets and want to assure they have a good strong blade at hand.
You will forgive me Jim, if my theory is nonsense; i am just adventuring such conclusion after having read a mere couple lines about the subject ... whereas you have read a zillion lines about a zillion subjects .


Fernando

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Old 15th February 2010, 06:09 PM   #6
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Hi Manolin,


Quote:
Originally Posted by celtan
Hi Guys,

Agreed, seems Dutch, sunflower motif et al. Straight blade suggests infantry officer. Now, what about the sword-wielding-arm emerging from a cloud on the right? The sword of God's/ Gideon?

The french city of Brumath in the Alsace once had this shield. And it often appears in mid 17th C English and French Arms.

Is it a masonic symbol? Is there a difference in its meaning whether it appears from the right, vs from the left?

OTOH, it might suggest some sort of unholy alliance with the military might of Flying Saucers, which we all know often appear camouflaged within clouds.

Hmmm...

: )


Muchas gracias for your contribution.
I will browse on your sugestions ... without eliminating the flying saucer possibility .
Nando
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Old 15th February 2010, 08:43 PM   #7
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While this is clearly an elegant courtly dress sword, it seems clear that it has military orientation, and not only from the earlier blade carrying a degree of motif with military theme. The drum is of course obvious, and as has been pointed out, the armored sword wielding arm extending from a cloud.

While this ethereal allegory alludes presumably to the mighty Sword of God, it was a device that seems to have evolved quite early as a heraldic symbol in either the late 16th, into the 17th, taken up with certain talismanic applications on sword blades of Europe. It seems to typically appear as the armoured arm with sword out of a cloud, but it seems the example used by Peter Munich in the late 16th century has what appears to be an ermined element very much in heraldic style. This would seem to follow the 'mighty' sword theme, but with a regal rather than religious emphasis.

By the 18th century, along with the ethereal cabbalistic symbols that became prevalent on sword blades of Europe, especially the trade blades of Solingen, these armored arm swords out of clouds lent well to the talismanic theme. While again, it is noted that the symbol quite present in a number of heraldic arms, on sword blades it is used much more temporally than as a distinct representation of individual or nationality.

It is also important to note that these decorative engraved motifs on sword blades evolved using astral and cabbalistic themes primarily from the hunting and court swords of the 18th century. This practice seems to have gained popularity from German blades during this time, probably from the increased marketing promoting existing fashions, and soon became adopted widely in other blade making centers. While these are presumed to have been seen as talismanic blades, it is likely the emphasis was on fashion and quality over any imbued protective qualities.

Returning to the style and features of the mounts on this sword, the guard with vertically raised centre in the crossguard, essentially half shell with the obverse side left flush, is comparable to British infantry officers 'spadroons' of c.1780-1810. These straight swords of this period include the well known 'five ball hilt' swords, which of course emphasize the 'beaded' motif so popular at this time, also seen on cut steel smallswords with similar neoclassic styling, urn type pommels, and this type of grip profile in some cases.

The idea of a heirloom blade was placed on my part only because it is clearly an earlier blade and with apparantly interesting heritage, and might well have been used by an officer for a stylish dress sword. While obviously many blades would have been cut down according to standards in place, the officers had the latitude to a degree of carte blanche in thier weapons. It is not hard to imagine that an officer would not wish to effect an ancestral or prized blade to such permanent alteration, especially as a matter of compliance. There was a great deal of 'swagger' in these times, and the rather flamboyant status of the long formidable blade in accord with the image of the duellist and dashing officer would instantly come to mind here, or at least to Fernando and I

Fernando, excellent postulation there on the idea of the clear intent on the long blade, and I think the thought of an elegant dress sword, deadly but fashionable corresponds well with the deadly swordstick of the gentry.

Manolo, excellent suggestions (uh, I will take leave on the UFO's ) and the appearance of these armed arm in cloud on various blades from a wide number of countries is known. It is interesting that you mention Masonic associations, as it has been well suggested in many cases that there are indeed definite allusions in decorative features and other instances that may have Masonic origins. In the case of the 'armoured arm', I have not as yet found any Masonic association, but then I do not pretend to be have any profound understanding of Masonic ritual. I do very much like your observation on it though....

All very best regards, too often many guys steer clear of these kinds of theories, and I have run into lots of heavy flak for Masonic suggestions,
even without UFO embellishent!!! LOL! You're great Manolo!!

All very best regards,
Jim
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Old 16th February 2010, 06:07 AM   #8
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Hi All,

As Jim says, the talismanic/cabbalistic symbols often appear on Solingen blades of the 18th century. They often have an eastern theme, eg Turk's head, eastern tent, etc, as "the east" symbolised magic and mysticism in those supersticious times. The arm with sword emeging from a cloud has often been interpreted as the arm/sword of Allah (depictions of the face of Allah of course being blasphemous)

Richard
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Old 16th February 2010, 10:00 AM   #9
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Thanks Richard and Jim,

That symbol always has had a certain islamic (hungarian, turkish......) feel to it, at least to me.

It sounds very logical that we incorporated and christianized that symbol, just like we once did the jihad.

Best

M

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard
Hi All,

As Jim says, the talismanic/cabbalistic symbols often appear on Solingen blades of the 18th century. They often have an eastern theme, eg Turk's head, eastern tent, etc, as "the east" symbolised magic and mysticism in those supersticious times. The arm with sword emeging from a cloud has often been interpreted as the arm/sword of Allah (depictions of the face of Allah of course being blasphemous)

Richard
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Old 16th February 2010, 04:44 PM   #10
fernando
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Gentlemen,
I don't have the slightest problem in bowing before the supremacy of your knowledge.
Many thanks to our esteemed "Jimpedia". After such great analizis, i wouldn't dream of considering for the slightest moment that, the assembly of these hilt and blade, were invented by the seller to better dispatch the set to a naive client .
I have been focusing on all the symbols, trying to figure out differences and their possible interpretations.
No doubt the martial items are there: the drum is clear, some poles that could be spears or flag staffs? ... even a cannon, if i am not fanthasizing; this overlaped by the cloud armed sword. Certainly i agree with the Islamic manner of it, both because the scimitar look of the sword, as for the solution of avoiding Alah to be depicted, assuming the attributed symbolism is correct.
Worthy of note is the counterposition provided by the guys situated in top whom, judging by the wings, leave no doubt that they are angels; and for the first time i discern differences between depiction on either blade side. One angel has his mouth turned down, as if he was in a bad mood, while the other is clearly showing his teeth in a naughty smile.
Symbolic meanning or the the engraver having some fun?
Fernando

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Old 16th February 2010, 05:47 PM   #11
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Thank you Richard for the supportive note and good observations on the use of this symbolic image on these blades.
Good observations Manolo, along with Richard, this symbol does seem to have an 'oriental' element to it at times, especially with the scimitar type sword. It is important to note that from the times of the crusades and into the Renaissance period, there was a distinct melding of styles and forms from the Ottomans into Eastern Europe. The adoption of exotic weapon influences by European military officers was not at all unusual, and the employing of such exotica to sword blades may or may not have had deeper symbolic associations. It is hard to imagine what may have been intended temporally by the engravers, however it is well known that a certain wry wit was often present, with certain inuendos deliberately applied. This same deeper symbolic application is well known by students of fine arts in the study of paintings, especially those of the masters.

With that being the case Fernando, its hard to say about the very astute observations you have noted, but they surely seem well placed .
As for the deliberate joining of blade to hilt for sale to a naieve collector, I think such things are always in the back of our minds. However, in this venue we are simply assessing weapons from photographic evidence, and all we can do is surmise why a weapon may seem to have incongruent elements. It is well known that weapons in thier working lives were often refurbished and repaired. There are many well established instances of heirloom blades used in more modern mount; obviously trade blades mounted in local hilt forms with ethnographic forms; use of 'exotic' weapon elements along with standard military forms such as seen in the British Raj and ceremonial or presentation weapons specially mounted.
The only way we can actually establish accurate viability in assessment is of course with hands on handlng to closely examine the weapon, otherwise here I am inclined to offer optimistic observations based on what can be seen in photos I always hope for the best.

I think your idea about the use of the longer blade for potentially threatening situations makes sense, and as I noted, the 'fancy' hilt would not detract from the deadly viability of this blade as circumstances arose. This would have been very much the case if an officer had assumed a certain reputation as a 'duellist'. These much romaticized figures were of course very much present, so it seems feasible idea.

All very best regards,
Jim
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