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Old 1st November 2019, 10:58 PM   #1
bvieira
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Default Napoleonic Period British Artillery Short Sword Initials

Hello,

Does anybody knows the possible meaning of the initials on this sword ?

R. F. Nº. Gª. Fª

Thanks!

Best Regards,

BV
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Old 3rd November 2019, 05:03 PM   #2
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Bruno, could you post a picture of the cross guard where the initials are engraved ?
Maybe the style of the letters helps in its identification.
It could just be my idea but, initilalizing numbers with 'º' and names with 'ª' doesn't seem to be either British or French; more like Spanish ? .
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Old 4th November 2019, 01:17 PM   #3
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Bruno, if you click on THIS LINK you will find some interesting info on these short swords ... but unfortunately not about the inscription .
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Old 4th November 2019, 03:12 PM   #4
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The sword is a British pattern and is a patent hilt design with the full tang visible through the grip.
Interesting the link shows the reference book as it's a French naval sword but actually a Belgian infantry sword.
Somehow I did not remember it being in that book.
Some long held assumptions of it being British and french are false

Last edited by Will M : 4th November 2019 at 03:23 PM.
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Old 4th November 2019, 04:54 PM   #5
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Actually this does seem to resemble a type of British band sword of about 1820s if I recall, but that guard with a kind of dumbbell shape does seem French. The lion head was an extremely popular zoomorphic for pommels from mid 18th c. and its use may well be from other European influences, but as far as I recall no distinct links are asserted in the varied instances.

I would note here that the use of the lion head in the American colonies was very much in line with these figures in Great Britain, naturally as in the Revolutionary period and later these people had been British. Actually many, if not most of the edged weapons used in America were British or other European forms.

The convention of using superscript in abbreviation was, as far as I have found, used throughout European cases, which includes England and France as well as Spain, though it does seem Spanish examples are resoundingly apparent.
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Old 4th November 2019, 05:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Bruno, could you post a picture of the cross guard where the initials are engraved ?
Maybe the style of the letters helps in its identification.
It could just be my idea but, initilalizing numbers with 'º' and names with 'ª' doesn't seem to be either British or French; more like Spanish ? .


Don't know! i did not find any documentation on any spanish sword like this, a british person said to me that it was clearly a british artilery short sword from the napoleonic times, but in the other thread there is a clear picture saying it's french naval!

The letters may help in discovering the origin! it was said to be found in portugal so it would make sense to be british or french because of the peninsular war.

Regards,

BV
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Old 4th November 2019, 07:20 PM   #7
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Bonk! Shoulda known it might be in Nuemann ("Swords of the American Revolution", 1973)…..no wonder Fernando's American Revolution antennae were twitching
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Old 5th November 2019, 11:01 AM   #8
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In the link posted is this:
"Another cast lion hilt in Neumann's to consider is attached below here. I have it handy as an example of brass work from another discussion. What is listed there as French naval artillery turns out to be actually better listed as Belgian (yes?) infantry."
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Old 5th November 2019, 11:46 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
...The convention of using superscript in abbreviation was, as far as I have found, used throughout European cases, which includes England and France as well as Spain, though it does seem Spanish examples are resoundingly apparent.

I confess that i would not have the capacity to judge on this "Gladius" origin, as visibly this type of sword appeared in more than one place. Also while i will not dispute Bruno's info coming from his British connection that this is a British version, i would not be so certain that it has been a regular weapon in the Peninsular War; well, it is not listed in Faria/Regalado work, for one.
On the other hand i feel more comfortable in dissecting the inscription characteristics, in what concerns the abbreviations. The deal here is gender; zillions of substantives (nouns) are either masculine or feminine, both in Spanish and Portuguese ... and other Latinized languages.
Meaning that those A's are either Portuguese or Spanish feminine articles; not English nor French. Same goes for the 0 being of masculine gender. So those marks could well be regimental; the being for a number (número) if we 'speculate' that there is a faded digit hidden by the (later ?) central fixation rivet. Also if we speculate that the G could well be a 6, we would have something like a sixth (sexta) company, or the like.
Still i don't find a matching regimental mark for this inscription, even considering the above thoughts; so i have just digressed .


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Old 5th November 2019, 04:08 PM   #10
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Fernando, excellent explanation and analysis on the superscript! While I had been observing only the visual characteristics of these abbreviated letters/acronyms, your linguistic examination gives essential dimension to estimating their probable origin.

This has brought me to an exciting idea.....could this be a French artillery sidearm which found its way into Mexican hands in the early 19th c. (pre Alamo, 1836)??
The Mexican army had received considerable artillery pieces in the early 19th century from France...……..does it not seem reasonable that perhaps some artillery sidearms might have also been included?

The presence of Spanish inscribed unit numbers (and they do indeed resemble these from those I have seen) on a French weapon is thus plausibly explained in this context if my idea is correct.

VERY good acquisition! and fascinating possibility thanks to Fernando's observations.
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Old 5th November 2019, 04:37 PM   #11
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My kowledge of the Spanish language is very little but couldn't these letters stand for "Regimiento Fusilador N°6 compania n°6 = F-company?
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Old 5th November 2019, 05:48 PM   #12
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May i call it a long shot Udo ?
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Old 6th November 2019, 07:25 AM   #13
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Why a long shot? What you call "A"s are in my eyes just dots. Look at the "N°" where the "°" is set above. So if the writer meant the dots beeing "A"s he would have set them above too. There is no reason why he shouldn't have done so.
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Old 6th November 2019, 11:03 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by corrado26
Why a long shot? What you call "A"s are in my eyes just dots. Look at the "N°" where the "°" is set above. So if the writer meant the dots beeing "A"s he would have set them above too. There is no reason why he shouldn't have done so.
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O.K. Udo; just a shot ... not a long one .
The minuscule º is the usual size to abreviate "number/numero". The A's, which i also see them set above, for some reason were chosen by the engraver in the majuscule type, but obviously meaning the same as minuscule a's.
On the other hand when you see those A's as being just dots is something i don't follow, as they seem to be so clear A's to me.
As for the first part of the inscription, Fusileros being the correct Spanish term, indeed start with a F which, after the R, would match with Regimiento de Fusileros, but hardly Fusileros are composed in regiments, when we search for these army units characteristics. Still this is not impossible, at least theoretically.
As for the second part, the setup 6A could indeed mean Sexta Compañia but then, what would the setup FA stand for ?
And of course this is all about brain storming; we are not absolutely sure that this (type of) sword has equiped fusiliers (riflemen), as this is/was not their typical side weapon, that i think of; neither are we absolutely sure that this is a Spanish inscription ... only 'logically' guess. Not to count that this could be a later private reminding inscription; the lettering looks a bit legere for an Army work ... what do i know ?


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Old 6th November 2019, 04:53 PM   #15
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Fernando, you are right! I had not seen the "A"s at the 6 and the F but concentrated on the small "A"s after the "R" and "F" at the beginning of the troop marking. Sorry, my fault
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Old 6th November 2019, 06:42 PM   #16
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The lettering could have been done somewhat hastily in the field when many regiments were together and needed ownership markings on their arms.
Anyone with minimum skills could be drafted to help mark many weapons.
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Old 6th November 2019, 09:34 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by corrado26
Fernando, you are right! I had not seen the "A"s at the 6 and the F but concentrated on the small "A"s after the "R" and "F" at the beginning of the troop marking. Sorry, my fault


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Old 7th November 2019, 10:27 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Will M
The lettering could have been done somewhat hastily in the field when many regiments were together and needed ownership markings on their arms.
Anyone with minimum skills could be drafted to help mark many weapons.

Quite a pertinent approach, Will.
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Old 7th November 2019, 02:19 PM   #19
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Indeed, very well noted Will! But now that the linguistic possibilities of the letters/numerals have been thoroughly examined and discussed, what is the outcome for what these crudely scribed markings tell us?

So we know it is a French pattern, and the Mexicans received many artillery pieces from the French. Mexican general Santa Anna was obsessed with Napoleon and fashioned his army accordingly with uniforms either acquired from French or designed after them.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, again I will suggest, this sidearm may well have been acquired along with stores of materials from the French in post Napoleonic period, and as the markings' character corresponds to those used in Spanish (and Mexican) context this seems a viable deduction.

I hope this suggestion might be noticed and considered now that the most thorough examination of the markings has well carried support for this idea.
Thank you.
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Old 7th November 2019, 04:57 PM   #20
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To further my idea that this apparent French 'naval' pattern artillery sword (as per Nuemann, 1973) of later 18th c. MAY well have found use in Mexican (or Spanish colonial) use in the post Napoleonic period, I submit the following:

A page from a French reference illustrating the zoomorphic pommels and styling of hilts on some brass French patterns in the period.

A page from Juan Calvo, "Machetes del Ejercito de Ultramar en Cuba y Puerto Rico", 2006.

Note the lion head examples and the manner of markings (No 362) etc.
While these are mid 19th c. Caribbean examples, the conventions in use as well in the Mexican army are apparent. In my notes from discussions with a colleague who has excavated Mexican battlefields extensively some years ago he described these marking methods.

The small 'o' in superscript represents 'nd' as in 2nd.
The small 'o' with dot beneath represents 'th', as in 7th.

After the Mexican Revolution of 1821, many regiments were named for heroes of those campaigns, by about 1839, the numbering styles were reinstituted.

The R letter typically referred to zapadores (sappers), R.Zapado
The letter Y meant minaderos (miners) Y minad
Rl (capital R hyperscript capital L) for Cuerpo de Ingenieros (Real Corps of Engineers).

These were rather elite units in the Mexican Army as they were highly specialized contrary to the rank and file.

Much of this detail concerned came from uniform elements found in Remedios regions in Mexico.

I hope this might better explain my suggestion this sword (of the OP) may well be from a Mexican unit of 19th c.
Thank you
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Old 7th November 2019, 05:28 PM   #21
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The Gladius type character of numbers of these swords which turned up in cast brass hilts gave way to these zoomorphic pommel types as well as the famed 'briquet' used by artillery rank and file throughout European armies.
These were around from about 1790s well into the 19th c. and are among the most common other ranks swords known as they were used by so many armies and produced in hundreds of thousands.

I have a bizarre Mexican 'hybrid' which has a three bar cavalry guard, mounted on a cast briquet hilt with a cut down Spanish dragoon blade. This reflects the kinds of innovation, recycling and ersatz fabrication of swords which existed in the Spanish colonial frontiers.

With Mexican army regiments, it is not hard to imagine crudely applied markings applied by unskilled (typically) men charged with accounting for weaponry among often amalgamated forces on campaign.

Returning to the influences of these cast brass 'neoclassic' style sword hilts, the French weapons, in particular the 'gladius' type, also influenced the American military. In 1833, the Ames Sword Co. introduced the artillery sword fashioned exactly after the French model (in upper rt corner of the page attached in previous post) for their own artillery.
These prevailed into the Civil War where, though never really used combatively, the numbers of these were remarkable.

A number of years ago, an amateur archaeologist in New York regions dug up one of these, and declared he had found proof of ancient Romans in America!! as the 'gladius' character was so distinct. It was of course a Civil War relic of US troops stationed in those areas.
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Old 7th November 2019, 08:52 PM   #22
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While i thought i would not venture any further conclusions unless i had a solid evidence to crack the inscription riddle, perhaps a couple hints on the subject would be pertinent ... i guess .
Suggestions that this gladius ( and more of the kind) found its way to Mexico, either sent by Napoleon to his fan Santa Ana or by later further conventions like those examples studied by Juan Calvó, stand beyond the possibility that it never left this side of the pond, i am afraid.
I confess my perplexity at the mode Jim's coleague explains the interpretation of marking methods in items quoted as found in Mexican battlefields. The way numerals like second (segundo) and seventh (septimo) are abreviated each one in a different manner, confuses me ... as in HERE and HERE .

Also the letters R referring to zapadores, the Y to minadores and the RL to Engineers are something atypical; obviously not abreviations but some kind of code, whih does not represent the regiment where the trooper served but some allegory ... the regiment, batallion or compay still to show somewhere in the uniform, or cap.
We can read that the constitution of the Mexican army units was somehow replicated from the Spanish ONES.
On the other hand, i have yet no reason to reject that, the initials in Bruno's sword are actual abreviations of regimental names/numbers. However the F after the R is one riddle to start with. There are records of historic units like those of Fusileros, Fortificaciones and Ferrocarriles; but not one that i spot as plausible for this specfic case.
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Old 7th November 2019, 10:53 PM   #23
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Found This similar sword :

https://www.auctionzip.com/auction-...LERY_15C4EE483F

Could This evaluation as american revolution sword correct ?

TKS

BV
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Old 7th November 2019, 11:27 PM   #24
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Well done Bruno!!
That example REALLY looks like yours! and while I cannot make out the scribed letters in the remarkably similar 'dumbbell' cross guard, it is tempting to think they may be another grouping of the 'field' type inscriptions on these swords.

The book on American Revolutionary war swords comprehensively illustrates many examples of the swords in use at the time in America. Not surprisingly there are many from assorted European countries, and actually numbers of these were from Spain. Spain actually was indirectly involved supportively in limited degree with the Colonials, as was France of course, sharing their ever present friction with England.

While it would be good to establish from a corroborating source that these brass lionhead swords were indeed French, it does seem they were somehow present in North American context, here appearing in two disparate sources.

Returning to the interesting markings, the subject of the thread, my references to the possible abbreviations of the lettering here are admittedly inadequate specifically, however they reflect a style of combinations which were used on Mexican arms (and uniforms) I have seen. These notes are from researches many years ago and frustratingly incomplete, but the gestalt of the groupings was to me, compelling.

During the American Revolution, there were swords such as 'bilbo's' and other types of Spanish colonial swords which turned up in American context as shown by Neumann. With France as an ally, again in degree, these swords could possibly have turned up here, however with these markings it is more probable that they turned up in Mexico in the acquisitions of 'surplus' after the end of the Napoleonic campaigns.

These materials were being dispersed not only by France, where the artillery acquired by Mexico originated, but by England who was dispersing much of its firearms with cessation of war by 1820s. Napoleon was defeated, and of course not the source of war materials to Santa Anna nor Mexico,....it was simply that Santa Anna admired him.

While these abbreviations and conventions in writing may have been in similar presence in Iberian context, the crude character of their application seems more in accord with the colonial and often remote Mexican possibility than Peninsular, where better facility was available.

Regarding the possible identity of the abbreviated (presumably) regiment on the guard of the OP sword, the 'R' may of course be 'regimento' but the 'F' is unclear. If it was to the name of the unit (honoring heroic officers etc. it is hard to isolate. The N and o would be numero (sword #) ...6, but the next 'F' is unclear.....but could be to fusiliers (?) .

Attached is the image of the sword identified as American Revolutionary war linked in post by Bviera. The indiscernible markings are crude much in the manner of the original example here, but suggest similar context in their application.
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Old 8th November 2019, 12:01 PM   #25
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Excelent finding, Bruno.
Assuming the auctioner is certain of what he offered, both swords date can be placed on the XVIII century.
Apparently this time the engraver went right to business and first assigned the Compania, skipping over the Regimiento ... or, this unit was an 'independent' Company.
We notice that the artist was a different one, with a deeper carving and no ^ separators between figures; although both markings must have come from the same origin (country), that where the swords were first distributed, i would say.
We don't know yet if Bruno's sword was acquired in Europe (Portugal ?), in that the (both) markings were done in this continent, his example 'escaping' to become part of stocks exported to the Americas.
I dare say that, nothing is yet clear; even the R could Real, as often Spanish forces could be described ... this just to switch on the complicometer .

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Old 8th November 2019, 05:50 PM   #26
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Just acquired, another Lion head Artillery sword, appears to be German, slightly recurved blade. Scabbard needs some TLC to re-attach the chape. Will pick up early next week, not sure about any markings yet. They seem to get around...
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Old 8th November 2019, 06:13 PM   #27
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This is the Bavarian Artillery Seitengewehr 1892.
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Old 8th November 2019, 06:16 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by corrado26
This is the Bavarian Artillery Seitengewehr 1892.

Thanks, that's what I was hoping. Worth a bit more than I paid for mine I gather.

To personalise it a bit: He looks just like me at that age! (kinda blurry pic)
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Old 8th November 2019, 06:40 PM   #29
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These cast iron hilts did become more widely used by other ranks units in the latter 18th century as this means of production made large volumes of munitions grade weaponry better facilitated.
The 'lion head' was popular as a pommel style throughout Europe from much earlier of course, and these hilts seem to have been incorporated into many other ranks of varied units of artillery or support units. Specialized units such as sappers, miners etc.

With our two lionhead swords in discussion, as I have suggested, these appear to both be of what appears to be a French pattern, and in Revolutionary War period context. While the swords themselves seem the same, and probably from the same production source (probably in France? we need more confirmation of that classification). ….these MARKINGS are not from the production source......they appear to be FIELD MARKINGS.

These are inventory marks which were typically applied in ersatz manner by less than skilled individuals charged with that duty while on campaign.
The styling and inconsistent use of letters, acronyms, superscript and separations are characteristic of the mélange of units in the Mexican army fashioned by Santa Anna et al.

The Revolutionary War (period) classification is simply a broad context loosely applied (typically) to weapons appearing of that period. It does not geographically signify they have that provenance. A 19th c. sabre found in Alabama is not necessarily Civil War nor Confederate, it is plausibly suggested so.

These two swords APPEAR to have become used in what I deem Mexican context in some manner about 1820s+ and marked as previously suggested. Naturally this is suggestion pending further research but I feel compelled at the idea at this point.

The meaning of the letters is difficult without better rosters of Mexican units, to determine what they might represent. While the R for real is tempting, it does not seem a character used in Mexican context in unit markings. In most cases it seems for Regimento, much as the C for compania.

The No followed by number seems to be a rack number where applicable, I cannot make out the rest of the inscription on the second sword.

With regard to the estimation of unit designations I have described in Mexican context, most of the notes I had mentioned were from various buttons and badge or accoutrement devices which were excavated in situ from sites in Mexico. As noted, rather than systemic designations there were often dramatic variations in unit identifications by letters and numbers. In many cases they were for places or names significant for origin or commanders etc.
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