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Old 21st December 2018, 04:55 PM   #1
Belgian1
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Default A strongly curved Flank Officer's sword

Hello from Belgium to all,
I am very passionate about English swords of the 18th and 19th centuries and for a long time I have been hoping to find a Flank Officer Sword with an strongly curved blade. These are my favorite and now it's done :-) and I can't resist to show you this ''military originality" with it's 73 cm curved blade ...
What is nice, is that it was mounted with a 1803 Pattern guard. The blade could be 18th?? The condition is not very good but it is its history that makes it very attractive.
Today I think they are uncommon or not very popular ... Sword for parade or for skirmishes and close combat in restricted areas?
In any case, this one seems to have valiantly fought....
What do you think about my new find? What can you teach me about it?

Kind regards from Belgium
PS: I am looking for a brass fitting of the same type for the top of the scabbard.
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Old 21st December 2018, 05:53 PM   #2
fernando
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Oh, i love these exorbitantly curved blades.
If you use the Search button above under the word "parabolic", you may find discussions on these peculiarities.
There is one measurement you could take that will give a real idea of the blade curvature, a parameter which we call "flecha" (arrow) over here.

PS
If you look HERE

,
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Old 22nd December 2018, 12:13 AM   #3
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Fernando that is a lovely blade. I believe it is all original as many 1803's had blades that differed in width, length and curvature. The false edge is interesting as it helps in a thrust but with such a curved blade it would be difficult .
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Old 22nd December 2018, 01:25 AM   #4
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These really are intriguing swords, and the character of these often dramatically curved blades (parabolic +++!) is really puzzling. It does seem, as shown in previous discussions, that the actual purpose for these curious curves is still really undetermined.
As mentioned, the clipped point (or false edge) does serve in a thrust, but even with my limited understanding of physics, the curve of the blade would defy the direction of force needed to penetrate (I would think).


In these times of often flamboyant and dramatic military fashion, is it possible that such exaggeration was the case, officers wearing these wildly curved sabres to look 'exotic'? There were numerous other cases of such exaggeration, such as the scabbard worn low slung so it dragged and scraped as the dismounted trooper walked (why the element at the tip of the scabbard is called the 'drag'). Such 'effects' were to impress, perhaps in the fashion of a cowboy and the 'chink' of his spurs.


Just more thoughts on the possible reasons for these blades. While I know these various flank company curved swords were typically for officers, who were mounted...…..I have one which seems rather pedestrian for an officer....unless it is a 'fighting' example used by one.

Admittedly a lousy picture but taken years ago. This has a pipeback and sharp tip, which makes me think of thrusting. It is possible to 'give point' as often used by French cavalry from high tierce position, thrust downward, but as Will says.....difficult.
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Old 22nd December 2018, 07:33 AM   #5
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Never underestimate the influence of fashion on military thinking. The highly curved swords seem to have been made merely to impress the ladies. Flank officers usually held themselves above ordinary mortals and the chance to ape the flashy light cavalry when out riding or walking around town was simply irresistible. Add to that the unpopularity of the 1796 infantry sword and you have a strong movement for change. As fighting blades, they were not good. The official 1803 fared slightly better but had been produced to try and stop the use of exotically curved blades by young flank officers. While officers were usually mounted going to and from the battle they usually fought on foot. A couple of pics, standard 1803 and a more exotic flank officers sword.
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Old 22nd December 2018, 03:56 PM   #6
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As Robert has well noted, military fashion in these times was profoundly observed as the officers of cavalry (and the elites such as flan companies et al) were very much the 'rock stars' of the time. I think one of the best illustrations of this swaggering character (in my opinion) is the Ridley Scott movie "The Duellists". It is based on a true story by Joseph Conrad, I think it was titled "The Duel", and about two French cavalry officers caught up in a specious affront who would duel whenever they were near each other.
The young cavalry officer (played by David Carradine) is told that all the ladies will swoon at his reputation, not to mention his swaggering character.
The colorful Napoleonic uniforms, hair styling, etc. really portray the hubris and fashion awareness.
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Old 22nd December 2018, 05:40 PM   #7
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Default A strongly curved Flank Officer's sword

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertGuy
Never underestimate the influence of fashion on military thinking. The highly curved swords seem to have been made merely to impress the ladies. Flank officers usually held themselves above ordinary mortals and the chance to ape the flashy light cavalry when out riding or walking around town was simply irresistible. Add to that the unpopularity of the 1796 infantry sword and you have a strong movement for change. As fighting blades, they were not good. The official 1803 fared slightly better but had been produced to try and stop the use of exotically curved blades by young flank officers. While officers were usually mounted going to and from the battle they usually fought on foot. A couple of pics, standard 1803 and a more exotic flank officers sword.


Many thanks RobertGuy for your pertinent comment. Yes indeed I had already hear about this explanation over a possible "fashion influence". But yet, this type of sword has been worn in battle and I have doubts about its sole function to influence the ladies. This would have been a dangerous suicidal fashion, a kind of "song of the swan ...". I think, rather, that this style of saber was intended to show his membership of an elite fighting troop and to be identified directly and thus get the laurels and merits of the unit with of course, the best intentions of the young ladies. But above all, it would be an object of "social" distinction, before the regulation, at the time when the officers of certain combat units could assert their whims with this type of fantasy. Like the swords of the officers of the "60th Foot" who had, by caprice, asked and obtained the autorization to have , an gilded brass D shape guard on their Pattern 1796 or the entier gilded brass handle and scabbard of the "Duke of Cumberland's Sharpshooters Rifle Unit". It also said, that this type of strongly curved blade are a variant of an ephemeral Pattern 1799....
But this topic deserves to be the subject of historical research because I believe that we are not the only ones to want to find a "official military" answer of historical source
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Old 22nd December 2018, 05:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Oh, i love these exorbitantly curved blades.
If you use the Search button above under the word "parabolic", you may find discussions on these peculiarities.
There is one measurement you could take that will give a real idea of the blade curvature, a parameter which we call "flecha" (arrow) over here.

PS
If you look HERE

,


The depth of the curve in the middle of the blade (between the two ends) is 11 cm. It's the most curved of my "intriguing" British swords.
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Old 22nd December 2018, 07:32 PM   #9
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So the bow of your blade is just about the same as this War production sabre made in Cadiz for a light Cavalry "personal equipment"; as if this was the current 'extreme' curvature produced in factories. On the other hand, if i well recall, there are sources suggesting that another procedure was to acquire sabres with a current bow and then have them re-curved in a private smith. But this would then require new scabbards with a correspondent curve.


..
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Old 22nd December 2018, 11:08 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belgian1
Many thanks RobertGuy for your pertinent comment. Yes indeed I had already hear about this explanation over a possible "fashion influence". But yet, this type of sword has been worn in battle and I have doubts about its sole function to influence the ladies. This would have been a dangerous suicidal fashion, a kind of "song of the swan ...". I think, rather, that this style of saber was intended to show his membership of an elite fighting troop and to be identified directly and thus get the laurels and merits of the unit with of course, the best intentions of the young ladies. But above all, it would be an object of "social" distinction, before the regulation, at the time when the officers of certain combat units could assert their whims with this type of fantasy. Like the swords of the officers of the "60th Foot" who had, by caprice, asked and obtained the autorization to have , an gilded brass D shape guard on their Pattern 1796 or the entier gilded brass handle and scabbard of the "Duke of Cumberland's Sharpshooters Rifle Unit". It also said, that this type of strongly curved blade are a variant of an ephemeral Pattern 1799....
But this topic deserves to be the subject of historical research because I believe that we are not the only ones to want to find a "official military" answer of historical source





I agree 100% Belgian, like most unusual topics of this kind, more stringent research is definitely warranted. Officers were very well known for whimsical notions in their fashion in these times......even the storied 'Beau Brummel' (the quintessant fashion prince) was in a military unit. ...but not sure of his impact on the fashions.


It does seem that officers, who were of course typically from gentry and higher echelon station, indeed had great latitude in the swords they would commission. I am not sure if these elaborate or unusual types would have been worn into battle......it seems most officers had a selection of swords which included 'undress' and fighting examples which went on campaign.


The M1796 infantry officers dress sword, which had a hilt very much like that of a smallsword, bilobate guard, and was much hated by officers who took them on campaign in the Peninsula. The note on the M1803 intended to standardize the blades more reasonably for flank company officers is also interesting.


While a curved sabre is of course dynamically suited for slashing cuts off a mount or in movement.......it would not necessarily be so (I would think) dismounted and in melee or close combat. These incredibly curved blades would be totally awkward in such conditions it would seem.


Are we certain of these used in combat?
Interesting note on the 'ephemeral' 'pattern' (?) 1799 , I have not heard of this, can we know more?


A note regarding long and deeply curved blades and actual use, in America just before War of 1812....the Virginia Manufactory of Arms produced a number of very long and deeply curved blades. These were so cumbersome that troops rejected them. They were placed in storage and prior to Civil War these had blades shortened, rescabbarded for issue.
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Old 23rd December 2018, 11:23 AM   #11
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Well one thing we may repute as certain; arcuate blades in such manner, wherever its fashion started, had no frontier limits. British had them, Spanish had them, Portuguese had them and, so it seems, the Russians also had a go at it.
Look at the example below; judging by its relative dimensions, its bow must be close from the 20 cms.
However apart from this exponential specimen, parabolic blades must have seen field use. We should not forget that, the blow applied by curved sabres wasn't necessarily the thrust but also the slash in that, the blade would describe a short and rapid semi circle, its arch intensifying the cutting effect; so says Eduardo Nobre in his book "As Armas e os Barões", where he adds that, the blade curvature could be at times so exaggerated that, when the soldier raised his armed arm up to his (left) shoulder, the sabre point would touch his opposite shoulder.


.
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Old 23rd December 2018, 01:04 PM   #12
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Default A strongly curved Flank Officer's sword

Yes indeed, this type of sword is a very interesting subject and that begins, I think, to raise "attentions". But I would like to add that I also think that it is true sabers of combat, but perhaps for particular missions. For if they were mostly swords of "parade" or "seductions", I do not think they would have been worn with leather scabbards, intended for the battlefields, but with only metal scabbards.. (??). What do you think of my assumption?

For the reference of "experimental model in 1799 and ephemeral" I'm trying to find my notes I flushed out there somewhere there's 2 or 3 years .... I'll come back with.

Kind regards and a Merry Christmas to all members and their family.
Fabrice
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Old 23rd December 2018, 01:15 PM   #13
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Default A strongly curved Flank Officer's sword

Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Well one thing we may repute as certain; arcuate blades in such manner, wherever its fashion started, had no frontier limits. British had them, Spanish had them, Portuguese had them and, so it seems, the Russians also had a go at it.
Look at the example below; judging by its relative dimensions, its bow must be close from the 20 cms.
However apart from this exponential specimen, parabolic blades must have seen field use. We should not forget that, the blow applied by curved sabres wasn't necessarily the thrust but also the slash in that, the blade would describe a short and rapid semi circle, its arch intensifying the cutting effect; so says Eduardo Nobre in his book "As Armas e os Barões", where he adds that, the blade curvature could be at times so exaggerated that, when the soldier raised his armed arm up to his (left) shoulder, the sabre point would touch his opposite shoulder.


.

And if it was a second weapon for close combat with 2 different weapons in the both hands of the fighter ??? Not impossible but hypothesis without any conviction but .... ;-) For specific combat modes and specific to elite units that were also specialized in harassment and skirmishes. In any case, it exist many engravings whith Napoleonic period Officers, who's bears this kind of extremely strongly curved sword
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Old 23rd December 2018, 02:31 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belgian1
... I do not think they would have been worn with leather scabbards, intended for the battlefields, but with only metal scabbards.. (??). What do you think of my assumption?...

However you can have leather scabbards with luxurious trimmings, like in your post #1. It appears that leather scabbards for the field would be an indicator, but not a definite one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Belgian1
...Kind regards and a Merry Christmas to all members and their family...

Thank you ... and the same to you Fabrice .
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Old 23rd December 2018, 04:37 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Well one thing we may repute as certain; arcuate blades in such manner, wherever its fashion started, had no frontier limits. British had them, Spanish had them, Portuguese had them and, so it seems, the Russians also had a go at it.
Look at the example below; judging by its relative dimensions, its bow must be close from the 20 cms.
However apart from this exponential specimen, parabolic blades must have seen field use. We should not forget that, the blow applied by curved sabres wasn't necessarily the thrust but also the slash in that, the blade would describe a short and rapid semi circle, its arch intensifying the cutting effect; so says Eduardo Nobre in his book "As Armas e os Barões", where he adds that, the blade curvature could be at times so exaggerated that, when the soldier raised his armed arm up to his (left) shoulder, the sabre point would touch his opposite shoulder.


.





Very well explained, and of course we know curved blades were indeed used in combat situations, extremely much so with the light cavalry which evolved from 'Oriental' styled tactics of Turks, Caucasians, Cossacks, East Europeans etc. The most notable effect of the sabre was the 'draw cut' which as described extended the point of contact in the cut.I am not sure if I am expressing that properly as my understanding of physics and mathematics is pretty dismal.


However, this very extreme example well illustrates the limitations of effectiveness with a curved blade. There seems like little hope for a cut to follow the line of this dramatic curve. It also always amazes me at how these could be effectively put into and withdrawn from the scabbard. Even the similarly curved Ottoman sabre has a slot at the throat to permit these actions.


I am beginning as well to wonder at the use of the mathematical term parabolic to describe these blades, and now I seem to recall I dragged that term out of Burton from one of his descriptions years ago. In looking at the term further and in the graph attached, it does not seem accurate and hope I did not misconstrue its use. It does not seem to be used in other references that I have seen.


Turning to the scabbard question, again with officers it would seem to have been a matter of preference. Obviously the rank and file had iron scabbards (but earlier lined with wood) which they finally realized horribly dulled the blades.

I suppose that concerning military 'fashion' it is well to consider just how nonsensical the uniforms were, with the Napoleonic era being a good illustration. The tall and uncomfortable shakos, especially the bearskin one of the Scots Greys, which they complained were full of lice. The colorful uniforms, while brillant in pageantry but terribly impractical.
Given all of this, certainly there may have been instances of officers taking all manner of their chosen weaponry, and perhaps included such sabres as these examples.

With the artwork which depicts these often famed battles, the element of artistic license is always looming and contested. Many depictions were done in a range of time after the events, using accounts taken from those present. A good example is the beautiful painting by Lady Butler of the charge of the Scots Greys at Waterloo, "Scotland Forever". This stirring and wonderful depiction (one of my favorites) however, is considerably away from what really occurred there that day.

In other instances, with British swords there were paintings made of the uniforms of the units which of course included the hangers worn by the infantry. The types worn had been in use for some time, but because of the dates of the paintings the hangers became known as 'patterns' of the respective years.

Basically we cannot say broadly whether or not these unusual and often dramatic sabres were actually used in combat and in what degree. We cannot say unequivocably whether leather or metal scabbards were used in accord with dress or battle, as in many cases battle was obviously a 'dress up' occasion.

The use of multiple weapons in combat did not include variations of the same arm for different purposes, particularly the sword. While in earlier times of course there was the estoc or tuck (a larger thrusting sword) worn under the saddle for dismounted combat, while the sabre was for mounted use, and war hammer, bow and arrows etc. (Rembrandt's "Polish Rider).....such a panapoly of arms was not used in military forces of the times we discuss.

Many officers did not consider the 'business of fighting' their place, and simply regarded their duty was to direct their troops, and in that regard the sword became a device of signal and direction. Though movies often portray officers as waving their sabres as they lead into battle, that was not always the case. Obviously many did, and those we chose to serve as exemplars.
In such cases of 'directing' officers, clearly a handsome and notable sword would be well placed.
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Old 23rd December 2018, 05:35 PM   #16
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Call it mathematics, geometry ... whatever.
The sword smith, whether an engineer or a village illiterate (like me) ought to thoroughly negotiate these (call them perfect) round lines; specially if there is no slot at the scabbard throat to compensate for those (call them imperfect) ones.
I take it that there are ancient practical methods to resolve these issues without any scholarship, though. Something like building an aqueduct without ending up with the water stopping to run half way to its end; do you know the trick ?
But i digress .


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Old 23rd December 2018, 06:21 PM   #17
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Exactly! Geometry, math whatever, and not sure if my engineering skills'(?) are up to the aqueduct thing. But the thing is, this incredible curve and this scabbard seem to me to be daunting...…..this ain't exactly 'quick draw' !!
I think of the horsemen in the Caucusus, and that they wore their shashkas with blade up, so that the sabre as withdrawn would go directly to the slashing draw cut. in one sweep.

Regardless, in field 'innovation' men could pretty much make anything work as best as it could. The main axiom in consideration is that there are really no hard and fast rules set for these matters, and the intrigue is in studying the variations and incidental cases.
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Old 24th December 2018, 07:54 AM   #18
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Romans also lined their aqueducts with concrete of a much better grade than we use. it was waterproof, and even could set under water. They also could make water run up hill without pumps*! Concrete (and stone) is crap in tension, so they always designed their buildings so concrete was never in tension. Our 'modern' re-enforced concrete usually only lasts a few decades, water seeps in and rusts the rebar. rust takes up more room than steel, so internal pressures crack the concrete, and it eventually fails. The Parthenon in Rome has been around for a couple millenia, it's huge concrete dome has NO rebar, and we'd struggle to duplicate it and it's life even now.

They were quite aware that too steep an incline of the duct was as bad as too shallow. Too shallow, not enough flow, too steep and water velocity for the desired flow rate can increase pressures in directional changes. The water effectively jamming or blowing out the system. They also covered the ducting to prevent evaporation. They also tunnelled through rock from both sides, usually meeting with very little offset (but not always!)

*- http://www.romanaqueducts.info/pict...rpen/siphon.htm

p.s.- Fernandos example could use a wheel on the chape drag

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Old 28th December 2018, 12:19 PM   #19
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To return to the fashionable aspect - I think we need to consider the number of volunteer and militia units there were in the UK during the Napoleonic wars. Their purpose was home defence in the event of an invasion and a certain amount of internal peace-keeping. They were not expected to be sent abroad. For most of the wars these out-numbered the regular army.
My point is that officering these units was a patriotic and fashionable thing to do, not even requiring military experience, and without the fear of imminent combat there was ample opportunity for flamboyance and a peacockery.
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Old 28th December 2018, 04:52 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard G
To return to the fashionable aspect - I think we need to consider the number of volunteer and militia units there were in the UK during the Napoleonic wars. Their purpose was home defence in the event of an invasion and a certain amount of internal peace-keeping. They were not expected to be sent abroad. For most of the wars these out-numbered the regular army.
My point is that officering these units was a patriotic and fashionable thing to do, not even requiring military experience, and without the fear of imminent combat there was ample opportunity for flamboyance and a peacockery.
Regards
Richard



Well noted Richard...…….most of these guys were high end gentry, and all manner of well heeled station. It seems a lot like the 'hunting sword' theme of court and dress swords, a lot of embellishment and fashion in hilts, blades and scabbards. All about impression and status. Kinda the 'Beau Brummel' syndrome I guess
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