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Old 16th July 2020, 12:36 AM   #1
Bryce
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Default Andria Ferara Blade

G'day Guys,
I have a British, 1788 pattern, heavy cavalry officer's sword, which has an older blade marked "Andria Ferara". The hilt dates from the 1780's, but the blade is of a style commonly found on mortuary hilts of the mid 17th century. Is there any way of determining if the blade really does date from the 17th century, or is an 18th century blade made in the style of the 17th century? Either way it is a great example of its type.
Cheers,
Bryce
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Old 16th July 2020, 01:15 AM   #2
Jim McDougall
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Really nice example Bryce!! The M1788 or so it is regarded though not officially a 'pattern', is sort of come by in the 'heavy cav/dragoon' hilt.
Im not familiar with this pattern blade being found on mortuaries but you have likely seen more than me.
The ANDREA FERARA however seems atypical for such markings of 17th c. and the 'mortuary' I have with Andrea Ferara is block letters as are the Xs.
This style lettering seems almost 'oriental' and not in a font I have ever seen for this inscription. The late 18th c. of course did seem to lean toward some almost fanciful blade decoration, and officers with their affinity for exotic and unique might account for this anomaly.
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Old 16th July 2020, 02:14 AM   #3
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Thanks Jim,
I forgot to include some dimensions with my original post. The backsword blade is 90cm long and 3.2cm wide at the ricasso. It is double-edged for the last 30cm. Below is a mortuary hilt from the Royal Armouries collection with an almost identical blade.
Cheers,
Bryce
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Old 16th July 2020, 01:39 PM   #4
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Thank you Bryce for the images of that mortuary! I had not thought of that type fullering being that early, but now recalling that seen on numbers of Scot basket hilt blades of that period it makes sense.
I remember thinking it was odd to see an ANDREA FERARA on my mortuary which is c.1640's, but then the Solingen blades were coming into England as well as Scotland. It was the OLD notion that Andrea Ferara blades were keenly Scottish, now well dispelled that put that thought in mind.

This inscriptions with doubled ANDREA on one side and double FERARA on the other, the oriental style letters and use of 'I' instead of 'E' in ANDREA are most curious. It is surprising how much this famed name has inspired so many interpretations with not only quality, but magical imbuement implied.
While not expecting officers to necessarily adhere to such notions, it was the matter of fashion and status that compelled them in these interesting sword features.
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Old 16th July 2020, 09:54 PM   #5
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Here is another example from the net with the same blade fullering and Andria Ferara placed the same way.
Cheers,
Bryce
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Old 17th July 2020, 02:15 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryce
Here is another example from the net with the same blade fullering and Andria Ferara placed the same way.
Cheers,
Bryce



Hmmmm! Velly interesting! We seem to have had a purveyor using the same artisan or shop, would be great to figure who and where, but thats not likely.
Either way, sure looks like a heirloom blade placed in the 1788.
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Old 17th July 2020, 11:57 AM   #7
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Bryce I can see this sword having a family blade. If only it could speak as to the family name it belongs to. This is one pattern I'd like to add to my collection.
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Old 17th July 2020, 04:01 PM   #8
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It might be a heirloom blade , and I did not realize these were 18th c. fuller pattern, but these mortuary examples speak volumes. If only the purveyors of imported blades had records of the decoration often applied to them as they were supplied to 'sword slippers' as per weapons for officers and gentry.

We know that certain 'Ferara' blades had numerous variations, for example certain known examples had the Wundes kings heads, four in number, which alternated with the Andrea Ferara letters. This feature is actually described in an article or some published document or ad. In many cases blades being sold in the 18th century were advertised, as described in Aylward ("The Small Sword in England", 1945).
We know that there was a 'fluer de lis' street located , I believe, in London, where imported blades were sold/auctioned in bundles, and many blades marked with fluer de lis device center blade are known, of 18th c. There is a long held convention that this device signals French attribution, however clearly it is not.

With these interesting, to my eye at least, letters (the misspelled Andrea not withstanding) which seem to be oriental, specifically Chinese, there seems a possibility of some connection to the East Indies trade. Officers would commission swords of course, which signifies India, however there were Chinese ports in these networks. Might there be a tenuous connection to the EIC?
While 'mortuary' swords are notoriously associated with the English civil wars, it would seem thier use (which actually predated those events) might have found use outside that context. Perhaps looking into records and examples of other English swords and items with these trade contexts might bring some clues? i.e. other items marked with this oriental 'chop' type styling.

The weapons often do 'talk' , but it up to us to find the questions to ask, and even the most subtle clues can offer at least reasonably plausible answers. Though typically not empirically provable, these answers can be most compelling.
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Old 18th July 2020, 12:37 AM   #9
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G'day Guys,
I actually purchased this sword 4 months ago, but it has only just arrived. USPS misplaced it for over 3 months?

In the mean time I had forgotten how many early to mid 17th century examples of this style of blade I had found searching the net. I couldn't find any 18th century examples.

Jim, I think any connection to the East based on the blade engraving style may be very tenuous indeed. Could this actually be a Hounslow blade? There is evidence that the 17th century cutler Benjamin Stone got into trouble for putting "false marks" on his blades.

Cheers,
Bryce
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Old 18th July 2020, 02:47 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryce
G'day Guys,
I actually purchased this sword 4 months ago, but it has only just arrived. USPS misplaced it for over 3 months?

In the mean time I had forgotten how many early to mid 17th century examples of this style of blade I had found searching the net. I couldn't find any 18th century examples.

Jim, I think any connection to the East based on the blade engraving style may be very tenuous indeed. Could this actually be a Hounslow blade? There is evidence that the 17th century cutler Benjamin Stone got into trouble for putting "false marks" on his blades.

Cheers,
Bryce


Im glad you finally got it Bryce!
The EIC connection might indeed be quite tenuous, however the use of these 'chop' characters is distinctly Eastern of course. There were considerable connections where it was quite fashionable to wear 'exotic' swords....in the 17th c. there were English gentry wearing kastane from Ceylon; and nimcha from the Meditteranean.
The Dutch had 'factories' in Peking, and eventually brought Chinese artisans to the Netherlands. A style of small sword termed Tonquinese developed with EIC there and in England (Tonquin was actually Viet Nam) and shakudo was a style of decoration of the time primarily Japanese.

In Europe, 'Chinese' style became popular in the 18th c. and brought into hilt styles in many cases.

It does not seem unreasonable that the 'oriental' theme which had become so fashionable might be used to apply a famed name often thought of in an almost 'magical' character, and in this exotic 'chop' to further that effect.
This seems possible even more because a spurious name or mark this far 'outside the box' can only have been added in such manner, as it would hardly be perceived as authentic of the standard manner of application.

This would not have had anything to do with Stone or Hounslow. The shops there were mostly closed when captured by Cromwell, who actually used the mills for powder. Most of the smiths went to Oxford with the King's supply sources. Stone was actually a kind of broker not a maker, and had a mark of 'grapes' but did not really use it if I recall, in fact not any mark I recall.I recall the charge but nothing was specified nor followed up on.
There were Solingen blades with 'proper' Andrea Ferara marks on the mortuaries made probably at Oxford (I have one), where the letters are the usual block letters within the 'sickle' marks.
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Old 19th July 2020, 09:38 PM   #11
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G'day Jim,
Markings aside it seems that this type of blade was manufactured at Hounslow. A search of the net has revealed many examples of this style of blade marked "Me Fecit Hounslow". York Castle Museum has several examples, as does the V and A.
Cheers,
Bryce
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Old 20th July 2020, 01:00 AM   #12
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Thanks very much Bryce!!!
I really had no idea Hounslow made these 'mortuaries' and if these collections have these so marked, then that is pretty resounding. I have associated Hounslow with hangers of course, with the many that are marked with the ME FECIT HOUNSLOE etc. and some of the known names.

As noted, Hounslow was taken by Cromwell, but several makers remained there while the others removed to remain suppliers to Royalists, primarily to Oxford.
As I had mentioned,I have a mortuary which is clearly Solingen with the ANDREA FERARA within the familiar 'sickle'marks and is from 1640s.

So then we return to this rather bizarre 'ANDREA FERARA' in Chinese 'chop' letters, on what we see now as a Hounslow blade.
Hounslow was known to produce maritime oriented hangers........could this be again aligned with influences from trade?
Again, tenuous of course,but why these unusual letters?
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Old 20th July 2020, 03:33 AM   #13
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G'day Jim,
I actually don't think there is anything unusual in the way Andria Ferara is marked on this blade. If you look closely, many Andrea Ferara blades are marked in the same way, it is just that successive polishes have worn the marking down on my blade, leaving only the highlights behind.
Cheers,
Bryce
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Old 20th July 2020, 05:13 AM   #14
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Bryce, as indicated on concurrent thread, I have been going through references of English swords for hours, and am deeply in chagrin at my comments on Hounslow swords previously! Ouch!
It has been some time since revisiting earlier research, but still no excuse for the oversights in my comments, which I have discovered were profoundly in error.

To your example which is on M1788, as discussed, I found this in "Hounslow Hangers" by the late Tony North ( Park Lane Arms Fair, 2004, p.38.).
"...although the factory seems to have closed in the 1670s, the blades made at Hounslow were obviously prized. They are often found mounted in high quality English officers swords of early 18th c.". It is also noted these blades were often mounted in hunting swords of 1730's-40s' (these would be hanger blades).
Clearly the convention of mounting these Hounslow blades would have carried further in the century as well.

Regarding my notes on Hounslow workers leaving Hounslow to go to Oxford for Royalists, it seems that may not be correct also, as per Aylward ("The Small Sword in England", 1945.p.31). Aylward claims that no historic evidence that this happened, however it is noted that many London smiths had originally gone to Hounslow as well (the emphasis has always been on the German smiths). As London was strongly Parliamentarian, even if the Germans did leave, there would have been plenty of workers. It is noted that Hounslow was well organized at the time of the Civil,Wars (1642-1660).He notes further that Hounslow was producing 'the great sword" (= heavy blades for cavalry, proto mortuary types).

In "Some Swords Associated with Oliver Cromwell" by the late Claude Blair (12th Park Lane Arms Fair, 1995, p.26) it is noted that a large number of long heavy swords were sent down to London for Cromwell, which were being made at Hounslow (as Aylward notes).

These were of course likely Solingen blades, and it is noted in "Arms and Armor in Tudor & Stuart London" (M.R.Holmes, 1957. p.30-31) that Hounslow was producing single edge cavalry swords, as well as curved cutlasses for use at sea. It is noted also that requests specified 'Dutch' (=German, duetsch) blades in orders by 1640s.

The illustrations and examples cited in this reference repeatedly note mortuary swords from Hounslow with ME FECIT HOUNSLOE varied, some with maker names and dates , 1636 etc. and many have the running wolf, and other German inscriptions , clearly many blades were finished with the Hounslow markings.

On the fuller pattern, as indicated by Bryce, the asymmetrical fullers and the single flute do appear on MANY examples of mortuary, and from 1630s+ with some being seen as noted in "Catalog of Sword Collection at York Castle Museum" (P.R. Newman, 1985).

Re: Benjamin Stone, who was more an organizer than artisan, and his 'markings'. According to Aylward (1945, op.cit. p.34) in 1638 he petitioned the Privy Council that, "...he may have power of hindering stamping of Spanish and other marks upon blades made by workmen of cutlers co.".
DeCosson however noted (1920) that no forger was successful at reproducing the peculiar style of lettering on Toledo blades.

Stone had his own mark, a bunch of grapes, authorized by Cutlers Co. but unsure if any blades so marked is known.

With the ANDRIA FERARA on this blade of the OP, I still feel this has an 'oriental chop' type style with these flared serifs, and remain keen to know from where this might derive. We know there are at least two with such lettering, and I had hoped something might be in all these references cited, but none had such styling.
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Old 20th July 2020, 11:32 AM   #15
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No worries Jim,
I am just glad that you took an interest.
Cheers,
Bryce
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Old 20th July 2020, 02:46 PM   #16
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[QUOTE=Bryce]No worries Jim,
I am just glad that you took an interest.
Cheers,
Bryce[/QUOT


Interest LOL!
This has been an obsession for more years than I can say, decades really. I guess my interest was beginning to wane, not that 75 is old but your posts on this piqued my interest into overdrive....so THANK YOU!!
I had just hoped that these references as cited would be supportive for what you were saying, and to correct my error.

Also, what I am noting about the character of these markings is to suggest there is something unique and anomalous about them which may have further insight into these sword operations of Hounslow during the Civil Wars.
As I had noted earlier, while Hounslow was producing the cavalry 'mortuaries' it was also producing hangers specifically for maritime use.
"Maritime" of course included the EIC, and again, I think personally that finishing markings placed on the blades which we see were coming from Germany might well have had influences key to individuals with connection to EIC shipping. If so, using the ANDREA FERARA moniker, as so often on cavalry blades (my mortuary has one) might be customized with the flared serif styling of Chinese lettering (pidgin) to appeal to same.

That is my theory, but I profoundly doubt anyone will pursue it further.....I probably will, but that is what I do, study the history of these weapons, and again, I thank you for sharing this here.
OK, Im done rambling, thanks for your attention

Last edited by Jim McDougall : 20th July 2020 at 02:59 PM.
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