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Old 29th December 2020, 11:12 PM   #1
urbanspaceman
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Default Colichemardes: re-started from hi-jacked thread

I un-intentionally hi-jacked someone else's thread so I have moved to this new one.
This gilt on iron smallsword hilt (see below) was posted by Corrado24 on the 24th instant and I posted the following responses which I include here as a new thread to prevent further hi-jacking of his thread:
You will see that the fuller of the wide face of the blade (or the lower face as it is sometimes described) is actually a constant width groove, not a hollow with a decreasing radius.
This is a product of the rolling machine invented by the Huguenots in Solingen in the early 1600s and used to produce colichemarde blades.
There are a few regular (non colichemarde) smallswords that feature this style of blade but generally they feature less expensive hilts as they were much cheaper to make than the traditional 'three similar faced ' blades.
I am not, however, saying that inexpensive hilts always featured this style of blade, rather the reverse, that these blades have, to my knowledge so far, always been seen on base metal hilts.
The gilding on this hilt is particularly attractive though, despite being a base metal product.
If anyone has, or has seen, a colichemarde blade that doesn't feature this constant width groove, I would really appreciate a look.
Corrado24 was a bit mystified by my post (my apologies) so I responded thusly:
The blade in question IS NOT a colichemarde...obviously, but it does feature a constant width groove on the wide face - or lower/bottom face - that is a characteristic of every colichemarde I have seen to date.
It is virtually impossible - even today - to design a machine that will mechanically grind a hollow/fuller that has a decreasing radius in a single pass.
It is possible to use a roller to produce a constant width groove.
The stock triangular (cross-section) material was placed, wide face up, into a mould cut into a block, and the roller forced the metal down and formed two small - pre. shaped - hollows as it pressed a groove into the wide face. Obviously, this was done while the metal was hot and malleable.
That block with a mould cut into it was used as early as the Middle-Ages to produce a version of the Estoc, but in that case the pressure came by hammering a 'fuller' (this is the name of the tool and it gave its name to the result) down onto the metal. We used the same principle to produce early Brown Bess bayonets.
Exactly why this machine was used to produce colichemardes is something I have yet to ascertain and it fascinates me; hence my request for sight of anomalies.
There are a few colichemardes that feature the groove extending all the way to the top of the forte although most end at the lower shoulder.
Perhaps folk would like to indulge in this new and previously ignored research of mine; I would be grateful for all the input and assistance I can get. As I mentioned earlier, I have never seen a colichemarde with anything other than the constant width groove, but maybe there are folk out there who have.
The groove rolling machine was in use in Birmingham: probably taken there by Mohll/Mole from Shotley Bridge - who was descended from the Mohll who first took the machine out of Solingen; I have a Naval smallsword by Thos. Gill (a one-off special commission made during the reign of George 3rd) that has just such a grove. I have also seen smallswords of munition's grade with a similar blade to the one from Corrado24.
The machine made production much cheaper than Solingen's insistence on hand manufacture (Luddites) so it was taken to Shotley Bridge in 1687 along with the machine for powered grinding of regular hollow trefoil blades – which, for a long time, were produced in Solingen using hand-files only.
However, as no smallsword blade has ever been seen with an armourer's mark - other than the Klingenthal output - it has remained a mystery as to where they came from. My intention is to show conclusively that colichemarde blades were made in Shotley Bridge using the secret machine (despite it being much talked about) but I need to confirm they were not made in Solingen with a regular hand-ground lower hollow.
As less than five percent of all smallswords extant have colichemarde blades we are not talking about vast numbers here.
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Old 30th December 2020, 10:21 AM   #2
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attached an example of a colichemard blade without a fuller 1740, and a precursor of the colichemard blade with a reinforced forte 1650.
Maybe by colichemarde you mean something else? Can you post an example of a colichemarde with a parallel groove/fuller?

To me a colichemarde blade/smallsword is a blade where the strongest part, il forte, of the blade is wider than the rest.( il terso and I debole)
A development that probably started in France between 1670-1690. (seitz blankwaffenII) the name colichemarde probably comes from the inventor, but this cannot be proven, General Otto Wilhelm von Koenigsmarck. (Aylward, 1946).
best,
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Old 30th December 2020, 11:02 AM   #3
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I found two further small swords without fullers at the wide side
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Old 30th December 2020, 03:47 PM   #4
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Default Colichemardes

I am sorry, I appear to be confusing the issue rather than illuminating it.
In brief:
all colichemardes observed to date - by myself and the numerous dealers and collectors I have consulted - have a rolled, constant-width groove, on the wide face, below the forte; rather than a hollow with a decreasing radius, as seen on the two upper faces and the majority of non-colichemarde smallswords.
There are also a few (very few) colichemardes with a groove that extends to the top of the forte, rather than the majority which end at the lower shoulder of the forte. Attached is an example and a picture of this sword compared to regular colichemardes: pics courtesy of my friend Mel.
If there are ascribed monikers for these positions on the forte then perhaps the cognoscenti would appraise me please.
The machine used to roll the groove in a colichemarde has also been used to produce inexpensive battlefield-issue smallswords: they are not common but equally not rare; the example posted by Corrado is just such a sword. I have attached another typical grooved battlefield smallsword which could almost have sharpened edges if desired.
What I am searching for are colichemardes with a varying radius hollow on the entire length of the wide face: if anyone has seen such a thing please let me share in your good fortune as I haven't found a one to date, and no-one I have spoken to has either.
Failing that, this means that all colichemardes (name meaning and purpose unknown) have been made using the secret machine that was built by Huguenots in Solingen around 1630.
Colichemardes pre-date Konigsmarcke and the exact purpose of the extra width forte has never been absolutely determined, although the obvious purpose is as a blocking defence against heavier blades.
There are also examples of a colichemarde shaped blade with alternative fullers in the forte and no hollows in the rest of the blade, but I have only seen one (attached: but I can't remember where it was found which is a pity as it is a fascinating sword).
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Old 30th December 2020, 03:53 PM   #5
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Default ps BTW

Cornelistromp, I nearly forgot:
the sword on the right dated 1640 is an equally fascinating blade: is it yours?
It looks Dutch.
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Old 30th December 2020, 05:35 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urbanspaceman
Cornelistromp, I nearly forgot:
the sword on the right dated 1640 is an equally fascinating blade: is it yours?
It looks Dutch.



ah I now see what you mean by the narrow fuller in colichemarde blades, This type of fuller occurs indeed on smallswords from the mid-18th century, usually of triangular section with hollow ground.
yes the equestrian hilt from my collection is attributed to the Dutch, however the high quality carving of some of the hilts also points in the direction of the medal makers in Paris.
For some other examples of "fortified" blades attributed to the netherlands, see eg.

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=24844

best,
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Old 30th December 2020, 11:21 PM   #7
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Default Dutch blade shapes

These fortified blade trans raps are fascinating; thank-you.
The slim unsharpened style of blade seems to have been especially common in the Netherlands.
I have a late 1600s transitional rapier/smallsword that has been tagged as a 'duelling rapier' although precisely what constitutes such a sword is somewhat vague in my experience, with only the lack of a knuckleguard being a constant feature.
Later 'first blood' dueling rapiers with equestrian hilts seem to have been common in the Low Countries.
I must try to acquire one of those fortified blade trans raps.
If anyone out there is au fait with Dutch sword history perhaps they can tell me if Solingen ever set up a satellite industry in Rotterdam or was it just a trading post. Bezdek doesn't seem to have discovered one.
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Old 31st December 2020, 10:42 AM   #8
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I would like to recommend the following publication for Dutch major production centres, imports from the various foreign production centers, including Solingen and for export to anyone who needed weapons and equipment with short lead times.
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Old 1st January 2021, 12:31 AM   #9
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Default book suggestion

Thank-you, it certainly looks like a very suitable book to answer my question but it is not available in all the places I searched today.
In complete frankness, I have no profound interest in the overall subject, just in the detail I requested and that, in itself, was of minimal consequence, just one of the many questions that have remained unanswered during my five years of research into the Shotley Bridge story.
I have a list of unexplored issues put aside due to time constraints and narrative necessity; so now my book is finished, it is simply a matter of turning my attention to some of those questions when I find an opportunity, purely in order to satisfy my curiosity.
The question of Solingen workers in the Netherlands was one of those issues. I know trade was conducted out of Rotterdam, but wondered if there were manufactories also.
Again, thank-you Cornelis, for your recommendation, I will continue to look for the book.
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Old 1st January 2021, 03:01 PM   #10
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Default Oral history

So many years ago the fencing master I was studying with spoke on this subject. I have no sources to collaborate my following statements. It is just one man's opinion filtered through my flawed memory. I found the subject fascinating and always hoped to collect a Colichemarde because of this class. We did not get into methods of manufacture. It was a bit outside of the martials arts focus of the class. He said that the groove and subsequent rib in question were for a tactical advantage. The grove lightened the blade and the rib strengthened and stiffened a stabbing weapon. Of course taking away cutting power. He called this basic type of blade an epee and in his presence only blades with this grove were to be referred to as epees. The collecting world seems to disagree with this designation and this was confusing for me for a long time. So far elementary. Now for the debatable portion cogent to urbanspaceman's topic. He went on to say that while this innovation was highly effective creating a very fast moving, agile, point that was still very strong, with an edge that was thin enough to sharpen to discourage grabbing the foible of the blade. In England due to it's swordsman ship being cut and thrust based and the high death rate on the continent of the upper-class in non-military conflicts these innovations were frowned upon a bit and regulated particularly in combination with the weighty, wide forte to defend against heavier swords, including the cut and thrust variety. Creating a weapon too dangerous for civilian use. That said I was surprised to learn of a machine to create this innovation in England. Were the blades made mainly for export?
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Old 2nd January 2021, 12:09 AM   #11
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Default Infernal machines

Much of the enduring tale of the German swordmakers of Shotley Bridge was based on myth, fallacy and deliberate obfuscation; this encouraged some chroniclers to either abandon or simply replicate the task… understandably. This is why it has taken five years of concentrated research to establish a clear, focused and legitimate narrative.
However, at the heart of the tale always lay the 'secret machine' that supposedly gave the Germans a distinct advantage in the manufacture of hollow blades for smallswords, and was cited as the reason for granting a royal charter to the syndicate financiers. Truth be told, we have to question where their competition lay: Solingen imports were tariffed and heavily taxed in the late 1600s.
Much conjecture and controversy attended the existence and design of this machine, which actually persisted all throughout my research period.
As I stated in an earlier posting, it was never possible to design a machine that could fabricate the decreasing radius hollows mechanically in a single pass, and it still isn't; although I suspect I might have come very close.
What I discovered, was that there were two machines, with the second model designed by Huguenots in Solingen on or before 1630. This was the rolling machine I described in that earlier post that was used to produce colichemarde blades and lower priced battlefield-ready smallswords: some with sharpened edges. It was eventually railroaded out of Germany in 1687 in a typical Luddite exercise, as they were not short of manual labour: again thanks to the invasion of Huguenots.
In a previous posting I referred to the scarcity of colichemardes in comparison to regular hollow-blade smallswords; I propose a similar reason as many experts, in that the colichemarde is actually neither use nor ornament, and any sensible officer contemplating battlefield sword-fighting would have nothing to do with them. Maybe off-duty officers, forever on their guard, might have taken them up… but not many.
Was this machine in use in Solingen? I suspect not. Did colichemarde blades ever come out of Solingen? If they did, they would not feature a groove rather than the hollow - at least - not after 1687 anyway: hence my interest in finding such a blade.
This is one of those issues I put on the back burner as it was not critical to my research; but now my book is finished and TV production is at a virtual standstill, I can indulge.
NB I believe the business of an efficacious thrust rather than a debateable cut was first highlighted during the Peninsular War by British medics commenting on the survival rate of the French, but this is not an area I have explored as it is purely peripheral to my principle narrative and not on my list of indulgences: feel free to disabuse.

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Old 2nd January 2021, 11:03 AM   #12
fernando
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urbanspaceman
... There are also a few (very few) colichemardes with a groove that extends to the top of the forte, rather than the majority which end at the lower shoulder of the forte. Attached is an example and a picture of this sword compared to regular colichemardes: pics courtesy of my friend Mel.
...

Is this another one of the kind ?

https://sbg-sword-forum.forums.net/...ue-colichemarde.
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Old 2nd January 2021, 02:33 PM   #13
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Default colichemardes and beyond

Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando


Yes Fernando, this 'quoted as extremely rare' sword is a typical example of the machine rolled battlefield smallsword; although slightly more elaborate in the hilt compared to my friend's example; thank-you for that. I have earmarked this man's smallsword lectures for scrutiny.
I have a similar example, although it is a children's sword. At first glance the blade appears cut-down and may well be, but the relation of the length of the wide forte to the overall length of the blade seems to deny that; plus, the hilt is very small and suitable only for a pre-teen youth. The latten indicates probable French origins and as the sword was found in Aberdeen so a French connection during the Young Pretender period seems possible. There may be an interesting provenance.
This shape is also unusual as it is a colichemarde in all but shoulder and in that respect dissimilar to the example you provided which is an almost constant width blade. It does have sharpened edges however.
On consideration, it is possible that the blade was shortened at both ends and was, in fact, a typical colichemarde with the shoulders removed.
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Last edited by urbanspaceman : 2nd January 2021 at 02:36 PM. Reason: add a note
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