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Old 20th December 2010, 12:41 AM   #1
M ELEY
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Default Federalist period lion hilt saber

Acquired through a recent trade (money being tight as usual) is this American Federalist period brass lion-hilt saber, ca. 1785-1800. This scarce type described in Harold Peterson's "The American Sword", plate 18. Many of these types were inscribed on the blade "American light horse" for the cavalry dragoons. They were discussed at length in a Man-At-Arms article from back in 1992. This pattern sems to be the first true American sword pattern after we officially became a country. The grip is cast as one piece of spiral brass with lion pommel. The hilts were made exclusively in the Philadelphia area for the numerous cavalry units throughout PA, CT, and NY. The blades were imported in the beginning (I have seen many marked Wilhelm Peter Sohn und fecit Solingen, one marked Harvey, and several with American silversmith markings), but later it is believed William Rose supplied the blades. The actual maker of the hilts remains elusive, but some theorize that it was Prahl, who eventually went on to make the solid brass eagle-head pommels that would supplant the lion hilt after 1800 (the age of the Ketland eagle hilts were soon to follow). Searching online and through 20 years worth of old auction catalogs, I've seen several examples all with similar forms, but slight differences to each. On some the lion is very detailed and formed, on others, the details of the lion face is crudely made with etched lines and punched holes (like mine). Several have very thich grips, some have separate grip and pommels, some have variations in the guard, etc. At least two I've seen are made in the classic iron form for cavalry, with backstrap and leather grips (see the Morristown Historical Society site for an example). The swords typically have the four-slotted hilts in brass with large curved blades with slight false edge. Some models lack any fuller, others have two very narrow fullers and some have a wide fuller like my example.
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Old 20th December 2010, 12:46 AM   #2
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Default More pics...

More pics... There are old primitively etched letters on the bottom of the grips near the blade that I'm researching. They seem to spell "WHP" or "WHR" as well as possibly "1891"?? Still looking into possibilities on that one.
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Old 20th December 2010, 12:47 AM   #3
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Default One more...

My example seems to have either a copper guard or perhaps rose brass. It's interesting to note that the American dragoons of the Rev War period used swords that were iron slot hilts, so this pattern became exclusive to the time just after the conflict, but was disgarded after the turn of the century apparently. As the cavalry units of this time were not truly government-sanctioned, they functioned more like the National Guard, with each member responsible for his own uniform/equipment. They were called out during this time period for the Whiskey Rebellion and for several major conflicts with warring Native American tribes. I think this was a very interesting period in history and I'm glad to add it to the collection, even though it is not a "nautical" piece. Comments welcome. Anyone know what the initials scratched into it might be?
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Old 22nd December 2010, 02:34 AM   #4
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Interesting slot

I was prompted by a recent addition of my own and some searching out color ensembles has led me to understand the U.S. cavalry a bit more organized than simple militia without uniforms. Certainly during the revolution there were uniformed troopers by the height of the conflict. While I can't be certain this plank carving represents the green and red of the 4th light dragoons organized at the behest of Washington, the only other color combination that seems to fit would be Austrian. This came out of California, so who knows where it's life began. Here are a couple of quick snaps. So, maybe.

http://fourthdragoons.com/History.html

My Virginia heritage also relates to early militia cavalry stuff

Cheers

GC
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Old 22nd December 2010, 03:54 AM   #5
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Wow, Hotspur, pretty incredible wood-cut you have there. Yes, the uniforms and distinctive "Tarleton helmet" bespoke of the pride these men had in their regiments. Thank you so much for the link to that site as well. The 4th Dragoons were at Yorktown to my understanding. I'm just now reading up on some of the other divisions, especially those associated with Philadelphia (where this sword was made) and am enjoying the research on this early period of American history. Hats off to your Virginia heritage as well, sir!

Although not from NC originally, I've lived here for over 20 years and am a stone's throw from Guilford Courthouse (Nathanial Greene's great Rev War battle) and just an hour or so from the CowPens battlefield. Thanks for posting!
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Old 22nd December 2010, 03:48 PM   #6
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I had a long post building (then lost it) from other sources regarding cast brass hilts but in going through Peterson, Neumann, Bazelon, both Mowbray's along with Flayderman's Medicus; There really is no indication that the sword hilt (or complete venture) was made in America, nor that it was a regulation pattern.

Brass was not at all as common on the American scene of casting because of availability and not until Prahl's cast hilts of the turn of the century do we even see those. There is much more evidence that the cast lion hilts were of European manufacture. There was a severe lack of imported brass for the American's during the later war of 1812 but even back to the wide expanses of horseman's sabers of earlier decades, even the lion pommel variations were less common amongst many lists and indeed by the authors listed above. In the Medicus collection pages regarding the lions of the 18th century, 3 out of four were English made and slotted hilts. The one listed as American is a more complex half basket. None of those with cast grips. Neumann lists one cast gripped lion hilt but leaves origin of the maker open. Bazelon's collection of PA book has a very nice brief of Prahl's revolution contracts of 1776 and later. None until the smooth brass cast grips of the later period are listed as animal forms at all.

The Philly light history I have more notes for here and there but the 4th light of the revolution inducted in that area and initiated there as a regional muster as it were with Maryland, Virginia and Deleware also sending troops that direction.

The Peterson example which is quite like yours and etched to both the owner and the Philly's was/is much more likely to be an officer;'s private purchase than a standardized pattern. The Phral contracts of 1776 while not being well described in the brief bios are regarded somewhat in the much more common iron hillted stirrup type hussar varieties later transitioning to the balled grips and rounded dove head, European influenced again. Neumann and the Medicus title put these more standardized patterns in my mind as prevalent, whether slots, wagon wheels or the simple stirrups.

Long excuse short I think it more likely it is of European manufacture than Philadelphia or the rest of the east coast at that time line. Less refined pommels and guards, surely but I honestly can't suspect the cast grips as U.S. made.

Cheers

GC
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Old 23rd December 2010, 04:51 AM   #7
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I agree whole-heartedly with the premise that these swords were private purchase for officers of the "light horse" corps, but I think the jury is still out as far as to whether these lion-hilts were all made in Europe and exported to the states. The excellent article in the Man-At-Arms magazine studied numerous types of this exact sword and did extensive research (which was backed by Norm Flayderman) that perhaps earlier swords were European-made, but that the Philadephia craftsmen soon came into their own in the latter part of the 18th century. The article had several examples with Phila silversmiths whose names appear on the hilts. Likewise, it was widely known that solid brass hilted cavalry sabers were discouraged in Europe as it was found that blood or sweat made holding onto the hilt difficult in battle. Never-the-less, we see Prahl carrying on this tradition of solid-brass hilts in the later eagle-head swords. Finally (keep in mind I'm going by memory as I don't have the article in hand) the author noted that brass, although not easily accessible, could have been manufactured in small quantities here for private purchase swords (less common after all) and the cost of shipping the brass hilts from over-seas would have been cost-prohibitive as it wasn't valued over-seas. He made several other astute points which I will review when I have time. Then there is the primativeness of the pieces to consider, resembling their Rev War predecessors. In short, I think it is at least possible that these were the start to the brass-hilt swords that were to come.
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Old 23rd December 2010, 08:13 AM   #8
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It is the somewhat contradictory premise introduced in your first post that prompts more source and research work.

Quote:
This scarce type described in Harold Peterson's "The American Sword", plate 18. Many of these types were inscribed on the blade "American light horse" for the cavalry dragoons. They were discussed at length in a Man-At-Arms article from back in 1992. This pattern sems to be the first true American sword pattern after we officially became a country.


Part of the post I lost was in regarding the massive amount of data presented in Neumann's pages listing American horseman sabers. We see one cast grip lion and the origin and maker left an unknown but does relate a European blade. In the several pages of Neumann's horseman's sabers there are indeed several lion pommel swords but pommels only attributed to American. Flayderman's Medicus book lists four lion's in a row all quite similar except for only one of those four being listed American made and three English. None of the four with cast grips.

The use of the lion pommel as iconic as well falls away in my perception as the American continentals such as Washington were not happy with the thought of the lion pommels persisting as a label for their new nation. The eagle does indeed start to pick up steam nationally by the end of the revolution and again, were does that leave the silversmiths and cutlers of New England. It is possible, yes, that cutlers did assemble and even cast full grips but the evidence really does not bear out what is first listed as scarce and then secondly regarded as the first true American pattern.

What I have found of American interpretations of lions (and later eagles, particularly the Osborn Weepers-pcay is listing a doozy of one on the bay right now) show a great deal of coarseness in the differences between texture and finish of chasing the castings and making castings from extant castings instead of producing the wax models. If Prahl is supposed to have been the source for these cast grip lions, why on earth would his eagles have appeared so primitive (along with some other Philadelphia brass casters) compared to the much more refined work going on both in Philadelphia and Baltimore silversmith shops.

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.

With the cast spiral hilts of other English and European examples then combined with lions used in many countries, determining swords with obviously European blade construct (and many so marked) the evidence kind of piles up against anything except compilations by cutlers. Bazelon and Mowbray (the elder) both share Prahl information along with the earlier Peterson notes and it may well be these later publications (as also with Neumann) are kind of on the fence toppling away from absolutes.

With that, I myself would not take an absolute stance either but might be convinced by later findings.

Note the sleekness of the two Neumann's if you have a copy handy. The cast horseman lion (not attached here) is quite like the French/Belgian shortsword grip and also quite like the Prahl blocky grip eagle version.

Cheers

GC
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Old 23rd December 2010, 08:40 AM   #9
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Regarding Peterson, I have just opened it again and the blurb for sword 18 is easy to read much into without regarding the first line. Made in Germany. The similar swords regarded there are not all meant to be cast hilts but simply of a type. It is the blade inscription of American Light Horse that is prevalent and not the cast lion hilt that is being described as common.

The Peterson dating of the Prahl eagle is speculatively outdated and updated with better information in Mowbray's eagle book.

I will admit I am one of the rookies out there and may in time find more of the old articles quite useful in their own rights but a lot has surfaced with the growth of the internet and hard publications as well. I spend an inordinate amount of time speculating regarding eagle pommels and was gearing up to supplant Mowbray the elder's eagle work and then got to reading through the younger and Flayderman assembling the Medicus book. More head scratching yet to be uncovered but the original concept of networking worked through others efforts such as Rankin and Tuite which opened my eyes even further while still leaving more to uncover.

One revelation of my own and not well published is a maker generally assumed and written to have been working in Paris. His work and family actually in Strausborg. Regarded as the mysterious Parisian. I have more to tie that one up for it to be conclusive but it was an internet find, not a book I have.

Cheers

GC

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Old 23rd December 2010, 10:08 AM   #10
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Ahhh, research...it will be the death of us all (right, Jim McD?).

I see your point with the many hilt types coming out of Europe and admit that this sword could have completely been manufactured over-seas. As a matter of fact, the sword I traded to get this one had a solid brass lion-hilt finely formed with octogonal hilt. I have seen this hilt type ascribed to French patterns that were imported to America both during and after the Revolution. Mine was a Spanish colonial broadsword with German made blade, classic 6-sided balde with Spanish markings and motto. I will hang onto the fact, though, that so far, this pattern of private purchase has not been seen in any other European setting. So, motto or not ("American Light Horse"), I think these were made for the American market, specifically for cavalry officers. Until i see one in a Waterloo collection, that is. I seem to remember the article's author stating he didn't belive that either Rose or Prahl had made the hilt, but some 3rd party (Rose never worked in brass save for his later cavalry scabbards, which were poorly made vs his beautiful swords). Likewise, as you stated, Prahl's work appears more primitive. In any case, I appreciate the feedback. It keeps me on my toes-

I know what you mean when you mention the opinions and theories of other authors. Much head-scratching. I think as time goes by, some of those treaties fall by the wayside (In Stu Rankin's book on naval weapons, he at one time was convinced that early U.S. marine swords followed the Brit NCO pattern...an opinion seconded by none). Tuite's article on naval weapons (down-loadable-YES!) was excellent and presents a conundrum when he shows that one-off naval cutlass with iron cylindrical grip. An interesting piece resembling a cutlass I am researching. In any case, it's all good.
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Old 23rd December 2010, 11:24 AM   #11
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Speaking of Bruce Bazelon, he is the author of the article of whic I so frequently quote and he has truly doen his research. The name of the article is "The Philadelphia Brass Hilt". He does admit that his approach is just a theory, but lends support to it through facts and hypothesis. He likewise conferred heavily with Mr Mowbray in writing the article, so I think there's credence here. In any case, I think it's a beautiful sword and I'm glad to have it in my collection.

Here's a varient from Morristown,NJ (Example 12)
http://www.nps.gov/history/history/...iew/vol4-1d.htm

A rough example with "American Light Horse" marking on blade-
www.proxibid.com/asp/LotDetail.asp?
ahid3693&aid=27357&lid=7593169#topoflot

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Old 23rd December 2010, 08:59 PM   #12
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Default American Light Horse Dragoon saber

For posterity's sake, here are the descriptions of the few examples I was able to find in auction catalogs over the years. My source for these was Norm Flayderman's catalogs (no example found in Fagan & Co, Dale C. Anderson, Frederick's Swords, Museum of Historical Arms, etc, over a 15-20 yr period). The info identifies the style of saber as one of private purchase for American cavalry officers, some possibly made in Philadelphia, but probably the majority either from over-seas (Germany & England), Euro blades with poss American-made hilts. (note I paraphrase somewhat for time constraints)

Ex.#1- American Horseman's Cavl'y Saber 1785-1800, made by famous British sword maker Harvey specifically for the American market. Heavy, tall all-brass hilt (pommel/grips cast as one piece) with brass divided slot hilt guard. Blade is 36" curved,sible-edged, completely flat/wedge-shaped (no fullers). Lion pommel rudimentary with hand-engraved etching to create detail in the face/mane, ears cast in relief of a 'star pattern'. Deeply marked "Harvey".

Ex.#2- "American made horseman's saber c.1780-85 by Phila. silversmith", Heavy, tall all-brass hilt with traces of original gilt. Massive lion's head pommel/grips cast as one piece. Slot-hilt guard hall-marked with "I. Myers" (Well known Philadelphia silversmith ca. 1773-1790). In known advertisements by him in Phila. newspapers of the time, he said- "Gentlemen of the Army & Navy may be supplied with swords & dirks of every description, silver & gilt mounted". 31" curved single-edged balde with 3 deep parallel fullers each side (seems to be the earlier pattern vs the wider fuller, IMHO).

Ex.#3- American horseman's saber c.1775-1785. Large brass 4-slot hilt with lion pommel (identical in form to above, not like the lion pommels on the typical Rev War pieces), spiral horn grips (resembling the later form all brass grip in same style) Elegant large, quite delicately devided guard with simple fluting on pointed quillon, 33" blade, curved, single-edged with broad shallow unstopped fuller. (I know there were many types of lion-hilts during the Revolution, but the pic of this sword hilt is spot-on to the Federalist types we are discussing)

Ex.#4- A lion-hilt, 4 slot hilt in iron, the pommel with backstrap and sharkskin/wire grip, ca 1785-1800, 35" single edged curved blade marked "American Light Horse" in large letters both sides of the blade in the wide fullers. Blade also has German maker (Wm. Tesche Peters Sohn/Solingen/Fecit), also a sunburst, stars, U.S. and etched spread eagle. This one had its original scabbard.

Ex.#5- Large brass lion hilt pommel/grip sword with 35" single edged curved blade marked "American Light Horse" both sides of blade plus 'Wilhelm Tesche Peters Sohn in Solingen Fecit'. Decor consists of U.S in a shield device, and eagle. 4 slot-hilt of brass.

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Old 23rd December 2010, 11:43 PM   #13
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Yes, I have Bazelon's Pennsylvania book from 1987 in hand. He has one crude dog cast hilt. I think we are also looking at the context a bit differently when he writes "The one piece brass hilt is typical of Philadelphia swordsmithing. The pommel is the 'dog's head' motif' andthe 34 3/4" blade is hand drawn from a single piece of steel." Underline mine to show his syntax in regarding the overall (all parts) of the cast hilt, slotted hilt, long crude variation as typical of Philly make. A couple of pages later is the Rose light horse ca 1795, lion, composite grip and slotted guard. Why he lists the rose as the revolution with that date with naught but the blade marked Rose. " These dates (93-95) are approximately those which can be attributed for this sword on stylistic grounds underline mine again. Nothing in the makers of Philadelphia section of that book regarding cast hilts. I do probably need more Bazelon along the line but may see duplicate informations from the compilers like Dick Bezdek (and woe is, kinda like me).

A break for Peterson here. Do you mean J Meyers 1785-1804 or maybe his family at large? Peterson references #80 silver five ball spadoonky Also a Myer Myers of NY as a silversmith (smallsword). Peterson silver lions and dogs. The blade of 39 shows traces and IDed as Prahl but the cutlery work/silver Wiltberger. Dogs, none to mention in that silver section.

So let us look again at the elder Mowbray in 1988 regarding brass casting in Philadelphia. He begins with the silversmiths and American makers. Not one hilt with a cast handle mentioned, eagle or not. Lots of information on borrowed and imported parts and blades. On to Philly. Prahl and Rose are fairly well bio'd then as now. In glowing optimism he writes " As a specialty, the swords of Philadelphia have no peers, providing the meatr and potatoes-and more than a little of the caviar- to the collector of American swords." His maker list for the Philly eagles is quite meager as charted directly below that quote. However, it is Prahl, Rose, Weaver, Widmann and Horstmann that might be the most prolific in the waning of classical and federalist tastes as well as common forms. Lets go on to cast brass hilts specifically. Prahl type 1 1800. The only spiraled grip is not surprisgly (to me) not cast brass but rather a Rose blade with a Prahl pommel " In absence of any information that Rose was ever involved in the founding of brass, it is assumed this arm constitutes a "marriage" of a Rose blade..." Type 1 is a mix of stirrup and slots, as are on occasion the type 2. The type 3 listed as possibly an older version as it is owner named/marked five years after Prahl's death in 1809. A cast McLaws eagle dated to 1805 and abstraclty quoted here for description "Although the brass work is quite artistic, it little resembles the much less streamlined normally associated with Prahl" . Concl

Philly brass in chapter 41 "The results ranged from highly-stylized, near streamlined, efforts to a calculated degree of crudity." He shows a Rose like hanger/nco type blade that's cast hilt is smooth like a Prahl effort. Adjacent, A European hanger, possibly French with a cast bird hilt from half a century earlier.

Chptr 42 the Federal Lancer hilt What more to say? This is a prelude to dismissing the capabilities of Philly/Quaker foundries in lieu of the advances marching forward in Europe. "...the design of the hilt with its stylized eagle represents an art-in-metal school that seems alien to any in vogue in America (circa 1815) See also Medicus notes A Flayderman example with a spiraled similar lancer "this short sabre is nearly identical to the previously illustrated example"

I could pull out more from the Rose examples of blades but blades is what Rose is most known for regardless of their other contracts. No casting by them known.

So I have Bazelon, Mowbray and Flayderman pretty much covered in denying the spiraled cast grips with the exception of the dog in Bazelon's unknown maker example. Mowbray ends the cast hilt with the lancer eagle and we see some other air-srteam models coming in and specifically noted by Mowbray as the advances in Sohlingen. He is prefacing in that chapter for volume II of the eagles which later becomes Stuart Mowbray's work with Flayderman to use the Medicus collection as a pretty good do-all for all swords of the American military histories. This written, it is apparent Bazelon and Mowbray did co-operate as publisher and editor with the 1992 article perhaps too little too late in going back to re-publish both the PA collection book and the elder Mowbray's eagles.

If then Stuart's editing along with Flayderman offers the best balanced fence sitting we know of regarding dogs lion and eagles (oh my) then the earlier notes are left as entirely contentious but even Mowbray the elder is writing in his book that Philly cutlers and foundries were simply not up to par with overseas castings. The Medicus collection book is as much a bible to me now that I have it as Peterson was even before starting there and reading online.

Long post but where I began the other day.

Cheers

GC
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Old 24th December 2010, 02:51 AM   #14
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Wow, GC, you have done your homework well! A lot of excellent information presented here. I'm printing it off for my records. I'm not arguing the fact that in retrospect, these swords were probably made over-seas, but Bazelon was the man who wrote the article I speak of. Unless he changed his stance from the time of it's publication (1992), he was speaking of these lion-hilts as being made in Philadelphia and he presented theories to his hypothesis, which Flayderman used when he was selling the above swords.
No skin off my teeth if it were made here or over-seas, as long as they were true "light horse" swords, which I believe Bazelon proved with his arguments. Fashion drives popularity and probably American officers saw others with this type sword, which caught on. Too many existing examples with "Philadelphia" and "American Light Horse" etched on the blade, plus no accounts of these type swords turning up in any German, French or English arsenals. (I posted several other examples above via edit).
The silversmith I mentioned was from an auction catalog of Norm F's, so I don't have any other info than what he (and I ) listed above. Sorry! In any case, I just want to make sure I understand you on one point. You don't think there's even a chance that Prahl (who was making swords/castings during this time period) couldn't have been the creator of this hilt type?
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Old 24th December 2010, 11:54 AM   #15
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Good morning,

What I am getting at in conclusion is that Flayderman and the Mowbray archives waffle the Philly notes Bazelon based his 1992 article on. If I make it back to Hartfod in the fall, I'll chat up Stuart a bit at their book stall. With and in collaboration, the Mowbray and Flayderman archives embody their best work and guesswork being left to a minimum. That titles resets values and supposition (in my mind) to a minimum of absolutes and information.

In a previous post you link

http://www.nps.gov/history/history/...iew/vol4-1d.htm

and the example shown is the typical horseman of American hussar hilts sans cast lion grips. This is exactly my point in referencing Neumann's expanses of that general type. To then assign cast lions as predominate and Philly cast is then lumping them into the whole. In that the lion is still somewhat available and used throughout the 18th century does not make Washington and other patriots less leery of claiming the lion pommel slots anything but non-regulation variants. Yes, long crude blades (ala Rose) and slots or hussar hilts are prevalent and often Philly based but the cast hilts are not.

A later analogy

Move on to the American Civil War and while the gothic baskets with spread eagles are often listed as popular for Federal foot officers and the blade as well as purpose fit the general mold, the regulation French patterns should not be confused with those gothic hilts while existing hand in hand with exactly the same blade decorations as well as the blades themselves.

````

I have not read the Bazelon article. What I am regarding from your notes (including Flayderman's and Mowbray's earlier contentions) is that the cast lion hilts or just pommels and general pattern are easily accepted. To label the cast hilts in Philly and predominate in the revolution to federalist period is denial of both earlier work and a summation half a decade after Bazelon's apparent theorizing and Flayderman's later collaborations. My feelings and research really do point to the dearth of information group during the internet's growth which is still expanding expotentially.

Throughout that, the background historical information such as political trends. Import/export retail operations along with cutler and smith facts are also still growing but Philly has become a pretty open book by the time of Bezdek's compilations as well as the Medicus publication. None of that supports what seems to be alluded to here other than imported non regulation cast grip lions of private purchase by officers. By the federal period, the lion hilts are even less in demand with the eagles starting to overlap by 1790 with that trend lasting another half century, just as the British lion had been popular in the colonial period.

I have gone from accepting older absolutes and conjecture as better and more complete information surfaces. I find my personal focus a lot more refined to just a handful of eagle types but the trends and information accumulating crosses many other paths.


Have a great eve and day of merriment and we will likely purse this some more but my thoughts and yours have both been fairly stated to what I find a fair conclusion for now.

Cheers

GC
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Old 25th December 2010, 04:50 PM   #16
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Hello GC and Merry Christmas to you. Out of respect for the holiday, no need to respond for now, just something that has been bothering me...
I've been mulling over your information and find it very conclusive as well. It makes sense that these were imported all along if for nothing more than that most of the existing 'marked' blades were foreign. Likewise, your point about the much more uncommon brass lion hilts points both to private purchase and probable foreign import. Now that that is behind us, on to the next uncomfortable issue mentioned before...
Is this private-purchase brass lion-hilt limited to just American cavalry? Was it sold to other factions of the early U.S. troops? Was it in fact sold over-seas via private purchase to other militia in other countries? Baselon insists in that earlier article that solid brass hilts were not popular in europe as the design flaw lay in the grip being slippery when wet with sweat. If we accept that the hilts were not made in America, that they were not the standard pattern but private purchase and that they were far less common, do we also open that door to uncertainty as to their ultimate use?

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Old 26th December 2010, 01:05 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by M ELEY
Hello GC and Merry Christmas to you. Out of respect for the holiday, no need to respond for now, just something that has been bothering me...
I've been mulling over your information and find it very conclusive as well. It makes sense that these were imported all along if for nothing more than that most of the existing 'marked' blades were foreign. Likewise, your point about the much more uncommon brass lion hilts points both to private purchase and probable foreign import. Now that that is behind us, on to the next uncomfortable issue mentioned before...

You are now asking of clarification for much the same points already discussed but I'll give it a shot but some replies will on occasion go back to response already posted and be a question to answer the question.
Quote:
Is this private-purchase brass lion-hilt limited to just American cavalry?
Were the 19th century spread eagle gothic hilted infantry swords with U.S. etchings on the blades sold to only U.S. infantry Officers? In the form you are pursuing, it is easy to make a case for lion pommel cast grip slotted hilt cavalry blades marked American targeted solely for American cavalry officers. However, are there any regulations supporting only these as suitable for cavalry officers during the federal period?
Quote:
Was it sold to other factions of the early U.S. troops?

Under the qualification you have limited, hard to make a point those identical swords were distributed for anything else but American use. However, not intended for troops but for private purchases and as already accepted time and again by both of us.
Quote:
Was it in fact sold over-seas via private purchase to other militia in other countries?

Somehow I am reading three questions with much the same intent, so my replies would be much the same. Sold in bulk to many of a certain group? Someone would have to come up with a period description of the sale receipt or written history referring to a mass of identical swords displayed by the group. Something like this but more descriptive of the swords themselves.

"He entered Springfield with a good deal of mediaeval display. His escort, which was composed of St. Louis German butchers, remarkable for their size and ferocious aspect, was mounted on powerful iron-gray horses and armed with big revolvers and massive swords, and thus accoutered dashed through the streets of the little town, which was held by…"

Are we considering only the cast grip lion pommel slotted hilt cavalry blades with American markings?
Quote:
Baselon insists in that earlier article that solid brass hilts were not popular in europe as the design flaw lay in the grip being slippery when wet with sweat. If we accept that the hilts were not made in America, that they were not the standard pattern but private purchase and that they were far less common, do we also open that door to uncertainty as to their ultimate use?

Again, I have not read the article or passages in context and in the determining qualifications of the discussion but cast grips reigned for more that two centuries on any number of shorter blades and are also found on swords with longer blades including the Prahls discussed earlier. Not grooved, those would have been considered much slicker. Would a horseman have not regularly worn gloves/gauntlets? Is he mentioning it in regard to the all those briquet and infantry hangers? Those cast grips that were meant for worldwide domination over the course of centuries?

A better reference and context for Bazelon's insistence?

I don't know.

Cheers

GC
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Old 26th December 2010, 02:36 AM   #18
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I assure you I didn't mean to repeat past answers, perhaps more of a clarification. In the end, what I am getting out of this is simply this. Probability of these types (I am referring directly to the brass solid lion hilt slotted saber, regardless of blade marking) of swords being of European manufacture is very high with a slight probability of some American involvement. No question of private purchase (I never questioned this, even from the beginning). Until another type of this sword appears in a well-documented European setting, we can assume they were in highest probability only (or mostly) made for the American market. The final question is are these swords only used by cavalry officers (private purchase) or could other American unit (navy, artillery, foot soldiers, etc) officers have taken a fancy to them as well. Many of the existing lion-hilts are not marked "American Light Horse", after all.
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Old 26th December 2010, 03:22 AM   #19
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I really didn't mean to open a can of worms, but once I got to thinking about the very significance of private purchase, which leaves open many possibilities for any type of officer finding these swords attractive, I began to wonder about naval use. Yes, I am a naval collector, but it was never my intention to steer this sword down that path. It is an incredible piece of history regardless of how you look at it. Perhaps I'm daft for pointing this out, but here goes-

Naval officers of the time period 1780-1810 frequently purchased their own type of swords depending on what they liked. There were no standard patterns back then or rules as to what a sword had to be. That being said, here is a composite of the typical things seen on private purchase officer's swords of the time-

#1- Solid brass hilts- These were extremely popular with navalmen due to brass being rust-resistant to salt air. Note this same metal was valued in British and French naval swords for the same reasons.

#2. 4 sloted-hilt swords- Very well documented in Annis and May, Gilkerson (who dedicated multiple pages and pics of same hilt type) sword. Neumann likewise.

#3. Single-edged sabers among naval officer's swords (note 'saber' being the curved type vs 'sword' which strangely referred to the straight cutlass-type blades of the more common seaman's sword) was very common.

#4. The lion hilt. Multiple examples of lion hilt naval swords pictured in the above volumes, in brass none-the-less. Jone Paul Jones sword was a lion hilt.

#5. The ribbed grip. Whether it be the classic m1803, the Baltimore cutlass, the French boarding sabers, etc, the solid ribbed grip was the way to go with naval swords. Most of the ones I mention were in iron, however, brass examples were known to exist, especially in French examples.

As a matter of fact, the only things saying that a sword such as this isn't naval can likewise be attacked. One is the lack of any naval adornment, such as an anchor motiff or somesuch. Many, if not most, private purchase swords that were made for a general audience lacked such specifics and well-documented naval officer's swords from past conflicts with no markings are known. The only other weak point to be made is the blade length. At 32", it is not a typical naval length. This can be shot down by the fact that many officer's type swords had longer blades vs the more common hunting hanger types with shorter blades. In 'Boarders Away', pg 117 ex D, we see an officer's sword with 31" blade. In P.G. Annis book "Naval Swords", we see multiple Brit naval presentation swords with 30+" blades.

Even beyond all this, in May's monumental naval volumes 'Swords for Sea Service', vol.1 & 2, he directly points to naval officers who purposely chose to buy cavalry-type officer's swords for themselves based on their taste. Swords of this type with naval attribution can be found in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

I stumbled over an officer's saber in Gilkerson's book. Pg 123, #16 is a pic of an American made eagle head made in Philadelphia for a naval officer ca. 1797-1803. Mowbray likewise ID'ed this sword as such. The hilt is ribbed, but as the pic is only a drawing, it doesn't say if it is brass. The eagle is of the primitive Prahl type. Is it just a coincidence that as the brass lion hilt faded into the sunset, it was replaced by the federal eagles, many of which were on naval swords?

Wow, I seem to have presented a treatise for challenge here, but as a naval collector, the possiblity of even a slight chance of naval usage makes this sword even more precious to me. And now, I open myself up to cannonfire-
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Old 26th December 2010, 07:19 PM   #20
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Quote:
I stumbled over an officer's saber in Gilkerson's book. Pg 123, #16 is a pic of an American made eagle head made in Philadelphia for a naval officer ca. 1797-1803. Mowbray likewise ID'ed this sword as such. The hilt is ribbed, but as the pic is only a drawing, it doesn't say if it is brass. The eagle is of the primitive Prahl type. Is it just a coincidence that as the brass lion hilt faded into the sunset, it was replaced by the federal eagles, many of which were on naval swords?


Oh come on The piece is described as the grip made of the finest material (ivory as shown light, others shown dark as ebony horn etc). It shows a distinct and sharp ferrule to contain organic material. Surely you don't read that or the rest of the "less than glorious attempts" as described by Mowbray and cutlery in Philadelphia. It doe not include the description of Gilkerson 16 within the light of Mowbray's remark. It does not read as "Mowbray likewise ID'ed this sword as such" Quote/transcribe it word for word if you want to but I have that next to me as well as both the Mowbray eagle book and the Medicus collection never mentioning the sword (or anyone please show me in those if I have missed it n those two other tomes).

It is pretty clear at least in that example of your regard for that passage alone kind of reads to me as you hope to see what you would like to be instead of looking at some texts more objectively.

This is not to simply nay say and deny other speculation and theory entirely but I feel you are stretching a bit. I am open minded enough to accept that absence of evidence may not be evidence of absence. However, evaluating published texts and illustrations need not read in to what one hopes to find.

Cheers and respectively

GC

Glen Cleeton
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Old 26th December 2010, 07:53 PM   #21
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Hi M ELEY,

Congratulations, I think you do indeed have a Philly brass Hilt. Is there any way to get better pictures of the letters on the hilt? I think Glen's concerns are all answered in the 1992 Bazelon article.

Jeff
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Old 26th December 2010, 10:08 PM   #22
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Hello Jeff and thanks for responding,
I will try and post more pics of the sword, including the blade ASAP. What Glen is actually saying, though, is that Bazelon's article is dated and not correct in it's assumpion of the hilt being made in Philadelphia. As the original models of solid brass hilt lion types were undoubtedly imported, they were probably all imported (I still question this assumpion, as it seems private purchase types could have just as easily been made here as there after the pattern caught on IMHO). Likewise, although not as common as the iron hilts for cavalry troops, bras hilt types certainly existed. (Neumann's Accutrements of the Rev War pg 256, swords 11-15, all brass hilt components, pommels, slot hilts although admittedly not solid brass hilts.).
Likewise, in Neumann's Swords and Blades of the Revolution, ex 170.S, is listed as AMerican, solid brass hilt type (made over-seas possibly, but an interesting eagle listed as and made for America). The controversy rages on...
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Old 26th December 2010, 11:43 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M ELEY
Hello Jeff and thanks for responding,
What Glen is actually saying, though, is that Bazelon's article is dated and not correct in it's assumpion of the hilt being made in Philadelphia.


Do you mean brass hilts by Prahl and Rose? If so , this is fully acknowledged. You guys really should reread the article all of this is well covered in it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by M ELEY
As the original models of solid brass hilt lion types were undoubtedly imported, they were probably all imported (I still question this assumpion, as it seems private purchase types could have just as easily been made here as there after the pattern caught on IMHO). Likewise, although not as common as the iron hilts for cavalry troops, bras hilt types certainly existed. (Neumann's Accutrements of the Rev War pg 256, swords 11-15, all brass hilt components, pommels, slot hilts although admittedly not solid brass hilts.).


I think you answered your own question in the first part of the question and almost answered the second question. I am unaware of any brass hilt and gripped cavalry sabers in Europe before or during this time, for the reasons you already quoted, they are awkward and have poor grips.


Quote:
Originally Posted by M ELEY
Likewise, in Neumann's Swords and Blades of the Revolution, ex 170.S, is listed as AMerican, solid brass hilt type (made over-seas possibly, but an interesting eagle listed as and made for America). The controversy rages on...


I have the 1973 edition which on page 118 identifies it clearly as American made?
I look forward to sorting this out as I have been trying to sort out a more traditional brass lion saber that may have originated in America.

All the Best

Last edited by Jeff D : 27th December 2010 at 12:27 AM.
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Old 27th December 2010, 06:19 AM   #24
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Jeff, I'd love to see your sword for comparison. Please post some pics when you get a chance.

I don't want to paraphrase Glen here, so I'll let him address your question/comment. My original intention was just to show off my sword, which i believed might have been made in Philly per Bazelon's 1992 article. In it, he attests that although the first all brass full lion hilts might have been Euro, later additions appeared to be locally made for a list of reasons he detailed in the article and I repeated above. Hotspur/Glen pointed out that this article is very dated and no proof of any of the solid full brass lions have turned up there, thus appearing to be over-seas work that was imported. When you mention Rose and Prahl, you are referring to brass fixtures and later eagle hilt types, but not the lion.

BELIEVE me, I want to believe that this piece is American made for the historical significance of it, but the evidence is lacking. What i am fighting for here is a clear picture that my lion hilt is A) Made for the American market and not elsewhere and B) That it is, in fact, a cavalry sword whether private purchase or not. I don't feel this sword should get the shaft just because it isn't the 'classic' iron hilt of the period. If anything, isn't this type rarer in some ways?
My naval theory was whimsy at it's best and indeed wishful thinking. I presented it simply as a supposition in the face of this sword being (gasp!) private purchase (eauuh!) . Likewise, as naval types are in such a gray area, one never truly knows for sure unless there's undoubtable provenance.
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Old 27th December 2010, 12:07 PM   #25
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My position has been stated and information presented to support my thoughts. Further reviewing and re-stating my perspective has become a bit redundant.

If someone has the 1992 article and cares to share that in full, I am all ears/eyes. Here is one sword that I acquired that could easily be argued as American assembly and quite like a Rose effort. The thing is that "quite like" does not make the similarity "most likely" to be a Rose effort. A ringed, grooved bone grip for counter to the thought the Gilkerson example looks brass. Gilkerson does show a brass grip spadroon though. Along with that batch here is a pair of weepers, both with horn grips and showing the difference in two examples of definition but very much the same vein. Some of the coarser American cast? Very possible but again not definitive. To finish, an even coarser definition in chasing a casting and along with the spiral example shown earlier, another longer cavalry length blade. Definitively cavalry? Not an absolute.

Cheers

GC
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Old 27th December 2010, 04:44 PM   #26
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Hi Glen and Mark,

Is it Post #13 that you prove how out of date the 1992 Bazelon article is?
Unfortunately I am a two finger typist and do not have time to type the article, and I have no way of getting the article to you. I will quote Bazelon's acknowledge of these concerns using the same sources as you. His conclusion is that Rose and Prahl are not the sources for these brass hilts but builds a pretty convincing argument for a cottage industry in the Philly area as the source. I will have to leave it to you to find the article and see how he comes to a that conclusion as that is what the entire article is about.
If it is something else in Glens posts that I have missed that show how "out of date" the article is please let me know as I will see if it is addressed.


'...These factors lead to the conclusion that the brass hilts were made by another party working in cooperation with Rose and Prahl'


The reason I bring this up again is that the Bazelon article is the most up to date and thorough discussion on these strange brass hilted swords (that I am aware of). I will happily discard it when some thing better comes along. It also is helping me find an answer to my mystery saber which I won't post here so as not to distract the thread. I think it is the best information on your saber.
Now how about it, lets see those markings. This may the key to proving or disproving the source of these sabers.

All the Best
Jeff

P.S. If you are still unconvinced, I will happily save it from your sea dog collection and place it with my horsey set
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Old 27th December 2010, 07:50 PM   #27
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Hi Jeff

Quote:
'...These factors lead to the conclusion that the brass hilts were made by another party working in cooperation with Rose and Prahl'


Conjecture, as far as I can see. There is no reason to assume that it is some unknown foundry in Philadelphia but a lot of evidence that Philly cutlers imported many of their parts. Abstracts, even as direct transcriptions (as I have here on occasion) are hard to prove anything but I have pointed to the European foundries as able and quoting Mowbray, showing the PA foundries not up to it. Further, I have referenced the younger Mowbray's collaboration with Flayderman that does indeed supercede a great deal of what is presented here as more than supposition by Bazelon in 1992. As he published and edited with Mowbray (again this is redundant and repititious) Bazelon may well have been aware his PA collection book and Mowbray's eagle title may have been out dated themselves. However, Bazelon is relying on Flayderman and Mowbray and indeed Flayderman sales are being referenced here but they predate the publication of the Medicus collection.

That's my take and I'll stick to it without the article in hand. You seem to think it is up to me to find it, while I have pointed several counters to the theory and from other authors mentioned as supporting the castings made in America. Indeed the same sources Bazelon has drawn a theory on. Perhaps the odd dog casting in his editing of the PA collection. That, the one cast hilt shown and without true provenance.

I often photograph book pages, so if someone has a camera or scanner and the article in hand, sharing could be cool. Blowing me off as "go find it yourself" finds me more amused than particularly interested in debating the issue further.

Have a good one.

GC



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Old 27th December 2010, 09:12 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hotspur
Hi Jeff



Conjecture, as far as I can see.


You are using conjecture to determine Bazelon's Conjecture?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hotspur
There is no reason to assume that it is some unknown foundry in Philadelphia but a lot of evidence that Philly cutlers imported many of their parts.


You have evidence that brass hilts were singularly imported from Europe? sorry if I am asking you to be redundant as I haven't seen it in your posts. BTW have you seen anything similar (stylistically or with Brass grips) to Mark's hilt in any other area of the world except Philly in this time period?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hotspur
Abstracts, even as direct transcriptions (as I have here on occasion) are hard to prove anything but I have pointed to the European foundries as able and quoting Mowbray, showing the PA foundries not up to it.


To my knowledge Casting brass is a far easier process that forging decent blades, which Rose and to a lesser extent Prahl were doing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hotspur
Further, I have referenced the younger Mowbray's collaboration with Flayderman that does indeed supercede a great deal of what is presented here as more than supposition by Bazelon in 1992. As he published and edited with Mowbray (again this is redundant and repititious) Bazelon may well have been aware his PA collection book and Mowbray's eagle title may have been out dated themselves. However, Bazelon is relying on Flayderman and Mowbray and indeed Flayderman sales are being referenced here but they predate the publication of the Medicus collection.


I think this is where the problem lies. I cannot find the contradiction between the Medicus collection and the article. I apologize if I again ask you to be redundant, but what exactly is it in the Medicus collection shows these hilts are European? We are talking about brass lion pommel and grip hilts and not just brass pommels, right?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hotspur
That's my take and I'll stick to it without the article in hand. You seem to think it is up to me to find it, while I have pointed several counters to the theory and from other authors mentioned as supporting the castings made in America. Indeed the same sources Bazelon has drawn a theory on. Perhaps the odd dog casting in his editing of the PA collection. That, the one cast hilt shown and without true provenance.

I often photograph book pages, so if someone has a camera or scanner and the article in hand, sharing could be cool. Blowing me off as "go find it yourself" finds me more amused than particularly interested in debating the issue further.

Have a good one.

GC



I am always happy to keep you amused.

All the Best
Jeff
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Old 27th December 2010, 09:49 PM   #29
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Hi Jeff

The information regarding foundries in Philadelphia was mentioned by me and drawn from other's of Bazelon's associates.
Quote:
To my knowledge Casting brass is a far easier process that forging decent blades, which Rose and to a lesser extent Prahl were doing.

Mowbray specifically relates Rose as not a founder, so I have to wonder where you have information pointing to the Rose family casting any brass items at all. It gets no notice or copy in Bazelon's book regarding The Pennsylvania collections, including his Rose biography. Bezdek has a good number of pages on Rose as well. I'll maybe deign to open that to find naught as well but my posting of that would be as inconclusive to you as anything I have drawn from the other sources already posted.

As I have, you are now answering questions with questions posed as answers. My conjecture is no less than what other information has been presented here and I have listed the other titles which support my feelings and understandings.

Quote:
I think this is where the problem lies. I cannot find the contradiction between the Medicus collection and the article. I apologize if I again ask you to be redundant, but what exactly is it in the Medicus collection shows these hilts are European? We are talking about brass lion pommel and grip hilts and not just brass pommels, right?


I specifically pointed to the lion pommels listed and that only one pf the four shown are possibly of American origin. I further pointed to Flayderman and the Younger Mowbray as being the least speculative of the newer publications on American swords. Certainly, we see do not see any discussion in the book regarding cast grip lion pommel slotted hilts.

Irregardless of other debate, my initial contention was regarding what is being touted as America's first recognized sword pattern. What I regarded as interpretation of other author's such as Peterson's #18 and Gilkerson's sketch of what might be brass (while listed as made of the finest materials) makes me question the varacity of any speaking/writing of the Bazelon article when not having it in my hands to read it.

As with many of my replies regarding other's view of information presented, it is easy to make whatever one wants to promote as some truth. It is I that has been quite open in offering the proponents to supply something more than Bazelon's article to bring forth the grail of whom exactly was casting the grips shown (when regarded by other authors as German manufacture).

Burn one that might seem as a heretic but believe it or not, I have been on your (collective) side in participating at all. I'll always have a soft spot for vikingsword, as it was a very early portal in my interests of swords.

I was done here several posts ago but I have begun to realize you'd rather not accept anything I have offered anyway.

Do carry on with better ID for the sword in question.

Cheers

GC
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Old 27th December 2010, 10:55 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hotspur
Hi Jeff

The information regarding foundries in Philadelphia was mentioned by me and drawn from other's of Bazelon's associates.

Mowbray specifically relates Rose as not a founder, so I have to wonder where you have information pointing to the Rose family casting any brass items at all. It gets no notice or copy in Bazelon's book regarding The Pennsylvania collections, including his Rose biography. Bezdek has a good number of pages on Rose as well. I'll maybe deign to open that to find naught as well but my posting of that would be as inconclusive to you as anything I have drawn from the other sources already posted.


Glen, Everyone agrees that there is no evidence Rose or Prahl cast brass. When I say everyone, that would include you , me, Bazelon, etc. The difference is that because Rose and Prahl most likely didn't cast their hilts you have concluded the hilts were imported from Europe. Bazelon came to a different conclusion with well supported information, that they came from the Philadelphia area most likely through a cottage industry. I am sorry if I hurt your feelings, but all I would like to know is what information do you have that discredits Bazelon. If you don't think it necessary to bother with the article just let me know where the evidence these hilts were imported to the Philadelphia area from Europe, or any where else for that matter, is. I would actually be very happy if that were true for selfish reasons regarding my own saber.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hotspur
I specifically pointed to the lion pommels listed and that only one pf the four shown are possibly of American origin. I further pointed to Flayderman and the Younger Mowbray as being the least speculative of the newer publications on American swords. Certainly, we see do not see any discussion in the book regarding cast grip lion pommel slotted hilts.


If your point is that the majority of lion pommeled swords came from Europe, I don't know anyone who would argue with that. If it was that the majority of Brass hilted lion pommel and gripped swords (ie: NCO bandsman etc swords) were European again no one could argue with you. That is why the article specifically limits the discussion to Brass pommeled and gripped lion cavalry sabers. These seem only to be related to sabers and makers in the Philadelphia area in the revolution-federal period. Again if you have other information please let me know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hotspur
Irregardless of other debate, my initial contention was regarding what is being touted as America's first recognized sword pattern. What I regarded as interpretation of other author's such as Peterson's #18 and Gilkerson's sketch of what might be brass (while listed as made of the finest materials) makes me question the varacity of any speaking/writing of the Bazelon article when not having it in my hands to read it.


I recognize that this may be a pesky bee in your bonnet, but, it has nothing to do with the article or discussion at hand.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hotspur
As with many of my replies regarding other's view of information presented, it is easy to make whatever one wants to promote as some truth. It is I that has been quite open in offering the proponents to supply something more than Bazelon's article to bring forth the grail of whom exactly was casting the grips shown (when regarded by other authors as German manufacture).


If you are discussing Peterson #18, I have never seen any one state the hilt is of German manufacture. All agree the blade is of Solingen make as it is clearly marked. Get used to Bazelon being offered as the holy grail on these hilts, because it is. Until better information is found, or a better argument is made. The internet is a great source of information, but I think you have to start at the beginning and work your way up. That may involve actual paper.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hotspur
Burn one that might seem as a heretic but believe it or not, I have been on your (collective) side in participating at all. I'll always have a soft spot for vikingsword, as it was a very early portal in my interests of swords.

I was done here several posts ago but I have begun to realize you'd rather not accept anything I have offered anyway.

Do carry on with better ID for the sword in question.

Cheers

GC




All the Best
Jeff
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