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Old 18th October 2018, 07:56 AM   #1
M ELEY
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Default A Spanish colonial broadsword/cutlass

Omitted in error...

Last edited by M ELEY : 18th October 2018 at 09:29 AM.
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Old 18th October 2018, 08:31 AM   #2
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Default Spanish colonial

Here we have a Spanish broadsword or cutlass from the first quarter of the 19th century. This distinctive hilt form is discussed in 'Spanish Military Weapons in Colonial America:1700-1821' (Brinckerhoff & Chamberlain). See plates 174 175,176.

This form of hilt consists of a small shallow cup with a curved cross guard, flattened quillons, a three branch guard with screws or rivets securing them to the knucklebow. Grips on these colonial pieces are bone or horn, often scored and sometimes of a 'plump' swollen form such as this example.

This sword stands out in that it doesn't have a curved saber blade. Instead it has a much older straight broadsword blade, probably German made with rounded tip and three line fullers. The old corrosion on the edge is a testimony to age and possibly from salt exposure.
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Last edited by M ELEY : 18th October 2018 at 08:48 AM.
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Old 18th October 2018, 08:38 AM   #3
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Default More pics...

The interesting dot pattern decoration and small design on the cup ( a pic of a bird? Snake?) is commonly seen on these colonial pieces. The riveted branches of the guard always reminded me of later Mexican spurs and iron work. Note the 'fat' horn grip...
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Old 18th October 2018, 08:48 AM   #4
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I believe these swords are rather from the 1850s. They have usually Solingen export blades from that time, made expressly for the South American market, and therefore marked as Toledo and spurious dates (made in the 1840s but dated in the 1820s).

Possibly they are contemporary of the Chinaco sabers of the rebellion against Maximilian.

This one is marked as Toledo 1827.

They are another step towards the Guerrilla Commander swords of Porfirio times (last picture).
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Old 18th October 2018, 09:28 AM   #5
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Thank you for your fast reply, Midelburgo. I wasn't 100% sure on the origin of this sword, but I figured I'd throw it out there for identification. In lieu of the fact that it isn't from the period of which I hoped (sadly), I will remove the above intro concerning piracy. I am very unfamiliar with the Chinaco swords, but have you seen these types with broadsword blades? I must do some research on this period!
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Old 18th October 2018, 02:12 PM   #6
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I think not even Mexicans have put together all the info on these swords yet. Chinacos were a guerrilla. I found some antiquarians have used that term to call the swords they carried. But I am not sure how long does the term extend in time. Were a guerrilla from a different revolution still called Chinacos?

What I think becomes clear is that Government troops tended to use European-like weapons (like the French 1822 light cavalry saber) and uniforms, and the countergovernment troops used local made hilts and recycled blades.
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Old 19th October 2018, 06:13 PM   #7
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This type of Spanish colonial espada is most interesting as in form it leans more toward more traditional sword forms, but its primary curiosity is that these carry elements put together in a redundant fashion. The crossguard with its usually flattened quillons placed vestigially under the shallow cup is clearly unnecessary , but reflects Spanish adherence to tradition over practicality.

Brinckerhoff & Chamberlain (1972, p.93, plates 174-76) note that .."...the origin of this style cannot be determined precisely, but it may have evolved in the colonies".
While these interesting amalgams in style of course are more interpretive in local examples occurring outside records, regulations or precise provenance in most cases, it seems they began around the early part of the 19th c.

Adams (1985) refers to these as 'round tang espadas' but offers no further insight. I have seen reference to these guard bars as 'gavilan' it seems, having to do with sheaves of wheat.Also, I have seen later examples with this structure which were clearly worn as 'court' type swords by officials or perhaps officers in probably remote settings. Midelburgo has well noted these from latter 19th c. termed 'chinano' but that is the first I have heard of that term, or definitive note of the period.

The blade is of seemingly Solingen form but unusual as most of these blades were the hexagonal section 'dragoon' type. In the times when references were written on Spanish Colonial (1972 and previous) it was typically thought that these blades were from Toledo, however research done in recent years have revealed these blades were invariably from Solingen...and the misperceptions derived from the spurious use of Spanish marks and names.
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Old 19th October 2018, 07:05 PM   #8
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Thank you so much, Jim, for the information on this strange beast! Indeed, the blade isn't hexagonal, as I know many of the Solingen imports were. I still have the photo-copies of Brinckerhoff's work, which you sent me many years ago (we're getting old! ) and the styling does appear to be closer to the first quarter of the 19th per that volume. I don't have Adams' book, but I'll have to try and pick up a copy. I still suspect the blade on mine as being a salvage and much earlier, but who knows...
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Old 20th October 2018, 04:35 PM   #9
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We have indeed been at this a long time Mark!
There is no doubt this is a 'recycled' blade, and many Solingen blades into the Spanish colonies had these central tri-fuller form, though the majority seem to have been the hexagonal 'dragoon' forms.
The notably more 'distressed' condition of the blade suggests that the hilt maker was using whatever blade he had available at the time. I have often wondered if perhaps the use of these sometimes 'tired' old blades might have been of heirloom character and simply remounted for descendants of the original owner in a more current hilt form.

I do know that some repurposed blades and sword elements were put together entirely out of necessity and lack of proper replacement components, as in the case of the bizarre monstrosity I have with the cast brass hilt of a briquet...the three bar guard of a cavalry sabre...and the 'dragoon' blade with 'motto' but dramatically cut down. I gotta find pics of this thing!
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Old 21st October 2018, 03:50 PM   #10
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There are many examples of three chanelled solingen (PDL, Knecht) staright blades with the "No me saques" motto. Both with solingen three bars hilts or other ad hoc constructions.
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Old 21st October 2018, 04:29 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by midelburgo
There are many examples of three chanelled solingen (PDL, Knecht) staright blades with the "No me saques" motto. Both with solingen three bars hilts or other ad hoc constructions.



Very well pointed out, and indeed there were an extraordinary volume of these triple channel and flat face with hexagonal section blades. The variations in these and with various forte blocks or 'shoulders' span over a very long period. Thank you BTW for the amazing examples you illustrate!

A very interesting aspect of these blades has been not only their use over generations in the Spanish Colonial sphere, but there have been incidental occurrences of them in a number of other contexts. For example, many of these were still in use during the Mexican-American war of 1846, and many were captured. There were cases of these appearing later in the Civil War in Confederate officers swords (Col. Custer also acquired one of these taken from a Confederate officer).

In another variation, these three channel blades were Solingen products later in the 19th century but these were not with this section, intended for foreign markets particularly Sudan, where they were used both in the Kaskara and in cases with Tuaregs in the Sahara (Briggs, 1965). In his article Briggs notes cases of blades with the 'Spanish motto' in the Sahara, but more of an anomaly it would seem.

As with most of our study with many faceted instances of trade, colonial settings, and repurposing, refurbishing etc. over long periods the spectrum of variations in most aspects is fascinating and often frustrating in trying to classify.
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Old 22nd October 2018, 01:18 AM   #12
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Excellent points made by both of you gents concerning the hexagonal blades and the refurbishing of these and other weapons in colonial America and further points south. Jim, you bring up the important and often over-looked aspect of trade and how many blades and weapons from other cultures often made the rounds to other places. We have had this conversation on the Forum many times about the Brazilian sabers that have Philippine aspects and Sudanese swords with Solingen blades. Often it seems, some collectors are bothered by the 'borrowed' factor of these pieces and have a tendency to steer clear of them, which is a shame. These artifacts, for all of their "composite" nature, are a true reflection of where two cultures meet and the influences they had over each other. It is similar to the trends of the patterns as well, such as British swords taking on an Arabic tone after Nelson's Egyptian campaign.

My point is I understand there will always be purists in collecting and researching. It it isn't a 'model 1796 something-something or a recognized or repeated pattern, they don't want it. The problem is, the same scholars might be biased and believe that all composites are fakes done at a later time or they will brand them as 'inferior workmanship' made by a dunce blacksmith. This attitude really miffs me! It is counter-productive to educating ourselves about the time period, culture and events going on that brought these into being! If we had this attitude about composite-types, we would have to boycott the majority of American made weapons used during the Revolution, the entire list of 'private purchase' naval weapons up until the end of Age of Fighting Sail', colonial Spanish (and later Mexican) swords, not to mention all of the weapons of the Confederacy, often slapped together in primitive forges under times of desperation. I seemed to have gone off a bit! Sorry!

BTW, the 4th sword down (German broadsword with brass lion hilt) used to be mine. It was a 6-sided blade made by Hirschberg & Schimmerbaum? Marked 'Solingen' one side and the Spanish motto on the other, made for the Span market here in the colonies (these two merchants were active in the Americas post 1795). Note the hilt (a composite!) is from a French sword.
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Old 22nd October 2018, 02:53 AM   #13
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WOW! Mark....beautifully said, and THATS exactly what I'm talking about regarding the inherent value of most all arms comprising actual period components and trade blades etc. As a historian, as opposed to a 'collector' I look for the entire history and disposition of a weapon rather than its condition and integrity as homogenous or otherwise purely one thing or another.

The influences brought into many arms, mostly in hilts and decoration, often reflects distinct and important factors pertinent to the time the weapon was assembled and hilts fashioned.

You mention the influence of the Egyptian campaigns on British swords, and I had one of the British M1803 infantry officers lionhead sabres of the post campaign period. These had a lionhead with flowing mane and the four slot hilt of earlier British swords prior to and during the Revolutionary War.
The example I had was in every aspect the same lionhead, however......the mane was entirely in the fashion of the famed sphinx. There were other swords which carried other themes from Egypt and these campaigns.

The lionhead sword pictured in the earlier post I remember very well was yours, and a prime example of what I am saying.
It is Mexican and if I recall had the famed 'Spanish motto' on this triple fullered blade. Kirschbaum & Schimmelbusch were of course a Solingen firm working under this heading in the latter 18th century as you note.

The sword is hilted with a curious stylized lionhead of British form which reflects the seemed amalgamation of doghead as well as lionhead in character but cast in whole with representation of a mane drawn rather than in relief.

I am inclined to recall this sword as likely a Mexican officers sword from the 'Revoltionary' period (c.1820) with an earlier imported blade from Solingen. The theme of the hilt reflects the Spanish interests in the American Revolution, and possibly this style 'lionhead' may reflect that.

Each weapon has a story, and in these kinds of examples, the dynamics reach often fascinating dimension. This is something you have always known as seen in the items you have collected and shared here over many years.
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Old 24th October 2018, 03:29 AM   #14
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The eagle pommel shown was an Ames type, if not truly an Ames, with the flared collar to the pommel. An 18th century Spanish cavalry blade. The Ames screaming eagle was first seen on their infantry and artillery contract pieces of the mid 1830s. It is quite possible Ames was responsible for the grip and guard casting as well but that would mean a collaboration after the Alamo but before the US war with Mexico.

I archived those images off of David Parks dealer's website in 2007. He never showed an entire overall shot of the piece but one side in sections.

The Mexicans seemed to like the Bavarian 1826 sabres as well.

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