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Old 15th October 2018, 07:11 PM   #1
bvieira
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Default Portuguese cavalry saber

Hello,

A Portuguese cavalry saber with marks, opinions (Fernando you are a specialist on this i welcome your appreciation) ?

Tks!

Best Regards,

Bruno Vieira
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Old 15th October 2018, 07:30 PM   #2
Will M
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Looks like Charles Reeves, Birmingham.
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Old 16th October 2018, 04:55 AM   #3
Jim McDougall
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Surely an anomaly.
Charles Reeves is believed to have begun with partner Joseph Greaves in 1829. While the blade marking is inconsistent with the manner of stamping blades at this time...usually on the back near the hilt.....this example is apparently a sword made for export to Spain.

It is of the M1821 regulation pattern for light cavalry, which had interruptions in production until 1829, when these were produced in number. They were superceded by the pattern 1853.

The unusual stamp on the face of the blade REEVES and the abbreviated Birmingham at the forte is as these were marked. It is odd to see the 'ears' from the backstrap usually on the troopers M1829 while this hilt has the braided wire wrap for the officers cavalry sabres.

Also unusual is the single carry ring on the scabbard, which on British cavalry swords there were two until much later.
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Old 16th October 2018, 03:28 PM   #4
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As you see Bruno, your saber is not Portuguese, and the specialist in its context is Jim.
I just wonder whether this model was exported to Spain and not (also) to Portugal. Just wonder, not documented at all.
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Old 16th October 2018, 06:31 PM   #5
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Hello,

I know the saber is not portuguese, most of the blades and sabers used by portuguese troops were made outside portugal... soligen, toledo, Great Britain....

My question right know is if this a export model or a pure british troops version!

Tks!

Best Regards,

BV
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Old 16th October 2018, 07:17 PM   #6
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I have only seen one of these offered by a very reputable dealer.....who I will not name as there are notable restrictions regarding commercial traffic here. In this case it was virtually identical with the exact same forte marking format down to the abbreviated Birmingham.

As the 1821 (1829) pattern was produced through the 1840s and not replaced until the M1853 pattern came out (ironically also produced largely by Reeves) it would estimate the period of this sword late 1830-40s. It seems unlikely that Reeves or anyone for that matter would produce these for export and in such an atypical manner:
1. the wire braid grip yet with riveted ears off backstrap.
2. the blade with such unconventional markings and abbreviation for
Birmingham. Also it is dramatically reprofiled if indeed a British
blade. The blade on these 1829 patterns was 35.5 " long.
3. The scabbard is with single carry ring....which is more suited for
a Sam Browne belt (sash) than the double ring carry.
The double ring carry on earlier scabbards was designed to be worn
low slung when as mostly fashion but some practicality for horseman.
The large surround on the chape is termed a drag as it is for doing so as
the cavalryman walked and scabbard tip scraped the ground....sort of like
jingling spurs (an old Texas thing) .
Obviously a sash carried scabbard and shorter blade would not require
a drag.

So is this a Spanish made example imitating the British? The Germans copied the M1796 British light cavalry sabre until they created their own version....the M1811 Blucher sabel.....perhaps the Spanish followed in this manner?
After seeing only one similar example I am not convinced of the Reeves export situation....but this is certainly an 1829 type sword....and in no way a sabre made for British troops.
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Old 16th October 2018, 09:23 PM   #7
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This model was made in Toledo by a private entrepreneur called Ballesteros for the Portuguese army.

It was discussed here:
http://www.swordforum.com/forums/sh...ght=ballesteros

Similar ones made in Eberfeld
http://www.swordforum.com/forums/sh...ght=ballesteros
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Old 16th October 2018, 09:54 PM   #8
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The model yes, might have been known to Portuguese forces but, this specific example doesn't appear to be a Portuguese import. In the place were these 'late' pattern swords used to be property marked by the Arsenal do Exercito (AE) there are digits worth of further reasoning, possibly those of a Regiment ?. Also that mark in the guard near the ricasso doesn't seem to be Portuguese. Interesting also the way Birmingham is initialized; doesn't seem to make sense.
Ah ... the dragging swords (espadas de arrasto). It is said that fancy horsemen even reinforced the chapes (here also called mud guards) with iron straps, to make them last longer. Still in the extreme they reached severe wearing.
(Picture courtesy Eduardo Nobre).
And by the way Bruno, is it my eyes or that scabbard looks too large for your sword ? Probably the picture angle is tricking me


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Old 16th October 2018, 11:48 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by midelburgo
This model was made in Toledo by a private entrepreneur called Ballesteros for the Portuguese army.

It was discussed here:
http://www.swordforum.com/forums/sh...ght=ballesteros

Similar ones made in Eberfeld
http://www.swordforum.com/forums/sh...ght=ballesteros



So then it WAS made in Spain......interesting exercise in research. It would have been far less entertaining if we had this information in the original post explaining why this was a Portuguese sabre.....but with a British name on a British pattern sword......so why if it was made in Spain would it be a sword for British troops?
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Old 17th October 2018, 01:49 PM   #10
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Aren't we facing a riddle here ?

The Portuguese LC Trooper sabre follows the British P1821 for LC Officers, originaly German designed. Mounted for troopers with a relatively light blade (32" long) with a wired grip over shagreen cover. Other examples reach a 34" blade.
So it appears that this successful design was sold all over, Americas and other, Portugal obviously also in the list of those interested.
This called Reeves of Birmingham for attention, and they also went for an export share of the Solingen sabre.
At a certain stage, this design was also made in the Portuguese Army Arsenal.
Notably the Reeves version had a particularity; the steel scabbard, which was made elsewhere with 1,5 m/m wall, only had 0,7 m/m thickness, causing somehow a drag weakness. This could (could) be done to save production costs. But it could also be that not all Reeves scabbards were made this way.

Probably Bruno's (posted) example has not been imported from Reeves; if it had, it should in principle have the initials AE in both sabre quillon disc and scabbard suspension loop. But is is also true that it bears a number in the said quillon thatmay pertain in a Portuguese (Regiment) ... or better, a serial number. We don't know whether this number also appears in the scabbard ring loop, as wel lthe AE in the other side.

As for Bruno's sabre having been imported from Spain, certain oddities have to be circumvented ... in my perspective, of course. Why Ballesteros, or any Toledo maker/dealer, for the case, would imitate Reeves mark;to ensure better quality or trade prestige other than that of Toledo ? And, if this sword had been supplied under a Portuguese contract, would it be plausible and/or even allowed that the Reeves name appeared in the ricasso ?

It would be interesting to know from Bruno whether the scabbard suspension loop has any marks in either side and if the quillon point has the AE initials in the opposite side of that #number. Also the length of the blade would be a vital detail.


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Last edited by fernando : 17th October 2018 at 03:16 PM.
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Old 17th October 2018, 06:24 PM   #11
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Q.E.D........if the original post had more details indeed we may have less circuitous discourse. Just the same it is interesting to see a variant of a sword form recognized as the British M1821 light cavalry sabre which reflects the wider scope that the form encompassed.

It seems the three bar, or barred guard itself evolved for more hand protection of course, but unclear which source might have inspired it. The French had the M1816 cavalry sabre with extra bars to the knuckleguard, but thought the Germans were still using the M1811 Blucher sabel in these times for light cavalry.

In the U.S. this three bar hilt did indeed become the M1833 Dragoon sabre made by Ames, which was in use a short period when replaced by the US M1840 dragoon sabre (from the French M1822 also a barred hilt).

It seems the British M1821 as noted, was in use until the introduction of the M1853, but the form itself continued in degree as the hilt style was continued for Indian forces of the British Raj....even into 20th century.
At the outset of the US Civil War there were M1821 patterns produced in Solingen (Walscheid, who also produced US M1840 swords) in c. 1861.

Returning to the Iberian Peninsula, it is puzzling why the REEVES name would appear on these Spanish exports to Portugal.....however it should be noted that Charles Reeves was enjoying a great deal of notoriety for his innovations in tang design as well as his prolific production of swords.
Perhaps in the Solingen manner, the name was being capitalized upon.
Such convention was it seems well in place.
The Portuguese it seems did have a high regard for British swords as they had been receiving their swords during and after the Peninsular campaigns. That perhaps had set a kind of precedent.

Still it is hard to imagine a Toledo maker, regardless of commercial interests, spuriously using a British (or any other for that matter) name. Spanish adherence to tradition and long standing reputation would seem to prevail.
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Old 18th October 2018, 02:47 AM   #12
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While not relevent specifically to the matter of the nationality of this sword I was curious on the actual origin of this pattern M1821 form and it seems John Prosser, a London maker proposed the three bar design directly to George IV in 1820.
Harry Gill & Co of Soho had designed two bar guards added to knucklebow to provide hand protection to the stirrup hilt style of the 1796.
According to Richard Dellar ("The British Cavalry Sword 1788-1912: Some New Perspectives", 2013, pp.117-118). ..this was probably based on the French Modeles ANIX (1800-01) and ANXI (1802-03) which both had two bars off the knucklebow. Gill had produced these prototypes c. 1812-17.

Prosser proposed the design for a three bar guard directly to George IV who approved the pattern without the Board of Ordnance.

It seems this type sword has had an intriguing history beyond the period of its regulation use c.1821-53, along with this interesting occurrence in Spain and Portugal.
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Old 18th October 2018, 01:57 PM   #13
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I would like to stand corrected in my reputing the REEVES mark in Bruno's sabre as a spurious one, judging by the 'Birmingham' odd initial system.
Having just spotted another example with precisely the same marking system and with the assumption that this was a Reeves export to Portugal (AE marks and all), my doubts have vanished. Despite clear evidence that Toledan Ballesteros also exported this model to Portugal, one would hardly accept that this was the case of the unit posted by this thread author.


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Old 18th October 2018, 02:43 PM   #14
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Hello,

Thanks all for your effort!

I will measure the sword today and post the information.

About Fernando question i think all the material is original, and it doesn't have any AE mark... i think it's a portuguese used sword because the sword came originaly from a portuguese thomb... it was in really bad state, i just saw the marks after starting to restore it!

Regards,

Bruno Vieira
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Old 18th October 2018, 10:20 PM   #15
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I will have to move toward correction as well as I was thinking that the application of this REEVES marking and BIRMN was not in the typical English manner, and that perhaps Spanish blades were being marked with a spurious signature.
In going through notes I have found that on 'export' blades from England, in the case of those to India, MOLE placed on his blades for tulwars (though in the case I found c. 1890s) at the upper blade quadrant at forte
MOLE
BIRMN
Obviously this was much later than we presume this sword as it is a M1821 pattern, but we realize that REEVES was producing most of the 1821/29 pattern up to the replacement with the M1853.
Actually about 1840s he was experimenting with a new type of tang which was a full tang with the grips attached to either side in a 'sandwich' fashion.

We may presume that by the 1840s, the old style blades (for 1821) were probably ceased in production and by 1848 he was using the new style with full tang for officers blades. The blade of the example posted here seems reprofiled in comparison to the original 35" blades.

While it was customary for English makers to stamp their name on the back of the blade near the hilt (this was done on other ranks blades to the end of the century). ......on officers blades a more elaborate makers panel was etched at the forte.

I thought this forte stamp with C S REEVES / BIRMN was out of order but after seeing the MOLE blade for India with the same abbreviation and on the face of the blade...I think export blades from Birmingham must have used the name and this abbreviation on the face of the blade in this manner. It would seem that the same maker in Spain producing similar hilts as the British M1821 must have had some of these Reeves blades.
At this point we cannot presume whether exported to Portugal or not....its believed provenance is insufficient to gauge that....and the markings seem consistent with some sort of unit marking. The absence of the arsenal AE just means the sword must have been issued privately as in militia or possibly police units.

I know that in Mexico there were units of police called 'rurales' who were appointed by local officials to patrol remote regions and they wore swords of all manner acquired from surplus or obsolete stores. It seems in Spain there were similar remote units but I cannot recall more details.

Incidentally.....Reeves was working with Wilkinson by 1850s and finally acquired by them by 1880s..........Mole was also a subcontractor for Wilkinson and handled many of their export contracts but not officially acquired until 1920s.

Interesting that these 'Spanish' M1821s were first posted and discussed over 15 years ago, then again several times over the years on other forums. It is always rewarding to see cold cases revisited and possible solutions found.
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Old 23rd October 2018, 09:29 AM   #16
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Hello,

Sory for the delay here are the details:

Blade - 84 cm
Full sword - 98 cm
Scabbard - 89 (and responding to Fernando it's the original i have no doubt it matches perfectly).

Regards,

BV
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Old 23rd October 2018, 10:00 AM   #17
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So a blade length between the troopers and the officers version, providing both std parameters are well recorded. Interesting; is time gone in when a client would order the blade length according to his stature, as long as the whole sword followed the official requirements.
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Old 23rd October 2018, 11:13 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
... is time gone in when a client would order the blade length according to his stature, as long as the whole sword followed the official requirements.


When I was a military cadet officer, Asst. Platoon leader, in the mid 1960's I was issued a sword for parade use, I was measured for it so the blade tip did not hit the ground (3in. ground clearance at the low point) during a parade salute. My sword thus was 29 inches (73.66 cm.). If I have a choice, it is the blade length I prefer to this day.

My room mate, our Platoon leader, somewhat taller had one with a blade of about 32 in. We always checked to make sure we had the correct sword.

Some of the other platoon officers were not so careful.

I recall one who got his room mates, flourished it in salute as his platoon passed the Admiral, tip hit the ground and the blade snapped off near the hilt, (crappy stainless - never buy a stainless steel sword) He carried on with the hilt as if it still had a blade, but we all heard the 'TINK' and it lay in the grass till after the parade.

Another one at a different time, not used to the longer blade skewered his own hat, lifting it off his head. he managed to extract the blade from his hat, put it back on and continued marching. Needless to say, The Admiral was not amused.

Everyone else was tho.

(The hat skewer was more common, as if you didn't pay attention you could stab your hat even with a shorter blade. It usually happened when they were stationary tho.)

Last edited by kronckew : 23rd October 2018 at 11:26 AM.
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Old 23rd October 2018, 11:28 AM   #19
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How amazing; i always thought you were a rather tall dude .
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Old 23rd October 2018, 11:40 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
How amazing; i always thought you were a rather tall dude .


Nah, five foot eight inches, or 172 cm. I'm a bit broader now though.
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Old 23rd October 2018, 11:53 AM   #21
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Hello,

As soon as i have some time i will go to "army archives" in Lisbon and try to know if the number present in the saber can be associated with some AE registry, i have seen in the past Portuguese arms with the AE missing.... if the saber was from AE i could possibly even know the name of the soldier who own it!

Regards,

BV
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Old 23rd October 2018, 12:18 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bvieira
...As soon as i have some time i will go to "army archives" in Lisbon and try to know if the number present in the saber can be associated with some AE registry, i have seen in the past Portuguese arms with the AE missing.... if the saber was from AE i could possibly even know the name of the soldier who own it!...

That would be most interesting.
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