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Old 1st June 2019, 07:07 PM   #1
Norman McCormick
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Default 17thC Sword, maybe?

Hi,
A possible 17thC sword for your opinions. O.A. 37 1/2 inches, blade 31 1/2 inches, lenticular cross-section blade, weight 1 lb 15 3/4 oz.

Some things seem o.k. to me. Patina, no modern welding, chisel engraved decoration, running wolf suits time period, numeral font, springy blade, handles like a sword intended for use, blade still quite sharp with nicks where one would expect, tang peen and general feel. Cons, the date, although I have seen this on genuine pieces, the crisp engraving although again I have seen this on genuine pieces. Looking forward to your ideas.
Regards,
Norman.
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Old 1st June 2019, 07:11 PM   #2
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More Photos.
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Old 1st June 2019, 07:34 PM   #3
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Another photo.
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Old 2nd June 2019, 02:35 AM   #4
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Norman, Im no expert on these things, I agree with you on the general crisp feel of the engraved numbers and wolf.
For me there is a crispness which seems to characterize the sword overall, which though very attractive, seems to have curiously combined elements.
These discs in the hilt guard remind me of similar seen on some Spanish, Italian and even Portuguese 'navigator' swords of 16th into early 17th c.

The striated escutcheon on the crossguard reminds me of similar features on some 18th c. smallswords. However all of these elements I cannot locate presently, it just seems I have seen them.

In the same way this resembles a mid 17th c. spadroon/rapier (plate VI, #22, "Schools and Masters of Fence", Egerton Castle, 1885) with simple guard system though not quite same, but pommel seems similar.

Returning to the engraved numbers etc. these seem inconsistent with these 'magical' themes which were popular in early to mid 17th c. These were not dates, but numbers with magic properties. It seems to me the '1' should be with serifs, and the other '1' seems intended to resemble a magic glyph or sigil which were often interpolated into inscriptions and sometimes numbers.
The 'anchor' seems unusually simple and atypical.
The wolf is of course similar to most examples seen and configured OK, but as these were freely chiseled rather than stamped, variation is expected.

The lenticular blade seems unusual, with blocked ricasso, for 17th c.
The wrap is remarkably crisp and sound, the turks heads seem cast?
Wire wrap of these periods seldom survives intact, examples I have had and seen almost always have this at least somewhat unraveled.

As I say, Im no expert, and pictures don't really give adequate feel for the actual item. You seem hesitant to declare this 17th c. and I am inclined to think it is possibly a 'historismus' item of 19th? The strange combination of elements etc. is my reason.
I hope I am wrong, and will be proven so, but I just have to be honest in my thoughts. To me its still a very attractive sword, and 19th c. weapons of these types are antiquities in their own right.

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Old 2nd June 2019, 09:11 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... You seem hesitant to declare this 17th c. and I am inclined to think it is possibly a 'historismus' item of 19th? ....

A pertinent approach, i would say, Norman . Others with more knowledge will concur ... or not.
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Old 2nd June 2019, 05:37 PM   #6
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Hi Jim and Fernando ,
Many thanks for your comments. A few further points, the Turks Head is made from individual strands, see photo, the crud of ages is giving the illusion of a homogeneous casting. The decoration on the blade and hilt all appears to be hand chiseled. As far as condition goes it does seem pretty good but I think we always need to be cautious re condition as some items do survive in very good order and although wear and tear can be a good indicator of age it is not a given. If indeed it proves to be a 19thC piece, which it may very well be, someone has gone to a lot of trouble to make a sharp flexible sword with very good handling characteristics and not a 'brick on a stick' as someone to aptly described a lot of the Victorian wall hangers.
Thanks again for your interest.
My Regards,
Norman.

P.S. My Elmar lens seems to be adding a little enhancement to the images. It's a bit muckier than the photographs would suggest. I also gave it a good wipe down with an oily rag to remove the surface muck.
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Old 2nd June 2019, 06:05 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
A pertinent approach, i would say, Norman . Others with more knowledge will concur ... or not.




Very pertinent, and as Norman has already intimated, there is a possibility this may not be 17th c. as by character, it does appear. As he has a most discerning eye, and formidable knowledge himself, I suspect he is of course simply seeking other opinions.

While we await those with knowledge in this field, I took the liberty of continuing my research to see if I could establish what influences and elements might be present in what my limited view compels me to think this is a pastiche of earlier swords.

This may well fall into the nebulous area of 'transitional' rapiers, which indeed were well known in the late 16th to early 17th century period.
In this time a style of fencing evolved in Italy and Germany termed 'spadroon' (actually an 18th c. English term for it) in which the swords were lighter and many of the moves different.

It is well known that English gentry was highly influenced by Italian styles and fashions in the 18th, into the 19th, and neo-classicism was prevalent in many cases. These elements often filtered into Germany as noted.

Egerton Castle (op. cit. pp.242-43) notes that 'shearing swords' ,very light ,were often used in England for swords used in this type sword play.

In looking into this shape pommel, Norman ("The Rapier & Small Sword 1460-1820", 1980), these oblate shape pommels (typically with capstan rather than peened) seem to predominate on late 16th-early 17th examples of rapier, as well as some left hand daggers. These seem invariably ornate, rather than simple with chiseled lines as here.

The example of 'spadroon' sword (pictured below)is a modern reproduction but with a shell and obviously of loosely similar structure as this, and accordingly light blade.

With the discoid elements noted throughout the hilt elements, I found in old notes a German ('fighting sword' as described) of late 16th-early 17th) which has these type roundels, though pierced. I thought them pertinent and posted the picture below.

Getting to the inscriptions, which as I mentioned seem crisp, and uncharacteristic of the talismanic inscriptions based often on magical glyphs, symbols interspersed with key numbers which were popular in first half of 17th c. These were often contrived with what appear Glagolitic, and even runic alphabet characters or interpretations of them.
The running wolf is placed as often characteristic within the numbers, which seem in most cases variations of 4's and '1' s but others do exist.
The wolf however, seems to be placed facing the reverse of most examples I am aware of....this of course is nothing conclusive but worthy of note.
(see plate from Wagner, 1967, below).

The other figure nearer the ricasso resembles what may be intended as a 'anchor' but more in the fashion of a magical glyph as mentioned.

These are the factors which have suggested to me this may not be 17th c as seems to have been the appearance intent, but perhaps a well made sword for someone following the traditions and neo classicism trends of late 18th into 19th c. The elliptical blade is something I have seen on military training swords of the 19th c. but not of course with a block ricasso like this. That is a characteristic of rapier blades, which were not as far as I know, elliptical.

I hope any of these observations might be useful, for me it just an exercise in learning, and I look forward to the elucidation of those knowledgeable here.
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Old 2nd June 2019, 06:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Norman McCormick
Hi Jim and Fernando ,
Many thanks for your comments. A few further points, the Turks Head is made from individual strands, see photo, the crud of ages is giving the illusion of a homogeneous casting. The decoration on the blade and hilt all appears to be hand chiseled. As far as condition goes it does seem pretty good but I think we always need to be cautious re condition as some items do survive in very good order and although wear and tear can be a good indicator of age it is not a given. If indeed it proves to be a 19thC piece, which it may very well be, someone has gone to a lot of trouble to make a sharp flexible sword with very good handling characteristics and not a 'brick on a stick' as someone to aptly described a lot of the Victorian wall hangers.
Thanks again for your interest.
My Regards,
Norman.

P.S. My Elmar lens seems to be adding a little enhancement to the images. It's a bit muckier than the photographs would suggest. I also gave it a good wipe down with an oily rag to remove the surface muck.



We crossed posts Norman, Ive been working all morning on finding examples etc. That is really good news on the Turks heads! Actually the thought of restoration has crossed my mind, and the peened pommel is one reason, these hilts were characteristically with capstan and not peened.
As noted, this curious pastiche of elements in the hilt motif is what makes me think of the very neo classic Victorian period. With this type of blade, it makes me think of blades in that period, in which this might be even a dueling epee made in classic forms.
While decoratively there are elements of concern, I don't doubt this is a fully usable sword.

For some reason I always think of English nobles and gentry, who leaned heavily on pretension and classicism, and the ever mysterious fiber of the Freemasons, where swords were a key icon and fixture. These guys often had swords 'customized' and would likely have regarded a 'dueling epee' with magical inscriptions de riguer much as a case of dueling pistols.

I was thinking of the 'muck' you noted all over this, could that have been cosmoline, a gel like stuff often put on items in old collections as a preservative.

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Old 2nd June 2019, 07:01 PM   #9
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Hi Jim,
This may be an idea re the stylistic elements of the hilt and the blade has inscribed numerals (date)?
My Regards,
Norman.

P.S. Please do not equate the price with my offering!!!


https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/23565/lot/104/

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Old 2nd June 2019, 08:02 PM   #10
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Well called Norman!!!
Obviously these roundels were something that had been in the hilt design repertoire for a while, and the early 17th century period seems to have well observed them, especially the English. They seem to have been deeply attracted to these European designs, as well as adopting classical themes and even fencing i.e. spadroon.

This, coupled with the running wolf and most importantly the numerals 1605....while these numbers groups such as 1441, 1414 etc. have always been regarded as magical numbers.....the coincidence(?) of these 1605, 1610 numbers seem compellingly possible as dates.

Yikes! the price tag on that one! wow!
I did see the term 'riding sword' pop up in my excavations of notes and references, and along with these spadroon etc. references.

I think you might be onto something there Sherlock!!!
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Old 2nd June 2019, 08:11 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
I was thinking of the 'muck' you noted all over this, could that have been cosmoline, a gel like stuff often put on items in old collections as a preservative.



Hi Jim,
The muck in the hilt looks very much like hardened grease so this could be a possibility. The lenticular blade does not seem altogether unusual for swords of this type.
My Regards,
Norman.
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Old 2nd June 2019, 08:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Norman McCormick
Hi Jim,
The muck in the hilt looks very much like hardened grease so this could be a possibility. The lenticular blade does not seem altogether unusual for swords of this type.
My Regards,
Norman.



You may be right on the blade, all I can think of is those 'practice' blades, but those of course did not have a block ricasso.
You bring up great observations Norman....actually I think YOU are one of the knowledgeable guys here.
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Old 3rd June 2019, 10:45 AM   #13
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For a lousy looker like me, given the aspect of some of the sections as looking real old, pommel (plus peen fixation) and all, the blade inscription is so crisp that it could (could) have been made at a later stage .
On the other hand, when you play with values, you are certainly aware that, the difference in value (read price) between a Victorian item and a XVII century one, is abyssal; independently from what Norman withdrew from his sporran to catch this one.
Hopefully Jasper comes around and give a honest and capable opinion on this piece.
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Old 3rd June 2019, 12:52 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
the difference in value (read price) between a Victorian item and a XVII century one, is abyssal; independently from what Norman withdrew from his sporran to catch this one.


Hi Fernando,
You should know me by now. When I bought this it was with the probability that it was a Victorian concoction in mind but always with the hope that it was earlier. My opinion began to change upon close inspection and with a bit of research I came to the tentative conclusion that all or parts may actually be 17thC . I have p.m.'d Jasper for an opinion so we will see what happens.
Kind Regards,
Norman.


P.S. It might be worth mentioning that I cannot find a Victorian version of this type of sword, plenty of rapiers etc.
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Old 3rd June 2019, 01:04 PM   #15
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Hi,
Having looked at past sales of items termed Riding Sword at Bonhams, Thomas del Mar and Christies numerals or 'dates' on blades seem to be more common that not.
Regards,
Norman
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Old 3rd June 2019, 02:27 PM   #16
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Hi,
I've had an opinion from a more learned member who is inclined to lean towards a later Victorian manufacture for this piece which of course was always on the cards. I'll continue to poke about the net to see if I can dig up anymore definitive info but for the meantime thanks to all for their input.
My Regards,
Norman.
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Old 4th June 2019, 05:40 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Norman McCormick
Hi,
Having looked at past sales of items termed Riding Sword at Bonhams, Thomas del Mar and Christies numerals or 'dates' on blades seem to be more common that not.
Regards,
Norman


Thanks Norman, that has given me some good perspective on these dates.
As always, more research to be done.
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Old 4th June 2019, 04:23 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Thanks Norman, that has given me some good perspective on these dates.
As always, more research to be done.



Hi Jim,
Always glad to give you something to do


For completeness a photo of the nicks in the blade at or very near the C.O.P. (sweet spot).

My Regards,
Norman.
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