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Old 23rd June 2009, 01:40 PM   #1
colin henshaw
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Default Strange sword/dirk for ID and comment

Hi

I've had this piece for quite some time put away, but never knew what to make of it. It has what seems to be a cut-down sword blade, with a turned wooden handle and brass guard and pommel.

The back of the blade near the hilt is engraved "T F Runkel Solingen" The blade itself has some engravings (difficult to photograph), such as trophies, initials GR ? an orb, the wording "Dieu at mon droit"...

Length about 30 inches.

It was suggested to me a while back that it might be a made-up piece ?
European swords are not my subject, so could anyone help me to identify this one...

Many thanks.
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Old 23rd June 2009, 04:46 PM   #2
Jim McDougall
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Hi Colin,
This is really an interesting piece, though it is obviously as noted 'put together'. The script name on the back of the blade is puzzling as the only 'Runkel' I have been familiar with is J.J.Runkel, who was one of the German contacts in London who actually imported and furbished blades from Solingen. There are many British blades of the latter 18th to early 19th century with these markings, and Runkel, along with Gill, Osborne and others were key figures in the so called 'sword scandals' of that period.

I have never heard of a TF Runkel, and it is interesting that the script name is applied in the same location and fashion of the JJ Runkel marked blades.
The blade itself does indeed appear to be a cut down straight cavalry type blade, though it could be that of a spadroon, or straight sabre of this same period. The Dieu et mon Droit is a French worded motto, essentially God and my right, which appears in the arms of a number of British military regiments in long standing tradition from medieval times and heraldry.

I would offer as speculation, aside from the assumption that this very well could be a theatrical piece of the 19th century, that it may also be a specially fashioned piece for use as an accoutrement associated with military fraternity or possibly even Masonic regalia. Naturally there are always thoughts of deliberate deception to be considered, but frankly this piece is too well assembled and fashioned with no apparant effort to alter the nature of the blade. This would suggest perhaps a favored blade either damaged or from a sword, possibly a heirloom that had basically fallen apart.

I have come across in many instances, old military swords that have been refurbished into neoclassical or traditional types of weapons, and used in Masonic Lodges by either the Tyler or as other ceremonial regalia. While there were certainly adequate commercial producers of such Masonic regalia after the Civil War, the reverence often held by seasoned military men for such venerated heirloom weapons is easily understood.

Naturally, one would expect some Masonic symbolism evident if this was such a weapon, but it seems that often that the significance imbued in the heritage of the blade itself might preclude such embellishment.

Again, purely speculation, but based on numerous instances I have encountered in various researches over the years.

All the best,
Jim

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Old 23rd June 2009, 06:58 PM   #3
Henk
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The only thing I can add, because it is completely beyond my field of intrest, that Jim's remark about J.J. Runkel is right. The inscription doesn't say TF but JJ. The line through the second J is not made during the writing of the inscription, but is a later addition. Probably a scratch by a tool or another weapon.
I found a picture with the inscription of JJ Runkel-Solingen.
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Old 23rd June 2009, 07:19 PM   #4
Atlantia
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Nice piece, Almost looks like a society sword thats been broken so recut to a dagger.
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Old 23rd June 2009, 07:36 PM   #5
Norman McCormick
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Hi,
I'm pretty sure this blade is from a British 1796 Pattern Infantry Officers sword. I think Runkel blades were made in more than one 'factory' and therefore the 'T F' is one makers calligraphic idea of 'J J'.
Regards,
Norman.
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Old 24th June 2009, 03:32 AM   #6
Jim McDougall
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Thanks very much Henk, that is an excellent example of the JJ Runkle script inscription, and note the lettering is nearly identical in the letters. It does seem these letters could be JJ after all. The lettering in this period is always hard to discern as the letters are of antiquated form and F is S etc. J is often seen as I.
Norman, good suggestion on the M1796 Infantry dress sword, which was like a heavy court sword, and you're correct, since Runkel was an importer based in London he did bring in blades from various sources in Solingen. I have seen his mark more on sabre blades than straight ones but he was of course quite diverse.
Thanks Gene for agreeing that this does have a distinct societal feel to it.

All the best,
Jim
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Old 24th June 2009, 06:24 AM   #7
colin henshaw
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Very many thanks to all, excellent analysis of this previously mystery item.

The pommel is large and distinctive, and being of an architectural form, could this be a further indicator ?

Regards
Colin
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Old 24th June 2009, 11:18 AM   #8
Norman McCormick
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Hi Colin,
Normally I would have said' broken blade remounted as a fighting knife/dagger' but at 30 inches it is far too long with not that much missing from the tip, average P1796 blade, assuming it is an Infantry P1796, approx 32 inches. This pattern sword was not very popular, weak blades and not very successful hand protection. It may have been altered and utilised as an additional/more useful sidearm but why rehilt the blade unless the person who was going to use it was maybe not of sufficient rank, P1796, officers only. The hilt is reminiscent of much earlier designs and the possibility exists, as has been mentioned, of later conversion for theatrical or ceremonial use. Bit of a mystery as to the 'whys and wherefores'. I'm sorry I could not be of more help.
My Regards,
Norman.
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