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Old 26th June 2009, 05:31 PM   #1
Jim McDougall
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Default Five Ball Hilt spadroons

Some time ago this ivory hilt spadroon was posted here by Alan62, and it brought to mind this distinct type of hilt which was in use in England on officers swords, usually straight sabres like this known as 'spadroons'.

I'd like to open some discussion on the term 'spadroon', the etymology, and would like to learn more on the significance of the 'five' balls or beads, or if there is any beyond simple aesthetics.

Best regards,
Jim
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Old 26th June 2009, 07:12 PM   #2
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To start with a question then, I quite commonly see swords at auctions which are on the whole quite akin to smallswords, both in hilt style and in overall mass (perhaps slightly heavier there, but that's not exactly saying much here), but with backsword blades. Generally they are infantry officers swords. I have come to think of these as spadroons, at elast when my brain is set to English, but would that really be proper?

Deviating a bit form the five ball hilt here, but perhaps it can help get the ball rolling at least.
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Old 26th June 2009, 11:20 PM   #3
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Hi Jim,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... the term 'spadroon', the etymology ...

Isn't it derived from the Genevan Espadron ... coming from the Italian Espadone ... or French Espadon ... or Portuguese Espadão ? .
In current portuguese connotation it means large sword; i wouldn't presently know what it meant in that period and context, though.
Fernando
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Old 27th June 2009, 01:02 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Hi Jim,


Isn't it derived from the Genevan Espadron ... coming from the Italian Espadone ... or French Espadon ... or Portuguese Espadão ? .
In current portuguese connotation it means large sword; i wouldn't presently know what it meant in that period and context, though.
Fernando


Hi Fernando,

Angelo called them the "demi-sword", that is, an intermediary between the small sword and the broad sword. I tend to see them as a variation of the transition rapier.

Cheers
Chris
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Old 27th June 2009, 02:14 AM   #5
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Espadon would be Spanish, literally big sword. In French, a espada would be a epee. A big epee...?

Would a 7-ball Eaglehead be considered a spadroon?




Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Hi Jim,


Isn't it derived from the Genevan Espadron ... coming from the Italian Espadone ... or French Espadon ... or Portuguese Espadão ? .
In current portuguese connotation it means large sword; i wouldn't presently know what it meant in that period and context, though.
Fernando
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Old 27th June 2009, 04:32 AM   #6
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Hi Manolo,

Quote:
Originally Posted by celtan
Would a 7-ball Eaglehead be considered a spadroon?



This is what Castle had to say on the Spadroon:

The back sword, of which so much is heard in connection with gladiators stage fights, had a basket hilt similar to that of the Claymore, but a very much slenderer blade, deprived of point, like the modern Schlaeger.

A cutting sword of still narrower dimensions, and with a much simpler guard, approximating to that of the small sword, was called "Spadroon" in England; It was in fact, similar to the German cut and thrust rapier of the eighteenth century, which had been called Spadone or Spadrone since the disuse of the regular two handed swords, in the same way as the Claymore retained the old name of a very different weapon. The Germans Spadroon was a regular double edged sword, but any very light back or shearing sword was so called in England. Its play was essentially that of our modern single-stick (CE: Circa 1890), with a free use of the point, and the addition of a few drawing cuts with the false edge.



By way of an explanation, I should add that the Claymore was originally a large Scottish medieval two handed sword and later its name was given to the basket hilted swords that nowadays we associate with that country.

Some have considered the Spadroon as the precursor of the light Italian dueling sabre.

Cheers
Chris
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Old 27th June 2009, 05:26 AM   #7
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I hate to be so pedestrian, but there is even a Wiki on this sword form.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spadroon
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Old 27th June 2009, 12:06 PM   #8
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Thanks Guys, got my answer!

Now, if I only could discover what was the significance of a 7 ball, as compared with a 5 or 3 ball hilt...

Best Regards

Manolo


Quote:
Originally Posted by David
I hate to be so pedestrian, but there is even a Wiki on this sword form.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spadroon
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Old 27th June 2009, 06:11 PM   #9
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Thanks so much guys! Kisak, when you say get the ball rollin' .....you really mean 'rollin' ! You are exactly spot on in noting these as infantry swords, and specifically for officers.
Fernando thank you for the work on the etymology, and as you note, it is often hard to determine actual meanings or intentions in changing parlance and context. As we have learned, often terms become used colloquially in a sense, which is truly a confounding circumstance for the weapons historian.

Although I know there are certainly references on these swords online, and I have done research on them some time ago (again notes not at hand), I wanted to initiate a discussion here in which we could all participate. This is something I could not have experienced in my earlier research days B.C. (= before computer

Actually the material typically found online is indeed often somewhat 'pedestrian' compared to more specialized reference, it does serve well as a benchmark.
Clearly the joining of well versed international forces here will far exceed that benchmark, and hopefully we can establish more compehensive material.
Again, this is what I believe we are here for.

Nicely done on the Castle reference Chris, thank you! It seems you are extremely well versed in fencing, are you a fencer yourself? I noticed your reference to Angelo in addition to the Castle work.

Celtan, you are right on it! The seven ball eaglehead, good question, and since it is an American piece, whether these, or the French multiple ball hilts were also called spadroons is an excellent question.

I am thinking that the term spadroon may have possibly been in kind of a allusion toward fencing and smallswords, as might have been the case with military officers, who were of course gentry and often nobility in varying status. Since this was in a time of elevated neoclassicism evidenced in sword decoration (these swords actually were the British pattern 1786 infantry officers, as shown in Robson , 'Swords of the British Army' p.107) perhaps these were intended as a more fashionable style of smallsword intended for military use?

I am not sure if the term 'spadroon' followed as these became popular in France, and subsequently the U.S. nor the meaning or significance of the number of beads or balls in the hilt decoration. These things are what I hope to discover as we move on.

All best regards,
Jim
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Old 28th June 2009, 01:09 AM   #10
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Hi Jim,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Nicely done on the Castle reference Chris, thank you!


And thanks to you too for your kind words and initiating this thread.

Quote:
It seems you are extremely well versed in fencing, are you a fencer yourself? I noticed your reference to Angelo in addition to the Castle work.


Not really, though I did learn a bit of the military sabre-sword, as used by infantry, in my teen years, but that was using wands and doing only the basic moves over and over plus some extremely simple pre-arranged exchanges with a partner. No safety gear of any kind and rough or free play was forbidden. Boring and simple stuff at best. However, ever since then I have had a life long armchair fascination with swordplay.

BTW. A bit more information on Spadroons from E.D.Morton:

"...... It was slightly adapted, by the British Army, for use as the standard infantry officer's sword, but proving grossly inefficient in the Peninsular War (1808-14), became the subject of many complaints."

I also had a very hasty look in Norman's and whilst he devotes some space to this weapon, I could not find an answer to the perplexing numbers of balls on the knuckle guards and their curatorial significance.

Cheers
Chris
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Old 28th June 2009, 06:08 AM   #11
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My pleasure Chris. I experienced a liitle fencing also, it seems several lifetimes ago, and with the sabre as well. We did use the mask and gear, but one learned quickly as those stiff blades really hurt on a good hit, one on the side of the mask would rattle your head pretty good! Not sure if that was supposed to happen, but it sure did.

I finally dragged out my trusty Robson (not an easy task finding it in this bookmobile) and found that these infantry swords were indeed not too well thought of. On p.107 Robson notes that the M1786 hilts were flimsy wigh minimal hand protection, despite its intent for a fighting weapon with potential for cut and thrust.

It noted that prior to 1786, the symbol of authority for infantry officers was the staff weapon known as the 'spontoon'. I wonder if the term for the sword introduced to replace this might have somehow inspired the term 'spadroon', which was apparantly already in the parlance of swordplay and the fashionable smallsword?

Robson notes further that the outbreak of war with France in 1793 and further displeasure with these hilts may have led to a new style hilt in 1796, which was similar to the smallsword with the double shell guard, and using the same style blade.

With your quotation from Morton concerning the complaints on these infantry swords, which at this point must have been the shellguard pattern 1796, Robson cites another;
"...nothing could be more useless or more ridiculous than the old infantry regulation sword, it was good for neither cut nor thrust and was a perfect encumbrance".
Gen. Cavalie Mercer, remininscing about Royal
Artillery at turn of the 18th century.

It remains unclear whether the spadroon term continued to be used referring to the subsequent pattern 1796. Robson does note that the five ball hilt did become popular with English naval officers c.1790, and that the French adopted the form for naval and dragoon officers c.1800 (described as a'la anglaise= in the English style). The U.S. adopted the pattern about 1812, and seems typically associated with 'Federal Period' eagleheads.

Nick Norman was a brilliant scholar, and his book is an amazing reference using actual art and portraiture to date hilt forms. I was truly surprised that there was no attention given to this curious feature, but given the monumental undertaking of this work I suppose it would have been extremely difficult to attend to such a detail. As I have mentioned, it would seem that the only arms scholar who seems to have considered this hilt feature a curiosity or anomaly was May.....until us

All very best regards,
Jim
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Old 2nd July 2009, 02:24 PM   #12
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Hi guys, I am somewhat of a spadroon enthusiast and can't say no to just one. Some have indicated that the term more relates to hilt type than specifically the blade, as we see shallow double diamond crossections of the same period.

In terms of the beading, my impression from some studdy is that they staryted to turn up on the continent and then somewhat went wild in Birmingham and then on specifically American market swords. While seven may seem unusual, by the first quarter of the 19th century, some have shown more than seven. Celtan's seven ball, with the indicated etched rather than engraved blade and a later knuckle bow that is a squared step at the pommel end instead of the earlier period with this bird that inevitably had a round step that was actually the casting boss to be optioned as a ring, which is found on a fair number of them.

Salter just listed and quite uniform three ball that is somewhat undeniably late in make, albeit a cushion pommel. I'll see if I can pull these up via attachments here. The many beaded is clearly seen in Perterson's bible, yet not just like the seven balled example shown here. I would dispute it to be a matter of a badge of rank exceping for those early French beaded hilts (of typically three or less in contrasting scale).

My files are a bit of a mess after a meltdown on the last drive. I hope to recover my 2008 and part of this year's work. Mowbray the younger and Fladerman put together a good book as well. It includes the chronology of a good many books.

Lets see here: Some odd balls, including some spadroons with a reproduction Patton and a period 1854 for scale. The pretty Frenck one with the cigar band went to Dmitry in a momentary lapse of my mind but it did help reach my funds for the mle1854. The two eagles include one five ball. I think the general knowledge base reaches most folk as the five ballers the one they think of, so other peculiar numbers seems noteworthy but the truth is that there was a wide range and variety that (I believe) started with the French and other continental trends and fancy. More than a non-com? Sure I'd buy that philosophy but (my feeling and investigation) seeing seven on a post 1812 war eagle didn't mean diddley squat compared to some of the wilder cutlery we see from that period. Seeing more or less on an American market sword simply means a special request, or indeed an option, as I have seen other seven balls on that eagle hilt. It could happen as easily as a cutler simply filing two more graduated balls on the same hilt as the five.

Cheers

Hotspur; there is a dandy five out there somewhere that I have dubbed the earliest five baller out there but it is probably just my enthusiasm
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Old 3rd July 2009, 02:17 AM   #13
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Hi Hotspur,
I wanted to welcome you, and thank you for the great insight and illustrations on these interesting swords, outstanding grouping there!!!
I think there does seem to be some differences in opinion, as is often the case, whether a sword is identified by term for the blade type or hilt style.
To me the spadroon term seems to be more a colloquial term used by officers, as the M1796 infantry officers swords do not seem to be referred to as spadroons, even though the blade form I believe was essentially the same.

I agree that the five ball style turned up on the Continent not too long after the British M1786 infantry officers sword was around. My main point of interest has always been, why the five ball motif? Was it possibly a Masonic numeric association? its transference to the Continent via fraternal associations, which were certainly a gentry oriented possibility . The eventual departure from the five ball numeric seems to correspond to other numerics also significant in symbolism, three and seven. But then the variations appear, and as noted, the Federal period eagleheads with varying numbers appear in the U.S.
While personal preference may have been behind the numbers chosen, the five seem to appear on many, and there were of course significant Masons among American officers as well.

The stirrup hilt with birdhead pommel and writhen knuckleguard is really intriguing, especially with the star and sunburst on the langet. Now that one would really be a hit here in Texas!!!
It seems also a Federal period type, is it?

Again, thank you for these postings.

All the best,
Jim
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Old 3rd July 2009, 03:36 AM   #14
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Nice pics ! : )

I also like these...Spadroons?. I must admit they are not the most effective of weapons, somewhat unwieldy, but the straight blade and the stirrup hilt give them a stately appearance, simple yet noble. They are more suited up to be a symbol of power than an instrument of power.

I had a most illuminating exchange at another forum, I learned more from the discussion there than from reading Mowbray's. One of the local veterans, Glenn, was an expert in early american swords. He posited a relation between Ames and the early Eagle pommels. (IIRC, Ames imported them from England) . Another interesting tidbit was that they were in full fashion locally _20 years after_ their use was abandoned in Europe.

Jim: I find the numerology association with the Masons very intriguing. My grandfather was very high in the Mason's hierarchy, I didn't know this until very recently. I remember him always telling me that my "lucky number" was five, and never to forget it. What the significance of the numbers 3/5/7 in Mason's lore?

OTOH, perhaps they used 3/5/7 balls depending on the size of the striking hand?

Best

Manuel Luis
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Old 3rd July 2009, 06:01 AM   #15
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I hope to recover my 2008/2009 files, as there were a great many spadroon files I had amassed, along with hundreds of eagle examples. In finally getting the Medicus Collection book in hand, I have still not spend enough time with it. It does though address side by side comparisons that the early Mowbray had hoped to be a volume II for the eagles, especially the later versions. I had included that one reverse P as an example of the post 1812 trend paralleling further eagle evolution. The star langets turn up from several makers offerings and the one shown was likely through the Spies firm in NY. there are many and varied offering from Ames that have the star hilts as well. Now, if one were to draw Masonic meanings into hilts at all, the five pointed star would make more affilative sense than the number of balls. Take a look at the USA great Seal development and there is more truly apparent Masonic association.

While the Ames Eagles with the squared off knuckle bow terminus was definitely a followup of the open mouth Birmingham eagles of the first decade (19th century) Ames is found in articles regarding trade that is openly bashing the 1830 "copies" of other Ames militia type swords, both straight and curved. Soemthing of a somewhat continuing investigation for me is when Ames actually strarted use of that particular eagle. It is most likely that Ames started copying the pre 1812 Birmingham bird, applied German blades or those maunfacture and etching processes that become (claimed) propriety to Ames. The post 1812 spadroons with these eagles are not as common as the plethora of sabres that surface but both have been attributed to early N.P. Ames contracts.

Anyway, the number of balls relating Masonic association I find as false pursuit as absolutes regarding them as significant. One could apply such articles as this regarding the magic square and saying "See?See? It contains numbers of that chart" without understanding the implied numerology.
http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.c..._compasses.html

Cheers

Glen C. aka Hotspur; one could as easily say every bit of military iconography worldwide was meant to convey Masonic implications
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Old 3rd July 2009, 04:04 PM   #16
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Talk about coincidences.

I take it then that you're the fabled Glen C. from SFI that I was mentioning?

Welcome then (again), to our merry lil' troupe .

I should have known after you mentioned Dmitri, since he has not yet posted in our forum, AFAIK. Heck, I now remember the sword you mention, with the cigar ring. It iwas indeed beautiful

I own Dmitri some pictures from a cossack sword he asked about, which as it turned out, I didn'thave time to deliver. I always honor my promises. If I post them tp Photobucket, would you mind contacting him and delivering the link?

LBNL, did Ames place his seal on the imported swords?

Best

Manuel Luis Iravedra

PD: There's a data recovery program called EASEUS that has literally worked miracles for me. AFAIK, it is not commercially available. You need to contact it's developer in China, he sells it online. G'luck..!



Quote:
Originally Posted by Hotspur
I hope to recover my 2008/2009 files, as there were a great many spadroon files I had amassed, along with hundreds of eagle examples. In finally getting the Medicus Collection book in hand, I have still not spend enough time with it. It does though address side by side comparisons that the early Mowbray had hoped to be a volume II for the eagles, especially the later versions. I had included that one reverse P as an example of the post 1812 trend paralleling further eagle evolution. The star langets turn up from several makers offerings and the one shown was likely through the Spies firm in NY. there are many and varied offering from Ames that have the star hilts as well. Now, if one were to draw Masonic meanings into hilts at all, the five pointed star would make more affilative sense than the number of balls. Take a look at the USA great Seal development and there is more truly apparent Masonic association.

While the Ames Eagles with the squared off knuckle bow terminus was definitely a followup of the open mouth Birmingham eagles of the first decade (19th century) Ames is found in articles regarding trade that is openly bashing the 1830 "copies" of other Ames militia type swords, both straight and curved. Soemthing of a somewhat continuing investigation for me is when Ames actually strarted use of that particular eagle. It is most likely that Ames started copying the pre 1812 Birmingham bird, applied German blades or those maunfacture and etching processes that become (claimed) propriety to Ames. The post 1812 spadroons with these eagles are not as common as the plethora of sabres that surface but both have been attributed to early N.P. Ames contracts.

Anyway, the number of balls relating Masonic association I find as false pursuit as absolutes regarding them as significant. One could apply such articles as this regarding the magic square and saying "See?See? It contains numbers of that chart" without understanding the implied numerology.
http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.c..._compasses.html

Cheers

Glen C. aka Hotspur; one could as easily say every bit of military iconography worldwide was meant to convey Masonic implications
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Old 3rd July 2009, 05:28 PM   #17
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Hi Manuel,

Dmitry should be on board here just about anytime, as it was he who promted me to register. I could have sworn I had registered in the past but it may have been the old board. Dmitry had been looking for a reference for me, which I willingly offered to Lee as well. Lee indicated he would contact Dmitry.

Yes, recovery. I hope it to be a breeze and have a piece of hardware coming in a few days. In gutting out the old tower, I'm pretty sure the failure was just a power supply but it had filled up with dust bunnies as well. As the power supply had been running very hot before the failure, I have my money on that. A good bit of the files I lost were simply picture archives and I have been going back to retreive what I can from online sources.

Topically, here are some more pictures of the one with a scabbard. This one from roughly the turn of the century. A German blade with a very American silver wash hilt. This one is actually quite dainty but in line for an early militia officer. We see sabres with this hilt more often. I have been working on restoring the silver on this one.

Cheers

Hotspur; this new laptop has much more ability than my old dinosaur
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Old 3rd July 2009, 06:22 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hotspur
I hope to recover my 2008/2009 files, as there were a great many spadroon files I had amassed, along with hundreds of eagle examples. In finally getting the Medicus Collection book in hand, I have still not spend enough time with it. It does though address side by side comparisons that the early Mowbray had hoped to be a volume II for the eagles, especially the later versions. I had included that one reverse P as an example of the post 1812 trend paralleling further eagle evolution. The star langets turn up from several makers offerings and the one shown was likely through the Spies firm in NY. there are many and varied offering from Ames that have the star hilts as well. Now, if one were to draw Masonic meanings into hilts at all, the five pointed star would make more affilative sense than the number of balls. Take a look at the USA great Seal development and there is more truly apparent Masonic association.

While the Ames Eagles with the squared off knuckle bow terminus was definitely a followup of the open mouth Birmingham eagles of the first decade (19th century) Ames is found in articles regarding trade that is openly bashing the 1830 "copies" of other Ames militia type swords, both straight and curved. Soemthing of a somewhat continuing investigation for me is when Ames actually strarted use of that particular eagle. It is most likely that Ames started copying the pre 1812 Birmingham bird, applied German blades or those maunfacture and etching processes that become (claimed) propriety to Ames. The post 1812 spadroons with these eagles are not as common as the plethora of sabres that surface but both have been attributed to early N.P. Ames contracts.

Anyway, the number of balls relating Masonic association I find as false pursuit as absolutes regarding them as significant. One could apply such articles as this regarding the magic square and saying "See?See? It contains numbers of that chart" without understanding the implied numerology.
http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.c..._compasses.html

Cheers

Glen C. aka Hotspur; one could as easily say every bit of military iconography worldwide was meant to convey Masonic implications



Outstanding and well detailed information, and when I first posted this topic I had hoped to discover more on these interesting swords, I certainly had not expected to have the good fortune of such expertise entering in on the discussion. I am really glad to have Glen here with us, and sharing this insight and material. I look forward to Dmitri also participating , and seeing the core of knowledge ever increasing here!!

Very good points made on the presumption of Masonic symbolism, which as noted certainly could be construed into analysis of motif in many ways. I have often thought that in many cases determining what something is, sometimes involves clearly understanding what it is not. While Occam would probably shudder at such an idea, it is typically just an exercise I often apply in varying degree in establishing the validity in elements of data and ideas.

I am always grateful for soundly supported evidence, newly discovered data and especially well placed observations, clearly as presented here.
Again, welcome Glen, Im very glad you're here!

All the best,
Jim
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Old 3rd July 2009, 10:04 PM   #19
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Hi Jim,

I am way out of my depth stepping in on this one, so please forgive me if this information is too out dated. Regarding the 5-ball hilt, you might try finding the article by W.E. May "The 5-Ball Type of Sword" Journal of the Arms and Armour Society, Vol. IV, No. 8, pp. 153-156 . In it he observes that the style came into use in the Navy shortly before 1790 and went out in 1805. He thinks it was in use in the army prior to this. He also gives a list of known variations of the motif but doesn't speculate on its significance. Seems to me I have another article on them, but, where? I will let you know if I find anything else.

I hope this helps
Jeff
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Old 3rd July 2009, 10:31 PM   #20
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Yay Jeff!!! That was the article I was trying to think of!!! Thank you for including that, and for coming in on this. It would appear this topic is even farther out of my depth than I thought, and its great to see revitalized research with all of the top guns (er, swords!) in on this.

Thanks so much,
All the best,
Jim
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Old 4th July 2009, 03:30 AM   #21
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A better look of my two eagle spadroons. The five ball is one of the ubiquotous Ketland typethat could easily be as late as the 1820s or 1830s but as it is ivory and not bone, that would more likely predate 1812. The fellow on the right could be the first decade 19th century and more likely right at the cusp of the century. There ar eno martial engravings on that one at all, which is a bit unusual for the genre, The middle is a sabre of the Osborn type of weeping eagle and possibly as late as the 1812 war vintage. It more reminds the the three together as Moe, Larry and Curly. My three stooges. The dirk is undefined but post 1872 and shares the same scabbard as some of the Shriners middle east looking sabres. The sabre on the right is similar to some of the mid 20th century Italian air force hilts but has a naval flip-up basket. A Horster blade. The grip had been knid of scuffed sharkskin and rather than refinish white, it is black stove paint. It is also missing its decorative crown nut and I put it together with a standard cutlery nut. Both the dirk and the late sabre were at giveaway prices but I had gone to pick up the dirk specifically (unloved and unknown by the seller).



Anyway, spadroons on the left. TWo very different blades in that the Ketland seems to have been a better rolling mill endeavor. The difference to the Bolton blade is just that, more irregular about its margins and less mass produced. Although labeled in the books as Ketland, the mess of cutlers in Birmingham at the time makes any batch of them by any number of shops. Blades at one, engraving and gilt at another, castings from yet a third and then possibly actually assembled in the Ketland shop but most likely contracted right up to the point up to delivery of entire swords to Ketland, who then acted as a distributor. The same thing was going on with their firearms, from what I read of that business.

Cheers

Hotspur; Mark at Old Swords has an immense database for Birmingham
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Old 5th July 2009, 08:12 PM   #22
fernando
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Hi Manolo,

Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Isn't it derived from the Genevan Espadron ... coming from the Italian Espadone ... or French Espadon ... or Portuguese Espadão ? .
In current portuguese connotation it means large sword; i wouldn't presently know what it meant in that period and context, though.
Fernando

Quote:
Originally Posted by celtan
Espadon would be Spanish, literally big sword. In French, a espada would be a epee. A big epee...?


I kmow this is not the right tempo, but only now i take notice of your observation on my trying to establish the ethimology of spadroon (a point also raised in this thread by Jim).
The thing is that, besides being spanish, 'espadon' is also french ... meaning a great (two handed) sword; hence 'espadonier' is fencing with a great sword.
Obviously the context of such typologies 'shrunk' a bit for the spadroon attribution .
Best wishes, my amigo.
Feenando
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Old 5th July 2009, 08:29 PM   #23
fernando
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Hi Hotspur, welcome to the Forum .


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hotspur
...Dmitry should be on board here just about anytime, as it was he who promted me to register...


Good news . I believe this is the same Dmitry who has posted some coments on a thread i have opened at SFI, concerning marks on the blade of a small sword.
I will be glad to welcome him to this Forum and also be able to continue such conversation (which was suddenly interrupted in that comunity), on the thread concerning the same subject i have previously opened in this Forum.
Fernando
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Old 5th July 2009, 09:23 PM   #24
fernando
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To tell the true, i wouldn't know what a spadroon would be called in Portuguese sword typology.
This picture represents what is called a military sword from the period of King Dom José. I seem to notice that it has some resemblance with the usually illustrated spadroons. A very fine example, with a silver hilt and an ivory grip, with silver filets. The blade is single edged by three quarters and double in the last section, with the legend VIVA EL REY DE PORTUGAL. The text also mentions that, swords of this type, were also used in the (Portuguese) Navy.
Its age is estimated around 1775-1800.
Now, would somebody tell me if this example is far from being what is considered a spadroon?
Fernando

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Old 6th July 2009, 10:51 PM   #25
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The word espadon is still used in Spain, but now it refers to a large digging spade.

Nando, I believe your example fully fits the bill for a spadroon.

Beautiful weapon

Best

M
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Old 9th July 2009, 01:59 PM   #26
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Hello, gentlemen.

We might want to define the spadroon in 2 ways -
HILT - D-shaped with or without the beaded balls on the guard
or
BLADE - narrow, straight, with a cutting edge

Which way would you like to go - blade or hilt?
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Old 9th July 2009, 05:05 PM   #27
Jim McDougall
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dmitry
Hello, gentlemen.

We might want to define the spadroon in 2 ways -
HILT - D-shaped with or without the beaded balls on the guard
or
BLADE - narrow, straight, with a cutting edge

Which way would you like to go - blade or hilt?



Hi Dmitry,
Welcome aboard!!!!! I'm really glad to have you with us!!!


Good points on the definition of the term 'spadroon' , and it is so true that terminology is often the bane of typologists with the classification of weapons. With that, I'd like to add some of my thoughts to date that the readership might find interesting.

In the study of ethnographic weapons, as an example, the swords of India carry the conundrum of the terms tulwar vs. shamshir. Is a sword with a tulwar style Indo-Persian hilt (with disc pommel) mounted with a Persian blade a shamshir, by the blade?, or tulwar ?( by definition an Indian word for 'sword', but by application construed as the familiar Indian sabre).

I have seen Persian shamshirs, which of course found great favor in Mughal courts, classified among Indian weapons as tulwars.

While on the subject of shamshirs, the topic of terminology brings up the very exotic term 'scimitar', which in my opinion is more of a linguistic term used in romanticized literature to describe curved Eastern sabres. The word itself is generally held to have been a transliterated version of the word 'shamshir' arrived at through a 'perfect storm' of translations in several interlinguistic exchanges.

Personally, I am seriously wondering if the term 'spadroon' was simply a fashionable allusion to the described move in Italian fencing, and applied by those hoping to suggest cut and thrust associations recalling those of the smallsword. It seems clear that the intent was to add a certain 'elegance' of station to these military swords for infantry officers in a time when the neoclassic theme was rapidly becoming popular.
Until the introduction of the infantry officers sword was introduced in 1786, I have understood that the polearm known as the 'spontoon' was symbolic of that rank, though in the Revolutionary War proved patently absurd in the styles of combat that became known in actions there.
Perhaps the 'oon' suffix added to the fashionable 'espadon' terms from the Italian term? although admittedly simplistic, might explain what was probably a colloquial application initially.

Returning to the neoclassic associations described in these times and these swords, the British M1796 was also a blade of this type, with a hilt clearly recalling the gentlemans smallsword, with shellguards and a classical pommel. It is unclear whether these swords following the seemingly soundly classified 'spadroons' of the M1786, now with the type having moved into naval swords and across the continent, were also termed 'spadroons'.
It would seem that the term was applied to them occasionally, but not nearly with the consistancy and conviction well established with the five ball hilt form.
In France, the examples with numeric ball motif were simply termed with reference to 'in English style', and I do not believe the examples that began use in the Federal period in the U.S. were referred to as 'spadroons'. The British naval examples I think did receive the appellation in degree, but not universally, and again, recalling the original infantry use.

It seems that by blade definition, these would simply be 'backswords'...but then there is yet another quite profoundly debated issue over the term 'broadsword' and 'backsword'....as in those times in certain instances, the broadsword term was applied to single edge swords. Perhaps this might have brought the detour, at least at that time, to spadroon rather than having this new type sword fall into that fray?

All of these thoughts are presented simply as open observations that may or may not be considered possible explanations for this intriguing term for these swords.

All the best,
Jim
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Old 9th July 2009, 09:38 PM   #28
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Hi Jim,

Just to add to the "ooning." Wasn't the blunderbuss also called a "musketoon" (link), especially when it was associated with naval use? I wonder if the "oon" suffix might not just be for something diminutive, but also something that was used on ships? That doesn't sound quite true for the spontoon, but still...

Just a thought,

F
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Old 10th July 2009, 12:17 AM   #29
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Hi Fearn,
Thank you for adding that, and it is definitely interesting to see that application, which I hadn't thought of. Emphatically noting that I am no linguist, for some reason I also have thought that particular 'oon' suffix was sort of diminutive, i.e. indicating a smaller more versatile weapon.
In any case good thinking, and in simply laying the cards on the table kind of discussion, it is good to be able to evaluate the potential for all of these possibilities. Sometimes things seem simplistic or outlandish, however anyone who has studied etymology or cliches and commonly used phrases, it is often amazing how these developed. I would think it quite possible the use of the spadroon term might have such beginnings.

All the best,
Jim

P.S. Linguists out there....please do not look into my ramblings and add the word 'buffoon' while we are ooning!
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Old 10th July 2009, 12:49 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
usually straight sabres like this known as 'spadroons'.

I'd like to open some discussion on the term 'spadroon', the etymology, and would like to learn more on the significance of the 'five' balls or beads, or if there is any beyond simple aesthetics.

Best regards,
Jim


Jim, do you call 'sabres' those with straight blades? Wouldn´t they have to have necessarily curved blades as definition? ...just polishing my english...

Espadón, or big, or long espada (espada=sword) is the term used in spanish. I wonder if anglosaxons took that name from the spanish, as well as others, like 'rapier'. And used it, in a slightier different way...just like the term 'rapier'.
Regards

Gonzalo
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