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Old 6th October 2010, 12:28 AM   #1
RealWing
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Default Identification assistance

A sword has been passed down through my family (to the eldest son in each generation of Bagshaw's) and I was told it was used in the Battle of Waterloo (There was a J Bagshaw listed in the battle). The Bagshaw family originated in England and emigrated to Canada in 1817

I'd appreciate any help in identifying it.

I understand that the VOC is a symbol of the Dutch East India company.
1787 in stamped on one side of the sword and 787 on the other. I'm not sure of the significance.
The wooden handle has obviously been replaced and some green felt added to the guard.

Thanks
Jim Bagshaw
Ontario, Canada
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Old 6th October 2010, 03:37 PM   #2
fernando
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Hi Jim, welcome to the forum .
Interesting sword you got there.
Just give it a little time. Some of our members are surely able to ID that piece for you.
Don't you have any impressions about the date yet?
BTW, how sure are you that this sword was used in Waterloo battle?
It looks like it has been modified for fencing

Last edited by fernando : 6th October 2010 at 03:47 PM.
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Old 6th October 2010, 05:59 PM   #3
broadaxe
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Wow, looks like a classic Dutch clamshell cutlass. The munition grade appearance and lack of thumb ring suites the dating. However, the makeshift grip is out of place and where is the pommel
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Old 6th October 2010, 07:02 PM   #4
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It's a classic Dutch/Scandinavian style boarding cutlass. VOC is self-explanatory. Letter A stands for the Amsterdam arsenal. Below are the photos of mine, to give you an idea of what the original grip may have looked like.
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Old 7th October 2010, 12:47 AM   #5
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Thanks for all the information so far!!

To address some of the comments:
1. No, I am not sure it was used in the Battle of Waterloo - I'm only going on what my grandparents had told me.
2. I cant see any sign that the metal part of the grip has been modified. It all looks original to my untrained eye.

Any ideas on when it was made?

Thanks again
Jim
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Old 7th October 2010, 12:28 PM   #6
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I think only the grip has been replaced, the metal parts seem untouched, it is an open guard, not a full D-guard.
1787 might well be the year of manufacture.
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Old 7th October 2010, 01:00 PM   #7
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I agree with my colleagues. A nice Dutch East India Company sword with talismanic number, clamshell hilt, replaced wooden grip.

Dmitry, as always, I am finding myself envious of your collection! I am drooling over that cutlass of yours!!!
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Old 7th October 2010, 02:01 PM   #8
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787 is exactly the year. It's not uncommon to see the first digit omitted on these blades.
Mark, there are no unique pieces in my collection. It is all accessible stuff, just takes time to acquire it.
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Old 7th October 2010, 06:56 PM   #9
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Hi,
it is indeed a voc sword "scheepshouwer"/cutlass from the Amsterdam chamber. 1787 is the date of manufacture. The grip and pommel plate are replacements.(the knuckleguard is original)
it has had a flattened globular pommel with a collar and a bulky wooden grip with a brass binding and Turkish knots. the smaller shell also supported a thumb ring. In 1793 it is replaced by a VOC model similar to Dimitry's picture.

kind regards from Holland
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Old 8th October 2010, 01:18 AM   #10
Jim McDougall
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This is really an attractive cutlass, and of a style used for over a hundred years by this date, the variations of shells seems to have been loosely similar.
It is great to have the note identifying the type as scheepschouwer from the Dutch forms, as this obviously is with the VOC marked blade.

What intrigues me the most is the distinct VOC marking with the year date 1787, and the A, which as noted, does represent the kamer of Amsterdam, one of the chambers in the VOC heirarchy representing key ports. The others were Delft, Rotterdam, Enkhuizen, Middelburg and Hoorn.

It seems that the initial of the respective chamber was typically used to mark coins and cannon, but it seems unclear how widely these initials were used to mark materials, including other weapons.

The VOC marking does appear it seems on a number of sword blades which have been known, though in my experience these are virtually always 18th century, I have honestly never seen examples earlier. Also it has always seemed to me that the 'manufacture dates' are consistantly the same 'years', with only a few variations. 1767 is one and I think 1763, with this 1787 now added. I have never seen a VOC marking with an initial other than 'A' and those are relatively uncommon. The only other of the chambers I know to be distinctly associated with weaponry, particularly swords, was Hoorn.

In these later years of the 18th century, the VOC was in dramatic decline, and though originally a British ally, that quickly deteriorated with the profound support of the rebellion in America by the Dutch, ultimately resulting in the 4th Anglo-Dutch War (1780-1784).

The Dutch, via VOC, were keen suppliers of weapons and goods to the Americans during the Revolutionary War (1775-1783) through the entrepot of St. Eustatius, a Dutch trade hub island in the Antilles in the Caribbean.

My questions are, since there are so few examples of VOC blades with these 'dates', why were there so few. Certainly regular manufacture of blades would have produced a more extensive array of date years. Why only these latter years in 18th century, none before?

We know that often 'date years' on blades have often been discovered to be combinations with symbolic or significant meaning rather than an actual year. In this sense, I think Marks reference to a 'talismanic' number may have interesting possibility, perhaps not in that parlance, but as an important number. The year 1787 was the year in which the Continental Congress in America completed the U.S.Constitution, and perhaps the association might have had some connection...worth considering ? Could these dates be significant for events in this deeply troubled company by this time. By 1798 it was bankrupt, and there must have been strong emotions within it during these later years.

All best regards,
Jim
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Old 8th October 2010, 07:52 PM   #11
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As always I keep researching and have in some degree answered my own question on these VOC balemarks and associated dates and chamber marks.
In my notes I discovered a Javanese badhik with cut down blade that has the R (=Rotterdam) mark (the date obscured 1746?). Also a Scottish baskethilt with a blade that has the VOC and stylized A in an opposed configuration that has the two incorporated into a diamond effect. The date '1787'....another blade of flattened hexagonal form similar to 'dragoon' blades made in Solingen for Spain in the 18th century, has the same logo in diamond shape, the date 1787.

Other unusual blades of straight form I have found seem to have carried the 1775 date, while another is on an English hanger dated 1794.

It would seem that 1787 was some kind of a banner year for blade production!
yet these variations in the Amsterdam motif suggest different place or maker.
Again, most of these blades I have seen date 1767 + to 1794. Why these selective dates, and why on blades while weapons other than cannon, as far as I know were unmarked.?

Anybody out there with VOC bladed weapons or knowledge on the VOC that might be able to offer some examples or ideas?

All the best,
Jim
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Old 9th October 2010, 06:31 AM   #12
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Jim, in busily researching this interesting sword, I neglected to welcome you to the forum. While I realize you are probably not a weapons collector per se and simply researching a family heirloom, I have found this a real opportunity, not just because I'd like to give you as much information as I can...but because I have honestly learned a good deal from your sword.

It seems that actually most of the blades made for Dutch military type swords had been produced in Solingen from the 17th century onward, and often these were furbished in Belgium and through the years through often French intermediaries. In looking at your blade, I had failed to notice a very important key marking, that of a quatrefoil type cross or rosette (next to the 1787), so I decided to look further. I had mentioned that other blades with 1787 had been found on a Scottish baskethilt (clearly remounted) as well as a blade with the same type 'Amsterdam' VOC marking and of 18th century form.
The Scottish sword was found in South Africa while the other blade was excavated in Germany I believe.

I found also that the marking on the blade was known as the cloverleaf, and it is unclear where these were actually applied or their meaning. I know that the four point 'cross' image is often seen on Solingen blades used as a kind of invocative motif separating words in inscriptions, and that the cloverleaf was at some point a marking used in Germany. Along with many markings these were typically a kind of acceptance or approval device.

It would seem that the 1787 number might well have been an accepted date or year of perhaps a contract out of Solingen for blades, with this same method used in other key years, but more research would be needed to determine for sure.

It would be tempting here to note however, that given the movement and trade activity of these weapons and thier components through Belgium, from Germany and to Amsterdam dealers and French intermediaries, this sword may well have been in Belgium in the Napoleonic period. While it is a naval type sword, I would offer that though it may not have been used by your ancestor, it could well have been obtained by him there as a souvenier.
Certainly speculative, but there is often far more complexity in historical events than realized or included in long standing and commonly known accounts, as seen by the ever revealing discoveries that continue to be made.

The true study of historical weapons is not just matching them to pictures in a book, but venturing into every avenue of associated clues, and by doing so we can often discover what they are trying to tell us.

Thank you for sharing a truly fascinating sword, and hopefully you will preserve it faithfully as a valuable artifact in your family history.

All the best,
Jim
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Old 19th October 2010, 03:04 AM   #13
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Jim M

Thanks very much for the welcome and insight. You also have sharp eyes!!! I never noticed the small cloverleaf stamping. I looked closer and there seems to be another stamping next to the cloverleaf!!

Do you agree and if so - what does it mean??!!!!

This might actually get me interested in old swords!!!

Jim B
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Old 19th October 2010, 07:25 PM   #14
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Hi Jim,
Actually I had overlooked the device also at first, but it was noticed by my friend Gav, as we were discussing your sword. In subsequent research, and as noted in my last post (#12, 9Oct) this quatrefoil rosette was also known in Holland as the 'kleeblatt', and was at various times used as a makers mark in Solingen as well as a motif in inscriptions and invocations. In Holland, it may have been a kind of acceptance mark or as before, an emphatic device used along with invocations, inscriptions or perhaps with key dates, as I have been trying to determine with these VOC examples.

Thank you for the response Jim, and I hope you do continue the appreciation of these historic weapons, as I know I have for many years. They always have stories to tell!!

All the best,
Jim
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Old 5th November 2010, 12:46 AM   #15
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While doing more of my own family research I found a newspaper article for Jul 4, 1951 about a Bagshaw Family Reunion in Sunderland, Ontario, Canada. Under a photo of all those in attendance was this statement: First member of the Bagshaw family to come to Canada was William, a horse-soldier who fought under Wellington at Waterloo.
I realize you can't believe everything you read in a newspaper, however it does coincide with what my grandparents told me about the sword-that it had been used in the Battle of Waterloo.
William Bagshaw had emigrated to Canada in 1817 when he was 44. He settled near Sunderland.
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Old 22nd October 2011, 07:26 AM   #16
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Default Ebay sword...

Here's another like the above. (Sorry, moderators. Tried but failed to cut/paste pics).

It's completed eBay auction # 190586365141

Beaut of a sword, but I suspect the grip or possibly the whole hilt replaced?? Wish I had had the $ to bid on this one-
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