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Old 6th January 2014, 11:19 AM   #1
fernando
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Default Cavalry sabre with a parabolic blade

I have been chasing one of these for a couple years. Finaly i managed to convince this guy to trade the best (or less bad) of two examples he had.
Having (poorly ?) restored its grip with a new leather cover and wiring, he settled for a swap plus a few Euros.
Its blade curvature may not be the greatest out there, but is already within the not practical but exhibionist range. I wouldn't be surprised if the owner had this one for showing off in the streets and palace corridors and used a more 'reasonable' example for going into battle.
Judging by the stirrup hilt and all, this could be Portuguese, dated beg. XIX century, like from the Peninsular War period, i would risk; not an early example i know, but i had to have one of these bizarre blades in my in significant collection.
Any comments will be more than welcome.

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Old 6th January 2014, 02:07 PM   #2
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It looks like a flankers sword to me, but not being an expert I await for the experienced guys to give their views.
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Old 6th January 2014, 05:37 PM   #3
Jim McDougall
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Hi Nando,
I think Sirupate is spot on, as it seems flank company officers did seem to favor in many cases these deeply parabolic blades, though it seems that may have been incidental. I have seen the familiar M1803 lionhead brass hilt forms (for infantry officers but also flank company officers)with the slotted guard with these kinds of blades on occasion . I have stirrup hilt sabre with deeply parabolic blade and unusually canted hlt which has been regarded as a variant M1796 ( I will see if I can find photos).

Whether your example was originally mounted in M1796 stirrup hilt (before restoration) is unknown. However that blade does seem to be with some slight resemblance to fullering of 1796 light cav, though obviously not remotely like the hatchet point blade.

The 1790s was a most innovative period for British cavalry swords as great interest was centered on the effectiveness of various sword forms, as LeMarchant introduced the first regulation patterns in 1796. Although the M1796 light and heavy cavalry forms were pretty consistant, there were still variations as many forms of blades were considered, even one case of a M1796 light cavalry sabre with recurved yataghan type blade (carried by the commanding officer of 10th Hussars at Waterloo).

Beyond the testing and prototypes regarding the most effective blade forms (which included tulwars, kilij, and of course the European forms, some with yelman) in this period, there was also a profound obsession with military fashion. While the colorful and often somewhat dramatically overdone clothing was part of the obsession with image and status, in many cases the swords also were rather exaggerated. The fashion for some time was to have the sabre low slung so that the scabbarded sword would effectively drag along (the reason for the 'drag' fixture at the chape). This added to the 'swagger' effect along with the colorful headgear, tunics etc. I would note here that even the much fabled ' Beau Brummel' was for a time in one of the British cavalry regiments and around this time.

It seems quite possible that these considerations might have had some bearing on the use of these dramatically parabolic blades, as the deep curve does not seem to have had any particularly pragmatic reason otherwise.

So I suppose this blade may have been either a prototype in this period, or perhaps the selection of a fashion conscious young officer. I cannot say whether this might be Portuguese or British, but as you know in many cases these were closely connected.

All the best,
Jim
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Old 6th January 2014, 06:35 PM   #4
fernando
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Thanks for your comment Sirupate; and thanks for your extensive lines, Jim.
Far away from me to contradict your precious observations, but let me dare telling what i think this sword is not ... or apparently is not.
I have seen the grip before being restored; only the leather cover and wiring were added. Not objecting that the original hilt was a different one, this makes it more remote.
I wouldn't say that the blade was a 1796 one; this one lacks the sharp lines of its back, the hatchet point, the heavy weight look and all, having a more legere (thinner) and roundish appearance. I know that the overbending of a standard blade tends to somehow distort its lines, but still; the 1796 weighs well over 2 pounds and this one weighs less than 1 1/2 pounds.
Also i wouldn't call it a prototype ... at least a 'one and only' prototype; the guy i got it from had another example, with precisely the same curvature, although with a narrower blade. I would rather go for the swagger version, as you also well suggest.
And to finish with my is not catharsis, agreeing with you in absolute on what concerns British and Portuguese weapons having followed a paralel path, i think that, in this specific case, this is local work.
On the other hand, i find the term flanking very suggesting; confessing i never heard of it, i will look for its correspondence in Portuguese cavalry formation.
Thank you.
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Old 6th January 2014, 09:42 PM   #5
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Good observations Nando, and what I was noting was a remote similarity in the fuller, at least what I can see of it, and not that it was actually a M1796 blade.
Excellent approach which I think is always prudent in examining an item, observing exactly what that item is 'not', using a rational scope of similar possibilities and process of elimination.

I know that you are of course extremely well familiar with both British and Portuguese cavalry swords (in fact much I have learned on these parallels has been from you). I agree that this is likely to be local work, particularly that you have more than one example to corroborate the idea. In the case of prototypes, it is not uncommon to have more than one of a unique style or form but what is noted would be considered rather 'not of an established or regularly seen pattern'.
What I was thinking of was the number of 'prototypes' in terms of the British swords on this early period, i.e. the yataghan blade example, a number of blades on M1796 officers sabres with yelman, and the shamshir type parabolic blade but with pronounced 'pipeback' rib etc.

The 'flank' companies were (at least in British battle order) units for the infantry regiments, which is why it is so interesting to see the use of these sabres.

I think we are pretty much on the same page, and this is likely more the 'swagger' situation during this time of flamboyant military fashion .
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Old 7th January 2014, 11:45 AM   #6
Richard G
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I've always known these as bandsmen's swords.
Regards
Richard
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Old 7th January 2014, 05:18 PM   #7
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Bandsmens swords? Now that is really interesting Richard! Can you please say more on what military etc. do you mean British or Portuguese? Can you please note what references might have this?

Its not that I am doubting this, but most of the band swords I have seen are of course the brass hilted short swords listed in the Robson books for British army swords. Some of these do have short sabre blades but certainly not these long ad dramatically curved blades.

As an aside pertaining to these dramatically parabolic blades, another instance of these are the examples made in America by the Virginia Manufactory of arms around 1808. These sabres had a slotted stirrup type hilt with a long deeply curved blade (40"). I often wondered why in the world these were so long and incredibly curved, but in retrospect I am thinking about the 'swagger' factor we have noted here. The state of Virginia is known for rather being its own 'country' in those early days, and the officers of their cavalry were known for flamboyance and 'swagger', one of them was of course 'Lighthorse Harry' Lee, father of Robert E. Lee.
In the Civil War, these sabres were apparently still in use or drawn out of stores, and the blades considerably shortened, presumably to render them more usable in combat.
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Old 7th January 2014, 07:34 PM   #8
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Bandsmen swords ? I am getting more and more distant from where i started with this sword query
I mean, flanking sword was already an enigma (for me) but then, i am far from being a connoisseur. Naturaly knowing the basic meaning of the term 'flank' i searched for 'flankers' into the military environment. I didn't go further from flanking being a way of either defending the flanks of an infantry formation or atacking it, either by footmen or cavalry. I was not lucky to find any writings on swords made specifically for such maneuvers; neither i discern the difference between a 'basic' cavalry sword and a flanker's one. Still i am not closed to that ... and Sirupate must know what he is talking about.
Now, a bandsmen sword; the only examples i found on the Net have nothing (at all) to do with this sword i am posting. But a Net search is what it is; i am prepared for whatever comes from a further explanation, in this case from Richard G ... if not from whoever decides to enlighten me/us
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Old 7th January 2014, 07:40 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Bandsmen swords ? I am getting more and more distant from where i started with this sword query
I mean, flanking sword was already an enigma (for me) but then, i am far from being a connoisseur. Naturaly knowing the basic meaning of the term 'flank' i searched for 'flankers' into the military environment. I didn't go further from flanking being a way of either defending the flanks of an infantry formation or atacking it, either by footmen or cavalry. I was not lucky to find any writings on swords made specifically for such maneuvers; neither i discern the difference between a 'basic' cavalry sword and a flanker's one. Still i am not closed to that ... and Sirupate must know what he is talking about.
Now, a bandsmen sword; the only examples i found on the Net have nothing (at all) to do with this sword i am posting. But a Net search is what it is; i am prepared for whatever comes from a further explanation, in this case from Richard G ... if not from whoever decides to enlighten me/us



I agree Nando, that cryptic note is baffling!! Pulleeeze Richard can you tell us any more?
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Old 7th January 2014, 07:58 PM   #10
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Hi Fernando,
Do a search for 1803 Flank Officers sword and see images. When I saw your sword the blade profile reminded me of some of the more 'curved' varieties of this pattern of British sword.
My Regards,
Norman.
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Old 7th January 2014, 09:44 PM   #11
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Hi Fernando,
Here are some images gleaned from the net. As these were officers swords and therefore privately purchased they were, as with other kit to a degree, subject to the vagaries of fashion and therefore some blades had impossibly, in a practical sense, curved profiles. Hope this is of some help.
My Regards,
Norman.
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Old 8th January 2014, 11:52 AM   #12
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Thanks a lot, Norman for the "1803" key, without which my previous browsings gave no result. And thanks again for the recent post with the images.
I know, i might be the stubborn character but, i didn't see in the flankers sword version an implicit connection with the blade curvature; pretending that (quoting you) vagaries of fashion would basicaly apply to period context ... flankers or not. Actually when considering flanking action by footmen, extreme curvature of sabres would have an even more clumsy efect, as you so well approach. I also had the impression in my browsing that, most articles dedicated to (1803) flanker swords, are more foccused in the hilt (lion and all) and only eventualy in 'overcurved' blades.
In other words, i didn't yet see evidence or a clear expression in that one thing belongs to the other ... or i am missing something ... which wouldn't surprise me ... i am playing by ear .
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Old 8th January 2014, 02:34 PM   #13
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Now, look at this one.
So called Light Cavalry Sabre for Personal Gear, War production.
From the work ARMAMENTO ESPAÑOL EN LA GUERRA DE LA INDEPENDENCIA 1788-1814 de Juan L. Calvó Pascual.
(Don Calvó has once offered me a copy)
This example, marked and produced in 1811 (Cadiz), with more 2 cms. length and less 5 m/m flecha (bow) has almost the same curvature as mine.
Could it be that this Spanish model inspired the making of mine ... in such case not a freelancer but a regular weapon ?

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Old 8th January 2014, 02:46 PM   #14
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Default Bandsman's sword?

Now I have to justify my comment, and its not that easy. This may be one of many old British collector's myths whereby the conclusion is drawn from the characteristics of the sword rather than an extraneous source.

If we are talking about the band of a light cavalry regiment then Fernando has already stated the basis of the argument;
" Its blade curvature may not be the greatest out there, but is already within the not practical but exhibionist range. I wouldn't be surprised if the owner had this one for showing off in the streets and palace corridors and used a more 'reasonable' example for going into battle"
- and for showing off, is what a band sword is.

I have seen a few of these shorter, lighter and more curved versions of the 1796 Light Cavalry sabre that seem so designed NOT to drag on the ground and to minimise the inconvenience of having to carry it around. I have one with a brass hilt and scabbard (which unfortunately I can't get to today) which is so light and curved it is almost impossible to think of it as anything other than a band sword. A smaller, less clunking, version of the standard pattern for a specific purpose would not be unique. For example, British horse Artillery drivers were issued with a shortened version of the standard 1821 light cavalry sabre designed to minimise interference when going about their "gunning" duties.

Band swords weren't regulated until the mid 19th Cent. and Fernando's sword predates that.

It could also be a Infantry Flank Company Officers sword. In the light company, with greater emphasis being placed on mobility, a shorter, lighter sword would seem a logical choice. It seems to be well well documented that Rifle Regiment and light infantry officers had a penchant for the 1796 light cavalry sword

I will keep looking, in the meantime I attach a picture of the Coldstream Guards Band in 1851. I know the hilt is different but the blade configuration seems to fit.

Regards
Richard
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Old 8th January 2014, 03:07 PM   #15
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Hi Guys , This is my Flank officers sword .
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Old 8th January 2014, 03:20 PM   #16
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Sorry about poor pics here are some more .
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Old 8th January 2014, 05:23 PM   #17
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my curviest sword

looks positively straight by comparison. if you cut at someone with one of those flankers the sweet spot wouldn't contact until the day after!
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Old 8th January 2014, 05:49 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
... if you cut at someone with one of those flankers the sweet spot wouldn't contact until the day after!

Not if you use the inner side of the blade ... you know, like a sickle
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Old 8th January 2014, 09:48 PM   #19
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falx or rhompheia!

found on an ancient roman digital slr's memory card

or my
ginunting?

or my salyan khukuri


when i cut with them, i check to see what fell apart a half hour ago, then cut where they would have been now.
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Old 9th January 2014, 05:11 AM   #20
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in my files, Russian?

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Old 9th January 2014, 07:51 AM   #21
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that looks like it's be good for instances of someone sneaking up behind you. you would have to be careful you don't stab yourself in the back!
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Old 9th January 2014, 10:23 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hotspur
in my files, Russian?



Yes, present in a thread familiar to this one:

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=17929
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Old 9th January 2014, 10:26 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
that looks like it's be good for instances of someone sneaking up behind you. you would have to be careful you don't stab yourself in the back!


Your damned right
From the same link abovementioned:

In AS ARMAS e OS BARÕES by Eduardo Nobre, he cites the blades of some local cavalry sabres of the (XIX century) period in which, when the horseman pulled it back for a stroke, the blade point touched the opposite shoulder ... if you know what i mean.
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Old 9th January 2014, 03:39 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
my curviest sword

looks positively straight by comparison. if you cut at someone with one of those flankers the sweet spot wouldn't contact until the day after!



This is exactly the question that has been on my mind from the beginning on this dramatically curved blade topic......how effective, if at all, would these deep curved sabre blades be? As far as I have been able to see, this is more of a fashion oriented feature, as also thought by Fernando and Norman as well in our discussion.
The remarkable example shown by Glen, which is from discussion some time ago, and believed Russian, is certainly a quintessant example of the pragmatic folly of such extreme feature as a blade of such curve.

As noted by Fernando, it would be quite different if this were indeed a sickle blade, with the cutting edge inside, which as known are quite effective in their own respect, but would not be necessarily so on a moving horse. In that respect they would effectively 'hook' the target, so would eliminate the potential for the draw cut as normally favored in many sabre techniques.

Turning to the band sword idea, it should be noted of course that band members are typically non combatant and the sidearms worn by them were usually shorter and straight, more like pioneer and artillery swords. It does seem possible that the curved sabre might have been used with regard to the fashion element. I do have a brass hilt band sword, in a form known c.1840s which is a short curved sabre .
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Old 9th January 2014, 07:10 PM   #25
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This 1796 of mine is a really well made example but is vergeing on the impractable in my opinion .
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Old 9th January 2014, 07:12 PM   #26
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British example.
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Old 9th January 2014, 08:01 PM   #27
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Well, interesting to compare this type of European sword with the Ethiopian shotel - also decorative ? To strike behind an opponent's shield I expect...
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Old 9th January 2014, 10:25 PM   #28
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Default curved sword blade

Hi, these very curved bladed swords are a result of the Egyption campaign. Anything Egyption was high fashion here in the UK. I have in my collection an 1803 pattern with a very curved blade in this Egyption pattern.as a fighting weapon it would be totally useless.
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Old 10th January 2014, 04:00 PM   #29
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Excellent note on the effect of the Egyptian campaigns on military fashion in England and in France as well, with regard to the case of the Mameluke officers sabres. I once had a M1803 Flank Company officers sabre which was in accord with the pattern, with the exception of the lionhead, which instead of familiar flowing mane had the lion with a sphinx type headdress . It did not have exceptionally curved blade though and I mention it strictly to the note on military fashion.

I am wondering if the deep curve might have been intended in concept for more effective slashing cuts in close quarters? though the idea is admittedly tenuous but needs to be considered as possible and observed in process of elimination.
I still think the fashion factor remains the most plausible, the drawing of these out of the scabbard issue not withstanding. Naturally if the sword is out before initiation of combat that is a moot point.

Burton (1884) speaks to the Ethiopian shotel in traditional form on p163, "...the shotel or Abyssinian sword is a direct descendant of the khopsh-falchion . Nothing is less handy than this gigantic sickle; the edge is inside, the grip is too small, and the difficulty of drawing the blade from the scabbard is considerable." Further describing derisively the blade of 37 inches along the arc and the weapon "..never belonging to a race of swordsmen".
It would seem that Burton, though predating the Napoleonic sabers by nearly two decades, certainly would reflect the view of staunchly traditional British swordsmen toward the effectiveness of such curved blades as shown in his narrative.
I think he would have been stunned by such dramatically 'fashionable' sabres, but as we know, times change.
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Old 10th January 2014, 05:55 PM   #30
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I fully concur with the fashion opinion; and also accept the basic idea being brought from Egipt, like the Mameluke hilt ... and probably later exagerated by some, following the said fashion concept.
As for the flanking model suggestion i would definitely put it apart. If some flankers ae overcurved, some others are not, as overcurved are also the blades of other sabres, as seen here. Having not found any records on Portuguese flanker troops, i went through a publication of Spanish swords in that, the models of their Flanking Brigades have a 'normal' blade while, on the other hand, illustration of Officers sabres have blades with rather pronounced bow.
Also interesting is that, re-curving of swords is not only a practice of officers private commission. The author of the article pretends, in his perspective that, 1802 pattern for line cavalry munitions blades were manipulated, having them re-curved (SIC) for such officers sword model
(Juan L. Calvó)
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