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Old 29th August 2017, 05:15 AM   #1
Bryce
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Default European Wootz?

G'day Guys,
I am a sword collector based in Australia. My main area of interest is British Napoleonic era swords. Last year I acquired a sword which has a feature I haven't come across before and I am hoping that someone here may be able to shed some light on it for me. The sword is a British mameluke-hilted sabre with what is known as a "quill-point" blade. "Quill-points" are pipe-back blades which feature a prominently raised false edge. They were popular among British cavalry officers in the 1810-1820 period. This particular sword appears to fit into this period.

What is unusual about this sword is that the blade is made of steel which is meant to look like wootz. I have seen other swords of this period with mechanical Damascus blades and also blades which have been etched to resemble wootz, but never anything like this. Unfortunately there are no markings on the sword or scabbard to help identify who made it. It is difficult to get good photos of the patterns in the blade, but I am hoping that someone here might be able to tell me what sort of steel this is.

Cheers,

Bryce Davies
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Old 29th August 2017, 07:11 AM   #2
Robert
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I moved your thread here as I believe that you will have a better chance of finding the answers you are looking for here instead of the Ethno forum. Though I know little to nothing about these this in my opinion is a beautiful sword.

Best,
Robert
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Old 29th August 2017, 09:28 AM   #3
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Very interesting blade indeed! Thank you for opening this very interesting thread!

However, I seriously doubt the European origin of the blade and I am inclined towards Turkey or the Caucasus area.

I will certainly follow this thread with much interest.
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Old 29th August 2017, 12:01 PM   #4
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Hello Bryce,

your blade looks like a 19th ct. British or German Pipe-back blade.
The blade seems made from Syrian Sham-Wootz.


Roland
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Old 29th August 2017, 10:27 PM   #5
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I don't know - this would be the most active/bold sham I've seen...

I was thinking about shear steel which can resemble sham, too. Again very bold though!

It seems that the corrosion is not really following the pattern which seems odd for any type of patterned steel, isn't it?

Regards,
Kai
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Old 30th August 2017, 10:57 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kai
It seems that the corrosion is not really following the pattern which seems odd for any type of patterned steel, isn't it?

Regards,
Kai


It depends on the way how the blade was stored, within the scabbard or not, dry or wet conditions, oiled or not. In most cases the front of the sword is most corroded.

The pattern is of importance for the corrosion if we have a rough grain with openings. If we have a fine grain without openings, the corrosion sensivity is much lower.

I think this beautiful sword is a Oriental contract work for a European customer. I know, that deeply curved Persian or Ottoman swords has been very popular in the armys of Napoleonic time. Proven officers often had been rewarded with mameluke sword types.


Regards,
Roland
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Old 30th August 2017, 09:55 PM   #7
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G'day Guys,

Thanks for your feedback. This blade type seems to have been particularly favoured by British officers serving in India. I was thinking that this sword was a special order from an officer who had served in India and had seen wootz blades and wanted something with the same look. I have read that European swordsmiths were trying to recreate wootz blades around this time. Maybe this is an example of their attempts?

Most quill-points are relatively straight. This one is slightly more curved than normal. Below is a photo comparing it to a more regular heavy cavalry example.

Cheers,
Bryce
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Last edited by Bryce : 31st August 2017 at 07:17 AM.
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Old 31st August 2017, 01:37 AM   #8
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You said there are no marking on the sword or scabbard that would tell you who made it. Is that typical of these?
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Old 31st August 2017, 03:44 AM   #9
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G'day Helleri,

Most British swords of this era are marked, but there are many that aren't, so not unusual.

Cheers,
Bryce
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Old 31st August 2017, 08:30 AM   #10
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What was the point with quill point swords? Were there any practical reasons for them, or mostly for show? It looks like a variation of the false edge of a sabre and the "T" back of a Kilic.
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Old 31st August 2017, 01:45 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kai
I don't know - this would be the most active/bold sham I've seen...

I was thinking about shear steel which can resemble sham, too. Again very bold though!

It seems that the corrosion is not really following the pattern which seems odd for any type of patterned steel, isn't it?

Regards,
Kai


Agree with Kai. Sham and shear steel can be very close in appearance. This one appears to be shear steel, of European origin.
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Old 31st August 2017, 07:37 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
What was the point with quill point swords? Were there any practical reasons for them, or mostly for show? It looks like a variation of the false edge of a sabre and the "T" back of a Kilic.


Officers of the Bombay Light Cavalry carried stirrup hilted swords with the quill point at a time that is likely contemporary with the sword that features in this post; with swords marked to the 1st and 2nd regiments having been sighted.

Swords with quill-pointed blades were still being purchased by some cavalry officers of the EIC in the middle 1850s (largely irregular cavalry), as it appears the ram-rod back (or pipe-back) to the blade was considered more rigid, and combined with the style of point, better used to penetrate mail.

Swords with the ram-rod back, but no pronounced quill point were also made for cavalry troopers at the time of the Mutiny of 1857, with use likely extending into the 1860s. There is also evidence that suggest that quill-pointed blades were still with some officers, some time after the mutiny.
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Old 31st August 2017, 10:46 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
What was the point with quill point swords? Were there any practical reasons for them, or mostly for show? It looks like a variation of the false edge of a sabre and the "T" back of a Kilic.


G'day Victrix,

The quill-point was an attempt to make a straight thrusting sword that had a curved cutting edge. It is a good thrusting sword, but unfortunately the thick, reinforced spine gets in the way of a good cut. Nevertheless, it can still deliver a nasty slash. It also has a very sharp, but still strong point.

It looks frightening, but I suspect it wasn't that effective in combat, hence the short service life, (except in India and in a shortened naval form).

Cheers,

Bryce
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Old 1st September 2017, 03:59 AM   #14
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Weren't swords based on regulation patterns sometimes made-to-order for British officers by native swordsmiths in India?
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Old 3rd September 2017, 09:16 PM   #15
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G'day Guys,

So the jury is out? If only the smith had marked his work. Were Eastern smiths still producing wootz at this time?

Cheers,
Bryce
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Old 4th September 2017, 05:04 AM   #16
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Default wootz in Eastern countries and Europe

Wootz blades dated throughout the 19th cent. are seen on Indian, Persian, and Ottoman weapons. Europeans wanted to find out the secret to making the stuff for centuries. A Frenchman succeeded early in the 19th cent, but it never went beyond a few prototype blades. More successful were the Russians -- an engineer named Anossov cracked the secret by the late 1830s and a limited number of saber blades were produced under his supervision at the imperial sword factory at Zlatoust in the early 1840s. Examples occasionally reach the market today but they are not common. Anossov's penchant for secrecy meant that the process pretty much stayed in his pocket, so it died with him. In Russian, wootz is referred to as "bulat", an obvious derivation from Farsi (Persian) "foulad", literally meaning steel but crystalline damask in particular.
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