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Old 5th June 2021, 08:54 PM   #1
Kubur
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Default Small sword identification

Hi Guys

I need serious help.
I have zero knowledge in small swords.
Could you help to identify this one, from where and when?
Thanks

Kubur
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Old 5th June 2021, 09:25 PM   #2
Jim McDougall
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This appears to be a really sturdy, attractive example of an officers 'spadroon', probably British and these were popular from about 1780s into 19th c. While the blade seems pretty rusty, and cant see the whole thing, it seems probably straight, which is characteristic on these spadroons.

I like the heart on the grip. These were not of course 'small swords', but military versions of them for officers wear at special events and official proceedings. This one seems likely to be a 'fighting' example.
Small swords are pretty esoteric and as such have typically not been a highly populated field of collecting, but it seems have been catching on in recent years.

While I would deem this British, it could very well be Continental as well as these fashions were often shared broadly, in fact the British 'five ball' hilt form was actually adopted in France as the 'English' form saber.
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Old 6th June 2021, 12:31 PM   #3
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In addition to what Jim wrote:
I think this hilt is more of a Continental form than British. For instance, the English 1796 Pattern infantry officers examples tend to have more hilt decorations, fire gilding, a rounded wooden grip, wire or wire-like foil wrapped. Perhaps gently cleaning off the blade rust will reveal a monarch's cypher or other clues. I like the heart-shaped escutcheon on the grip. To me it also speaks of the European continent.
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Old 6th June 2021, 03:51 PM   #4
fernando
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Can you show us the whole sword, Kubur ?
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Old 6th June 2021, 05:05 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando View Post
Can you show us the whole sword, Kubur ?
I was reading your posts with interest, you are probably the one who can help on this one....
here the whole thing
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Old 6th June 2021, 05:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dmitry View Post
In addition to what Jim wrote:
I think this hilt is more of a Continental form than British. For instance, the English 1796 Pattern infantry officers examples tend to have more hilt decorations, fire gilding, a rounded wooden grip, wire or wire-like foil wrapped. Perhaps gently cleaning off the blade rust will reveal a monarch's cypher or other clues. I like the heart-shaped escutcheon on the grip. To me it also speaks of the European continent.
Thanks, so European with/or without English
What about the Scottish?
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Old 6th June 2021, 05:02 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
This appears to be a really sturdy, attractive example of an officers 'spadroon', probably British and these were popular from about 1780s into 19th c.
I like the heart on the grip. These were not of course 'small swords', but military versions of them for officers wear at special events and official proceedings. This one seems likely to be a 'fighting' example.
Thank you Jim, very useful to narrow down the origin, a spadroon, maybe military; and period late 18th late 19th c.
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Old 6th June 2021, 05:55 PM   #8
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The sword closely follows the 1796p British infantry officers sword except for the grip and pommel. I would call it Continental, a way of saying European but not sure which country.
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Old 6th June 2021, 07:04 PM   #9
Jim McDougall
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Thanks guys!
Kubur, good note on 'Scottish' and the Scots, while within the 'British' umbrella, did tend to have unique styling nuanced into their arms for officers. Here I would note that the heart shape is indeed quite present in Scottish heraldry and motif. I think of the hearts present in Scottish basket hilts, and I have a very old chair I think Scottish with hearts in the decoration.

The 'spadroon' (derived from a fencing term) was basically a straight blade saber (semantics of terms often 'duel' with this application) and became popular in England around 1780, lasting until about 1820. While the notable 'five ball hilt' was the most prevalent (some had up to 7) other hilts were known, and one I recall (I need to find image) had an openwork heart in the upturned perpendicular guard.

These stylish officers swords of course had variation in the hilt furniture as they were privately commissioned by officers, and the ever present competition in fashion was prevalent.
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Old 6th June 2021, 07:57 PM   #10
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Addendum:
To my previous post,
I found the reference to the open work guard on a 'spadroon' 1790s with a heart incorporated in the design in the chaos of my notes some years ago.

I had become intrigued by the 'five ball hilts' and one key reference aside from Brian Robson's "Swords of the British Army" was an obscure article by W.E. May, "The Five Ball Type of Sword Hilt", May, 1963, JAAS, Vol. 4, #8.
In it , May described the unique hilt, but having no distinct explanation for the motif, he noted his hope that eventually some viable information on the development of the form would be found.

In studying decoration in motif and designs in swords, I had found many clues which suggested the presence of Masonic and other symbolic detail in these cases. The number five is significant in various occult and arcane areas, one being Masonic.
In communications with Mr. Robson, I suggested that Masonic symbolism might be present in the five ball hilt decoration. He however, did not think so and insisted the motif was purely aesthetic.

In later years I found more information on British sword hilts, indeed especially with these 'spadroons' which noted specifics on possible links to arcane symbolism as well as Masonic and 'secret society' lore.
Apparently, for example, the lozenge (diamond) shape used in the open work guard had possible links to an Irish Protestant group of 1790s. In another reference the shape is noted linked to the British Isles symbolically, and the well known British cutler Francis Thurkle was known to have used it.

With Freemasonry, the lodges of England and France apparently had deep connections which transcended the obvious and constant embattlement between the countries. In the only instance I know of where the a British design was copied by the French, the 1780s spadroon was adopted there as 'the English sword'.
Masonic venue?
There was always the ever present stand of Jacobites who had long been emplaced in France during the Scottish rebellions, and here I would note that the 'HEART' was one of many known Jacobite symbols.

OK, I know, a LOT of stuff but it is given here as food for thought, and nostalgically shared here by me from my fascination with this topic years ago.

In my terribly erratic notes is a lot of minutiae (my apologies, this was YEARS ago) and the saber with 'spadroon' type hilt with the heart is compared to similar style hilt by Tookey c. 1792 (Aylward) but hers does not have the heart shape. The 'spadroon' here I am noting the hilt style. However it seems the spadroon was TYPICALLY a straight, epee, type blade.
The shell guard on Kubur's example does recall the infantry officers dress sword in concept.
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Last edited by Jim McDougall; 6th June 2021 at 08:50 PM.
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Old 7th June 2021, 05:57 AM   #11
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Jim. what are you doing with my sword?

IDed by the curator/director of the Higgins Armoury as mid century 18th and the sword came from Dominic Grant during a Scandic adventure. A late Wundes looking blade mark.

As to the sword of the thread and the 1796, David Critchley had written of Prussian patterns influencing the development of the British pattern.https://web.archive.org/web/20061231...shinfantry.php

Cheers
GC
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Old 7th June 2021, 06:03 AM   #12
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For scale Jim. The sabre is a hussar type, picked up with smaller hilts in the 1780s.
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Old 7th June 2021, 07:14 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hotspur View Post
Jim. what are you doing with my sword?

IDed by the curator/director of the Higgins Armoury as mid century 18th and the sword came from Dominic Grant during a Scandic adventure. A late Wundes looking blade mark.

As to the sword of the thread and the 1796, David Critchley had written of Prussian patterns influencing the development of the British pattern.https://web.archive.org/web/20061231...shinfantry.php

Cheers
GC

Yikes! Glen, yup, thats it! Ive had pics of that in my notes for years but not sure how long. I always that that guard was amazing!
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Old 8th June 2021, 01:33 PM   #14
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Hi,
In general this says to me P1796 Infantry Officers sword apart from the pommel which would normally be the urn type and the grip which was normally round and wire wrapped. The blade shape, folding guard and the stirrup guard all look typical for a P1796. There are quite a few variations on these P1796 officers swords but I haven't seen the aforementioned variations to date. Volunteer militia? An interesting piece.
Regards,
Norman.
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Old 8th June 2021, 02:14 PM   #15
Jim McDougall
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Norman McCormick View Post
Hi,
In general this says to me P1796 Infantry Officers sword apart from the pommel which would normally be the urn type and the grip which was normally round and wire wrapped. The blade shape, folding guard and the stirrup guard all look typical for a P1796. There are quite a few variations on these P1796 officers swords but I haven't seen the aforementioned variations to date. Volunteer militia? An interesting piece.
Regards,
Norman.
I think you are onto an important observation Norman, the absence of the urn pommel as noted did not suggest the M1796 pattern infantry officers sword. Also, as Mark astutely noted, these 'fixtures' are for a folding guard shell.
The folding apparatus was an innovative feature becoming popular at this time of fledgling sword patterns, which became better known just before mid 19th c.
As these officers swords were by commission, to the cutlers of London as a rule, such innovative devices would have been notable for the variations noted.
The use of horn and the heart device as also previously noted, may well be toward a Scottish preference (heart=Catholic; Catholic= Jacobite; Jacobite=Stuarts, and other British supporters for them).
The horn would have been used in the sense of stag horn, popular on hinting hangers, favored by the gentry and upper echelons from which officers came and their sense of fashion prevailed.

These kinds of variations are almost maddening for those who focus on regulation patterns, as officers swords, while loosely following standard conventions, had almost carte blanche in private purchase. The keen sense of fashion among officers, the innovations and styles of varied makers led to these kinds of anomalies.
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