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Old 9th June 2021, 08:02 PM   #1
fernando
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Default Small sword; cut steel hilt, Colichemarde blade, for comments

This is a small sword indeed, not only for the style but also for its small dimensions, with a blade measuring 26" which, if its point was not broken (to my despair) would be no more than a couple inches longer... i guess.
The hilt the cut steel type ... ma non troppo; as this is the simplest of the kind i find out there.
No doubt a Colichemarde blade, with its hollow ground three faces.
Interesting that it still keeps the leather 'washer' that softens the impact of the (missing) scabbard. It could be my imagination but, one of the arabescs in the decoration looks more like the name of the blade smith.
Culd you Gentlemen favour me with your comments, age and provenance included ?
Thsnk you so much in advance.


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Old 9th June 2021, 08:44 PM   #2
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Hello Fernando.
A fascinating piece, not least because I suspect (I am open to contradiction of course) that it is a younger hilt: probably to preserve a much treasured blade.
Matthew Boulton was almost certainly the source of the hilt, but I am of the opinion that the true Colichemarde blade (with distinct shoulders) was out of fashion by then. Please correct me if I am wrong as informed details regarding the lifespan of the Colichemarde have eluded me to date.
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Old 9th June 2021, 08:54 PM   #3
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A fascinating example, and indeed cut steel type maxime, probably English and 1790s. It was the sunset of the small sword, but its influences held in the hilt stylings in numbers of military swords in artistic sense as favored by fashion conscious officers.

As usual, the chain guard is missing, and very attractive etching in the blade, which is as noted 'colichemarde' (the widened upper portion of blade, said to be for parrying). While these were in use from mid 17th century into early 18th, they were regarded as 'out of fashion', at least in most civilian examples.
However, military officers always held to tradition, and these blades were well known on officers small swords well through the 18th c.

The 'cut steel' (some of these almost look 'steam punk') hilts were made popular in England mostly around London and Birmingham, and industrial revolution figures like Boulton were heavily involved in designs (Aylward, 1945).

This probably belonged to a British officer, perhaps with fraternal associations which might be identified with closer look at the motif and circled inscription.

**** Urban, we crossed posts!!! The hilt looks like the 1790s-1800 period hilts made as noted, but I am inclined to agree this is a way earlier, probably heirloom blade, and the motif may well go back into very early period, possibly into 17th c. and the blades we know so well !!!!
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Old 10th June 2021, 11:40 AM   #4
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Default Colichemarde lore

Colichemardes account for as little as 0·3% of all smallswords extant.
Curiously, Greenwich Maritime Museum has the greatest proportion with 6 out of 120 smallswords having colichemarde blades.
As my inestimable colleague proclaimed: they were generally restricted to officer classes who might actually have to use them, and consequently favoured the reinforced forté. Civilian wearers preferred the aesthetically superior, standard un-shouldered blade, as they probably never had to use it.
Jim also agrees with me in that they were falling out of fashion during the second half of the 18thC.
I have a William Kinman silver, boat-shell hilted example with a 33" (84cm) blade (which was unusually long), and while the hilt is in perfect condition, the blade looks a good 100 years older. Kinman was marking from 1765 to 1799, so again, as in Fernando's example, I suspect it was a re-hilt (see image).
I will take this opportunity to reinforce what I have hinted at before, and that is: colichemardes feature a constant width groove/hollow on their lower face. This is a product of the second notorious machine: invented by Huguenots in Solingen around about 1625/30 that used a roller to fashion the groove from above while the stock was forced into the standard anvil die, and was brought to Shotley Bridge in 1687 by the two Mohll brothers. They had been trying to get it over here for some time as it was not well favoured in Solingen.
Given an opportunity, you will see that a lot of colichemardes feature a curvature that is a product of too much pressure from the roller; it would not have been present initially but generally would have developed over the years.
There are a lot of munitions grade smallswords that also feature this groove as it was far quicker and cheaper to produce; although this second image is of a special order smallsword made for a naval officer during George 3rd's reign by Thomas Gill of Birmingham that was obviously an expensive and unique commission; again, it features a Boulton hilt.
By this time the Mohlls/Molls/Moles were working down in Birmingham and using their rolling and grinding machines; but not, I hasten to add, under their own name.
To that end I would be grateful if anyone else has observed a late 18thC trefoil smallsword blade coming from Birmingham's makers.
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Old 10th June 2021, 06:06 PM   #5
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This response by Keith is virtually 'the tip of the iceberg' regarding the true history of these swords and types he has uncovered in the several years he has been researching for his book on the history of the Shotley Bridge enterprises.

I am fortunate to have 'been along' in this, and quite honestly have learned more on these fields of sword history than I could have imagined beyond what I had studied over many years. As if the wars, campaigns and strife between countries and Great Britain as well as within the countries themselves were not complicated enough, the mysteries and intrigues of Shotley Bridge are a solid mix of history and James Bond! and the mysterious 'Hollow Sword Blades' have never been as deeply approached as by Keith, as can be seen in this brief view he has entered here.

His research has set aside many generations of misconception, lore and generally held assumptions regarding these swords, and I could not resist saying so here. Having said that, I will say that these great examples posted here the past week of small swords, along with what Keith has shared, has greatly piqued my interest in them, and anxious to learn more.

I hope we will be seeing more examples!
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Old 11th June 2021, 01:23 PM   #6
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Thank you so much Gentlemen, for your comprehensive comments and the treatises on these swords.
I will be digesting and saving to my archives, all those precious details.
And once Keith notes that there aren't many of these swords out there, i will here upload a high end example, that comes in AS ARMAS E OS BARÕES, by Eduardo Nobre. The silver hilt has gilded decorations, and zoomorphic figures.


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Old 11th June 2021, 01:35 PM   #7
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Default Eduardo Nobre Colichemarde

This is a magnificent sword Fernando: truly superb. Is it part of your collection?
It is not possible to see in detail, is the blade a hollow trefoil blade?
It looks like a style of colichemarde blade (accurate name unknown to me) that I have wanted to acquire for some time and features in the Diderot page of blade shapes number 5g. Is it called a flattened diamond shape?
There are even less swords of this style than the regular colichemarde.

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Old 11th June 2021, 04:28 PM   #8
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No Keith, this is not mine, although i have in time acquired a few pieces from this collection; in fact this is a book/catalogue that the author (Eduardo Nobre) published to promote its sales.
There is no detailed description on the blade, except that it is a Colichemarde . ... and the Konigsmark story.
The images i posted are as good as those in the book. To my eyes there is no actual hollow ground profile; however the three parts of the forte look slightly concave. On the other hand, as both images show the same side of it, i can't even say if the other side is flat... yet it could (should) be.
Blade length 780 mm. thickness 30 mm. Total length 940 mm.
Sorry i can't be more precise .

On the sword, the guard, the grip, the knuckle guard and the pommel are all pierced and chiselled. There is an animal head in the knuckle guard where it meets the pommel, with eyes and plumage.
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Old 14th June 2021, 08:35 PM   #9
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Guys, adding a picture of the no longer broken point and the comparison of all three face ricassos, where we can (hopefully) see that one is not an arabesc but the blade smith signature.



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