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Old 13th September 2021, 04:05 AM   #1
M ELEY
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Default Awesome Jacobite period basket hilt broadsword

Hello folks! Here's the newest member of my collection (straying a little from the naval/pirate, but there were many Scots who were privateers!)

Here we have a nice early 18th century basket hilt, probably made during the first quarter of the century (1700-25). The piece measures 35" overall with a 29" blade. The blade is classic German import, with a lenticular profile, unmarked, rounded tip and broad flat ricasso. Note the pommel is an early form of squat muchroom form. I have heard many speak of 'munitions-grade pieces' made in direct response to the Rebellion (used on both sides, BTW. Not all clans embraced the Bonny Prince!), but I think mine is nicer than some of those rougher examples.

You will note the nice piercings of hearts and dots to the side plates, as well as the merlons/fish tails, ridged decorations to the plates and bars. Interestingly, this example is missing two items, the so-called wrist guard to stop the slashing blow used by Scottish fencers (mine appears to have never had one. These wrist finials started popping up around 1700, with some earlier baskets actually braising them on later) and also the 'additional rear guard'. I attribute this to the early pattern and also this provincial weapon's no-nonsense creation as rebellions loomed. You will note that, as with the missing wrist guard, there doesn't appear to be any indication with this basket ever had the 'additional guard', no evidence of damage/removal, etc. I've seen several other types missing the additional rear guards, including the 'S' bar types which seem to never have them, on several British baskets and on at least two classic Scot examples.

The basket is tight and probably made for a smaller hand than mine (I've 5' 11''). My hand fits, but you can see there isn't any extra room! I'll post a pic of my other basket hilt for comparison soon. Note the original leather grip with double strand twist wire. The overall pattern of the basket would be the 'Glasgow style', meaning flat noodle-like bars nicely braised and the flaoting bars resting uder the grooved slot just under the pommel (another early feature). The overall impression is one of a basket created by garrison smiths imitating the 'masters' in Glasgow. The nice patina and some damage (cracked main knucle guard with inner basket reinforcement, minor damage to blade, chips, etc) are a testamony to it's use and history!
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Old 13th September 2021, 04:07 AM   #2
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Some more pics...
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Old 13th September 2021, 04:10 AM   #3
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More basket hilt pics!
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Old 13th September 2021, 05:40 AM   #4
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What a nice piece. You are right - some of these did not have that wrist guard. What is also nice is that the original patina and japanation is on the surface of the basket, and it hasn't been re-peened. The repair on the inside seems later but not recent, and keeps that part together.

Would you post pics of the whole piece please?
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Old 13th September 2021, 06:02 AM   #5
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Thanks so much for commenting, Battara. I will snap a few more shots of the whole piece and also of my other basket just for comparison. I truly love this sword and I love the stories of how many of these old baskets were hidden after the '45 Rebellion when they were basically made illegal to own. What stories it might tell!
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Old 13th September 2021, 10:24 AM   #6
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Great sword, Mark. Congratulations !
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Old 13th September 2021, 05:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colin henshaw View Post
Great sword, Mark. Congratulations !
Thank you, Colin!
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Old 13th September 2021, 07:05 PM   #8
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Default More pics Jacobite era baskets

Here's the whole sword plus my 'S' guard basket for comparison of size, grip wrap, etc. Note this other basket also lacks the 'additional rear guard' bars.

I hadn't noticed until I was looking at the pics that my new broadsword blade is set at a slight angle to the hilt, as evident in the second pic below. This is again an early feature and I begin to wonder if this might place the dating closer to c.1700!!
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Old 13th September 2021, 07:06 PM   #9
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Still more. What really speaks to me about these pieces was the turbulent time in which they were created. The old ribbon-hilt style of basket was transitioning into these forms and after the '45 Rebellion, baskets would rapidly become plainer, more functional. Gone would be the heart piercings, merlons and square cuts found on these types. Compare a Drury basket of the Blackwatch ca. 1770 for comparison (no less magnificent, just not the same decor).

Just as intriging are the sheer numer of baskets absent from the field of Culloden after the battle. In other words, despite the massive numbers of fallen Scots, others retrieved their baskets and hid them away. Those that were recovered, perhaps 150 or so, were taken as war trophies or chopped up/destroyed. A large grouping of them were made into an iron fence surrounding some aristocrat's estate, the ultimate insult! I'm glad this survivor came into my collection!
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Old 14th September 2021, 01:06 AM   #10
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........and some had their blades broken down and used to make Scottish dirks.
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Old 16th September 2021, 05:24 AM   #11
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Just as intriging are the sheer numer of baskets absent from the field of Culloden after the battle. In other words, despite the massive numbers of fallen Scots, others retrieved their baskets and hid them away. Those that were recovered, perhaps 150 or so, were taken as war trophies or chopped up/destroyed. A large grouping of them were made into an iron fence surrounding some aristocrat's estate, the ultimate insult! I'm glad this survivor came into my collection![/QUOTE]

"...frequently a family heirloom-often in its second or third hilting-the Highlanders 'sword was far more than just a weapon. The great symbolic value of these arms was not lost upon the Duke of Cumberland. A bounty was paid from the royal purse of one shilling for every broadsword picked up from the battlefield".
"Scottish Swords from the Battlefield
of Culloden"
E. Andrew Mowbray, 1971
Text and photos from records
of Lord Archibald Campbell, 1894
This is EXACTLY what the clans dreaded, and why I believe the precious heirlooms were carried away by clansmen. Of the 190 swords recovered from the field, 150 of them were given to the master of ordnance, John Hay, 4th Marquis of Tweeddale...........who then had points broken off and hilts removed, taking these amazing blades made into a travesty of poor taste of a fence at his estate at Twickenham House.

The house was later demolished (1888) and the blades sold to a scrap dealer, then later acquired by Lord Archibald Campbell, who wrote this in 1894.

Images of some of the blades from the terrible fence, and in an article about a Stirling hilt believed of Walter Allen, found alone and with damage to the pommel ring believed from said removal.
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Old 14th September 2021, 11:23 AM   #12
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Mark, I know very little about Europeans swords ... about the blade, is it a Solingen production ? any marks, running wolf etc ? Did they make sword blades in Scotland at all ?? The blade seems to have an early look to it...
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Old 14th September 2021, 03:15 PM   #13
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Hello Colin. It is my understanding that the vast majority of blades coming into the British Isles at this time were of German manufacture. This blade apears to be a common pattern, of lenticular form () in cross section, plain, unmarked (some will cry "where are the king's head marks?! Where is the 'Andria Fererra' markings and Latin symbols?! Many blades were completely unmarked. See Neumann's Guide, also Culloden:The Swords and the Sorrows for other unmarked examples) Two classic characteristics of a German blade are the broad ricasso and rounded tip on this one (I used to own two Spanish 'bilbo' broadswords with imported German blades with same rounded tip).
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Old 14th September 2021, 06:18 PM   #14
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There were not really any blade forgers in any degree in the British Isles until the mid to latter 17th century, these being the Hounslow makers who who primarily Germans brought in, later the Shotley Bridge makers. During the English civil wars shops in Oxford and one or two others began, but again with mostly German makers.

In the early 18th century the shops in Birmingham began, but even by the second half of the 18th century there were only three (possibly four) sword blade makers were were English. The Hounslow shops were long gone, and Shotley stubbornly hung on through the 18th c. but faltered away by early 19th.
By this time Birmingham was bustling and British blade making had taken hold.

As far as Scotland, there were never blade makers there, just 'sword slippers' who used foreign blades and made hilts, much as in most places where cutlers used blades from known blade forging centers.
Sword making was seldom a 'comprehensive' industry, but used components made by others and assembled them together.

The rounded tip on 'arming' sword blades was as Mark notes well known on German blades on these times, and designed primarily for more surface in slashing cuts, key in Scottish swordsmanship.
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Old 14th September 2021, 11:30 PM   #15
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Thank you, Jim, for coming in on this one. I know you are the expert when it comes to the Scottish pieces. I had forgotten about the German smiths of Houndslow, but, as you said, they were long gone. I am unfamiliar with the Scottish fensing style with basket and hope to find information on it, especially pertaining to the slashing cut and tageting the opponent's hand inside the basket (thus, the need for the later wrist guard).
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Old 15th September 2021, 06:39 AM   #16
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I'm surely no expert on these Capn, but thank you! I do clearly have a passion for them, and though I have tried to study them for many years, their history is complex and elusive.

In reading through resources trying to get 'up to speed' here, I wanted to address some of the comments thus far.

It is known that only some 190 swords were recovered from the field at Culloden, but over 1800 men were killed, of over 6000 troops. In the aftermath, there were paltry numbers of swords surrendered, 25 here, 50 there. Scholars insist the numbers of swords recorded were relatively few compared to muskets.
However, some insights into the battle are found in "How the Scots Invented the Modern World", A.Herman ,2001:
pp.152,53;
paraphrasing the author, ' the clans maddened by the shelling, could no longer be held back and charged like wildcats into the British lines...most came too fast to use the muskets they were carrying....in thier bloodlust they threw their firearms away'.

'..the Scots hacked at muskets with such maniacal fury that down the line men could hear the clang of swprd on barrel'.

"...clansmen blindly hacking and thrusting as choking smoke closed around them....dreadful to see swords circling in the air as they were raised from strokes'.

Clearly, while many writers presume from records that the numbers of muskets known to have been with the Jacobite forces, that these were the predominant arm......the Scots would not have simply carried a musket....without their faithful basket hilts.
As seen here, in the fury of battle, they deferred to their distinct weapon, the sword.......'and threw muskets away'.

So what then became of the probably considerable number of swords of the fallen. Many of these men were of closely related clans, and these swords were inherently sacred, so in my opinion, many of these were taken by thier relatives and among those who fled the field.

Then as noted by the author, (p.150),
"..warriors hid their swords and targes in the heath, hoping that they or their children would remember where they had buried them'.

In most cases, these were removed to more favorable hiding places.
The 'disarming act' of that year proscribed not only the weapons, but Highland dress, even bagpipes.....for generations, over 50 years.

Only in the British regiments were swords permitted, and these, as Mark has described, were often produced in the garrison towns, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Stirling, and the decoration in the basket hilts became rudimentary, many hilts becoming 'munition grade'.

With the wonderfully roughly done decoration in this example of Mark's, it seems to be of Glasgow form, but not of the munitions grade forms of post Culloden.....here noting that Glasgow and Stirling still produced worthy hilts for British cavalry officers in the Highland dragoon regiments.

The first Jacobite rebellions began in 1689, with uprisings in 1715 and 1719, and while Glasgow became a primary garrison town in these times, there were hammermen in the environs who would fashion thier own versions of these well known hilts. These men were of course outside the records of established hammermen.

In an earlier post, it was asked whether any Scots produced blades. In the writing of Charles Whitelaw (1934), the venerable sage of the study of Scottish arms, I found two cases which he thought were NOT imported blades.

These were (p.309, plate IV#4; plate V, #2,#3)
Both were basket hilts by W. Allen (Walter Allen of Glasgow, later Stirling).
He suggested these blades were by Allen, and not imported.
Both blades were with the favored ANDREA FERARA name, which was of course typically on the German imports, so it is curious how he arrived at this conclusion, but is noted here regarding the possibility of Scottish blade production.
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