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Old 9th January 2022, 03:06 AM   #1
Tuthmose
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Default Sabre washers

Greetings all,

I’ve a quick (and probably painfully ignorant) question regarding the leather washers (or lack thereof) on various British and French sabres.

In my reading, I’ve come to understand that on some models, the washer seats under the shoulders of the blade, behind the ricasso, and “tightens” the entire hilt assembly. On others, it was simply a weather-seal for the scabbard.

My question: which of these is the case for a French Infantry Lower-Officers’ Model 1845 sabre? Will a missing washer loosen the grip and be difficult to replace should one wish, or is it a simple “slip on” with no real effect on structural integrity? What of a British Infantry Officers 1845, or another model that has caught my eye, the British 1821 Heavy Cavalry Trooper?

Is there some larger “rule of thumb” to tell, short of intimate knowledge of each model and variant?

Thank you in advance for indulging my questions – it is appreciated!

-Ron
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Old 9th January 2022, 10:59 PM   #2
Jim McDougall
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Interesting topic!
I dont think there is a rule of thumb, and I think application of these fixtures sort of depends on period, makers assembly processes etc.
It seems with the 1845 (British) patterns (many M1821 still produced about then) there was a steel washer indeed for tightening hilt assembly....but over that was a leather or other material one which indeed served as a moisture guard.

In medieval times there was a rain guard at the crossguard which covered the mouth of the scabbard to prevent rain and moisture from entering.

I think for purposes of restoration, which I presume is the goal here, it would be necessary to determine this from other examples of the sword being considered. Its sounds as if there was a degree of latitude rather than any rule of thumb for all.
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Old 10th January 2022, 05:37 PM   #3
kronckew
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I've made a few for my washer-less swords that slip over the blade by tracing the scabbard mouth on an appropriate scrap of leather glued to a piece of red felt. I then cut the outline with a sharp scissors, and using a hole punch overlapping the holes to cut out the slot for the blade. For those with the washer Under the tang shoulder, only disassembly will let you replace it properly. I do not do that. If it's loose, it stays loose…


This is (or was) a sword outfitter in London that did sword, grip, & scabbard repairs and also sold washers, can't find them online any more tho.
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Old 10th January 2022, 10:20 PM   #4
Will M
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You can replace a leather washer that slides under the blade shoulders.
Just cut the blade hole to a shorter length, the leather will stretch over the blade and then slip under the blade shoulders. I've done this with several swords with success. A thicker leather is usually needed and you'll need to find a leather outlet such as The Identity Store Ltd (UK). I have used them for white buff leather and other leathers difficult to find.
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Old 14th January 2022, 12:36 AM   #5
Tuthmose
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Thank you all for your insight; it is appreciated. I apologize for the late reply - being a teacher these days is . . . not fun.

I am assuming it would be difficult to tell if a washer was of the "under shoulder" type simply from pictures of a particular piece, as a missing washer would have allowed the guard to shift forwards into the gap and seat against the shoulders of the blade?

Best regards,
-Ron
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Old 29th January 2022, 02:57 PM   #6
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A minor follow-up of sorts, just in case anybody else ever has this line of inquiry and finds this post: having acquired one, I can definitely say that the leather washer on the French Infantry Adjudant 1845/55 is a weather-seal only; looking at images, it appears to be the case for many related French sabres of that period.
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