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Old 28th February 2009, 02:55 PM   #1
Norman McCormick
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Default Silver mounted Georgian hanger.

Hi Guys,
This arrived this morning, an off e-bay purchase, and I have to say I'm delighted and pleasantly surprised. Thinking it was a nice brass mounted hanger imagine my delight when I found it is a solid silver mounted hanger with a cutlers or silversmiths mark discreetly stamped on the guard, better photos of this mark to follow. Although my first love is for Indian Arms and Armour I am finding Georgian swords a fascinating subject, so many variations over quite a long period in our history and an era that shaped so much of todays political geography. Back to the sword, a 26 3/4 inch twin fullered blade 33 inches overall, solid silver guard and lion pommel with a bone or might be ivory? grip and silver wire wrap. The blade is light and flexible and I would say certainly a fighter, whether Navy or Army I don't know. I am aware swords of this type were manufactured in the U.K and U.S. but I am insufficiently knowledgeable to determine which so help needed here as well. Degree of restoration or not suggestions are also required. As always many thanks for all and any replies.
Regards,
Norman.
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Old 28th February 2009, 05:25 PM   #2
Gavin Nugent
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Default Most unusual

I think it is a nice find and most unusual that the hilt is bone with what appears to be horn spacers all with silver fitings.
There must be something about it to have these features, I do not know why but am hoping others can say with some further certainty.
What I can point you to is the book, "the American Sword 1175-1945" by Harold Peterson.
On page 62, plate 56, this piece sports the similar knuckle guard, similar carved hilt arrangement, lions head and curved blade with the fullering arangment that yours shows and the guard is described as having incised lines as yours does too.
On page 212, plate 172, although in silver, the lions head is of higher quality as is yours, but it lacks the knuckle guard and the blade differs in the fullering arrangment and the silver mark also differs.

Gav

Last edited by freebooter; 28th February 2009 at 05:40 PM. Reason: More info found
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Old 28th February 2009, 06:47 PM   #3
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Very, very nice, Norman.
Certainly ivory?
XVIII century?
If in a second thought you decide that Indian stuff is your sole hobby, this humble servant will be ready for trade .

Fernando

BTW, what is there to restore?
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Old 28th February 2009, 08:21 PM   #4
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Hi Guys,
Thanks for the positive comments.
Gav, the 'horn spacers' are upon closer inspection silver ribbon wound round the grooves with twisted silver wire bordering the ribbon. Searching the net I'm beginning to think it is a nicer find than I first thought, sheer luck I hasten to add.
Fernando, I think for the moment trade between Portugal and Scotland will be limited to used sherry/port casks for the 'Whisky'. I think Ivory hilt as well after a better look. As to the restoration, there is some active rust on the blade and a lot of the silver is black with oxide. I haven't done anything yet before I get some opinions from the Forum Members including your good self of course.
Thanks again.
My Regards,
Norman.
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Old 28th February 2009, 08:38 PM   #5
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I would see about the active rust on the blade ( fine steel wool damped in, for instance, penetrating oil), but would not touch the silver, for as dark as it may be.
... in my humble opinnion, of course .
Fernando
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Old 28th February 2009, 09:08 PM   #6
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Holy Cow, where do you people find these things!!! Absolutely beautiful mid/late 18th century British hanger in fine form (no restoration needed ). Definitely one I would want in my collection, if you ever get tired of it, Norman, keep me in mind!
-Mark
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Old 28th February 2009, 10:02 PM   #7
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Hi Mark,
Thank you for your kind words. Is there anything specific that makes this British and is there any way of narrowing the date gap.
My Regards,
Norman.
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Old 28th February 2009, 11:50 PM   #8
Jim McDougall
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Outstanding British officers lionhead, these with this hilt configuration are contemporary to the four slot hilts on Revolutionary War period c.1770's. The gadrooned bands on are pretty often seen on these as well, most of the British officers swords carried the straight cavalry backsword blade. Officers often had custom sabres made, as this one seems to be.
I'll try to dig out Neumann to find more, that is all I can recall without references.

Very nicely done!!!

All the best,
Jim
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Old 1st March 2009, 02:33 AM   #9
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Thanks, Jim. Couldn't have said it better!
Mark
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Old 1st March 2009, 03:38 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M ELEY
Thanks, Jim. Couldn't have said it better!
Mark
Hey Mark!!! Thank you so much
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Old 1st March 2009, 01:24 PM   #11
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Hi Jim,
Thanks for the info as usual, I assume it is an Infantry sword or is there a possibility of a Naval connection. I gather at this period officially designated forms were not particularly evident and money, taste and fashion were more of an influence than strict form. Thanks again.
My Regards,
Norman.
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Old 2nd March 2009, 01:59 AM   #12
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Hi Norman,
Just some more notes that I thought might be helpful, as this really is an extraordinary piece.
This lionhead form seems to have evolved from various hangers and short sabres from the German states during about the first half of the 18th century. There was of course considerable traffic between Germany and England through these times and the influences were well established. These lionheads began appearing on British swords about mid century, and are seen on many of the short sabres and cuttoes for officers shown in Nuemann ("Swords and Blades of the American Revolution").
It is noted that these pommels, as well as various components were actually stockpiled as officers would have swords custom made, and fashion of course being a driving force.
It seems most of these lionhead swords were brass, and those which were silver mounted often on the cuttoes (hunting hangers). It must be remembered that officers were always gentry, and often extravagant handsome weapons were a must, with hunting sword forms often favored. A number of the lionhead hunting swords are silver mounted with ivory and similar gadrooned bands.

The guard on this example seems to fall into, as mentioned, the period of high fashion with these officers swords c. 1770-90 when the spadroon type sabres (straight blade, often with five ball hilt ) and variations were also in voque.

I would presume this sabre to be cavalry, but with the great latitude enjoyed by officers in thier interpretations of fashion and flamboyance, it is always hard to say.

Since this is silver mounted and carries a hallmark, it seems it has great potential for research. There is a title by Leslie Southwick I believe, 'London Silver Hilts' or something like that. I think you may find the mark there and give a better timeframe, in fact weren't hallmarks issued for certain year or period?

Hope we can discover more...fantastic sword!!!!

All the best,
Jim
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Old 2nd March 2009, 05:16 PM   #13
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Default Hallmark

Norman

Can we see the hallmark please.

My Brother-in-law is a silversmith. He may be able to identify it.

Regards
Royston
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Old 2nd March 2009, 05:34 PM   #14
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Hi Jim,
Many thanks for the extra info. Do you really think it might Cavalry? I just assumed because the blade was only 26 3/4 inches it would be too short for use on horseback although dismounted would be fine. The only dedicated Cavalry Sabre I have is a Wilkinson 1821 Pattern Heavy Cavalry Officers Undress Sword which has a 36 inch blade so obviously quite a bit longer. I do remember the Tulwar Side Arm we talked about that had a short blade but it was early 20th Century and probably very much secondary to multi shot firearms. In the 18th century I would think the sword would have considerable more importance as most firearms were single shot and not without difficulty in terms of reloading. With regard to the initials contained within the oval cartouche stamped on the guard would they be the silversmith's or the cutler's mark? I can make out a T but the second letter is not easy to see so I have arranged to take the sword to a local jeweller in the hope that he can give me a positive I.D. on the initials. As far as I can see there are no date or assay stamps so if I can find the name of the hiltmaker I reckon I can get a time frame within which the sword would have been made. Will post more info as it becomes available.
My Regards,
Norman.
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Old 2nd March 2009, 05:41 PM   #15
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Hi Royston,
Can't see an assay or date stamp only a pair of initials within an oval cartouche, it is tucked in tightly against the hilt and I am having a problem making it out. Am taking to a local jeweller to see if he can give me a positive I.D. on the initials so will post result when I've been. Many thanks for your interest.
My Regards,
Norman.
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Old 2nd March 2009, 06:29 PM   #16
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Yes, the hallmark.
Try and take a close up picture ... at all costs . It is essential. The other day i located a Forum deeply qualified in silver marks; maybe i can find it again.
But let's see if you have any luck with your local jeweller.
Fernando
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Old 2nd March 2009, 06:38 PM   #17
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Found it:
http://www.925-1000.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=14258
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Old 2nd March 2009, 08:44 PM   #18
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Hi Guys,
After having a real good look I cannot find any hallmarks/date/assay stamps, the makers mark, T C or more likely T G, is nearly obscured because it is at the hilt where it joins the guard so possibly more marks are there but not visible. Was sword furniture subject to the same restrictions as 'normal' silver objects with regard to marking? The guard is definately solid silver as there is a small break in two of the bars in the slotted part and it's silver right through. I've handled enough silver to know the difference "I hope" Many thanks to all those who have taken an interest.
My Regards,
Norman.
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Old 2nd March 2009, 10:15 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Norman McCormick
...Was sword furniture subject to the same restrictions as 'normal' silver objects with regard to marking?
Yes, i guess it should.
Fernando
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Old 2nd March 2009, 11:16 PM   #20
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Hi Fernando,
I guess your right, the more I look the more I am convinced if there are hallmarks, which all reason says there should be, that they are next to the makers mark but obscured by the hilt, see photo. The only way to see is to dismount the hilt and I don't fancy doing that.
My Regards,
Norman.
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Old 3rd March 2009, 03:42 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Norman McCormick
Hi Jim,
Many thanks for the extra info. Do you really think it might Cavalry? I just assumed because the blade was only 26 3/4 inches it would be too short for use on horseback although dismounted would be fine. The only dedicated Cavalry Sabre I have is a Wilkinson 1821 Pattern Heavy Cavalry Officers Undress Sword which has a 36 inch blade so obviously quite a bit longer. I do remember the Tulwar Side Arm we talked about that had a short blade but it was early 20th Century and probably very much secondary to multi shot firearms. In the 18th century I would think the sword would have considerable more importance as most firearms were single shot and not without difficulty in terms of reloading. With regard to the initials contained within the oval cartouche stamped on the guard would they be the silversmith's or the cutler's mark? I can make out a T but the second letter is not easy to see so I have arranged to take the sword to a local jeweller in the hope that he can give me a positive I.D. on the initials. As far as I can see there are no date or assay stamps so if I can find the name of the hiltmaker I reckon I can get a time frame within which the sword would have been made. Will post more info as it becomes available.
My Regards,
Norman.

This would be a dress sabre, and these were often noticeably short as the longer swords were clumsy and most antisocial at events where these would have been worn. Officers typically carried more practical 'fighting swords' in combat, and these were of course usually more substantial. Despite the pretty swords often depicted in artwork of the period, these were often the artists licence, perhaps depicting actual dress swords in interpretations of celebrated battle events or portraiture. In this period, infantry officers swords seemed more of the courtsword, smallsword type. I think the advice everyone is suggesting on the hallmarks are great ideas.

Military fashion of the late 18th into the 19th century where regulation patterns began being recognized, officers had dress swords, undress for less formal events and often the fighting swords for campaign use. Naturally there were exceptions, but then that is always the case.

All the best,
Jim
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Old 3rd March 2009, 11:22 AM   #22
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Hi Jim,
Didn't realise it was used as a dress item only. Am not sure what you mean by the advice re the hallmarks, there are no visible hallmarks that I can see only a makers mark, that's not to say there not there and I'm just missing them, but I think any hallmarks are being obscured by the hilt where it meets the guard it would be great if they were visible two minutes and I would have a date. Bonhams are having a 'Silver Day' in Glasgow on the 24th of this month I will take it along and see what an expert on 18th Cent silver can tell me.
My Regards,
Norman.
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Old 4th March 2009, 06:40 PM   #23
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Hi Norman,
The reason I was suggesting dress sabre was simply due to the nature of the hilt components. Ivory and silver would tend to add to the fragility of the hilt, and seem to defer from combat choice. However, that is not to say an officer would not take it on campaign, as it is certainly still effective as a weapon, regardless of being more highly prone to damage.
Officers as previously mentioned, were highly inclined to flamboyance, so I suppose how to properly classify this sabre would be subjective.

The stamped marking in the hilt I would consider a hallmark, as typically hilts were not marked by makers, and virtually all silverwork items required being hallmarked. The exception I can think of pertaining to makers stamping names into hilts, ironically was on a brass lionhead, ivory grip and gadrooned example quite similar to this. In cartouche on the hilt in somewhat similar location was the name READ. This was John Read, Birmingham from what I can recall (its been quite a few years). The blade was the straight, long cavalry blade of c.1770's.
I really look forward to what the silver experts will say. The great thing about hallmarks is they were so stringently regulated and catalogued. The title by Leslie Southwick may have those pertaining to weapon makers, but I cant recall.

All the best,
Jim

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Old 4th March 2009, 07:35 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Hi Norman,
The reason I was suggesting dress sabre was simply due to the nature of the hilt components. Ivory and silver would tend to add to the fragility of the hilt, and seem to defer from combat choice. However, that is not to say an officer would not take it on campaign, as it is certainly still effective as a weapon, regardless of being more highly prone to damage.
Officers as previously mentioned, were highly inclined to flamboyance, so I suppose how to properly classify this sabre would be subjective...

Amen



Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... The stamped marking in the hilt I would consider a hallmark, as typically hilts were not marked by makers, and virtually all silverwork items required being hallmarked....
I also think silver hilts would be hall marked in a general manner, and not as 'weaponry silver'... Britain and elsewhere.
The British system follows basically the pattern here illustrated.
If this sword (hilt) was British made, and judging by the orientation of that letter T, this could be the initial of the maker, assuming the little probability of the remaining symbols, which have to be horizontaly aligned, be hidden beneath the grip mount.
The last letter in the hallmark symbol sequence is the 'date letter', a system as old as beg. XVIII century, i would say. It is a precious symbol for dating and placing British silver stuff. There are lists with these letters, where one can see, depending on which letter, its font and the shape of 'estucheon' is inserted in, the date and city where the item was made ... better say, marked.
But this would not be the case of the letter in Norman's sword hilt, i guess.
Fernando

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Old 5th March 2009, 06:05 PM   #25
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Hi Fernando,
Extremely well placed points! and your summation of them present your ideas in a compellingly plausible manner. I understand that in these times, as noted, these hilt components, in particular the pommels, were often stockpiled by makers.
In following your lead in this outstanding material on the identification and purposes of these stamped markings, I thought to look into the venerable reference by J.D.Aylward , "The Smallsword in England" (1945), as the use of silver in smallswords was of course prevalent. As he quotes on p.65;

"...a silver sword? Well! thou shalt have that too! Now hast thou everything!".
- Vanbrugh, 1705

.....with this noting the extreme importance, and legacy, of the silver hilted sword to the gentry of these times.
It is noted also on this page, corroboration of your notes on the meaning of the grouping of marks, typically four, as found on London weapons of early 18th century.
1. leopards head, mark of assay at Goldsmiths Hall.
2. Makers mark...his initials (both)..as beginning c.1739
3. Date letter, each marked consecutively indicating a fiscal year, from
alphabets in various types, omitting letters J,W,X,Y,Z
4.Standard mark, always lion passant except between 1697-1720 when alteration of silver standard caused use of Britannia figure.

Apparantly there was a duty on silver, and the assay marks had to do with this, in cases where no 'touchmarks' (touchmark= hallmark, thus the function of goldsmiths hall etc.).
It seems that strictly speaking, every separate silver component should have been so marked, however in practice punches only appear in one location. In the early dates, stamps were often placed in the upper knuckleguard, but due to fragility of this spot, the concussion of heavy stamping blows caused weakening.
In note toward this fact, the fragility of silver hilts caused considerable concerns as these were extremely susceptible to damage and defacement, thus more of a dress accoutrement. This is noted by Aylward, and the source for my thoughts concerning the probable appointment of this sabre as a dress piece discussed earlier in the thread.

I think you have hit on the most likely means of identifying more on Norman's silver hilt sabre, and with your thoughts, it seems this information from Aylward provides some good support.

Your radar is definitely on high definition my friend!!!

All the best,
Jim
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Old 5th March 2009, 07:24 PM   #26
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Hi Guys,
I'm betting the other marks, date, assay and place, as I proposed earlier, are hidden under the base of the hilt, to access this means dismounting the blade MMMMM????? Thoughts????????? My trip to Bonhams later on this month may elicit the makers name and the years which they were active, this info may have to be as near as I can get without the aforesaid dismounting. Will have to wait and see, will keep you posted.
My Regards,
Norman.
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Old 6th March 2009, 08:07 PM   #27
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Hi,
After consulting with the Curator of European Edged Weapons at the Royal Armouries in Leeds he confirmed what I already surmised i.e. to dismount this sword to determine precisely actual age and place of manufacture would compromise the historical integrity of the piece. I will, as I said, take the sword to a silver expert in the hope that he/she will at least be able to identify the manufacturer of the silver mounts and that may give a smaller time frame within which I can place the sword. This style of sword did not last for very long so it is not as if we could be a century or so out. It is unfortunate, with British silver being so accurately marked, that the answers are so near and yet so far.
Regards,
Norman.
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Old 6th March 2009, 08:30 PM   #28
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I heartily concur with what the curator has said, and altogether too often extremely valuable weapons are compromised by even the most earnest efforts in cleaning, identifying with necessary dismantling.

I think I would rely on the mark visible and try to compare it with known silversmiths engaged in weapons component fabricating. Since we know this sword would have dated within the approximate 1760-80 period, I think the focus there and perhaps finding other similar examples would be conceivable. By about 1780, there was considerable attention toward other hilt forms and neoclassic styling as far as I can see, and these 'lionheads' were somewhat becoming military fashion's old news. That assessment may surely be called into question with the inevitable exceptions, but I am noting from the broader sense.

I think the 'London silver hilt swords' book by Leslie Southwick (which I unfortunately do not have with me) and the book "The American Sword" by Harold Peterson, would both be excellent resources, and would give you sound clues. The Peterson book is actually comprised of two books combined, one of which is on silver hilted swords. Another good reference on lionhead swords of the period is by the late Andrew Mowbray, and he was a most astute collector and scholar of these weapons.

As I noted, I checked "Swords and Blades of the American Revolution" by Neumann, but did not find anything with key associations or importance to add to this, other than the images of the earlier German hanger forms with these pommels.

All best regards,
Jim
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Old 12th March 2009, 09:52 PM   #29
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G'day Norman.

A book I thought you might want to find would be;

London Silver Hilted Swords by Leslie Southwich, apparently a very comprehensive work. It may be some help with this and future purchaes.
If you have trouble finding a copy let me know I may be able to help.

Gav
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Old 12th March 2009, 10:00 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freebooter
G'day Norman.

A book I thought you might want to find would be;

London Silver Hilted Swords by Leslie Southwich, apparently a very comprehensive work. It may be some help with this and future purchaes.
If you have trouble finding a copy let me know I may be able to help.

Gav
Hi Gav,
The author is Leslie Southwick, an absolutely outstanding reference, and a great resource to add above the venerable "Swords for Sea Service" by May & Annis (2 vol.) which compiled one of the great resources for English makers. It remains valuable, though numerous entries have seen been revised and reevaluated over the years, but a sound benchmark.
The Southwick reference takes it up many steps with the addition of the silver workers.
I wish I had my copy with me...couldnt smuggle it into the bookmobile during the great exodus

All the best,
Jim
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