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Old 29th November 2022, 01:29 AM   #1
Jim McDougall
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Default Napoleonic saber-Naval ?

This saber of M1796 light cavalry form seems British of course, but it seems unusual in having been gilt bronze, ivory grip, and a strange fixture on the guard which seems to be to hold a sword knot.

When I see hilts of this character in this period I think of naval officers, knowing that often they favored cavalry sabers, though there is no evidence of the fouled anchor anywhere.

What do you guys think?
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Old 29th November 2022, 02:02 PM   #2
fernando
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Jim, are you intentionally posting this nice saber in the Ethno forum, and intentionally omitting pictures of the (quote) "strange fixture on the guard which seems to be to hold a sword knot" .
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Old 29th November 2022, 02:47 PM   #3
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...the (quote) "strange fixture on the guard, which seems to be to hold a sword knot" .
he did, but it's not obvious. It's a 'staple'-like fitting on the bolster in the grip photo.
...and yes, better in your Euro forum.


Gold plating and white grip w/o the stirrups, presumably from a large grey African mammal, which for our purposes I will call a 'Walrus tooth', leads me towards a custom private purchase officer's model. I guess he didn't like using the slot near the pommel for some reason. Possibly fashion, or maybe it flopped about less if knocked out of his hand (Aboard ship? )
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Old 29th November 2022, 04:12 PM   #4
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[QUOTE=fernando;276659]Jim, are you intentionally posting this nice saber in the Ethno forum, and intentionally omitting pictures of the (quote) "strange fixture on the guard which seems to be to hold a sword knot" .[/QUOTE

Did it again! sorry Fernando, thank you for the nice words, and please transfer. Could be the years, or medication....
Wayne, thank you for your notes,
Jim]
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Old 29th November 2022, 05:05 PM   #5
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...Could be the years, or medication....
Wayne, thank you for your notes,
Jim]

You are welcome. At our ages, I just blame Alois Alzheimer.
Who are you anyway. Where am I?


p.s.- I looked thru my UK Naval Swords/Cutlass ref. mtls. & couldn't find a sword, hanger, cutlass, or sabre with a similar fitting. could still be Army, cavalry or flank officers. If my memory recalls, Austria-Hungary scabbards had a similar strap staple in lieu of an upper ring.
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Old 29th November 2022, 07:12 PM   #6
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Moved.
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Old 29th November 2022, 09:12 PM   #7
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Moved.
At same time Jim has reopened a new thread in the Euro forum not noticing the original one was already moved; what we can do now is merging both.
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Old 29th November 2022, 07:19 PM   #8
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Default British saber-Napoleonic? Naval?

This is an officers saber of the stirrup hilt M1796 style and appears British, though the squared sword knot fixture on the guard apparently for sword knot seems unusual.
It seems to have been gilt bronze hilt with ivory grip which always seems to suggest naval to me, though there are no fouled anchors apparent anywhere.

This does not automatically exclude naval use, and naval officers often seem to have followed cavalry patterns in fighting swords.

I have attached a similar example from "Naval Swords & Dirks", Sim Comfort, 2008.

I would very much appreciate comments, especially on this curious fixture for sword knot which is different than anything I have seen. The gilt is mostly gone, as is the bluing and gilt motif on the blade.

In "Naval Swords", P.G.W.Annis, 1970, on p.43 (#24) is another similar example, which shows the typical manner of showing the sword knot,in the traditional manner.
As these had become decorative and in many ways status oriented, possible this 'side mount' made for better display of the often highly embellished knots Note that gilt brass was keenly preferred by officers, and they preferred longer blades than the usual hangers or small swords as noted in 'Annis'.
In remarks on this example he notes that when the M1796 cavalry saber was introduced, these were quickly copied by naval officers, and by 1805 a regulation pattern of the type was introduced.

These types with the 'birds head' pommel same as cavalry were likely the early and privately commissioned officers sabers prior to the 1805 pattern.
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Old 29th November 2022, 08:15 PM   #9
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What do you guys think?
A nice, high-grade, standard Georgian British officer's sabre is about all that can be said of it. Some general rules of thumb can be followed, such as the gilt hilt is more likely to be infantry/naval than cavalry, and curved sabres are more likely to have been carried by the 'Flank officers'.

But ultimately, with the prevalence of all the militia, volunteer and yeomanry units at the time, plus, with the habit of officers to 'do their own thing', without a solid province or identifying engravings, it is impossible to know what branch of service the original owner came from.

The lanyard 'ring' on the furrel is a common variant seen on 1796 Pattern light cavalry officers' sabres, with other another type being an integral part of the guard, extending out next to the langet.
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Old 29th November 2022, 08:29 PM   #10
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It would be nice to see more of the blade markings from Jim's sabre, but from what I can see, they look similar to the ones supplied by J J Runkel. If true, this would date it to pre-1808.

This is one of my 1796 Pattern light cavalry Officers sabres, by Orsborn dated to pre-1800, with the same lanyard loop.
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Old 29th November 2022, 11:37 PM   #11
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1796p swords with brass hilts are commonly described as yeomanry officers swords. The sword knot loop is not uncommon. I would not go so far as to say it's naval though could have been used by that branch on an individual basis.
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Old 30th November 2022, 12:51 AM   #12
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I would not go so far as to say it's naval though could have been used by that branch on an individual basis.
I think the ivory = navy notion is just another of those misconceptions created by early collectors and then spread by less-than-scrupulous dealers looking to cash in on a "navy premium".

It's a nice sword Jim. Is it still in your collection? Do you have the scabbard, and are there any manufacturer's marks on it?
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Old 30th November 2022, 01:40 AM   #13
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I think the ivory = navy notion is just another of those misconceptions created by early collectors and then spread by less-than-scrupulous dealers looking to cash in on a "navy premium".

It's a nice sword Jim. Is it still in your collection? Do you have the scabbard, and are there any manufacturer's marks on it?
I agree, there are many 'notions' in the collecting game, and the dealers poured gas on those fires to cash in just as you say. As with most cases of items whose provenance has been compromised, and we can only speculate the true character of the weapon, that status must remain standing, speculative.

As agreed, officers had carte blanche in the swords they commissioned, and fashion was extremely competitive so anything was possible. From what little I recall when I got this back in the 70s, I thought it was probably yeomanry as it was so different from most cavalry forms, but honestly cannot recall details.
I still have it, but not handy to examine presently, these photos are it for now. It did not have a scabbard. When I can I will get to it unless there are more photos.

I am hoping with this thread we might see 'cavalry' sabers of the M1796 form with ivory hilts. Clearly ivory was used on the mameluke sabers but cannot recall any of these stirrup hilts with it. Also, that curious sword knot fixture on other examples......that example on your Osborn is most telling.

Thank you again for the great observations and comments! Much appreciated.

Last edited by Jim McDougall; 30th November 2022 at 03:10 AM.
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Old 30th November 2022, 10:04 AM   #14
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I am hoping with this thread we might see 'cavalry' sabers of the M1796 form with ivory hilts. Clearly ivory was used on the mameluke sabers but cannot recall any of these stirrup hilts with it.
I think that really depends on your definition of the 1796 pattern (the Europeans use model, not the British) form.

It is not uncommon to find them, many of the Lloyds Patriotic funds swords are sabres with a simple guard and langets.

Just yesterday a nice one by Woolley and Deakin with ivory grip sold at auction and another earlier in the month. Nick Thomas from the Academy of Historical Fencing also featured one in his Sword Studies series
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Old 30th November 2022, 03:00 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Radboud View Post
I think that really depends on your definition of the 1796 pattern (the Europeans use model, not the British) form.

It is not uncommon to find them, many of the Lloyds Patriotic funds swords are sabres with a simple guard and langets.

Just yesterday a nice one by Woolley and Deakin with ivory grip sold at auction and another earlier in the month. Nick Thomas from the Academy of Historical Fencing also featured one in his Sword Studies series
Good points, while I am of course thinking of the British model 1796 temporally, I should elaborate and qualify exactly which nationality, model etc. despite the context of the discussion.
I had also not thought of the Lloyds swords (that is 'Patriotic Fund) and other presentation type sabers, and of course the M1803 (Infantry officers sabre with lion head) which seemed to have a wide scope of variant details, up to becoming almost a setting for artistic detail.

I had one once with the lion head instead of having the flowing mane, had an Egyptian sphinx like headdress, probably of course signifying service in the the campaigns in Egypt. There again is another field of presentation or commemorative sword examples.

Clearly, ivory was a material which found decorative use in many British swords surrounding the Napoleonic, Georgian and Regency periods, but my attention here has been those which might apply to officers sabers of the British CAVALRY regiments of the M1796 stirrup hilt pattern.

I have no vested interest in trying to establish this particular example as being naval. However I thought comparing it to other similar examples of the British naval officers stirrup hilt sabers of M1796 form that WERE indeed such, typically noted as 'fighting sabers' and seemingly following the convention of naval officers adopting this cavalry pattern as described by Annis (1970) it might lend credence to the possibility this might be despite being without fouled anchor decoration.

Again, thank you so much for these great insights and noting of other possibilities.
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Old 1st December 2022, 01:19 PM   #16
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Default 18th Century British dragoon swords-pommel ring

I posted this mid 18th century British dragoon sword a while back, and have had the opinion this may be an early version of the 'four slot guard' which became so well known on British cavalry swords of 1760s into 80s.,

It seems that examples of these, some by Jeffries, London, which are typically described as 1760-70 are seen as having the knuckle guard joining the side of the pommel. This one with the same tall olive type pommel however, has the distinct 'pommel' ring to which the guard elements are attached, and the ring rests just under the pommel.

This feature seems to be in accord with most British dragoon sword hilts of the 18th century with the many variations of basket, half basket guards, but seems to have ceased being used by about 1760.

Any ideas on just when this hilt element ceased, and is it a worthy factor in determining date on these British dragoon sword hilts?
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Old 8th February 2023, 11:00 PM   #17
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Default white hilted saber

here are three photos of an almost identical sword to Jim's in my collection. The sword knot ring is at the pommel. Well marked with George III cipher and coat of arms on the blade (which is German -by J.J. Runkel of Solingen). I assumed that it was an Officer's private purchase modeled on the 1796 cavalry saber, though the blade is not as heavy.
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Old 9th February 2023, 05:59 PM   #18
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Thatís a lovely sword. How long is the blade? Do you have an image of the whole sword?

Having a small lanyard ring like that is an interesting choice. I have to wonder how well such an arrangement would stand up the the rigours of mounted combat. Of course there are practical alternatives that can be used while still retaining the ring.

The at of arms is the pre-1801 type, so while not exactly a precise measure it does help identify this as an early sabre. My observation has been that sabere blades supplied by Runkel tend to be on the larger size for dismounted or purely dress use.
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Old 9th February 2023, 06:05 PM   #19
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Very nice!! Note that in the coat of arms, the three fluer de lis in upper right quadrant are present.....this theoretically changed in 1801, so presumably this is pre that 1801 date. However it is quite possible that technicality was not readily observed, and that blades on hand with cutlers and outfiitters might have been used later.
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Old 9th February 2023, 07:25 PM   #20
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Very nice!! Note that in the coat of arms, the three fluer de lis in upper right quadrant are present.....this theoretically changed in 1801, so presumably this is pre that 1801 date. However it is quite possible that technicality was not readily observed, and that blades on hand with cutlers and outfiitters might have been used later.

In 1801, when George III renounced his title as King of France under the Treaty of Paris, the French Fleur de Lis quartering was removed,and replaced with the Scottish Lion.
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Old 9th February 2023, 10:28 PM   #21
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Default late 18th Century British Sabers

As requested, here are photos of the whole sword. the blade is 32.5" and the overall length is 37.5" This sword has a milder curve than a similar lion headed saber it sits next to on my shelf (blade 30", overall 35.25"). I added photos in case you are interested in seeing both. The second sword is blued with gold for half the length of the blade, and has a very fancy brass guard.
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