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Old 24th November 2023, 05:17 PM   #1
SwordLover79
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Default Basket hilt Sword for discussion

Gentlemen: here are photos of another sword included in the collection I acquired recently. As usual, I am hopeful of learning anything I can regarding the location and date of manufacture. I cannot find a maker's mark on the hilt. The 33 inch double-fullered blade is 1 1/2 inches wide, with "Solingen" inside each fuller, and a mark deeply struck below the fullers on one side of the blade. The hilt is 7 inches long and 6 inches wide. The 4 1/2 inch grip is wrapped with fishskin, with brass wire and two brass turkheads. Thanks in advance!
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Old 25th November 2023, 03:31 AM   #2
Jim McDougall
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I cannot believe these basket hilts you have acquired! This one is amazing, and everything about it seems to be in the manner of John Simpson #2 of Glasgow who was admitted Freeman of Hammermen of Glasgow in 1711. He died in 1749 (Whitelaw, 1934, p.307) .
On the underside of the guard, if this hilt is marked it would be I.S.
G

It might not be signed , but it seems to follow hilts by him, so perhaps the shop .

Similar seen in Wallace (1970, "Scottish Swords and Dirks" #32. ) as 1730-40.


In "Swords and the Sorrows" (1996), p.32, 1:18 is strikingly similar and carried at Sheriffmuir (1715) and Prestonpans (1745) and of course Jacobite.

The pierced 'heart' (triangles) and dot configurations are in same manner.


The blade is of course far earlier than the first quarter 18th of the hilt.
Solingen in the fuller is one of many applications of markings on these earlier blades, and typically there will not be a date, or for that matter a maker name.
The marking is a Solingen version of the crescent moon mark often used on Spanish blades in 16th into 17th c. along with makers punzone, believed to indicate the espadero del Rey, maker to the king. These seem to have been sometimes added to blades as of course quality suggestion or similar imbuement.

I have a 'mortuary' which dates c. 1640s possibly Hounslow, or so suggested, having a Solingen ANDREA FERARA blade with a mark very similar, which suggests your blade is likely around mid 17th c.

The import of German blades is of course well known, with the ANDREA FERARA blades most ubiquitous in Scottish context. Apparently there was a 17th c. shipwreck off the Scottish coast which when found yielded over two thousand blades.

Remarkable example!!!!!
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Old 28th November 2023, 03:56 PM   #3
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Thanks for the opportunity to see this nice basket hilt.
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Old 2nd December 2023, 02:49 AM   #4
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I love this!
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Old 4th December 2023, 07:11 AM   #5
Jim McDougall
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Me too! especially the resounding response!
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Old 4th December 2023, 07:03 PM   #6
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Me too! especially the resounding response!

Hi,
I totally agree it is a great sword but once an extract from the McDougallpedia has been posted there's not a lot left to say. As always Jim you are a veritable mine of info
My Regards,
Norman.
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Old 4th December 2023, 09:56 PM   #7
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Gentlemen: I own a number of relevant reference books including "Culloden - The Swords and the Sorrows," "British Basket-Hilted Swords" (Mazansky) and "British Military Swords - Volume I; 1600 - 1660." Even with the books at hand and a growing knowledge of my own, it is always very helpful to have experts such as yourselves share your opinions and views. I truly welcome any feedback. truth be told, it was feedback regarding earlier postings that helped me decide to trade away some swords for the ones I listed recently...

I do have a question for the group: In my antique arms show visits, auction reviews, museum visits and travel I have seen many so called "Sinclair Swords", Tessaks, Dussages, etc. It seems to me that there must be thousands of those swords out there between collectors and museums. Are you aware of a credible reference book focused on those weapons?
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Old 5th December 2023, 02:00 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Norman McCormick View Post
Hi,
I totally agree it is a great sword but once an extract from the McDougallpedia has been posted there's not a lot left to say. As always Jim you are a veritable mine of info
My Regards,
Norman.
Thanks Norman, but its never my intent to take up all the air. Actually, I always look this stuff up so as to hopefully be helpful. By compiling what I can, and summarizing what I understand, my hopes are always that others will fill in the blanks, correct what I have wrong, and add to what I have missed.
Basically, hoping for discussion.

I learn by writing out my piles of scribbled notes from the research I do before posting, so my thought is why not share what I have found.
I guess that might be over responding?

My 'knowledge' is comprised simply of hours of digging through notes and books in hopes of writing a useful synopsis concerning the weapon at hand, hardly an encyclopedic knowledge myself.

Thank you for the kind words, and I regret the blunt slip.

All the best
Jim
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Old 5th December 2023, 12:18 PM   #9
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S.L,
The question on any work that is specifically to the range of swords that seem to collectively fall into the group, of which the so called 'Sinclair saber' is a good one.
Typically these kinds of weapons actually are more transcendent, that is they have rather evolved contemporarily as essentially combinations of other types of sword.
If I have understood correctly these were combined saber blades, often of heavier type combined with the hilts of field swords (degen) from 16th through 17th c.
Then there is the terminology (name game) which is the variety of German terms, dusack, dusagge basically, as well as the Czech term 'tessak' .
This 'form' of heavy saber was in use into the North Europe regions, including Norway, where it gained the term 'Sinclair' saber in Scottish parlance from the fateful expedition of Scottish mercenaries during Kalmar Wars 1611-1613. The term became colloquially used by Victorian writers for these 'tessak/dusagge' swords commemorating George Sinclair who was killed in those events as he was a prominent clan figure.

As far as I know, only the general arms references including various sword forms refer to these sabers in summary. While broader types such as the basket hilt have works pretty much specific to them, others are typically among the collective studies of sword forms.

These include of course, schiavona, walloon, mortuary, Pappenheimer, et al but the only specific references are usually in the corpus of arms articles in various journals and other published periodical material.
To locate these it takes going through bibliographies and these kinds of sourced material to locate specific references.

Others here far more well versed in references in other languages in Europe may offer some books with more detailed information of course.
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Old 5th December 2023, 12:46 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
Thanks Norman, but its never my intent to take up all the air. Actually, I always look this stuff up so as to hopefully be helpful. By compiling what I can, and summarizing what I understand, my hopes are always that others will fill in the blanks, correct what I have wrong, and add to what I have missed.
Basically, hoping for discussion.

I learn by writing out my piles of scribbled notes from the research I do before posting, so my thought is why not share what I have found.
I guess that might be over responding?

My 'knowledge' is comprised simply of hours of digging through notes and books in hopes of writing a useful synopsis concerning the weapon at hand, hardly an encyclopedic knowledge myself.

Thank you for the kind words, and I regret the blunt slip.

All the best
Jim

Dear Jim,
My comments were never intended to be a criticism but couched admiration for taking the time and effort to share your knowledge and research. I am sure everybody on the Forum appreciates your input and enthusiasm, I sure do, so long may you keep on doing what you do.
Kind Regards,
Norman.
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Old 5th December 2023, 01:19 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Norman McCormick View Post
...Jim, i am sure everybody on the Forum appreciates your input and enthusiasm ...
Why do you say that, Norman ? Now how do we have to put up whit his stardom ? .
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Old 5th December 2023, 01:57 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by fernando View Post
Why do you say that, Norman ? Now how do we have to put up whit his stardom ? .

Hi Fernando,
Don't be modest, you have a star quality yourself which I'm sure is equally appreciated.
Kind Regards,
Norman.

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Old 5th December 2023, 04:21 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Norman McCormick View Post
Hi Fernando,
Don't be modest, you have a star quality yourself which I'm sure is equally appreciated.
Kind Regards,
Norman.
Oh ... Norman; i like your Scottish humor .
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Old 6th December 2023, 02:30 PM   #14
Jim McDougall
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Wheres the Drambuie!!!!
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Old 6th December 2023, 05:27 PM   #15
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Need you ask !!!
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Old 6th December 2023, 09:12 PM   #16
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I am very grateful for all of the great minds coming in on this thread! As a lover of baskets, but a relative minor leaguer with input and examples to show, I enjoy absorbing all of the knowledge you folks have to offer! This is indeed an exceptional Glascow basket and can only hope it will be cherished as the rare example that it is (i.e. I'd give anything for an example such as this!!).

A good question was raised concerning the 'other type' of basket hilt, the Sinclaire. It would seem there are a lot of these popping up lately and IMHO, many might be more 'modern' than represented. I feel Jim is correct that there appears to be no direct source material for rhese fascinating swords, which is a pity. Perhaps other Forumites who have examples can add them here so we can compare? I know I've seen a few members with them...as long as it doesn't detract from the original thread, that is!
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Old 9th December 2023, 04:57 PM   #17
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Thank you so much for joining us on this thread Capn! This is a fascinating example of a 'Glasgow' style basket hilt, and the thing about these kinds of examinations is that there is ALWAYS something further.

In this case, the blade, which has the distinctive mark of the crescent or half moon, which is a marking generally held to have been used by the 'espaderos del Rey' in Spain. This was typically used in conjunction with the makers own punzone, much as in the manner of silversmiths having several markings in their work, the hallmark, year and assayers mark.

Naturally, the half moon became seen as an indicator of high quality for obvious reasons, so was readily copied spuriously by German smiths, who were well known for also using well known Toledo marks and names.

While browsing through 'The Plug Bayonet" by the late R.D.C. Evans, looking through the profusely compiled plates of markings, there they were......in the British bayonet chapter.............TWO of these same almost silhouette half moon marks. Both were 17th c. of course, but unique in being pretty much solid, without 'rostrum' (the lighter inside outline), both to unidentified cutler and rare.

What I am wondering is, would it be possible that these blades might have filtered through the British networks that were importing blades out of Germany in the 17th century? In the case of my 'mortuary' which is presumed c. 1640, it also has the Solingen ANDREA FERARA with the half moon on obverse side of blade.
In this case, I feel this is most certainly a Hounslow product, but with the 'Glasgow' , a blade, curiously WITHOUT the ANDREA FERARA appears on a Scottish sword.
In this paradox, it seems it should have been reversed, as the ANDREA FERARA was of course ubiquitous on basket hilts, but notably less on English swords.

The appearance of the half moon on these plug bayonets to an unidentified cutler simply indicates the circulation of imported (or smuggled) Solingen blades for swords, and the apparent use of the same marks by cutlers working at the time.

Conundrums indeed, but all part of the joy of traveling virtually into these times hoping to find answers, if not simply perspective.

Capn, one more note, the example you have with the incredible blade by Wundes with FOUR (count em) kings heads, is plenty to add!!!

On the 'SINCLAIR' , what is most important is the part played by these basket hilt sabers, often with heart shaped piercings which correspond to those on the Glasgow form shields. The 'Sinclair' term was simply taken by Victorian writers to memorialize George Sinclair who was killed in the tragic event in Norway during the Kalmar War.
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Old 10th December 2023, 05:49 AM   #18
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Thanks for mentioning my basket, Jim. Many of the German-imported blades were completely unmarked, some with just 'Andrea Fererra', some with just the Wundes family king's head markings and some marked with all of the above! I was unaware of the obviously rare crescent moon markings on these. Very intriguing and important to note here for future collectors. Reminds me of the 'fleur de lis' stamps found on English swords from the mid/late 17th c (specifically the dog head/monster head naval types) that threw so many of us until we pinpointed that symbol also existing in British heraldry. The connection with these crescent shapes with German makers makes total sense as most Scottish baskets possessed imported blades-
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Old 10th December 2023, 12:06 PM   #19
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In looking further here, I realize that the 'half moon' marking on my 'mortuary' has the 'rostrum' which is the opague outlined area within the moon. As mentioned, this was a key mark to the espaderos del Rey in Spain whuch augmented to makers own punzone.

That it was spuriously applied to blades in Germany to capitalize on the quality factor of Toledo and its masters is well understood. When England brought i German smiths from Holland to spur its own blade making industry, first with Hounslow, later Shotley in the 17th century, it created an interesting conundrum. Just how many blades were actually produced in England in the shops of these enterprises, and how many were 'salted' imports from Solingen, which was where these German smiths were expatriated?

The fact that these spurious German renditions of the famed Toledo mark are seen on plug bayonets, as per R,D.C.Evans (2002) suggests that British makers indeed must have applied 'German style' marks to their blades, as per the Hounslow and Shotley situations. What this shows is that in the broader spectrum of these situations in England with blade producing, there was a confluence of both, blades actually produced there, as well as some degree of imports from Germany.
Naturally we know that in Shotley, blades were being smuggled in from Rotterdam as Mohl (of Shotley) was arrested while accepting shipment of them. With Hounslow it is less clear, but we know the blades were coming into various entrepots in England, and obviously Scotland.

As pointed out by Mark, the variety of blades coming into the cutlers (i.e. sword slippers) in Scotland were from various makers, shops and sources in Solingen, typically filtered through the departure ports in Holland, primarily Rotterdam. With the volume of blades imported, they were of course, collectively from 'Solingen', however this comprised many different shops of various makers, their families, and workers over long periods of time. Keeping this in mind, the often widely varied conventions in markings, names, and other blade augmentations in understandable as found on these swords mounted in England and Scotland.

What is most important here, is to illustrate how examination of a sword example here in discussion can bring to light many key facts and clues in the overall study of arms.....very much 'one thing leads to another'. ...and as always, we learn together
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Old 10th December 2023, 02:29 PM   #20
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Jim et al: here are some photos of a sword that I have owned for many years - one of my favorites. It combines many of the attributes being discussed in this thread in terms of early basket hilt, Sinclair form (tessak/dussage), guard pierced with hearts, and astrological motifs on the blade. This example is 38 1/2 inches in total length. The 32.5 inch single-edged double-fullered blade is 1.625" wide throughout, and 1.9375 inches wide at the hatchet tip which is double edged. The hilt is massive and very comfortable to hold - this sword is well balanced. To give an idea of size, the quillons are 10.75 inches tip to tip. Stars, suns and moons on both sides of the otherwise unmarked blade.
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Old 10th December 2023, 05:22 PM   #21
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OMG! This is BREATHTAKING! an exquisite example of these late 16th-early 17thc. heavy battle sabres. These are as noted termed 'tessak' (Czech) or 'dusagge' (German), various spellings of course, and the neologism 'Sinclair saber' firmly emplaced by Victorian writers This was commemorative to Capt George Sinclair, killed in Norway in 1612, where these kinds of swords were in common use.

The motif and symbolism is primarily from Eastern Europe, where ancient cosmological symbols became ingrained in medieval superstition and magic beliefs. From here, these familiar symbols, sun, moon, star (usually the 6 point 'prayer' star) became commonly placed on sword blades to suggest imbued talismanic properties and 'magic'.

These conventions diffused through Europe in the 18th century with the popular phenomenon of the colorful and exotic hussar cavalry, where many of the flamboyant sabers carried these symbols and motif which had clearly long existed on these earlier swords.

In essence, a mans sword was of course, his protection and barrier between life and death, and with imbued 'magic' properties, in mind at least, each man was wielding 'Excalibur'.

The heart shaped piercings were religiously symbolic in the profound Catholic traditions in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and represent the 'sacred heart' often with mottoes and other features such as the Madonna etc.
It is understandable that Scottish Jacobites would adopt such a symbol as the heart as one of the distinctive Jacobite symbols pierced in this manner in the shields of their hilts.

The amazing blade is quite likely Styrian, or collectively Bavarian, the widened distal end of the blade is the 'yelman' adopted from the Turkic sabers of the Ottomans. This was primarily to add weight to add impetus to the cut.

Thank you so much for sharing this to add perspective to what we are discussing. It is truly a magnificent Sinclair!
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