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Old 3rd February 2022, 04:21 PM   #1
efrahjalt
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Default A Small Sword for Comments (Sister to Napoleon's Sword?)

This is a small sword I picked up a while ago. I found a few interesting leads that could point to it's origin/maker, but nothing solid. Thought I would share here for those interested, and would love to hear any comments you may have.

I assume it is a late 18th or early 19th century court sword. This assumption is based on several swords of similar hilt and blade design in the Met and other museum collections. The blade is marked S-H on the ricasso. Samuel Harvey was a cutler in Birmingham from 1748-1778 and his son and grandson also worked in the business until 1810. He and his posterity signed their blades with an S-H. I don't have a positive ID since the mark is slightly different but it's a possibility from the right time. The tang is marked with H4 (it almost looks like #4, but upon closer inspection I now can see it is an H), and the guard is marked with an AB stamp and BES (could be RES) (see pictures). I also ran across a very very similar sword that was apparently owned by Napoleon and currently resides in the Museo Oro del in Peru. The fittings for these two must have come from the same artist or at least someone working in the same shop. The sword in the Museo Oro del has silver bars on the grip. I can see silver rubbed into the grooves on the grip of this piece were there would have been silver bars. Unfrotunately they have been removed.

I originally bought this thinking it was a well done reproduction with the threaded pommel nut and all, but after I started looking into it I now believe this piece is original. The workmanship is very good and although threaded pommel nuts were less common they were used at that time from what I understand.

The AB mark on the guard is quite distinct and seems like something that would be searchable, but I haven't had luck. I often wish that there was as good documentation on European swordsmiths as there is on Japanese sword craftsmen. Any thoughts on this one are wlcome.

Here are a few pictures of the piece and the marks. There is also a picture of Napoleon's sword from the Museo Oro del.
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Old 3rd February 2022, 11:50 PM   #2
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Remarkable! As you said, this is certainly not a reproduction. The crown on the pommel looks very much like a british variant. Maybe somebody here recognizes it.
On your place I would be very tempted to remove the brass patina, how do you see it?
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Old 4th February 2022, 11:30 AM   #3
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I think it is a French item, the eagles on a "cigar" are typical during the 1. empire.
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Old 4th February 2022, 01:12 PM   #4
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I would love to see the whole piece
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Old 4th February 2022, 01:21 PM   #5
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I would love to see the whole piece
Yes ... please do !
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Old 4th February 2022, 03:54 PM   #6
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On your place I would be very tempted to remove the brass patina, how do you see it?
I typically reluctant to do much cleaning on pieces. In this case it looks like there may have been some cleaning in the past. In a few places I can see the hilt was originally gold plated, but much of that is gone now. It could probably benefit from a light cleaning though.

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I would love to see the whole piece
Thank you for the reminder. No sword discussion is complete without a shot of the whole thing. Looking back I see that my pictures are not the greatest. I was too focused on getting the marks in the shot. Here are a few slightly betting shots. The fineness of the carving still does not come though it the pictures. There are fine textures to the leaves and scrolls that are almost invisible in the pictures, but I hope it gives an idea.

Again, comments are welcome.
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Old 4th February 2022, 04:30 PM   #7
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I think it is a French item, the eagles on a "cigar" are typical during the 1. empire.
Corrado,

The last picture is Napoleon's sword from the Museo Oro del. Mine doesn’t have the eagle.
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Old 4th February 2022, 05:45 PM   #8
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Interesting smallsword Efrahjalt, and nicely done tentative research, thank you for sharing those details with us and for posting this.

Samuel Harvey and his sons of Birmingham were key in the advance of British swordmaking in the mid 18th century, but they were engaged in the production of munitions grade military swords. While later Birmingham makers such as Gill, Osborne and Wooley did produce swords in accord with the military patterns beginning in unofficially in 1788, they were never producers of smallswords as far as I am aware.

The production of smallswords was typically by cutlers in London and several other locations, many of these cutlers were also jewellers (check Southwick).
The hilt was likely quite likely gilt, and cutlers typically used hall marks on such hilts (again Southwick).

The H4 was probably administrative stock number or of that sort.

I am pleased to see you do not tamper with patination, which in my opinion should be left as is (my historian position) and cleaning, especially overcleaning which compromises the integrity of the piece (again my opinion).

I think this very well may be a commemorative sword celebrating the victory at Waterloo, which was a practice in Great Britain post Napoleonic campaigns. I once had M1803 infantry officers lionhead, which instead of the flowing mane, had one with a sphinx like headdress.

Here I would note that the eagle from the standard of the French 45th Regt. captured by Sgt. Ewart of Royal Scots Greys at Waterloo would have been an unsurprising theme on a sword for a British officer. The blade has similar etched motif to British officers swords, and the hilt form is of court sword style of the period.

"London Silver Hilted Swords", Leslie Southwick, 2001
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Old 6th February 2022, 05:01 AM   #9
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Thanks for your comments Jim! Now I have a new book to add to my 'I want that' list. If I may ask, are there any listings for a similar AB mark in Southwick?

I really feel like the both the S-H and AB mark should be searchable since they are quite distinct marks. Hopefully I can track them down since they may give more hints to the origin of this piece.

Another thing I'd love to know is if the Museo Oro del sword also has the same AB mark or the S-H mark. Anyone here from Lima?

I think the idea of a commemorative sword makes sense. Any idea of who was getting these this type of piece made, or do you know of any similar examples?
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Old 7th February 2022, 02:36 AM   #10
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Thanks for your comments Jim! Now I have a new book to add to my 'I want that' list. If I may ask, are there any listings for a similar AB mark in Southwick?

I really feel like the both the S-H and AB mark should be searchable since they are quite distinct marks. Hopefully I can track them down since they may give more hints to the origin of this piece.

Another thing I'd love to know is if the Museo Oro del sword also has the same AB mark or the S-H mark. Anyone here from Lima?

I think the idea of a commemorative sword makes sense. Any idea of who was getting these this type of piece made, or do you know of any similar examples?
You bet!
I'll check Southwick when I get to it again, not with me at the moment. It seems I was researching a brass hilt item and it was noted that makers had to stamp hilts much as with hallmarks in cases but cant recall details.
This is an intriguing anamoly and it would interesting to know more on the sword in Peru. You should get hold of the museum to discover the provenance and possible clues.
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Old 7th February 2022, 03:14 AM   #11
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You bet!
I'll check Southwick when I get to it again, not with me at the moment. It seems I was researching a brass hilt item and it was noted that makers had to stamp hilts much as with hallmarks in cases but cant recall details.
This is an intriguing anamoly and it would interesting to know more on the sword in Peru. You should get hold of the museum to discover the provenance and possible clues.
Thanks! Looking forward to what you find.

My curiosity about the Peru sword has been nagging at me for too long. Perhaps it’s time to simply reach out to the museum and see if I can get some traction.
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Old 7th February 2022, 10:25 PM   #12
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...patination, which in my opinion should be left as is (my historian position) and cleaning, especially overcleaning which compromises the integrity of the piece (again my opinion).
Jim, I would love to hear more about a historians view on aging signs, how you deal with corrosion, patina etc. .

Would you mind opening a thread discussing this topic, starting with your point of view on it? Could be also here if it fits the original discussion but I think this is something a lot of people are thinking about and maybe have something to share. IŽd really appreciate some insight!
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Old 7th February 2022, 11:46 PM   #13
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Jim, I would love to hear more about a historians view on aging signs, how you deal with corrosion, patina etc. .

Would you mind opening a thread discussing this topic, starting with your point of view on it? Could be also here if it fits the original discussion but I think this is something a lot of people are thinking about and maybe have something to share. IŽd really appreciate some insight!
Thank you, that is a great suggestion, and a subject often brought up (rather constantly actually) on these pages over the many years writing here.
As I am indeed someone who studies history, my opinion is always to leave as much patination as possible, and even items that are in essentially relic or excavated condition should remain as is as much as possible excepting minor repair to complete the overall composition. . In most cases the physical aspects of the components, metal etc. reflect important information pertaining to age however without scientific analysis, most of that is from comparison to other items in kind, or the context or provenance of the item being examined.

The only cleaning should be lightly removing grime, stabilizing any corrosion or rust. The weapons I have collected over many years have remained as is.
Only light rubbing with fine steel wool and WD40 in pitted areas on hilts revealed key regimental markings etc.

I am by no means a professional, as in a museum, where conservation is more detailed stabilizing and limited restoration is accomplished. These processes are far more complex to preserve the item as close to its intact condition as possible.

Items which are heavily (overcleaned) are in my opinion compromised as the patination is in my opinion, virtually history itself in a sense, and should be left intact as much as possible.

As I say, this has been often discussed over many years, and my position on this is pretty well known, as well as apparently shared by many others who write here. Great topic, and very grateful for your interest!!! Thank you.
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Old 8th February 2022, 12:54 PM   #14
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Thank you Jim!
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Old 8th February 2022, 02:52 PM   #15
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Thank you, that is a great suggestion, and a subject often brought up (rather constantly actually) on these pages over the many years writing here.
As I am indeed someone who studies history, my opinion is always to leave as much patination as possible, and even items that are in essentially relic or excavated condition should remain as is as much as possible excepting minor repair to complete the overall composition. . In most cases the physical aspects of the components, metal etc. reflect important information pertaining to age however without scientific analysis, most of that is from comparison to other items in kind, or the context or provenance of the item being examined.

The only cleaning should be lightly removing grime, stabilizing any corrosion or rust. The weapons I have collected over many years have remained as is.
Only light rubbing with fine steel wool and WD40 in pitted areas on hilts revealed key regimental markings etc.

I am by no means a professional, as in a museum, where conservation is more detailed stabilizing and limited restoration is accomplished. These processes are far more complex to preserve the item as close to its intact condition as possible.

Items which are heavily (overcleaned) are in my opinion compromised as the patination is in my opinion, virtually history itself in a sense, and should be left intact as much as possible.

As I say, this has been often discussed over many years, and my position on this is pretty well known, as well as apparently shared by many others who write here. Great topic, and very grateful for your interest!!! Thank you.
I'd also be interested in a discussion about preservation cleaning and care. I have a fairly well defined set of rules that I follow for metal objects in my collection, and even though I feel quite comfortable with my techniques I'm sure I have plenty more to learn. Where my knowledge really falls off is in organics. It would be great if the discussion could include information on wood, leather, bone, horn, ivory etc. In fact I was thinking about posting a question specifically about wood which came to me while inspecting the dry state of the palm wood on my recent Moro budiak purchased I posted in another thread. Perhaps it would be worth it to split the discussion into sections to focus on these areas.
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Old 9th February 2022, 05:00 PM   #16
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Thank you for the responses on the 'conservation' matters guys!
It is a most valid topic and a key concern for all in the fields of arms study and collecting.
As I have indicated, I am not a collector myself, though I spent many years collecting. Most of the swords I acquired were in varying condition, though typically intact. I forewent many of the qualifying factors that were key for collectors with their preferences toward the condition elements.
Actually most of the swords I acquired I only won because they were pretty much scoffed at by most collectors.

As I say, as a historian (that is I study history via the swords I acquired and examined, not a professional scholar), having examples (even relic state) gave me a field of study in situ. The potential for such study is typically lost as a weapon is 'restored', patination and such archaeological evidence cleaned away, and parts replaced or refabricated, thus becoming modern composite.

There are many weapons which are historically composite, that is refurbished in their working lives, but that they are homogenous in the sense that these were working life alterations render the weapon historically viable. Those real time efforts present more to the actual history of the weapon.

Again, here I am representing my opinions on the study of weapons historically and not at all presenting helpful tips in properly cleaning and maintaining collectible and historic weapons.
I would not only recommend, but implore those of you who are active collectors here, to indeed start a thread on the proper conservation of antique arms, to include replacement components as required.

As someone who has honestly never participated in the in depth cleaning or restoration of a weapon, aside from light use of WD40, leather oils or wood oils, I cannot speak to these matters with any recommendation. I am however grateful to see this serious interest in this matter, and look forward to the placement of a thread pertaining to this topic.
Well placed concerns genthemen, thank you!!!
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Old 9th February 2022, 09:03 PM   #17
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I am however grateful to see this serious interest in this matter, and look forward to the placement of a thread pertaining to this topic.
Done
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