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Old 5th June 2021, 08:54 PM   #1
Kubur
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Default Small sword identification

Hi Guys

I need serious help.
I have zero knowledge in small swords.
Could you help to identify this one, from where and when?
Thanks

Kubur
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Old 5th June 2021, 09:25 PM   #2
Jim McDougall
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This appears to be a really sturdy, attractive example of an officers 'spadroon', probably British and these were popular from about 1780s into 19th c. While the blade seems pretty rusty, and cant see the whole thing, it seems probably straight, which is characteristic on these spadroons.

I like the heart on the grip. These were not of course 'small swords', but military versions of them for officers wear at special events and official proceedings. This one seems likely to be a 'fighting' example.
Small swords are pretty esoteric and as such have typically not been a highly populated field of collecting, but it seems have been catching on in recent years.

While I would deem this British, it could very well be Continental as well as these fashions were often shared broadly, in fact the British 'five ball' hilt form was actually adopted in France as the 'English' form saber.
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Old 6th June 2021, 12:31 PM   #3
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In addition to what Jim wrote:
I think this hilt is more of a Continental form than British. For instance, the English 1796 Pattern infantry officers examples tend to have more hilt decorations, fire gilding, a rounded wooden grip, wire or wire-like foil wrapped. Perhaps gently cleaning off the blade rust will reveal a monarch's cypher or other clues. I like the heart-shaped escutcheon on the grip. To me it also speaks of the European continent.
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Old 6th June 2021, 03:51 PM   #4
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Can you show us the whole sword, Kubur ?
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Old 6th June 2021, 05:02 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
This appears to be a really sturdy, attractive example of an officers 'spadroon', probably British and these were popular from about 1780s into 19th c.
I like the heart on the grip. These were not of course 'small swords', but military versions of them for officers wear at special events and official proceedings. This one seems likely to be a 'fighting' example.
Thank you Jim, very useful to narrow down the origin, a spadroon, maybe military; and period late 18th late 19th c.
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Old 6th June 2021, 05:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dmitry View Post
In addition to what Jim wrote:
I think this hilt is more of a Continental form than British. For instance, the English 1796 Pattern infantry officers examples tend to have more hilt decorations, fire gilding, a rounded wooden grip, wire or wire-like foil wrapped. Perhaps gently cleaning off the blade rust will reveal a monarch's cypher or other clues. I like the heart-shaped escutcheon on the grip. To me it also speaks of the European continent.
Thanks, so European with/or without English
What about the Scottish?
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Old 6th June 2021, 05:05 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by fernando View Post
Can you show us the whole sword, Kubur ?
I was reading your posts with interest, you are probably the one who can help on this one....
here the whole thing
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Old 6th June 2021, 05:55 PM   #8
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The sword closely follows the 1796p British infantry officers sword except for the grip and pommel. I would call it Continental, a way of saying European but not sure which country.
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Old 6th June 2021, 07:04 PM   #9
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Thanks guys!
Kubur, good note on 'Scottish' and the Scots, while within the 'British' umbrella, did tend to have unique styling nuanced into their arms for officers. Here I would note that the heart shape is indeed quite present in Scottish heraldry and motif. I think of the hearts present in Scottish basket hilts, and I have a very old chair I think Scottish with hearts in the decoration.

The 'spadroon' (derived from a fencing term) was basically a straight blade saber (semantics of terms often 'duel' with this application) and became popular in England around 1780, lasting until about 1820. While the notable 'five ball hilt' was the most prevalent (some had up to 7) other hilts were known, and one I recall (I need to find image) had an openwork heart in the upturned perpendicular guard.

These stylish officers swords of course had variation in the hilt furniture as they were privately commissioned by officers, and the ever present competition in fashion was prevalent.
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Old 6th June 2021, 07:57 PM   #10
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Addendum:
To my previous post,
I found the reference to the open work guard on a 'spadroon' 1790s with a heart incorporated in the design in the chaos of my notes some years ago.

I had become intrigued by the 'five ball hilts' and one key reference aside from Brian Robson's "Swords of the British Army" was an obscure article by W.E. May, "The Five Ball Type of Sword Hilt", May, 1963, JAAS, Vol. 4, #8.
In it , May described the unique hilt, but having no distinct explanation for the motif, he noted his hope that eventually some viable information on the development of the form would be found.

In studying decoration in motif and designs in swords, I had found many clues which suggested the presence of Masonic and other symbolic detail in these cases. The number five is significant in various occult and arcane areas, one being Masonic.
In communications with Mr. Robson, I suggested that Masonic symbolism might be present in the five ball hilt decoration. He however, did not think so and insisted the motif was purely aesthetic.

In later years I found more information on British sword hilts, indeed especially with these 'spadroons' which noted specifics on possible links to arcane symbolism as well as Masonic and 'secret society' lore.
Apparently, for example, the lozenge (diamond) shape used in the open work guard had possible links to an Irish Protestant group of 1790s. In another reference the shape is noted linked to the British Isles symbolically, and the well known British cutler Francis Thurkle was known to have used it.

With Freemasonry, the lodges of England and France apparently had deep connections which transcended the obvious and constant embattlement between the countries. In the only instance I know of where the a British design was copied by the French, the 1780s spadroon was adopted there as 'the English sword'.
Masonic venue?
There was always the ever present stand of Jacobites who had long been emplaced in France during the Scottish rebellions, and here I would note that the 'HEART' was one of many known Jacobite symbols.

OK, I know, a LOT of stuff but it is given here as food for thought, and nostalgically shared here by me from my fascination with this topic years ago.

In my terribly erratic notes is a lot of minutiae (my apologies, this was YEARS ago) and the saber with 'spadroon' type hilt with the heart is compared to similar style hilt by Tookey c. 1792 (Aylward) but hers does not have the heart shape. The 'spadroon' here I am noting the hilt style. However it seems the spadroon was TYPICALLY a straight, epee, type blade.
The shell guard on Kubur's example does recall the infantry officers dress sword in concept.
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Last edited by Jim McDougall; 6th June 2021 at 08:50 PM.
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Old 7th June 2021, 05:57 AM   #11
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Jim. what are you doing with my sword?

IDed by the curator/director of the Higgins Armoury as mid century 18th and the sword came from Dominic Grant during a Scandic adventure. A late Wundes looking blade mark.

As to the sword of the thread and the 1796, David Critchley had written of Prussian patterns influencing the development of the British pattern.https://web.archive.org/web/20061231...shinfantry.php

Cheers
GC
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Old 7th June 2021, 06:03 AM   #12
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For scale Jim. The sabre is a hussar type, picked up with smaller hilts in the 1780s.
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Old 7th June 2021, 07:14 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hotspur View Post
Jim. what are you doing with my sword?

IDed by the curator/director of the Higgins Armoury as mid century 18th and the sword came from Dominic Grant during a Scandic adventure. A late Wundes looking blade mark.

As to the sword of the thread and the 1796, David Critchley had written of Prussian patterns influencing the development of the British pattern.https://web.archive.org/web/20061231...shinfantry.php

Cheers
GC

Yikes! Glen, yup, thats it! Ive had pics of that in my notes for years but not sure how long. I always that that guard was amazing!
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Old 7th June 2021, 09:21 PM   #14
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So no one has an idea about the origin and date of this sword?
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Old 7th June 2021, 09:50 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur View Post
So no one has an idea about the origin and date of this sword?


Since this is apparently an officers sword (clearly 1780s-90s) but while following the conventions and styles of the time, and does not fall into a specific category in pattern book...........we have to evaluate other comparable sword types and their elements.

Since the heart, on what appears to be a horn grip, is most unusual as a decoration, we try to see where, or who, might have used that symbol in this manner.

When I noted that other 'spadroon' type swords of this period sometimes had openwork guards, I mentioned the 'heart' on one of those. Since it was c. 1790s and English as well, that would suggest probable English origin for this sword in assumption.

When the Scottish possibility was mentioned, that clearly while British, is an entirely separate sphere in the symbols as decorations in many, if not most, cases.
Here I noted that the heart, was a Jacobite symbol (1715, 1745 uprisings et al) and that that particular association surely still existed.

So aside from well established and uncompromised provenance (proof), or an exact match in some reference or record, not being available......all I can do is try to surmise, based on evidence available as cited,

so, no, I have no idea of origin and date.
This is a dilemma often occurring on weapons which are not specifically engraved with dates, names, places and which have fallen out of context after sometimes hundreds of years

Sorry the evidence shown is not of more use. Of course perhaps, as noted, Fernando will have more insight.
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Old 7th June 2021, 11:15 PM   #16
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Heart

Chalice

Catholic


Hearts/Cups Royalty/Church
Spades/Swords Military
Diamonds/Pentacles/Coins Guilds/Merchants
Clubs/Wands Peasants/Labor

I'm not sure how one goes from something on a grip to counterguards and what we may see. We do see hearts from time to time. We'd like to list them as all from one source but it's just not really that simple. Of course, my favorite inset for a counterguard is something entirely different.


Cheers
GC

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Old 8th June 2021, 01:01 AM   #17
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Just chiming in with everyone else that this is a spadrron-type, European/probably UK. I post this one only to show the folding back guard (yours appears to be missing) on the m1786 pattern. I think the issue with these types is similar to NCO swords. There appears to be room for variation depending on branch, rank, specialty, etc.



http://myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.12970.html
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Old 8th June 2021, 06:30 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M ELEY View Post
Just chiming in with everyone else that this is a spadrron-type, European/probably UK. I post this one only to show the folding back guard (yours appears to be missing) on the m1786 pattern. I think the issue with these types is similar to NCO swords. There appears to be room for variation depending on branch, rank, specialty, etc.
Thank you Eley
I think you nailed it. Yes, a piece is missing and then confirms the date and identification.
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Old 8th June 2021, 06:37 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hotspur View Post
Heart
Chalice
Catholic
I'm not sure how one goes from something on a grip to counterguards and what we may see. We do see hearts from time to time. We'd like to list them as all from one source but it's just not really that simple. Of course, my favorite inset for a counterguard is something entirely different.
GC
Thank you GC
Heart = Catholic was something that I had in mind since the beginning.
So maybe Scottish or Irish...
I was thinking that it was a regular sword and then easy to identify precisely because of the hearth.
Your examples with hearths on counterguards are very interesting and again the same period roughtly.
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Old 8th June 2021, 06:46 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
so, no, I have no idea of origin and date.
This is a dilemma often occurring on weapons which are not specifically engraved with dates, names, places and which have fallen out of context after sometimes hundreds of years
Sorry the evidence shown is not of more use. Of course perhaps, as noted, Fernando will have more insight.
Sorry Jim to be a bit pushy and again thank you for your help!
Yes, you gave a fantastic frame and I'm now convinced that we are talking of the late 18th c. I was just thinking that the grip/hilt was typical enough to be identified but as you said we have variations.
I was hoping that Fernando will have more information's.
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Old 8th June 2021, 11:36 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur View Post
... I was hoping that Fernando will have more information's...
No, i am deeply sorry, but i don't have the faintest idea of what your sword is, nor where it comes from. Which is no surprise; with my residual knwkledge, it would have to be a piece screaming to me, with highly recognizable details ... which is not the case of this 'different example'. I have asked you to show us a picture of the whole sword, as this is the usual procedure, both for the record and for making it easy to identify in context.
And for speakping of that, there is one more picture which would be most interesting for us to have a look; one facing the front of the guard, so that we can check on details like those two 'fixation studs', as if the front is a 'detachable' part ?


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Old 8th June 2021, 01:33 PM   #22
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Hi,
In general this says to me P1796 Infantry Officers sword apart from the pommel which would normally be the urn type and the grip which was normally round and wire wrapped. The blade shape, folding guard and the stirrup guard all look typical for a P1796. There are quite a few variations on these P1796 officers swords but I haven't seen the aforementioned variations to date. Volunteer militia? An interesting piece.
Regards,
Norman.
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Old 8th June 2021, 02:14 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Norman McCormick View Post
Hi,
In general this says to me P1796 Infantry Officers sword apart from the pommel which would normally be the urn type and the grip which was normally round and wire wrapped. The blade shape, folding guard and the stirrup guard all look typical for a P1796. There are quite a few variations on these P1796 officers swords but I haven't seen the aforementioned variations to date. Volunteer militia? An interesting piece.
Regards,
Norman.
I think you are onto an important observation Norman, the absence of the urn pommel as noted did not suggest the M1796 pattern infantry officers sword. Also, as Mark astutely noted, these 'fixtures' are for a folding guard shell.
The folding apparatus was an innovative feature becoming popular at this time of fledgling sword patterns, which became better known just before mid 19th c.
As these officers swords were by commission, to the cutlers of London as a rule, such innovative devices would have been notable for the variations noted.
The use of horn and the heart device as also previously noted, may well be toward a Scottish preference (heart=Catholic; Catholic= Jacobite; Jacobite=Stuarts, and other British supporters for them).
The horn would have been used in the sense of stag horn, popular on hinting hangers, favored by the gentry and upper echelons from which officers came and their sense of fashion prevailed.

These kinds of variations are almost maddening for those who focus on regulation patterns, as officers swords, while loosely following standard conventions, had almost carte blanche in private purchase. The keen sense of fashion among officers, the innovations and styles of varied makers led to these kinds of anomalies.
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Old 8th June 2021, 02:20 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur View Post
Sorry Jim to be a bit pushy and again thank you for your help!
Yes, you gave a fantastic frame and I'm now convinced that we are talking of the late 18th c. I was just thinking that the grip/hilt was typical enough to be identified but as you said we have variations.
I was hoping that Fernando will have more information's.

Thank you Kubur.
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Old 8th June 2021, 02:22 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M ELEY View Post
Just chiming in with everyone else that this is a spadrron-type, European/probably UK. I post this one only to show the folding back guard (yours appears to be missing) on the m1786 pattern. I think the issue with these types is similar to NCO swords. There appears to be room for variation depending on branch, rank, specialty, etc.



http://myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.12970.html
Capn, thank you for noticing this!!!! I totally missed the fixtures for that which is obviously missing. bonk!
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Old 8th June 2021, 05:50 PM   #26
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How could i be so blind that didn't figure out that those 'studs' are the hinges for a folding guard. To my defence, i was betrayed by the angle of the picture . Actually, i have even discussed these features a few years ago over my (ex) pattern 1806 Portuguese Cavalry officers sword.
OTOH, for what i knew of Spadroons (Espad§es) from a local fellow collector, i would never realize Kubur's sword is also one of the kind.


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Old 8th June 2021, 06:07 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando View Post
How could i be so blind that didn't figure out that those 'studs' are the hinges for a folding guard. To my defence, i was betrayed by the angle of the picture . Actually, i have even discussed these features a few years ago over my (ex) pattern 1806 Portuguese Cavalry officers sword.
OTOH, for what i knew of Spadroons (Espad§es) from a local fellow collector, i would never realize Kubur's sword is also one of the kind.


.

Well, that makes two of us Fernando! I didnt notice them at all, and I only knew of the 'spadroon's' from the 1786 pattern (which I had forgotten as well, good thing the Capn is aboard!) which I know only as c. 1790s in studying the five ball hilt aboout a zillion years ago.
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Old 8th June 2021, 06:21 PM   #28
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Please, forgive my ignorance
But what is the advantage to have a folding guard???
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Old 8th June 2021, 06:45 PM   #29
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The folded guard becoming a more 'flat' surface, it leans more smoothly against your hip.
I recall one solution with the 1796 British heavy cavalry sword. As the guard was born unfoldable and harassed troops, the Ordnance decided to cut off (trim) part of it; this before the battle of Waterloo; after which the 'new version' was named.
Also their blade points were reviewed, as may be seen, but is another story.


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Old 8th June 2021, 07:13 PM   #30
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As Fernando has noted, the full guard was often seen as a problem with chafing (of the uniform) so these were cut down, or as noted, the folding guard was created.
After Waterloo, the M1796 hilts were cut down for 'presumably' this reason, which is often notable in identifying post Waterloo use of these.
It seems odd though, as in these times swords were worn low slung ,the reason for the large drag on the chape of the scabbard), so whether hanging over the saddle mounted, or dragging when on foot, how it would chafe uniform is puzzling.

With the blades, actually before Waterloo, the Scots Greys were ordered to grind down the hatchet points (as in Fernandos illustration)on their swords to a spear point, this being an identifying factor in recognizing pre Waterloo modification. This was actually ordered just before they shipped out to Belgium.
The M1796 disc hilts did not remain in use long after Waterloo in 1815, as in 1821 a new hilt with sheet steel bowl guard was introduced.
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