Author Topic: ID sword  (Read 2101 times)

Offline Longknife

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ID sword
« on: March 11, 2021, 08:34:11 PM »
I found this old sword on a trade blanket at Fort DeChartre quite a few years ago. It was in pretty sad shape, the 21 inch blade was pretty rusty and the grip and guard were detached with no tang nut to hold it together . The scabbards' leather was dry and discolored. I traded for it and took it home. Upon cleaning the blade I was pleased to see the hand forged  pattern on the blade. I cleaned it and lightly applied cold brown to accent the pattern. I then  lightly smoothed out the rust on the hilt/guard  and applied a couple coats of tung oil to the grip. I then assembled it and added my own tang nut,,, to represent a "field" repair.  I applied several coats of leather softener to the scabbard, it is all original with stitching and the original wear tip still staked on, it came out remarkably well.  I then made a frog out of a scrap of leather and a couple of old belts. I had some info on the make and age frame of this but it has been lost to time. Can any one ID this old sword? Thanks, Ed
















Ed Hamberg

Offline Longknife

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Re: ID sword
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2021, 08:44:43 PM »
A better shot of the "bottle" opener!!!



Ed Hamberg

Offline Elnathan

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Re: ID sword
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2021, 01:43:38 AM »
I hate to be a party pooper, but that "bottle opener" marks it as modern-made, IMHO. Never seen anything like that on an old sword, but very typical of the art/fantasy swords of the last fifty years or so....I think it is a modern take on a Napoleonic Wars/War of 1812 era saber with healthy dose of Jody Samson mixed in. It is kind of the equivalent of a powderhorn engraved with photo-realistic dot scrimshaw or a longrifle carved with a celtic cross instead of rococo scrolls.

I don't particularly care for modern sword-art aesthetics, but I have to say that is very well done example - the way the cutler exaggerated the shape of the traditional stirrup hilt to mirror the s-curve in the blade is pretty nifty.
A man can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition -  Rudyard Kipling

Offline Hungry Horse

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Re: ID sword
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2021, 04:25:48 AM »
 That “bottle opener” as you guys call it is designed to catch your enemies blade, and either snap it off or wrench it out of his hand. Oh, and open a bottle Sierra Nevada when your done.

  Hungry Horse

Offline Longknife

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Re: ID sword
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2021, 09:04:09 PM »
Elathan, You are by no means  a party pooper, I am looking for any info on this sword and all comments and/or opinions are appreciated.



HH, I too have heard that the cut out was a blade breaker but can not fine any other examples, can you? ,,,, Thanks, Ed
Ed Hamberg

Offline Hungry Horse

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Re: ID sword
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2021, 09:34:38 PM »
Ed, these blade breakers are primarily found on late short swords, and even some fighting knives.

  Hungry Horse

Offline mr. no gold

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Re: ID sword
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2021, 10:41:44 PM »
Yes. I have heard it referred to as a 'Spanish Notch' and it is designed to grab an opponents blade. Or, so they say. It seems to be a not too often seen feature on Bowie knives, English or American. Otherwise the sword has similarities to a European 'boar sword' many of which are quite beautifully made. Hard to say about this one.
Dick

Offline Salkehatchie

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Re: ID sword
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2021, 03:12:19 PM »
Nice sword and scabbard.  At the Fort, eh?  Appears that you have done a nice and gentle job of cleaning the set up.  Looks good! :)

Just me.  But if it is found to be historical.  Then a primary consideration would be to leave the notch area alone.  If it is found to not be an older blade, but a good modern interpretation...  An option might be to, modify the notch out, re-age the area and wear it/use it...or whatever use you see fit.  Overall looks to be of decent craftmanship.  If it feels good in hand, what the heck?

Sounds blasphemous to modify, regardless, maybe.  But then again I gracefully and lightly refinish my antiques. 

Offline Elnathan

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Re: ID sword
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2021, 01:59:31 PM »
OK. I am familiar with the "Spanish notch" found on some large knives. However, while I admit that I am not as familiar with Bowie knives as I might be, what examples of this notch I have don't look anything like this one. This one is quite spikey (and delicate!) whereas the originals I have pictures of are much less dramatic and rounded over, like so:
Spanish-Notches" border="0

 Also, i don't recall seeing an old sword with a Spanish notch, not even colonial Spanish or Mexican frontier-made swords (and they did make quite a number of swords). They'd be pretty useless, as a matter of fact, as I don't think that the geometry would work out in such a way that trapping an opponents blade would be likely, and if you managed to actually trap an opponents sword you would immobilize your own at the same time - much better to block or deflect and riposte immediately. I've seen a picture of a sword-trapping dagger before, but the notches were of a different design and along the back of the blade, and since it was intended to be used in the off-hand in conjunction with a sword one could use it to trap an opponent's blade without tying up one's own sword in the process.

Spanish Espada Anchas, of the 19th century single edged variety:
Espada-Anchas" border="0


Beyond that, the overall shape of the blade is wrong for a 18th or early 19th century blade - it looks like a curved leaf blade. While you do find curved blades that widen towards the tip, referred to as a hatchet tip, the flare is is rather more subtle than this one, and the edge of the sword is a simple upward sweep with any break in the line on the top profile, not the bottom. See the British 1796 Light Cavalry Saber (or Sabre!) for an example:
Rf773e9934f79fffc5ab3eef10d3cf5cf" border="0

Nor is the shape of the blade due to sharpening. A heavily used knife may wear like that, but swords typically don't (there are exceptions, but I think those were used as tools as well), as swords aren't routinely resharpened the way a utility knife is nor is wear concentrated near the handle.. Also, the handle on this sword is placed too high on the blade - it is pretty unusual to have the tang higher than the centerline of the blade on an 18th or 19th century Western sword, the single exception I can recall being here: https://th.bing.com/th/id/Rc1241735b0c670d0f7b138f9e26c8332?rik=VoAK8zHOeCt89A&riu=http%3a%2f%2fwww.historicalimagebank.com%2fgallery%2fd%2f18000-4%2fRWe5ds%2b-%2bAmerican%2bRevolutionary%2bWar%2bCavalry%2bSaber%2bmade%2bat%2bRappahanock%2bForge%2bVirginia&ehk=mbJkEWz5x4h0iY3pH%2brW%2fNcDhVSHDul4DkJ%2fR06AXHg%3d&risl=&pid=ImgRaw

Which leads to the final point, the question of a backwoods smith doing his own thing. I don't think that is the case here.  First of all, forging a sword is a pretty big job that is usually left to specialists for a reason, and I don't think that there were many smiths making swords along the frontier. Most of the American-made swords from the Revolutionary period are assembled around European-made blades, Rappahannock Forge and James Potter's weapons being notable exceptions. Those that do seem to have been made by non-specialists are usually very crude, without fullers, and have an irregular curve to the blade being very straight close to the hilt and swooping up towards the tip. This one, while it lacks fullers, is otherwise very nicely made with evident attention to getting flowing lines.

All said, the blade would be very odd for a genuine 18th or early 19th century piece. However, the overall shape, widening towards the tip with a bit of a curve s-curve in the edge, and/or a dropped heel, is very typical of a genre of modern fantasy blades. Even the Spanish notch on this example is reminiscent of the concave ricasso area that is pretty popular today. Weta Workshop's design for Aragorn hunting knife in Lord of the Rings is a pretty good example of this genre:
e9098580821205eda9d51c68e2a9e91a" border="0
While I think that Ed's sword is a lot more graceful than Weta's design (and Weta's design is itself among the prettier of this type), I think you all will see that stylistically it is closer to the movie blade than it is to the historical examples posted above.

In sum, I'm pretty confident that the blade at least is fairly modern, though I will allow the possibility that it is a rework of something else, as the tip is a lot closer to what I'd expect to see on an original sword than on a modern fantasy style. The location of the tang though....the hilt and grip might be genuinely old, though, though the guard is rather exaggerated in shape.

I don't pretend to know a great deal about swords of this era, but I wasted a considerable portion of my youth looking at pictures of swords from all eras and nations. I've noticed that historic sword blades, designed for actual use, tend to be fairly straightforward designs, with rather subtle changes in outline contour and a minimum of fuss, whereas modern swords tend to be a lot more dramatic and "busy," being design for visual impact and distinctiveness rather than ease of manufacture, carry, and wielding. When the old time cutlers wanted something dramatic and different, they worked on the hilt rather than the blade, as a general rule.

I need to wrap this up, but hopefully some of the above makes sense! I am enjoying talking about swords of the longrifle age here - they seem to show up surprisingly often in the 18th century accounts of frontier life in the hands of both whites and natives, but seldom get much attention.
A man can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition -  Rudyard Kipling

Offline Longknife

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Re: ID sword
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2021, 07:03:44 PM »
Elnathan, Thank you for the research and time you have spent on this sword. When You mention "fantasy"  sword, that you refer to as being made in the last fifty years, I get the impression of those factory made stainless steel swords that are cranked out of a factory and sold for $49.95. Or those Pakistani knifes with a thousand and one layers of steel to make them "pretty". I acquired this sword over thirty years ago and it was a relic at that time. The blade was covered with a thick coat of 100 year old rust, the scabard was old, brittle and dry, in the condition that 100 years of neglect would inflict upon it.  If you could see this sword in person you could see that the blade was made to be used. It is hand forged, layered steel, not because layered steel is pretty, but because that is just how a blade was made at that time. Its probably a little on the crude side, according to todays standards. The guard shows signs of hand forging and parts of it are brazed together. Looking at the scabard it is apparent that it was hand made,  The irregular stitching is hand done and there is a border embossed on the leather parts. The scabbard tip looks hand made and the punches to hold it on are irregular. The scabbard is lined with wood.  There was probably as much time put into constructing the scabbard as was put into making the sword. I am positive that the sword and scabbard are mates. The cutout on the ricasso? I dont have an explanation for that but since it is probably a one of a kind, hand made item, from over a century ago, there are no perimiters to verify how it "should" be made. Probably the maker just wanted to add a little "zing" to this working mans tool. Who hasen't done that? Is it unusual? Yes, but it is not a "fantasy" sword. It was made years ago, when swords were commonly carried and used. It was made by an experienced bladesmith, by hand, and the only pattern used was in the 'smiths mind. I have some other sources that I contacted about this sword and will post any info I receive here. Thanks for all the replies,  Ed





















Ed Hamberg

Offline mr. no gold

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Re: ID sword
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2021, 08:07:20 PM »
Just a wild notion here, but some aspects of this sword bear relation to the Java/Borneo Kris blades. They often have this type of notching and the blades bear the linear hammer marks.
A number of those blades were made from meteoric iron. Might be that a traveler in that region saw their type of swords and had a more conventional western type blade made with Kris
styling. The whole sword has an East Asian cast to it to my eye. Well just a thought.
Dick

Offline Elnathan

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Re: ID sword
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2021, 02:04:04 AM »
Ed, by "Fantasy" I mean a sword that is usually based on traditional blades but is intended as a new and distinctively different design, often but not always linked to fantasy literature....It is a fairly well-understood designation in the bladesmithing community. There is, indeed, a considerable amount of garbage SLOs (Sword-like Objects) produced, but there are a few smiths who have produced some very pretty, and sometimes quite useable, gems. I figured this was one of the latter - an art sword made in the 70s or 80s, and meant nothing disparaging in the term.

Dick,
Your suggestion of an Indonesian parang is a really, really good one. This good, in fact: http://www.oriental-arms.co.il/item.php?id=3064

Different blade, but near identical grip and hilt. No doubt in my mind now where that part of the sword came from. Between that and Ed's confidence in the age of the sword I suspect that I'm going to have to eat crow on the blade as well, though if so I am very surprised at how closely the overall shape conforms to modern aesthetics. That is one area of the world where they did produce lots of spikey bits with no real purpose on blades, though....
A man can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition -  Rudyard Kipling

Offline mr. no gold

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Re: ID sword
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2021, 04:13:41 AM »
By golly Elnathan; I think you nailed it! The one in your ad is very much like Ed's sword and that can't be a coincidence. And, that may mean that Ed's is a Dutch cutlass with 'local' enhancements making his very unique. Be interesting if the blade is meteoric iron. It can be tested. Great find Ed, and thank you for sharing it here.
Dick


Offline Longknife

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Re: ID sword
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2021, 09:43:43 PM »
Just a wild notion here, but some aspects of this sword bear relation to the Java/Borneo Kris blades. They often have this type of notching and the blades bear the linear hammer marks.
A number of those blades were made from meteoric iron. Might be that a traveler in that region saw their type of swords and had a more conventional western type blade made with Kris
styling. The whole sword has an East Asian cast to it to my eye. Well just a thought.
Dick

BINGO, Give that man a cigar!!!! good observation Mr Gold!!!! Here is a comment from  a collector/ dealer in this type of sword,

"""This is indeed an Indonesian sword. Probably Sumatra or southern Borneo, 19th century. It was mounted in a hilt that is strongly inspired by English stirrup hilts, something you see on both islands.
Blade is more typically Indonesian, both in style and forging method.""""

Elanathan, I have been poring over websites and pics for the last couple of days trying to verify this swords roots . That pic you found is fantastic, the resemblence is amazing, it could even be the same maker?  I will post a few pics of the more traditional style Cut out designs on more traditional styles of  parangs' from the Indonesian area,,, Glad we sorted thsi one out!!! I want to thank everyone for their comments,,,Ed
 



Ed Hamberg