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Chris Goerner




Location: Roanoke, Virginia
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PostPosted: Sun 14 Mar, 2010 1:53 pm    Post subject: Swords from the Williamsburg Governor's Palace         Reply with quote

Being particularly interested in swords of the American colonial period, I was very interested in the changes Williamsburg made a few years back to the entrance hall of the Governor's Palace. They removed some of the brass hilted infantry hangers and added some small sword hilted hangers and horseman's basket hilts to the wall displays.

I had the good fortune to add one of the brass hangers to my collection several weeks ago. The sword was in good condition, but the wire wrapping on the grip was done incorrectly. I decided to redo the wrapping, but was dissatisfied with the results I got. So, I decided to use the cast brass grip from another hanger in my collection and am very pleased with how the sword now looks and feels. This had the added benefit of freeing up a shorter blade for a DIY cutlass project I've had in mind for a while (a future thread will come as I make progress on that).

Just a week or so after obtaining that hanger, I had the chance to pick up one of the new hangers and a horseman's basket hilt. The original this sword was based on is pictured in Jim Mullin's book "Of Sorts for Provincials: American Weapons of the French and Indian War" (see pg. 175). Although the author labels it as an early English hanger, the hilt and blade are both typical of French infantry swords of the period. A similar sword on the prior page is also labeled as English despite having fleur de lis stampings. The hilt has crisp brass castings and the copper wire wrapping (done correctly).

The horseman's basket hilt has elements typical of several different originals I have seen, through I have never run across one exactly like it. I will be contacting Williamsburg to see if it is a copy of one in their posession. The hilt appears to be constructed in a manner similar to those offered by Hanwei. Fit and finish are on par with Hanwei, with the grip being a cut above. The reigns oval really makes this sword for me.



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Last edited by Chris Goerner on Sun 14 Mar, 2010 2:00 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Chris Goerner




Location: Roanoke, Virginia
Joined: 19 Sep 2004
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Posts: 344

PostPosted: Sun 14 Mar, 2010 1:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here are some shots of the swords hanging in the Governor's palace.


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GG Osborne





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PostPosted: Tue 29 Jun, 2010 9:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dear Chris:

I had dropped you a note a while ago in envy of your acquisitions from Williamsburg. Are they selling these swords mor do you have a connection? I sure would like to get one of the basket hilts and early hangers. Anything you can do to help? I sure would appreciate it.

Thanks!

Glenn

"Those who live by the sword...will usually die with a huge, unpaid credit card balance!"
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Chris Goerner




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PostPosted: Wed 30 Jun, 2010 3:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Glenn,

The brass hilted British hangers were made a few decades ago -- by Navy Arms, I believe. They are not currently in production. They do come up from time to time on eBay, however. I have purchased 3 of these over the years -- resold one, used the blade of another for my ElJay hanger and the third is pictured above with replaced grip.

The company that made the basket hilt and "smallsword" is still around and still making the smallsword. They even make them in german silver (though the original this sword was based on was brass with copper wire ropes). Frankly, I did not care for the length of the grip and narrowness of the knuckle bow. I reworked my hilt taking about 5/8th of an inch off the length and rewrapping it. I then re-bent the knuckle bow to accommodate the shorter grip, giving it a wider bend at the base. I think it improved the look of the sword 100%. The castings on mine are very sharp and attractive.

When I bought the basket hilt I was told "I think we have one left". So, I'm not sure if I got the last one, or just the last one they had made up and ready to go. I plan to replace the blade on mine with a backsword blade, if I can ever find a decent one.

The name of the company that made the basket hilt and smallsword is U.S. Sword and Uniform. Here is their website: http://gcbussu.com/ContacttheUSSU.html Mr. Beauregard was a real gentleman and a pleasure to work with.

Chris

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GG Osborne





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PostPosted: Wed 30 Jun, 2010 9:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks, Chris. I shot them an email. Who makes the early (non-navy Arms) hanger? I think I have seen their website but don't remember it. Appreciate it! Glenn
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GG Osborne





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PostPosted: Wed 30 Jun, 2010 4:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Taking Chris' advice, I contacted "Beau" Beauregard at United States Sword and Uniform (gcbussu@yahoo.com) and inquired about the houseman's basket hilt illustrated above. He mentioned that all of the swords from the initial run were either used by Colonial Williamsburg, sold to CW employees, or at the Baltimore Gun Show. However, he has agreed to make another - final- run of the swords. The cost is $185 with scabbard (plus shipping) and as far as I know, this is the only quality reproduction of an 18th Century Horseman's basket hilt available anywhere...at at what I think is a great price. Its authenticity and quality seem to be such that CW redecortaed the Governor's Palace with hundresds of these, so I would say they are pretty good.

I have no dog in this hunt, I'm just passing on information to the cadre of basket-heards that haunt myArmoury as I think several of you would be interested and as this may be the last chance, so make the best of it.

Beau's email is above and if youy would kindly just mention that it is your understanding that he is making this last run, I think the more that we can count on as "sold" the better for those interested.

(Nathan, pardon me if this is the wrong Forum.)

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Chris Goerner




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PostPosted: Wed 30 Jun, 2010 5:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

GG Osborne wrote:
Thanks, Chris. I shot them an email. Who makes the early (non-navy Arms) hanger? I think I have seen their website but don't remember it. Appreciate it! Glenn


Not sure which of the swords you are asking about. Are you referring to one of the swords I have in the photos above?

Glad to hear he was able to help you out. For the price, I was very pleased with the quality of the basket and grip. The blade is nothing to write home about, but you have to remember it was made to be a wall hanger. Replacing it with a decent backsword blade is high on my project list.

Chris

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GG Osborne





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PostPosted: Wed 30 Jun, 2010 9:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's the "Of Sorts for Provincials" type, Chris.
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Thu 01 Jul, 2010 4:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I sent an email this morning myself, putting my name in the hat for two of the basket hilts. They look great and, like Glen, I don't know of anyone making a sword in that particular configuration. I did have trouble sending an email until I used the "info" address.

Hope I can get them. Did "Beau" give you any idea of how many they are making or when they will be available?

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Chris Goerner




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PostPosted: Thu 01 Jul, 2010 7:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

GG Osborne wrote:
It's the "Of Sorts for Provincials" type, Chris.


Glen,

That is also made by United States Swords and Uniform. Beau can help you with that as well.

He and Williamsburg refer to it as a smallsword. As I mentioned in my post above, I believe the original it was based on may actually be a French hanger, but British would not be out of the question. That is the sword I shortened the hilt on as mentioned above.

Chris

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GG Osborne





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PostPosted: Thu 01 Jul, 2010 10:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the info, Chris. When I emailed Beau, he apparently makes some pretty interesting stuff. I was remarking on a 1728 Spanish calvary saber be is making for someone interested in Southwestern Spanish militaria. Pretty neat stuff. I'd really like to know more of what he is capable of doing.

Lin...I've asked but he didn't say. Apparently he makes everything himself. When I hear, I'll let you know.

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Glen A Cleeton




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PostPosted: Thu 01 Jul, 2010 11:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Chris for the pictures and information. Thanks Glenn for doing some followup and footwork in contacting the source. The two wall panels of display are pretty astounding, all in all.

While I am doomed to concentrate on period swords these day's the link and information was certainly logged in to my drive and gray matter. There are other Williamsburg displays I surely would like to see (maybe some day in person).

For some reason I am always thinking again of James Aldrich inside information and a Joe Tyburczy page of Master & Commander swords
www.qsl.net/wb1gfh/swords.html and in this case seems to click up the page and suspects again Big Grin

Thanks again for sharing

GC
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GG Osborne





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PostPosted: Thu 01 Jul, 2010 4:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ah, well, then the plot unthickens, as it were!
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Fri 02 Jul, 2010 4:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have heard from Beau and got on the list for two of them.
Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Fri 02 Jul, 2010 4:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Beau says the swords should be available by the end of August.
Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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