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Dan D'Silva





Joined: 28 Apr 2007

Posts: 132

PostPosted: Sat 21 Jul, 2018 9:19 am    Post subject: Designs for an early 18th-century hunting sword         Reply with quote

Heya. If you're at SFI you know I've been contemplating this one for years, but I thought I'd take it here hopefully for some additional perspectives and because this forum is a bit more lively. Basically I'm trying to assemble a gentleman's hunting sword which would fit into roughly the turn of the 18th century to the end of the GAoP.

I'm trying to choose between two designs. The first is based on several swords that were auctioned online a few years ago. It would be built around an Albion long fullered dagger blade. I'm not totally confident about the date on these, as no citation was provided.

The second is more loosely inspired by several "Saxon" and German hunting swords that I first saw at the old Sword Links site (which appears to be down, but one of them is at the Metropolitan Museum). It might be modified from an Atlanta Cutlery D-guard bowie -- this is questionable, since I've seen so few original blades; all I really know is they were broad -- and use a guard from Weber Messer. If the side shell isn't appropriate, I'd just grind it off and add a counterguard.

I kind of prefer the first design, however I'd like to know whether anything else about either of these designs is conspicuously anachronistic.



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One of the auction blades [ Download ]

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Line drawings [ Download ]
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 24 Jul, 2018 9:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are a variety of blade types within that period. This one reminds me of your second option: http://www.kultofathena.com/product.asp?item=...ing+Hanger

I see great examples in Swords and Blades of the American Revolution.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Elnathan Barnett




Location: The vicinity of Asheville, NC
Joined: 21 Jan 2004
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PostPosted: Thu 26 Jul, 2018 11:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think your second design is 19th century.

The first design is OK, but I don't think that the Albion dagger blade is a good choice, as it is too tapered, and rather short for a doubled edged cutteau blade. Double edged blades on hunting swords are a minority, anyway - most of the examples in Neumann are straight or curved single edged blades, the only exceptions being one with a double fuller and one with a hexagonal blade profile. Both have fairly parallel edges quite different in profile from the dagger blade.

If you aren't dead set on a straight blade, I'd suggest Albion's 18th century cutlass instead. Despite the lack of a fuller, I think it is a better candidate for a hunting sword than that dagger blade, if cut down about 10" to about 22" long. You might even try their type XIV with the fuller and lop about 12" off the tip, though since a double edged hunting sword blade probably shouldn't be wider than 1.375" wide that might not work. A lot of the earlier hilts seem to have a knuckle guard and a shell, BTW. Yours is more of a mid-18th century design, though I'm not positive about that.

If you haven't looked at Neumann's Swords and Blades of the American Revolution, I'd strongly recommend you do so. He illustrates quite a number of hunting swords dating from about 1680 to the end of the 18th century.

Therfor he seide to hem, But now he that hath a sachel, take also and a scrippe; and he that
hath noon, selle his coote, and bigge a swerd.
- Luke 22:36, John Wycliffe's translation AD 1384
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Dan D'Silva





Joined: 28 Apr 2007

Posts: 132

PostPosted: Thu 26 Jul, 2018 7:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elnathan Barnett wrote:
I think your second design is 19th century.

The first design is OK, but I don't think that the Albion dagger blade is a good choice, as it is too tapered, and rather short for a doubled edged cutteau blade. Double edged blades on hunting swords are a minority, anyway - most of the examples in Neumann are straight or curved single edged blades, the only exceptions being one with a double fuller and one with a hexagonal blade profile. Both have fairly parallel edges quite different in profile from the dagger blade.

If you aren't dead set on a straight blade, I'd suggest Albion's 18th century cutlass instead. Despite the lack of a fuller, I think it is a better candidate for a hunting sword than that dagger blade, if cut down about 10" to about 22" long. You might even try their type XIV with the fuller and lop about 12" off the tip, though since a double edged hunting sword blade probably shouldn't be wider than 1.375" wide that might not work. A lot of the earlier hilts seem to have a knuckle guard and a shell, BTW. Yours is more of a mid-18th century design, though I'm not positive about that.

If you haven't looked at Neumann's Swords and Blades of the American Revolution, I'd strongly recommend you do so. He illustrates quite a number of hunting swords dating from about 1680 to the end of the 18th century.

Hello. Thank you. There's quite a lot to think about there.

I don't have full faith in the dates provided by auctioneers or pop history books, so it's possible that the small crossguards are more common to the middle of the century -- I'm sure they at least derive from ones that existed earlier though, ultimately from late styles of falchion. Swords with knucklebows, round grips and heavy cap-style pommels do seem to turn up more commonly when I search for early 18th century. The "sword of Blackbeard" got a lot of press, though I don't know whether it was proven to have been associated with with the Queen Anne's Revenge.

However, do you think that the Met sword is dated incorrectly? I understand that my second design may have the wrong blade -- one of the ones at Sword Links actually had a broad, spatulate point.

As for size, I did pick the Albion blade because the designs I had seemed to look most proportionally balanced with a blade of no more than 20 inches and modestly tapered, and the sword itself is just meant to be smaller than a military hanger. The trouble with cutting a blade down is that I'm not at all confident I could reshape the point without the result being uneven, wobbly-looking or covered in grind marks, even assuming I manage to do it slowly enough not to ruin the heat treatment.

I'm not set on any details other than the approximate size, though I don't currently have access to a drill press or other tools for preparing new hilt components.
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
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PostPosted: Fri 27 Jul, 2018 10:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you don't own, or have gone through Neumann's books and Blackmore's Hunting Weapons, I feel you are at a disadvantage in simply browsing and perhaps perusing the Bashford Dean catalog
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/metpublications/catalogue_of_european_court_swords_and_hunting_swords

The Blackmore title, especially shares nice examples back to the 15th century, if not earlier. The broad spatulate blades were for cutting/slicing and some for chopping but the predominate forms are as described. Some of the forms almost timeless in general profile and some suited enough for military work, swords one would not expect to be.

The two blades you are proposing are anachronistic and danged if anyone is likely to convince you they truly are ill suited to comparison, regardless of century. That doesn't mean a composite is impossible but would always be regarded as such if found in an old example.

In the end, you have already made up your mind but I would suggest reprofiling the bowie blade, if that is the route you are going. Both hit me as meh, do whatever your heart desires. I'm pretty sure you already know you are trying the square peg in a round hole routine.

Cheers
GC
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Elnathan Barnett




Location: The vicinity of Asheville, NC
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PostPosted: Fri 27 Jul, 2018 1:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

However, do you think that the Met sword is dated incorrectly? I understand that my second design may have the wrong blade -- one of the ones at Sword Links actually had a broad, spatulate point.

I missed the link to the Met sword.

The basic S-curved quillons date pretty early, I think. S-curved quillons with that kind of scabbard cover (don't know what the proper term is) and (particularly) that curved, spiral-fluted grip - that classic hunting sword hilt - is mid-to-late 18th century as far as I can tell from Neumann. I make no claim to being an expert on hunting swords, BTW. I just happen to have one of the standard reference books on the subject at hand, so I'd thought I'd chime in. Most of the blades in Neumann run about 22", give or take an in or two, with one (a curved, saberlike blade) at 16." A serious using blade on a hunting sword (i.e., not just a piece of jewelry) isn't too far removed from a small hanger in terms of size...As a matter of fact, I was going to suggest that you look at some of the repros of hangers to see if there isn't one with a blade suitable for your purposes. I've been looking with interest at the Hanwei Revolutionary Hanger and the Windlass/Universal Revolutionary Saber as possible candidates for reworking/rehilting for awhile now.

As for grinding, the Albion blades under discussion only milled and heat treated, so you are likely to have to do some finish grinding whatever one you pick. I've made a number of blades now doing my finish grinding on a 3x18" belt floor sander flipped upside down on the ground, about as primitive a setup as you can imagine, and as long as I cool the blade in water after every pass and don't try to make the belt cut faster by pressing down hard it works fine. I also don't wear gloves, so I can feel the heat in the blade. Follow up with sandpaper wrapped around a file to polish.

I hate to say this, but if you aren't a reasonably skilled metal-worker, making a classical-type hunting-sword hilt from scratch is going to be a really formidable project, any which way you look at it. At the very least you will need a good assortment of files and some skill in using them - even cleaning up a rough casting is going to require that. If you don't have enough experience to reshape a point and polish it, then filing out a high-end sculpted cross-guard might end up being a bit much. I don't mean to be discouraging, but do think through the work required.

Therfor he seide to hem, But now he that hath a sachel, take also and a scrippe; and he that
hath noon, selle his coote, and bigge a swerd.
- Luke 22:36, John Wycliffe's translation AD 1384
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Dan D'Silva





Joined: 28 Apr 2007

Posts: 132

PostPosted: Fri 27 Jul, 2018 4:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Glen A Cleeton wrote:
If you don't own, or have gone through Neumann's books and Blackmore's Hunting Weapons, I feel you are at a disadvantage in simply browsing and perhaps perusing the Bashford Dean catalog
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/metpublications/catalogue_of_european_court_swords_and_hunting_swords

The Blackmore title, especially shares nice examples back to the 15th century, if not earlier.

Thanks for that. I'll look into Blackmore. I believe Sword Links took most of its information from the Dean catalogue. I did get a look at Swords & Blades of the American Revolution about five years ago (that being the last trip I made to Philadelphia in which I had enough spare time to get to a university library), but of course I neglected to get any photocopies. WorldCat doesn't list any library in Bucks County that has it. It would make sense at this point to just buy a copy, but at its typical secondhand price, that would have to wait until next year.

Glen A Cleeton wrote:
The broad spatulate blades were for cutting/slicing and some for chopping but the predominate forms are as described.

Understood. The "Saxon" sword was kind of a long shot anyway, since there were so few blades illustrated.

Glen A Cleeton wrote:
In the end, you have already made up your mind but I would suggest reprofiling the bowie blade, if that is the route you are going. Both hit me as meh, do whatever your heart desires. I'm pretty sure you already know you are trying the square peg in a round hole routine.

Cheers
GC

As I said, I'm not committed to any particular detail. If neither of these blades work for the period, then I'll rule them out and keep looking. However, I have yet to see any non-custom blades that would work.

Elnathan Barnett wrote:
Most of the blades in Neumann run about 22", give or take an in or two, with one (a curved, saberlike blade) at 16." A serious using blade on a hunting sword (i.e., not just a piece of jewelry) isn't too far removed from a small hanger in terms of size.

As long as it's possible to assemble a set of hilt components that are large enough, then I don't mind starting over. (I did find an old grip blank in the basement that's big enough, but it's just ash.)

Elnathan Barnett wrote:
I hate to say this, but if you aren't a reasonably skilled metal-worker, making a classical-type hunting-sword hilt from scratch is going to be a really formidable project, any which way you look at it. At the very least you will need a good assortment of files and some skill in using them - even cleaning up a rough casting is going to require that. If you don't have enough experience to reshape a point and polish it, then filing out a high-end sculpted cross-guard might end up being a bit much. I don't mean to be discouraging, but do think through the work required.

Point taken. I do like to think I've done okay at cleaning up bronze castings, but I'm hardly the one to be the judge of that. To my eye, cleaning up small details in a small, detailed object is easier than achieving clean lines and a flat, smooth surface on the scale of a sword blade -- or perhaps it's just that the imperfections are harder to notice.

Anyway, clearly I need to visit/revisit more academic sources. I'll put this project on the back burner again.
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