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Jonathan Swift





Joined: 02 Dec 2008

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PostPosted: Tue 02 Dec, 2008 10:22 pm    Post subject: European sword identification         Reply with quote

I would greatly appreciate help in identifying a sword that's been merely laying in a closet and forgotten -- by me -- for far too long.

I found this sword in the woods of central Missouri a few years ago. A few days after finding it, I dashed to the internet and began researching old swords in order to determine what it might be, where it's from, etc. I was quickly daunted by the wealth of information available and, since none seemed pertinent to the particular sword I'd found nor did any photos directly correspond to it, I simply gave up. Now that I've remembered it, I'd like to try again.

Here are a few photos of the sword:

Full shot:


Hilt:


Pommel:


Although they are quite worn, one can still discern several markings that adorn the blade at odd intervals. Here's one:


And here's another:


The blade is 32.5" from its tip to the point at which it hits the hilt; the distance from the top of the hilt to the bottom of the pommel is 5.5" It appears to have been assembled or re-assembled with some sort of black tar, of which there are remnants around the the pommel and handle.

I would greatly appreciate any help in identifying this, or advice on where else to seek info. Chances are it's not a noteworthy implement of war, I suppose, but I'd least like to know!

- Jon

EDIT: Let me know if I can provide any further information; I'll be checking on this thread quite often.
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
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PostPosted: Wed 03 Dec, 2008 5:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Continental, likely 1780-1800. The blade looks very French to me. It is a military sword but I don't recognize the pattern off the top of my head. There was a nice thread here back around August iirc. I am brian dead right now but the poster's name is right on the tip of my tounge. Ah yes, Vincent. This one may shed some light on it
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=13752
I forget which plates would discuss them

French revolution or first empire era is my guess. i had recently passed on a sword with a very similar blade and engraving. It may have once been twisted wire and removed at a later date. The fuller of the blade probably tapers to a very thin oval crossection that is not quite a sharp point and very flexible.

Cheers

GC
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 03 Dec, 2008 7:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That leather washer bugs me. It looks awfully fresh and fuzzy. Is there any possibility that the area in which you found the sword has been used by re-enactors?
-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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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Wed 03 Dec, 2008 7:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I believe that would be a spadroon, or in French épée Anglaise. It's pre-Napoleonic war, because around that time a style came into fashion that had balls on the hilt, almost reminding you of solid beads, but attached.

I agree that the leather looks too new, so it was either restored or part of a re-inactors kit. It could also just be a replica.

M.

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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 03 Dec, 2008 7:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If I had to guess, I'd guess 19th c. American militia sword. I hasten to add that if it turns out to be "only" a modern reproduction it's a mighty fine one, and any of us here would be thrilled to find it. Also, a common antique sword in this condition wouldn't be worth a great deal more than a quality reproduction--Maybe $700 vs. $250. I happen to think it's a beautiful sword, no matter its origin.
-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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Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Wed 03 Dec, 2008 8:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree with Glen. The washer may be a replacement, but that does not really matter. The grip could be a replacement, too (I think it is, but the epee Anglais is not something I know much about). I highly doubt that it is a replica. You may want to post this in the Antique and Military sword section at www.swordforum.com to get more opinions.

Jonathan
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 03 Dec, 2008 9:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The strange thing about this piece is that it does look like an antique except for that washer. But if it's a rebuilt antique, what was it doing lost out in the woods? If it's a deliberately antiqued modern reproduction, why leave the washer? Strange.

We mustn't assume anything based on the patina. Consider the German hanger I bought new from Atlanta Cutlery a few years ago--here it is after a very simple antiquing experiment:



 Attachment: 80.97 KB
download.gif


-Sean

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


Last edited by Sean Flynt on Wed 03 Dec, 2008 9:38 am; edited 1 time in total
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 03 Dec, 2008 9:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

And here's a brass-hilt military sword known to have been a woods or water find of the late 19th c. (it almost certainly was lost in 1865, so let's say it was exposed to the elements for no more than 30 years).


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pic_lost_1860sab_c.jpg


-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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Marc Pengryffyn




Location: Canberra, Australia
Joined: 21 Jul 2008

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PostPosted: Wed 03 Dec, 2008 4:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Um, is it just me, or is the blade mounted upside down in the hilt? It looks to me like the edge is opposite the knuckle bow. Or am I seeing things?

Marc

Tradition is the illusion of permanence.
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Jonathan Swift





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PostPosted: Wed 03 Dec, 2008 5:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you all so much for the helpful information! It's exciting to learn something about this sword's potential history.


Jonathan Hopkins wrote:
I agree with Glen. The washer may be a replacement, but that does not really matter. The grip could be a replacement, too (I think it is, but the epee Anglais is not something I know much about). I highly doubt that it is a replica. You may want to post this in the Antique and Military sword section at www.swordforum.com to get more opinions.

Jonathan


I would love to do this. However, it appears that due to spam, swordforum.com has not been accepting new registrations since early October.

If anyone currently registered at Sword Forum would like to, feel free to post my photos and text in that forum; else I'll simply wait until they begin accepting new registrations and take it upon myself.

Some further information about the leather washer: the underside of the washer appears to have some sort of smooth finish has worn away, whereas the top of the washer is completely rough. When tugged on, it feels firmly attached to the hilt --if I'm referring to the correct part of the sword.

Are there any telltale signs that would signify a replica sword?
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Jonathan Swift





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PostPosted: Wed 03 Dec, 2008 5:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Marc Pengryffyn wrote:
Um, is it just me, or is the blade mounted upside down in the hilt? It looks to me like the edge is opposite the knuckle bow. Or am I seeing things?

Marc


The edge of the blade corresponds to the orientation of the handle; i.e. when holding the sword the edge faces away from the holder. Is this what you're talking about?
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
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PostPosted: Wed 03 Dec, 2008 5:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

M. Eversberg II wrote:
I believe that would be a spadroon, or in French épée Anglaise. It's pre-Napoleonic war, because around that time a style came into fashion that had balls on the hilt, almost reminding you of solid beads, but attached.

I agree that the leather looks too new, so it was either restored or part of a re-inactors kit. It could also just be a replica.

M.

Vincent's nice plates from the thread I posted would look the beaded hilted French swords as monture a la'anglais and those in general of that nature (first plate downloaded in that thread)

While it is a spadron like blade and any could apply the name epee, as it is as simple as calling it a sword. Other examples of this blade form have been posted as well. I'll dump all I have of that example I was regarding it as an epee de ville, or going out sword for some officer. The five ball examples many are regarding as d'anglais are sometimes looking for an excuse. All thos e English makers of them were just calling them beaded hilt spadroons. JH may throw in a gadroon for you as description WTF?! Not to be confused with a spontoon or spitoon Big Grin Vincent's plate had pretty much convinced me what to call mine.

The grip could have been done and reset with a washer. The sword could have been left in the woods ten minutes bsfore Jonathan Swift picked it up. I'd want better close up and personal to look at some more of the photos. i am a little dial-up challanged but did see enough of the sword pictured to mention it likely as I suspect in terms of origin and age. A militia officer in America? Sure why not.. It wasn't made as an American Militia officer's sword but many served the need. After all, militia was a requirement in several forms over the centuries. By the late 19th century, the ubiquitous reeded bone helmet pommel still served militia officers.

As to the washer, I wouldn't it be suprised if it is original. Many hang on in good condition. This does seem to have been compressed in a scabbard at some point. I've see some quite crusty looking swords with original buffers. Felt and leather survive with care. this handle looks chunky and wrong to me, so maybe it was more recently apart. Either way, it looks like the blade was set in the hilt and pinched the washer by the blade shoulder. the absence of so many is exactly where the rattles come from.

I'll leave this as a blade example but I've more of the hilt as well. I have a bucket of these blades like this example, including the general hilt shape with such a blade (the grip is not as originally posted).

Oh yes, this one is 9mm at the forte and thins right quick in the first hand's leangth, ending the fuller about 4mm at the end of the fuller. The first handful of the point is wafer thin ad tapering from 2mm to nothing by the tiny rounded point.

Cheers

GC



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Marc Pengryffyn




Location: Canberra, Australia
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PostPosted: Wed 03 Dec, 2008 9:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jonathan Swift wrote:
Marc Pengryffyn wrote:
Um, is it just me, or is the blade mounted upside down in the hilt? It looks to me like the edge is opposite the knuckle bow. Or am I seeing things?

Marc


The edge of the blade corresponds to the orientation of the handle; i.e. when holding the sword the edge faces away from the holder. Is this what you're talking about?


Oops, my mistake! Looking closer, I see that what I was taking to be the edge bevel was actally the wide fuller. I think I need new glasses....

Marc

Tradition is the illusion of permanence.
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Jonathan Swift





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PostPosted: Thu 04 Dec, 2008 10:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Glen A Cleeton wrote:


The grip could have been done and reset with a washer. The sword could have been left in the woods ten minutes bsfore Jonathan Swift picked it up. I'd want better close up and personal to look at some more of the photos. i am a little dial-up challanged but did see enough of the sword pictured to mention it likely as I suspect in terms of origin and age. A militia officer in America? Sure why not.. It wasn't made as an American Militia officer's sword but many served the need. After all, militia was a requirement in several forms over the centuries. By the late 19th century, the ubiquitous reeded bone helmet pommel still served militia officers.

As to the washer, I wouldn't it be suprised if it is original. Many hang on in good condition. This does seem to have been compressed in a scabbard at some point. I've see some quite crusty looking swords with original buffers. Felt and leather survive with care. this handle looks chunky and wrong to me, so maybe it was more recently apart. Either way, it looks like the blade was set in the hilt and pinched the washer by the blade shoulder. the absence of so many is exactly where the rattles come from.

GC


The grip seems to be constructed of light porous material--a light wood, perhaps even some sort of cork; I can't tell because it's covered, mostly, in black paint. Where the paint and some of the grip material has chipped away near the base of the handle where it meets the pommel, it appears that beneath the black paint the material itself is light in color, nearly white.

As to the duration of its stay in the woods, I should think it most unlikely that this sword was toted around recently and dropped or forgotten merely as a matter of ignorance or intent--the land on which I found it has been private property for quite some time, and the rare foot traveler, such as I, who might venture out to it has a specific purpose: hunting.

It is the case that during the Civil War (is it still called the War of Independence in southern states!?) Missouri saw more battles than any other state in the first year and also nearly so in the second year. Perhaps it was discarded during that time, but who knows.[/b]
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
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PostPosted: Thu 04 Dec, 2008 11:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am quite impassioned about Missouri and would accept any rational explainination as to more of the story. As it is, it is just an old sword with some rather specific characteristics. Simple facts require a lot more than speculating when it may have been left behind. The American Civil War stories sell a lot of items that may well have seen that period of time but a story without evidence is just a story. I could write hundreds of descriptions regarding possibilities of the period but so would any other timeline except a general idea when something was made. Some are clearly marked, this is not.

It was as likely to have been left behind on an expedition from Lewis and Clark Big Grin Funny enough that a noted seller of the item I have pictured sold it as a mid century engineer's sword. More help had coached me to accept the fact it was many decades earlier. Since it was found by a seller in Tennesee, it must have been used in the American Civil War.

Can you post pictures of of or share a description of how the sword looked when you found it? What have you done in terms of cleaning and stabilization?

Cheers

GC
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Jonathan Swift





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PostPosted: Thu 04 Dec, 2008 12:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Glen A Cleeton wrote:


Can you post pictures of of or share a description of how the sword looked when you found it? What have you done in terms of cleaning and stabilization?

GC


Sadly, I have no photos of it fresh from the field, so to speak. However, it didn't seem to require extensive cleaning, rather only a scrubbing away of collected dirt, dust and a proliferation of rusty spots on the blade. The guard around the grip -- which I presume is brass -- required the most cleaning, if I remember correctly, since a layer of grit had accumulated on it. As for stabilization, I've done nothing except apply a bit of metal binder between the guard and grip--that was the only loose piece, otherwise it's entirely solid in the hand even when shaken roughly.

Additionally, I've found a place near me in St. Louis called "Alamo Military Collectibles," staffed by some collectors and enthusiasts who seem to think they can identify it; I'll be making a trip to their shop in the next few days. I'll of course report on their estimation of the sword.

Furthermore, the etchings on the blade of the sword you posted seem remarkably similar -- albeit more vivid and less worn -- to those on the blade of this sword I have. Are these merely traditional decorations?
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Glen A Cleeton




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Dec, 2008 12:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'll be glad to hear any description of the sword itself. Just a huge caveat of the matter. The seller who sold me the pictured French Naval sword as something was entirely not. He is a well honored guest and appraiser at the Antique Roadshow of PBS fame. Rafael is a great guy but some things just gte past him as they are not of a genre they specialize in.

As to cleaning and other work, it is a pretty subjective matter. Most in America would approach the care less agressively, so as to have the description of age better intact. Buried in Missouri mud?, Yes it could have survived a long time. On the other hand take a look at antique swords and look at relic finds of the American Civil War.

I look forward to someone looking to it. I am off this weekend to bother a museum regarding some explanations. One may be very fruitful. I know the other likely to confuse it as much as I do.

As to the engravings, foliate sprays are quite common on military swords. From very plain and nodescript to more specific decorations. In the one I picture, you can just barely make out the small stand of arms often seen. Again, I had some ideas regardin my example going in and Vincent's book really kind of summed it up for me. the sword you are holding may well have once been a line officer sword for the artillery, infantry and on. Not typically of the epees that France sent to other officers. While I was initially delusional about the pattern, it was summed up pretty quickly through the help of others. I will also remark that the pommel is of an earlier description than the mid 19th century as well. Folk such as Jean Binck and others quite familiar with European arms are always great sources tp pick their brains.

Cheers

GC
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Jonathan Swift





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PostPosted: Thu 04 Dec, 2008 3:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I took the sword to the military collectibles shop and the guys there not only seemed very knowledgeable, but brought out a few books in order to place it at a period in time. To the best of their knowledge, it appears to have been made either in France or Belgium in the mid to late 18th century and probably imported during the Revolutionary War and bought/carried by an American officer.

Based on the overall good condition of the sword, they said it's unlikely the sword had been in the woods for much longer than a year before I found it, which I found interesting--I wonder who ventures out into the part of the state I was in while carrying an antique sword. Out of curiosity I asked if it was worth anything and, while there apparently isn't much of a market for Revolutionary War antiques here in the Midwest, on eBay it would probably fetch $800-$1200 from someone on the east coast, which seems to correspond with Sean Flynt's estimation.

So, that's that! I'm glad to have found out something about the sword and I'm truly grateful for all of your help!
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Morgan Butler




PostPosted: Thu 04 Dec, 2008 4:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What a great find!! Yes, on first view my opinion was that it was some kind of Spadroon but not an english one. I really like the shape of the grip. It sort of reminds me of an english m-1796 spadroon but yours has a solid guard. Here's a pic.


 Attachment: 78.04 KB
New spadroon 1.jpg


inkothemgard!
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Jon S.




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PostPosted: Wed 25 Nov, 2009 12:39 pm    Post subject: What's the story with this spadroon? (image heavy)         Reply with quote

Spadroon? Smallsword? British? Colonial?

Hi, everyone. I write this hoping for clues to identifying a sword that I have...this sword has been in my closet for a several years. I got it from my uncle, from whom before he died I didn't learn anything about it, nor where he got it, etc. Two years ago I took the sword to a military collectibles store where several old-timers poured through ancient books to find illustrations similar to its style. One of them eventually told me it was most likely something an officer carried during the American Revolutionary War, and the sword itself was probably made somewhere like Bulgaria (I think he said Bulgaria) and, along with many others just like it, shipped to the colonies before the war.

While it was interesting to hear this, I can't find anything similar to this sword online, nor any mention of Bulgarian imports to the colonies. It's in okay condition. The handle is made of lightweight wood and it appears to have been assembled (or extensively repaired) with some sort of black tar. Also, one of the military enthusiasts was surprised to see the leather washer still intact (and supple, not dry and cracked) around the collar of the blade, which also has several interesting engravings on it. The blade is 32 1/2 inches long, and the whole piece is very light. At the guard, the blade is about 1/4" thick and begins a sharp taper from the midpoint of the blade to the tip.
Here it is:







Marking or crest of some sort on the collar:





One of several interesting marks along the blade:



Has anyone seen something like this before?
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