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Stan Kittrell




Location: Pamlico Beach, North Carolina
Joined: 03 Oct 2017

Posts: 11

PostPosted: Mon 13 Nov, 2017 6:18 am    Post subject: Determining quality antique military sabers?         Reply with quote

I am new to sword collecting but I have bought two antique swords, a takuba and a tulwar and I have my first antique military sword enroute from England, a Diamond Fields Horse cavalry sword. Matt Easton believes it dates to around 1890 and it was made by Pillin of London, which is one of the quality sword makers named in the Swordsmen of the British Empire by D.A. Kinsley. So, even as a novice, I am confident that this is a high quality sword because of the maker and also because of the absolute confidence and trust I have in Easton Antique Arms and Matt Easton.

Reading the Swordsmen of the British Empire, I found references to "tailor swords" that were bought at tailor shops that sold primarily the uniforms and provided low quality swords as part of that uniform. I have noticed on many online antique dealer websites, antique military swords in which the manufacturer is not named or mentioned. Would I be correct in assuming that many of these are antique but low quality tailor swords? I also read that in the late 19th century sword blades manufactured in Solingen Germany were not of the highest quality? Any thoughts on that?

As I said, I have bought two antique swords from another dealer. The takuba was inexpensive and about what you would expect but it is solid and well made in the hilt. It is more flexible than i expected and the blade does take a bend easily. Still, I am satisfied with it for what it is. The tulwar appears to me to be a true high quality sword. I can see the wootz pattern in the blade and the dealer provided provenance for this sword. I am satisfied with it even though there is no way I can tell who made it since it is an Indopersian blade over 200 years old. I bought both of these swords from Faganarms.

But to get back to my original point, I intend (since I am a total novice and very ignorant about antique swords) to mainly collect military swords of the 18th and 19th century and stick with the established quality manufacturers such as Pillin, Wilkerson, etc.as far as British swords go. I would like input on sources that other European manufacturers of quality swords; French, German (I have learned that Solingen is a city, not a manufacturer), Spain, etc.

I am also trying to learn about the higher quality patterns. I learned from Matt Easton's videos that certain patterns of Spadroons were too light for effective cutting and too flexible for effective thrusting. I assume that those swords may have been made by quality manufacturers but are not the most effective combat swords just due to the design.

Thank you for any advice, thoughts, information, or sources for further study you can provide me.
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David Cooper




Location: UK
Joined: 27 Apr 2008
Likes: 2 pages

Posts: 97

PostPosted: Mon 13 Nov, 2017 6:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stan
It is probably an oversimplification to classify all "tailors swords" as poor quality. They were often made by the best sword makers, Wilkinson, Pillin, Osborn etc. They were not inferior and perhaps can best be thought of as acting as extra retail outlets for the makers. Many high-class tailors on Savile Row probably has a more prominent reputation than the sword makers and would want swords made with their details on the ricasso. Some may have sold poor quality sword, most did not.

The journey not the destination
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Stan Kittrell




Location: Pamlico Beach, North Carolina
Joined: 03 Oct 2017

Posts: 11

PostPosted: Mon 13 Nov, 2017 7:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David Cooper wrote:
Stan
It is probably an oversimplification to classify all "tailors swords" as poor quality. They were often made by the best sword makers, Wilkinson, Pillin, Osborn etc. They were not inferior and perhaps can best be thought of as acting as extra retail outlets for the makers. Many high-class tailors on Savile Row probably has a more prominent reputation than the sword makers and would want swords made with their details on the ricasso. Some may have sold poor quality sword, most did not.


Thank you. So, high quality swords sold by the high end tailors would still have been marked with the manufacturer's mark? For example Wilkinson? I have seen antique swords on online dealer's websites that did not specify any manufacturer and some didn't have a proof medallion on the ricasso, so would I be safe in assuming that these were not made by the high end manufacturers? I would assume that a dealer would want to put in the description, the manufacturer if it was Wilkinson, Pillin, etc? As far as American sabers go, Ames and Starr are the two manufacturers that I have seen. I do not know the quality of their swords. I do have a Henderson Ames Masonic sword but it is just a ceremonial sword. I have also read that many late 18th century swords made in America were made by individual blacksmiths and some even by candlestick makers, so i guess there is no way to know how well made these swords are. Some were probably very well constructed and some were probably not well made at all.

This sword obsession I have developed is a huge subject for me to research and educate my self on. I guess the learning never stops and I am just getting started. Thank you for taking the time to respond to my questions.
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 1,771

PostPosted: Mon 13 Nov, 2017 8:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A real good start would be to grab books that show and outline a country's swords. For the US, two come to mind instantly.
Swords and Blades of the American Revolution by George C. Neumann
https://www.amazon.com/Swords-Blades-American-Revolution-Neumann/dp/1880655004

The American Sword, 1775-1945: Harold Leslie Peterson
https://www.amazon.com/American-1775-1945-Harold-Leslie-Peterson/dp/1258507218

American Swords from the Philip Medicus Collection by Stuart C. Mowbray (Editor),‎ Norm Flayderman (Photographer)
https://www.amazon.com/American-Swords-Philip-Medicus-Collection/dp/0917218787

Frugal shopping will be about $100 for more American sword lore one can read at one sitting.

You might be interested in knowing a New York City smith named Potter was selling swords to the British during the revolution.
Then, William Rose of Philadelphia gearing up for the same war. Starr was the first early American contractor after the revolution and Ames quite important decades later but there is a lot to know in between. The Peterson title kind of an old testament and the Medicus collection a great flash card deck showing most of what Americans used up to the civil war and beyond. Add a few hundred more in books and one starts to have a ready resource. The same is true for other nations.

Worth of any item is what one might pay for it, Scan completed sales at ebay and other sites/auctions to see what the market is doing. Primo swords go for Primo prices. Lesser swords often lose value as the overall market has been kind of flat for a long time.

Cheers

GC
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Stan Kittrell




Location: Pamlico Beach, North Carolina
Joined: 03 Oct 2017

Posts: 11

PostPosted: Tue 14 Nov, 2017 5:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Glen A Cleeton wrote:
A real good start would be to grab books that show and outline a country's swords. For the US, two come to mind instantly.
Swords and Blades of the American Revolution by George C. Neumann
https://www.amazon.com/Swords-Blades-American-Revolution-Neumann/dp/1880655004

The American Sword, 1775-1945: Harold Leslie Peterson
https://www.amazon.com/American-1775-1945-Harold-Leslie-Peterson/dp/1258507218

American Swords from the Philip Medicus Collection by Stuart C. Mowbray (Editor),‎ Norm Flayderman (Photographer)
https://www.amazon.com/American-Swords-Philip-Medicus-Collection/dp/0917218787

Frugal shopping will be about $100 for more American sword lore one can read at one sitting.

You might be interested in knowing a New York City smith named Potter was selling swords to the British during the revolution.
Then, William Rose of Philadelphia gearing up for the same war. Starr was the first early American contractor after the revolution and Ames quite important decades later but there is a lot to know in between. The Peterson title kind of an old testament and the Medicus collection a great flash card deck showing most of what Americans used up to the civil war and beyond. Add a few hundred more in books and one starts to have a ready resource. The same is true for other nations.

Worth of any item is what one might pay for it, Scan completed sales at ebay and other sites/auctions to see what the market is doing. Primo swords go for Primo prices. Lesser swords often lose value as the overall market has been kind of flat for a long time.

Cheers

GC


Thamk you very much. The books you recommended will be a big help as will your advice.
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