British Pattern 1805 Naval Warrant Officer’s Sword
British Pattern 1805 Naval Warrant Officer’s Sword
Check out this incredible image by Nick Thomas of the Academy of Historical Fencing!
Nick says of the image;
“I’d like to see these weapons seen more as the family they are, and so here is a composite image created entirely from contemporary artwork of the period.”
For your 18th Century to early 19th Century adventures.
“Spadroon is a militarised smallsword” – This is a statement I hear a lot, and one I would like to see an end to. Not because the smallsword is a bad weapon, but because that statement undermines what the spadroon is and how it developed. The implication is that gentlemen in the late 18th century started adopting a slightly beefy smallsword to utilize their existing smallsword/foil skills. But this ignores the fact that spadroons were not new, they were not all for gentlemen, and that the development of smallswords and spadroons was a parallel one.
The spadroon was not based on the smallsword, they were both creations of a trend towards double shell simpler hilted swords that emphasized the point and were easy to wear/carry. This development really began in the early 17th century, and in some cases a little earlier in the late 16th. The smallsword is often said to have evolved out of the rapier, and so did the spadroon from military swords of the period. The mortuary, walloon and other munitions grade military swords of the 17th century spreading approx. 1630-1680. These were not even exclusively ”gentlemans” swords, but general use military swords.
Additionally, the “Spadroon is a militarised smallsword” statement dismisses it’s cutting ability as a throw away feature. Assuming it is merely beefed up smallsword for war that still can’t really cut. Yet that is far from true. The spadroon is a cut and thrust sword just as most 19th century sabres were intended to be. Are there bad examples? Sure, but don’t judge an entire category of swords by those bad examples. Don’t even judge the infamous 1796 spadroon by the bad examples, as there is incredible variety to be found. Blades found on the 1796 can be anything from as light as a smallsword to as beefy as some 17th century backswords. All the while still being a spadroon. I am not including the really beefy broadsword bladed 1796s. Even the double shell guards of the 1796 get criticized because they are a copy of the smallsword and not suited to cut and thrust, and yet this ignores the fact that double shell guatds were really popular on military cut and thrust swords for approximately 200 years, for hangers, cutlass, spadroons and broadswords.
The spadroon often looks similar to a smallsword at a casual glance, but that is because of simultaneous development. The spadroon was not a short-lived fad or experiment. Its service was as long as the smallsword, and in some cases longer still. Time to separate these weapons and appreciate them both for what they were and their long and colourful histories.
–Nick Thomas, Academy of Historical Fencing
I agree with Nick, and would also add that many spadroon hilts do not bear any resemblance to smallsword hilts. “Spadroon” really describes a blade type (straight cut and thrust blade) more than an overall sword type (blade and hilt). Spadroons can have just about any hilt type that was to be found in the 17th-19th Centuries. A while back Nick made a nice graphic showing various spadroon hilts over time. Click here for a larger version.
British Pattern 1796 Infantry Officer’s Sword
The Pattern 1796 Infantry Officer’s Sword was the successor to the Pattern 1786 sword (which was really just a blade pattern and officers could choose whatever hilt they wished). The hilt of the P1796 was based on a Continental pattern which had been in existence for some time–a gilt brass guard and knuckle bow with silver wire (sometimes sheet silver) wrapped grip. The blades are generally 1 inch wide at the ricasso and approximately 31-32 inches long and decorated in some manner (etching or blue & gilt, for example). This pattern was in service until 1822 when a new infantry sword pattern was introduced. For an outstanding article on British swords of the period, please see “The British Officer’s Sword 1776-1815” by David Critchley.
This example was cleaned vigorously throughout its 200 year life and no decoration or maker name remains. The gilt is almost completely gone from the brass hilt. The grip is a wood core with silver sheet wrap to simulate wire. The guard is hinged on the inside portion so that when it is folded it will not damage the wearer’s uniform.
This is a pattern which would have been carried by British infantry officers at the Battle of Waterloo.
Georgian Naval or Infantry Officer’s Silver Hilt Sword c.1770-80, straight single edge blade gilt etched with crowned Royal Arms (pre-1801), crowned GIIIR, trophy of arms, foliate and rococo ornament, and J.J.Runkell Solingen along back edge, silver hilt (not hall marked), flat back gripstrap with engraved borders, knuckle bow swollen towards the pommel, narrow langets extending into the chequered ivory grips, quillon with stepped finial. Blade 81.5cm, overall 92.5cm.
Exceptionally rare 18th century English combination weapon used through American Revolutionary war, consisting of a fine silver mounted Queen Anns flint lock pistol, engraved on both sides with makers name and elaborate floral motifs, wooden stock inlaid with a silver wire and topped with a fabulous grotesque face pommel. Mounted with a long single edged multi fullered blade of typical 18th century pattern.
Dating from the American Revolutionary War Era, this is a wonderful example of a silver mounted Sword made by the famous English Sword Maker Francis Thurkle. This lovely Sword could have been carried by either a British or American Infantry Officer or possibly a Naval Officer. It is mounted with a straight unmarked fullered blade that measures 32 inches in length which remains in very nice condition with only some minor surface staining. The beautiful hallmarked silver guard is simple but tastefully designed and wears the initials of the original owner on the topside as well as the stamp of Francis Thurkle on the underside along with the English silver hallmarks. The fabulous green stained fluted carved bone hilt has survived in beautiful condition with only one chip on one side next to the ferrule, nevertheless does remain securely in place. Overall measuring 37 ¾ inches in length.
1814-15 French General Staff Officers Spadroon
The french description for this sword is “Epee à pommeau à méplat recevant l’arc de jointure termine par un feuille d’acanthe”, or a sword with a flat-faced pommel with the joining arc terminated by an acanthus leaf.
It was very likely for an Officier Superieur, most likely a *Major* or a *Colonel de L’état-major de la Grande Armée* – a colonel of the Army General Staff, who served under the direction of *L’état-major général de la Grande Armée, et Maréchal d’Empire*, Louis-Alexandre Berthier (Chief of staff of the Grand Army of France, and Marshal of France). In 1813 Marshal Berthier rejoined Napoleon as chief of staff (having served as chief of staff to Marshal Murat during the 1812 campaigning season) and served in this capacity throughout the campaign in Germany.
This particular wing of the army was responsible for Movements, Secretariat, Accounting and Intelligence of the French Grande Armée.
This design was used from 1814-1815 in this particular form. The hilt is gilt bronze, with mother of pearl handle scales with only two small chips.
The blade is also of an unusual form, for a French sword. It is a Spadroon, rather than a smallsword.
Most French officers swords with a hilt like this feature a hollow ground triangular section blade, like an earlier smallsword or courtsword.
This has a narrow, single edged, fullered blade known as a spadroon blade. In 1796, the British Army standardised on the 1796 pattern infantry officers sword, a spadroon with a very similar blade to this one (however slightly different). This was widely regarded as a poor design, known as “the perfect encumbrance”
The spadroon blade on this particular example is also unique in that is transitions to a “lozenge” () cross section for the distal half of the blade. It is fairly flexible, and also possesses almost no cutting capacity.
This sword has a few unique elements that allow it to be very accurately dated.
The pommel is in the form of a flattened acanthus, a symbol of enduring life and persistence. Also, on the guard there are two small flowers, situated near the top of the guard continuing this floral motif.
The knucklebow features a lion face. Though Napoleon settled on the Eagle for his official crest, the lion remained a popular symbol of strength in France even during the First Empire. The quillion is also in the form of a lions head.
The guard allows for the most accurate dating, and is highly specific in its imagery.
The use of a *Winged Victory* as the salient image is typical of late Napoleonic symbolism, though the Winged Victory is originally an ancient Greek design, classicism was very popular at the time and many archaic symbols found themselves being reused.
In the hand of the Winged Victory is a *laurel wreath*, a symbol of victory and honour, also of ancient Greek origins.
The Winged Victory stands before a background of flagpoles, one of which flies a battle standard (on the lefthand side, with the fringed border).
The use of the *fasces* or a bound bundle of birch rods is also typical of the First Empire, though the symbol itself dates back to Etruscan and then later Roman times and was merely revived by the classicist Imperials.
There is some deposition of white oxides on the bronze, and some photos are before cleaning, others after. This is due to exposure to chlorides (salt) at some point.
96cm overall, 82cm blade, 416 grams.