Sword Sharpness

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Re: Sword Sharpness

Postby acanthus » 02 Jan 2012 04:29

Hi Mike,

There appears to some initials or a crest etched on the blade of your earlier sword; does this in fact have a capital "M" surmounted with a coronet and some wings? Any chance of an image?

This sword in fact seems to have the very small chisel edge that I referred to, in my earlier response.

Gordon
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Re: Sword Sharpness

Postby MikeS » 02 Jan 2012 04:47

acanthus wrote:Hi Mike,

There appears to some initials or a crest etched on the blade of your earlier sword; does this in fact have a capital "M" surmounted with a coronet and some wings? Any chance of an image?

This sword in fact seems to have the very small chisel edge that I referred to, in my earlier response.

Gordon


Gordon,
The initials on this sword are "E.H.B" over "B.H.A." This is for Edward Henry Baker and Bombay Horse Artillery. He was HEIC from 1854 until the Royal Artillery assumed command (1858/9). You may find this interesting as your interest lies with the Indian Army.
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Mike
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Re: Sword Sharpness

Postby MikeS » 02 Jan 2012 07:19

Hopefully there will be more posts of swords with sharp edges, but in the meantime, an example of what made edges less sharp.
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Although the absence of a metal throat would seem the logical solution, it seemed to take an awfully long time for this to occur, and even the Sam Browne scabbard had a metal throat. Maybe examples of how this issue was avoided would be relevant to this thread as well?
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Re: Sword Sharpness

Postby Will Mathieson » 02 Jan 2012 16:23

The leather covered 1899p cavalry trooper scabbards dated 1901 had an insert in the scabbard mouth to prevent the sword from dulling. Can add a photo later.
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Re: Sword Sharpness

Postby Will Mathieson » 02 Jan 2012 17:58

Here is one 1899p scabbard dated 1901. Not sure of the material used to prevent dulling of blade but the colours I have seen are from tan to black.
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Re: Sword Sharpness

Postby acanthus » 02 Jan 2012 22:00

Hi Mike & Will.

Firstly Mike, I found your man in my 1860 East India Register as Bombay Artillery 2 Battery, so he must have ordered (purchased) his sword whilst he was still BHA; I wonder what he did with himself during the Mutiny, he was certainly in service during the mutiny period.

I have a sword that belonged to a chap in the Bombay Artillery, he joined right on the turn from EIC Artillery to Royal Artillery, and although his name is not printed in the 1860 list, it was written in by hand by another officer who was also in the Bombay Army, and he was original owner the 1860 list that; my chap also served with the Royal Horse Artllery in Abyssinia 1867-68 and Afghanistan 1878-80.

Will, the scabbard you illustrate is an experimental version produced for the 1899 pattern sword, they were made in two different types, one with steel mounts and one with non-ferrous mounts and I'm not sure if they were ever general issue.

The problem of steel scabbards blunting swords was a problem that was dealt with in Indian from a very early date, and noting in the pre Mutiny years circa 1848, John Jacob of the Scinde Irregular Horse solved the problem for himself by using nickel silver for the scabbard construction, with a "full" wooden lining, the wood extending right up flush with the top of the mouth.

Apart from metal scabbards, wooden leather covered scabbard were also used to some extent by officers in Indian; these would probably have had steel shoe and sling ring mounts, or alternately carried in a frog with no other metal mounts other than the shoe and drag, but not always with the drag.

Gordon
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Re: Sword Sharpness

Postby Will Mathieson » 02 Jan 2012 22:43

Hello Gordon, the scabbards are dated 1901 and may be the ones made the next year, 1901-02, but Robsons is vague just calling them leather scabbards. Mine have steel mounts and using a magnet, you can tell how far under the leather they extend.
They both definately look used and have the opposing arrows stamped on them.
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Re: Sword Sharpness

Postby Matt Easton » 03 Jan 2012 14:18

Hello chaps,

Here is a related thread on Victorian sword sharpening (mentioned by Jonathan above):
http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/phpBB3/vi ... 31&t=16900

Here is more information about John Jacobs and the swords of the Scinde Irregular Horse:
http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/phpBB3/vi ... 31&t=17261

This lecture by John Latham is pretty essential reading for anyone interested in the Wilkinson Sword Company's views on sword sharpening in the 1860's -
http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/phpBB3/vi ... 31&t=16887
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Re: Sword Sharpness

Postby Matt Easton » 03 Jan 2012 14:26

For the record, I have various swords which have been service sharpened, and like those above they range from the very neet bevell with broad angle, through to the very rough and acute angle (removing etching).
I actually don't think that most officers would have cared that much about the etching. Let's face it, the etching was standard and included in the price (unless you wanted something extra or special), 'fighting' swords were often left un-etched and a more important factor for a fighting officer would be getting a solid sword from someone like Wilkinson, Mole, Thurkle, Garden or Pillin instead of a potential piece of rubbish from a tailor/outfitter.
Perhaps also worth mentioning is that Hodson's sword (in the National Army Museum), which perhaps saw more use than almost any other officer's in the Mutiny, is a plain 1821 pattern Trooper's sword, sharpened with an acute bevell like some tulwars. Presumably he took some old troopers' swords and tested them until he found a particularly tough one.
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Re: Sword Sharpness

Postby Atlantia » 30 Jan 2012 20:43

Just in case anyone didn't see the picture that Bill posted on SFI I've appropriated it, cleaned it up and here it is:
The 7th Hussars Sharpening their swords.
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Re: Sword Sharpness

Postby Jonathan » 31 Jan 2012 16:55

Thanks, Gene. There is a similar (if not the same) postcard photo in Harvey Withers' British Military Swords. Here is another sharpening scene (from The Victorian Army in Photographs by David Clammer):

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Re: Sword Sharpness

Postby 17th Lancer » 06 Dec 2012 00:14

I find this thread very intersting for I have several swords sharpened for active service but I have a question that only Robert Wilkinson could answer because I'm my 22 years collecting could not find reference to it in any literature.
Why weren't all swords when leaving swordmakers left unsharpened? I find that quite odd.

I don't mean to sound obtuse or rude but please no conjectures if you please. I really would like to hear from anyone who actually knows the answer.

Many thanks.

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Re: Sword Sharpness

Postby Will Mathieson » 06 Dec 2012 00:45

I can't quote this just now but I have read, that in standing orders, swords were to be sharpened when going on active service.
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Re: Sword Sharpness

Postby Matt Easton » 06 Dec 2012 14:08

Matt Easton wrote:Perhaps also worth mentioning is that Hodson's sword (in the National Army Museum), which perhaps saw more use than almost any other officer's in the Mutiny, is a plain 1821 pattern Trooper's sword, sharpened with an acute bevell like some tulwars. Presumably he took some old troopers' swords and tested them until he found a particularly tough one.


I have to correct myself here! Hodson's sword in the NAM is NOT a trooper's sword, it is a custom made officer's fighting sword. It just happens to have a plain blade and ears to the backstrap, which make it look quite like an 1821 trooper's sword. Additionally, it was certainly not his only sword. He had at least one sword break in his hands.
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Re: Sword Sharpness

Postby RobD » 13 Jun 2015 16:29

Here's mine. The photos show swords being sharpened and painted khaki in Dundee, Natal, Oct 1899.
Any comments v welcome.
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