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New Vs. Old

Posted: 07/07/17 (11:50am)

At the risk of putting the cat amongst the pigeons I want to talk about new versus old swords.
As you know, I have recently joined Facebook and have been looking at the numerous groups dedicated to swords and edged weapons. By far the most numerous are the groups dedicated to newly made swords. 
Not surprisingly, given the time and skill involved in forging a blade, newly forged (emphasis on "forged" as opposed to mass produced machined blades) swords cost as much (and in many cases more) than antique swords. My first thoughts are that I just don't get it. Why pay so much for something that has no history, no past, no soul and no story?
In the past, swords were made as a primary weapon and were used as such. Their story is often stamped upon them in the form of military unit and arsenal markings along with dates, inspection and repair stamps, issue numbers and maker's marks all of which can be researched, allowing the sword's story to be told.
In comparison, a newly forged sword has no history of its own, it has no real purpose, it has no past and no future other than to be a beautiful wall hanging or to be abused - as someone recently said, "I like to take mine outside and beat at the bushes."

Why then would someone choose to pay as much or more for a new sword?
Answer, because the skill and artistry of modern blade smiths is an homage to all that has been learned over thousands of years of heating, folding, hammering and shaping metal. It is ironic that when we no longer require swords for defence, we are able to make some of the most beautiful examples. But only because of all that has gone before.

I have given this a lot of thought and I totally appreciate the beauty and skill of modern sword smiths work and I am envious of their ability. On reflection, modern swords do have a history, it might not be the story of an illustrious battle blade or heroic regimental charge but they continue the story of mankind and edged weaponry and as such have a share of it. They also have a soul, they are the embodiment of the passion and dedication of the master craftsman who forged them.
As to their purpose? Well, there are classes of martial art dedicated to drawing and cutting but by and large I think that modern swords are beautiful works of art and can be collected and admired as such.

Me, I'll stick to my antique blades. They have had a long and often arduous working life and have earned their retirement as a much loved collectable and I love the research, history and romance of owning these beautiful weapons.

Thin pickings

Posted: 28/06/17 (11:32am)

I'm doubly frustrated this week. There are very few items of interest currently in the auctions and I'm literally laid up with my foot. I've spent the week so far stretched out on the couch with my foot propped up on pillows. The Sodium Diclofenac which the Doctor prescribed is helping with the pain but does nothing to help with the frustration of being immobilised. 
I guess I should count myself lucky that there is very little of interest in the auctions at present or I would be even more fed up.
I hope to be able to add some new items to the website by the end of the week or by early next week at the latest.

Bygone Blades on Facebook

Posted: 20/06/17 (17:19pm)

I've finally gotten around to setting up a Facebook page for the website. As something of a technophobe it took me quite a while and to be honest I'm not yet sure that I've done it properly. We'll see...

M1909 Turkish Ottoman Cavalry Sabre and British 1803 Pattern Infantry Sabre

Posted: 16/06/17 (11:59am)

I picked up a very nice Turkish WW1 cavalry sabre recently and have just added it to the website. It is only the second time I have managed to find one of these rare sword. The blade of this sabre is very sharp still and shows evidence of having been used in combat. It is easy to imagine this sword being brought back to the UK as a trophy of war from the Suez or Gallipoli. 

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I am also still working to find out more about the 1803 pattern British Infantry officer's sabre that I bought a while ago. Unfortunately I am still no further forward in finding out who Thomas Lowe was. There are so many individuals of that name that I fear I will not be able to identify the man associated with this sword. I have tried searching for an officer in the British army of the time, have searched for someone associated with the Levant Company and the British East India Company (just in case he wasn't a British army officer but was an officer in one of the private armies of the trading companies), and have also tried to find out if Thomas Lowe was the sword cutler/smith who made or retailed the sword. All to no avail.

The sword is beautiful. It was a very expensive weapon in its day with all the additions/adornments associated with the owner being a wealthy and senior officer. The hilt is ivory and the cyphered guard and lions head pommel are very well and intricately made - some of the cheaper 1803 pattern lions heads look more like dogs and most swords of this pattern have shagreen (ray skin) grips. Ivory was expensive and usually a indicator of seniority amongst officers.
The blade was originally indigo blue with gilt inlay to the engraving. One side shows the name "Tho Lowe" within decorative borders, below trophies of war. Above this are rosettes and ribbons and the Royal Arms bearing the mottoes "Dieu et Mon Droit" and "Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense." Above the Royal Arms are engraved the "Flowers of the Union" - rose, thistle and shamrock.
The obverse of the blade is engraved with decorative borders including flowers above which is an engraving of an infantry officer of the time flourishing an 1803 pattern sabre. Above this is the cypher of King George III below a Georgian crown.
The engraving is of high quality with tiny traces of the original gilt remaining. 

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I would love to hear from anyone who could shed some light on this great sword.
Maybe the engraving of the officer could help identify the regiment?
Does anyone else have a sword bearing the name Thomas Lowe? If so, drop me a line.

Finnish Bayonets and How to Identify Them

Posted: 07/06/17 (13:06pm)

A while back I wrote a very brief blog about a Finnish M27 bayonet which then turned out to be an M28 bayonet. A helpful reader of that blog has since contacted me to give me more information on these and other early Finnish bayonets. I thought that instead of adding a few details to the already written blog, I would write a new one and include all the information that Kurt Hulse shared with me.

The Finnish M27 was made exclusively by Fiskars. The highest observed serial number for an original M27 is 33,628. The serial numbering started at 20,000 but just because a serial is between 20,000-33,628 it does not necessarily mean the bayonet is still in M27 configuration as soon after going into production the M27 was modified and re-designated as the M29. An original M27 is very rare. 
The only way to tell if an M27 is still in its original configuration is either by x-ray or by removing the hilt scales. The M27 was modified by adding a steel plate to the inside of the hilt and you can see the welds of the plate on x-ray. The added plate and welding on the M29 can be seen on the photograph below.
  
Finnish M29 weld
Photograph courtesy of Kurt Hulse.

Both Fiskars and Hackman made the M29 bayonet. They are very similar to each other but the Hackman M29 has an additional internal weld near the pommel that Fiskars does not. The other difference is the Hackman blade at the cross guard is angular and wider whereas Fiskars is not as wide and curves slightly outwards at the cross guard. This can be seen in the photograph above.

The M28 was a Civil Guard Bayonet and is similar to the M29 but there are differences. The biggest is that the M28 was dipped in blueing from the pommel to the ricasso. As a result of this one can often see a brown stripe on the M28 blade. M28 bayonets also have a Civil Guard inspector mark on the cross guard.

All Finnish Sword or Austrian Style Bayonets blades are in the white except for the M35 Army bayonet made by both Fiskars and Hackman. The entire M35 bayonet was blued.

M27, M28, M29, and early M28-30 do not have oil holes.  

Later M28-30, M28-30-35, and M35 have an oil hole.

The M28-30 was made by Hackman. M28-30-35 bayonets were made by Hackman and Fiskars. All M28-30 and M28-30-35 have "Sk.Y" marked on the ricasso designating them as Civil Guard bayonets. They are all hilted with beautiful burl wood grip scales. The difference between the M28-30 and M28-30-35 is in the refined spear point and more defined edge of the M28-30-35 blade.

So there you have it, a description of the difference between the similar in appearance early Finnish bayonets. I hope you find it interesting and helpful.

Bargain Blade

Posted: 01/06/17 (10:04am)

The French/Chilean cavalry sabre is now on the website. It is a beautiful looking sword and will be a great display item in any collection. I have put it on sale for the bargain price of only £195. A real "come and get me" price.

It has been another busy week and it is going to get even busier. I'm driving down to Cambridge today and then on to London on Friday afternoon. Ill be driving back from London on Sunday.
With luck I will be coming home with some great items. I'll let you know...
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Keywords

French M1777 an IX Socket Bayonet, 1680 English Dragoon Back Sword, Bygone Blades, Antique Swords, Edged Weapons, Iklwa, Zulu stabbing spear, Finnish M27, Finnish M28 Bayonet, Finnish M27 Bayonet, Finnish M29 Bayonet, Finnish M35 Bayonet, British 1803 Infantry Officer's Sabre, Thomas Lowe, WW1 Ottoman Cavalry Sabre. Turkish Cavalry Sword, British 1821 Artillery Short Sword