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Old 17th September 2021, 03:47 AM   #31
M ELEY
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Beautifully put, Jim and, of course, you are right. I just got caught up in the wasted destruction of these amazing pieces. In reality, this type of thing goes on even when it isn't war-related. Back in the Art Deco period of the '20's-30's, there was a complete disrespect for anything 'old'. Fine jewelry from a century before was cut up, melted down, reworked, etc. I've seen Bavarian swords from the Crimean war turned into candle sticks, Indo-Persian helmets and old Japanese incense burners turned into modern lamps during this period. What a shame...

You brought up an interesting point concerning basket hilts that made it over the pond to America back in the day. I just read up on frontier British forts during the French and Indian War. many of the officers at these garrisons had older baskets from pre-1750. Likewise, Neumann, in his monumental work on swords of the Revolution rightly shows many basket hilts that 'made it over here' for the conflict. Another route of the Scots, like a terrible shadow of Culloden, happened right here in North Carolina during the war at the Battle of Moore's Creek.

https://portcitydaily.com/local-news...-moores-creek/

Having read up on that battle, I believe terrain was the most significant factor versus the terribly inaccurate firearms, however. In any case, I bring this up because my basket was purchased in Vancouver, Canada, a British province once the war ended and the English traveled north. I know it's a stretch, but you never know where some of these items might have traveled to or been!
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Old 17th September 2021, 07:56 AM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M ELEY;266155many basket hilts that 'made it over here' for the conflict. Another route of the Scots, like a terrible shadow of Culloden, happened right here in North Carolina during the war at the Battle of Moore's Creek.

[url
https://portcitydaily.com/local-news/2018/02/11/swords-to-a-gunfight-relive-a-tragic-military-mismatch-at-moores-creek/[/url]

Having read up on that battle, I believe terrain was the most significant factor versus the terribly inaccurate firearms, however. In any case, I bring this up because my basket was purchased in Vancouver, Canada, a British province once the war ended and the English traveled north. I know it's a stretch, but you never know where some of these items might have traveled to or been!
I would imagine the Scotts of western NC were less loyal as the Tories were rounded up and hung. Those that escaped were hunted down. A few survived after spending the war in hiding. Mr. Howard of Howard's Knob would be an example of one who lived. 40 years ago the execution of the Tories was a still a de facto school holiday in parts of western NC as they would bus kids out to visit the oak the rebels executed the loyalist on. I wonder if NC history is still taught from the same point of view?
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Old 17th September 2021, 10:48 AM   #33
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Wow! That is shocking and very interesting information! I'm a transplant to NC and have lived here for about 30 years. Likewise, I live mid-state, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn of such 'field trips' up in the mountians. The Tories were indeed hated and were responsible (along with some colonists supporting the new regime, of course) for some graphic war crimes. Many say the first real Civil War was fought here in the southern colonies back during the Revolution. I'll have to do some research on that info you gave. Thanks!
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Old 17th September 2021, 08:27 PM   #34
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That the basket hilt had a long presence in the American colonies has no doubt. Scots and Irish, hence Scotch-Irish, had been coming to America, and in the Carolinas for some time, and were in place in early 18th c.

On the death of the pirate Blackbeard, from "Under the Black Flag", David Cordingly, 1996, p.198):

"....one of Maynard's men being a Highlander, engaged Teach with his broadsword, who gave Teach a cut on the neck, Teach saying 'well done lad'; the Highlander replied , 'if not be well done, then I'll do it better', with that he gave him a second stroke, which cut off his head laying it flat on his shoulder".

-from the "Boston News Letter", Feb.23 to Mar.2, 1719.

The event was at Ocracoke, N.C. November 22, 1718.

The Highlander was probably of a local militia with men recruited by Lt. Maynard to man his sloops (two) to pursue Blackbeard in the inlets in this area. Maynard's sword was broken, and the Highlander struck Blackbeard from behind.

Given that the basket hilt Mark has posted here is from the 1680-1700 period, we may assume the Highlander had a sword quite similar.
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Old 17th September 2021, 10:55 PM   #35
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Jim I had no idea that 19c blades were re-hilted with the older hilts!
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Old 17th September 2021, 10:59 PM   #36
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Jim fascinating. My source material reading list continues to grow and diversify at a rate I can't keep up with.

M Eley this is an amazing piece that has sparked a great discussion.

I have never seen one of these swords, a basket, or even one of the famous crosscut saws remade into a short sword that was a family heirloom from this period. What is more I never even heard the rumor of their existence as such during my childhood in western NC. I believe I would have seen one proudly displayed by someone in my grandfather's gun shop if they were at all common. Every type of antiquarian oddity came through there at one time or another. I can only guess that they were either literally beat into plow shards eventually or confiscated by the northern or southern troops 100 years later. The idea of a sword was so foreign that my mother danced over crossed sticks while her grandmother beat time without anyone realizing it was a supposed to be a sword dance. I guess after 250 years it is surprising that even that much old world culture remained.
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Old 18th September 2021, 01:21 AM   #37
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Jim I had no idea that 19c blades were re-hilted with the older hilts!
What I meant was that in the 19th century with all the fervor over all things Scottish many old hilts were remounted with old blades, mostly German of course, which were still circulating around. I did not mean 19th century blades, however there were still broadsword blades available from Solingen. I have seen Scottish hilts sporting kaskara blades of the form often sent to Sudan.

It is often surprising to see how often older hilts were joined with newer blades, as seen in Wallace Collection (Mann, 1962).
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Old 18th September 2021, 01:43 AM   #38
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Jim fascinating. My source material reading list continues to grow and diversify at a rate I can't keep up with.

M Eley this is an amazing piece that has sparked a great discussion.

I have never seen one of these swords, a basket, or even one of the famous crosscut saws remade into a short sword that was a family heirloom from this period. What is more I never even heard the rumor of their existence as such during my childhood in western NC. I believe I would have seen one proudly displayed by someone in my grandfather's gun shop if they were at all common. Every type of antiquarian oddity came through there at one time or another. I can only guess that they were either literally beat into plow shards eventually or confiscated by the northern or southern troops 100 years later. The idea of a sword was so foreign that my mother danced over crossed sticks while her grandmother beat time without anyone realizing it was a supposed to be a sword dance. I guess after 250 years it is surprising that even that much old world culture remained.

The presence of 'foreign' swords in the colonies, and in America through the Revolution, and Civil War is well established, as seen in the amazingly comprehensive "Swords and Blades of the American Revolution", George Neumann, 1972. The volumes of these swords had already existed in the colonies profusely after the more than a century of colonization and immigration.

I dont believe that Union forces would have had an interest in old swords, but the Confederacy was calling for old swords of any kind, and were importing swords mostly from England.

Old world traditions are still very much in place, and that is a most charming story of your mother dancing over the crossed sticks. I once had the great honor of seeing this sword dance performed by the 42nd Highlanders ("Black Watch") . It was just at the time of the bombing of the Marine Barracks in Lebanon in 1983, and it was the most stirring thing I have seen.

Another great book you might add
"How the Scots Invented the Modern World", Arthur Herman, 2001.
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Old 18th September 2021, 04:49 AM   #39
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Jim I had no idea that 19c blades were re-hilted with the older hilts!
Hello Battara! I know this practice was done on occasion, but whether out of respect or just to re-market an old basket, I can't say! I used to own such a piece. The basket was the m1828 and solidly dated to the Crimean period. She had a good patina and subtle nuances of a mid-19th c. basket. She had been refitted with a Wilkinson dress blade with King George V stamp ca. 1910 along with a nice scabbard. I sold it only because it was a true dress piece and not a fighter.
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Old 18th September 2021, 05:03 AM   #40
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Jim fascinating. My source material reading list continues to grow and diversify at a rate I can't keep up with.

M Eley this is an amazing piece that has sparked a great discussion.

I have never seen one of these swords, a basket, or even one of the famous crosscut saws remade into a short sword that was a family heirloom from this period. What is more I never even heard the rumor of their existence as such during my childhood in western NC. I believe I would have seen one proudly displayed by someone in my grandfather's gun shop if they were at all common. Every type of antiquarian oddity came through there at one time or another. I can only guess that they were either literally beat into plow shards eventually or confiscated by the northern or southern troops 100 years later. The idea of a sword was so foreign that my mother danced over crossed sticks while her grandmother beat time without anyone realizing it was a supposed to be a sword dance. I guess after 250 years it is surprising that even that much old world culture remained.
That is pretty cool that some of the old ways made it 'over the pond' to the New World. Just as so much of the 'mountain traditions' were from the Old Country, such things transitioned over here. Bluegrass music and instruments, customs, food, even sayings were brought with the travelers. One of my favorites is the classic 'Southern' saying "Y'all", usually drawn out to "Y'alllllll"! In the South, we say proudly "It's a Southern thing!" Um, no, it's not. It is a Scottish thing!!!!

In the Old World language, it was 'Ye All', with 'Ye' meaning 'All of you' (versus 'Thou', which was singular for an individual. Thus, if being a rude old Scot, you might say "Thou is an idiot!! "Ye kin are probably idiots, too!" differentiating singular person versus group of people.

In what part of western NC did you live? My folks moved to Hendersonville near Asheville. In the county courthouse there, they have a small museum. In their collection, they had an amazing full basket hilt broadsword ca. 1730 of fine quality. It was on loan from a local family who had lived in NC since the mid-18th c. The last time I went, it was no longer on display. Too bad.
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Old 18th September 2021, 05:11 AM   #41
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[QUOTE=Jim McDougall;266171]That the basket hilt had a long presence in the American colonies has no doubt. Scots and Irish, hence Scotch-Irish, had been coming to America, and in the Carolinas for some time, and were in place in early 18th c.

On the death of the pirate Blackbeard, from "Under the Black Flag", David Cordingly, 1996, p.198):

"....one of Maynard's men being a Highlander, engaged Teach with his broadsword, who gave Teach a cut on the neck, Teach saying 'well done lad'; the Highlander replied , 'if not be well done, then I'll do it better', with that he gave him a second stroke, which cut off his head laying it flat on his shoulder".

-from the "Boston News Letter", Feb.23 to Mar.2, 1719.

The event was at Ocracoke, N.C. November 22, 1718.

Jim, anytime you bring up either Blackbeard, piracy or Scottish baskets, you command my attention! I was always fascinated by the story of the Highlander who killed the nefarious pirate. Most texts annoyingly just say Lt. Maynard killed him, which was not the case. The Scot who struck down the villain from Bristol is usually un-credited, as is the story of him striking the pirate twice. This is the kind of stuff that keeps me collecting. Knowing all of the history these pieces represent and all of the (potential) places they may have traveled to in their paths through history!

Thanks to all for commenting on the basket! Maybe I'll strap this soldier to my side, put on my kilt and attend the next Highland Games here in NC!
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Old 18th September 2021, 05:23 PM   #42
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[QUOTE=M ELEY;266190]
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... Maybe I'll strap this soldier to my side, put on my kilt and attend the next Highland Games here in NC!
Post us a picture later on Captain .
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Old 18th September 2021, 10:28 PM   #43
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Thanks, 'Nando. I'll do so!
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Old 19th September 2021, 06:07 PM   #44
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I wanted to add some notes on these basket hilts for perspective. The first is my own basket hilt, which was found in an estate sale in Maryland some years ago. This is of course the Glasgow style hilt (just as Mark's) and basically of same period, however the extended wrist guard has been added (probably in early years of 18th c).
The blade is of course Solingen, with the spurious 'SEBASTIAN' (Hernandez) with the 'anchor' mark. The other 'sextant' type mark is of Wirsberg, c.1650s. It has often been thought that this mark might be a sextant (found on some hanger blades, but seems the arc was wider), but bugle seems more likely.



This just added to nod toward the fact that basket hilts were indeed used at sea and this instance likely increased in the early 18th c.
In 1707, the acts which combined England and Scotland were matter of great issue of course, and the flow of emigration to the American colonies greatly increased from Scotland. Primarily this is because Scottish shipping now became powerfully more abundant, and Scottish emigrants had more opportunity for transport.

According to academic studies, there were three 'waves' of emigration, first mostly lowland; then Highland; then Ulster, 1700-1775. This is of course highly generalized, and the first Highlanders said to have arrived at Cape Fear, N.C. in 1729 (according to records of course).

The Highlanders were of course present earlier, as the news report earlier mentioned with the death of Blackbeard in 1718 attributes his end to a Highlander. We know that the men who had joined Maynard on his 2 sloops to track down Blackbeard were locals in Carolina, so a Highland member seems logical. These were not sea going crews, but local men, possibly from a militia type group.

Returning to the evolution of the Glasgow style hilt, it has been said that John Simpson may have begun this form (he began in 1683) which seems to be changing the center shields from round to rectangular, and using saltire bars instead of 'ribbons'.

The ribbon hilt (next photo) has typically been regarded as latter 17th c. however we now know they were a type earlier, c. 1650s.
This just added to illustrate the evolution of these basket hilts we now know as 'Glasgow' hilts. The more elaborate 'Stirling' hilts followed in the early 18th c. with often more artistic 'story board' type themes and decoration wrought with symbolism. While the Glasgow hilts were more rudimentary, their pierced decoration often carried far more nuanced and stylized symbolism.

Later, the Glasgow form was copied in basic for the 'garrison' (military) type hilts produced mostly by Jeffries and Drury in London, and mounted on various blades, typically German but by their time (c. 1750s) some Birmingham made., Next picture of one of these hilts.
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Old 21st September 2021, 05:00 AM   #45
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Thank you Jim for this great information (again!). I would love to see a pic of Rob Roy's (reported) sword if anyone can find a pic. I know he was a hero in his own time, so the survival of his blade seems very plausible. Thank you alsl for the info on those Scots which came to the Americas, particularly those in my neck of the woods (there are many landmarks, counties, regions named after the Highlands and Scottish surnames as well. Your two Scottish broadswords, BTW, are amazing in themselves! They present a great evolution from mid-17th until mid-18th and beyond.
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Old 21st September 2021, 07:50 PM   #46
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I have been trying to find a photo of Rob Roy's sword, but images online are pretty dismal. I do know that Master of Arms Paul MacDonald of Edinburgh restored it in 2007, and I communicated with him a number of times a few years later. I cannot yet find those records.

Most of what can be found online is the huge volume of images, discussion on the 2003 movie with Leem Neeson, which though quite good, is wanting in historical detail.
The legend of Rob Roy, was created of course by Sir Walter Scott, whose novels were wonderful, but like much of the 'written word' became held as fact. This of course then became part of the lexicon of 'Scottish lore'.

The actual duel between Rob Roy MacGregor and Charles Stuart was in 1734 at Invernahyle, Inverlochlarig near Balquiddar. Supposedly the dispute was over actions of both men at Sheriffmuir (1715) however it was actually concerning land matters. It was agreed that single combat would settle this and Charles, much younger than Rob Roy, would represent MacLaren land owners. MacGregor though older was a formidable swordsman.

In Highland fashion, the duel was settled by first good cut, which caught MacGregor below chin, and the matter ended. Unfortunately the wound became septic, and MacGregor died later (doubtful it took years as many accounts suggest, his death date was 1734).

This photo of the two swords involved, restored by Paul MacDonald in 2007, show MacGregors on the left, Stuarts on the right.
Rob Roys was a broadsword, and of course earlier with the favored Andrea Ferara blade, while the Stuart sword is a backsword, so likely later perhaps 1720s.

Interestly both seem to have Andrea Ferara blades, which of course became the pinnacle of blades on Scottish swords. This phenomenon has become its own legend and lore with this mythical swordsmith and his blades which not only were held to have the highest quality, but almost magical in strength.
Many have believed that this bladesmith from Belluno, Italy in 16th century, went to Spain, was Spanish, went to Scotland and for years trained Scottish bladesmiths etc.

There is no evidence of any of this, in fact Andrea and his older brother (both born c. 1530's) did work in the regions of Belluno and several other towns with forges, but for a well known Italian family of armorers.
Apparently the work of Andrea became legendary through a 1567 treatise on military matters including armament by Cigogna.
This led to mrerchants from London going to Belluno to establish a contract with the Ferara brothers in 1583 for set numbers of blades for 10 years.
The disposition of this agreement is unclear, but obviously, the volume of Andrea Ferara blades is significant, but
the problem is that virtually all of these blades have been Solingen products.
Andrea died in 1612, his brother Zandona several years later.
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Old 22nd September 2021, 06:34 PM   #47
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From all 'certainties' we read out there about the whereabouts of this famous sword, one i find wise to take into account is:
" I suspect Rob Roy had as many swords as he had hiding places ! ".

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Old 22nd September 2021, 08:15 PM   #48
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From all 'certainties' we read out there about the whereabouts of this famous sword, one i find wise to take into account is:
" I suspect Rob Roy had as many swords as he had hiding places ! ".

Always good to be skeptical, as it leads to further study and discovery of more compelling evidence. Typically with things historical, there is seldom a final word or conclusion. I have always favored the words, "the thing I love most about history is that it's always changin'!"

Things about Rob Roy MacGregor became expectedly clouded by the fact that he had become essentially legendary in his own time, with the novel "The Highland Rogue" (1723) and the usual local tales. With nearly a century later, Sir Walter Scott's novel "Rob Roy", all this escalated, and of course Scott created a museum or sorts with Rob Roy's purported memorabilia, which was sold to him by a hawker of these tales.

These items of course included 'his sword' (NOT this one we are discussing) and weaponry that had nothing to do with MacGregor.

The story of our sword begins with a family who went to Scottish sword master Paul MacDonald in Edinburgh in 2007, to have the sword of Rob Roy's opponent Charles Stuart restored. With that, he undertook going through the channels he of course had well established, to find the ACTUAL sword of Rob Roy.

As a professional researcher and sword expert, he did find the sword, with remarkable provenance in Moidart, where it had been with a family connected to MacGregor through land dealings etc. It was not in the greatest shape, and had actually been kept in a shed ,hardly the kind of context you would expect a much heralded weapon being exploited as Rob Roy's, instead simply a sword in a family who had given little thought to its importance.

Naturally you are not the first skeptic to think of this, and obviously Maestro MacDonald knew what he would face with this project. Along with restoration comes research and investigation. These efforts are not commonly undertaken by those who rely on the word of others to draw their conclusions.

You note, Rob Roy probably had as many swords as he had hiding places
An interesting analogy, however, the Scots, especially Highlanders, were not like Europeans who might have had a case of rapiers (pair) and several smallswords etc.
The Scot had 'his' sword, which was his pride and honor, much as with the Japanese Samurai.

Earlier in the discussion, we discussed the fact that on the field of Culloden, where well over a thousand men were killed and wounded, of over 4000. ...only 190 broadswords were recovered.

With this, many writers have claimed the Highlanders (rebels) had muskets and pistols, thus the charging Highlander with broadsword is a myth concerning the Culloden travesty.

In my own study of the battle, some of which I described earlier in the thread, it is clear that the broadsword was the PRIMARY weapon. The rebels, after over half hour of pounding by artillery, were pent up and furious, they had men around them blown to pieces. In a raging fury they charged, and threw down their muskets and pistols, unfired in many cases...........raising their broadswords and screaming toward the enemy. Hanoverian accounts noted the ferocity of the Highlanders, like wild animals, and terrifying.
The words of one, over the deafening noise could be heard the clanging of blades as they hit musket barrels, the Highlanders blinded by smoke and fury.

I have read accounts of men seeing their fallen kinsmen, often brothers, cousins, and picking up their swords to be taken away, these were in a manner of speaking, the soul of the Scot. THAT is why there were so few swords found on the field.

If the Scots broadsword was just another sword, out of a cabinet full, or simply a handy tool kept in key locations, like a gun..........such care would not have been taken.

That was the reason the Hanoverians wanted these broadswords, they KNEW. and why they deliberately made the disgraceful fence from the recovered blades......to show disdain to the Jacobites in the most hurtful way, by disgracing their broadswords...thus them.

TRUE, after the fact, people would of course try to hawk swords, just as other items, claiming they were Rob Roy's.......but this had nothing to do with the real Rob Roy in history.
The acts of these charlatans had nothing to do with Rob Roy, who had HIS broadsword, and not swords hidden all over the place. If he may have had others received as gifts etc., which might have occurred, they were still not his sword.

Thanks for the chance to express this in more detail. It really is pretty fascinating history, and though I've studied it many times over the past decades, it never gets old (like me) and I keep learning.
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Old 23rd September 2021, 08:04 AM   #49
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I know these things sometimes get shady, like the 'gun that Jesse James used' in such and such a bank robbery, but then again, MANY of these items do have some provenance. We know which dress swords Washington carried. We've discussed other famous and semi-famous swords in the past. I'm certainly no expert, but I'll give the benefit of the doubt to the bloke who did the research and can prove the facts.

Jim, I'm in total agreement with the Scots and their swords. To them, it was not only a weapon, but an heirloom, a symbol, a family tradition. Perhaps it was also the fact that they knew if they lost at Culloden, those weapons would be outlawed. The pride of the Scots were their swords, comparable in some ways to the Japanese soldiers of WW II, who also took swords to war that represented their culture and family traditions. In any case, I'm very proud to be a 'curator' of this sword until I also someday pass it along to someone else who cares as much about it as I do.
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Old 24th September 2021, 10:02 PM   #50
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Right Capn,
Paul MacDonald of Edinburgh, who was the one who restored Rob Roys sword in 2007, has an outstanding reputation as a sword restorer, but as a Master of Arms swordsman. This venture began as the family who owned the Stuart sword wielded in the famed duel sought him out to restore the sword.

With this he had the idea of trying to locate Rob Roys 'actual' sword (not examples which had been displayed from the time of Sir Walter Scott). Through meticulous research he finally located it still with a family descended from MacGregor's landlord. It had been kept rather unceremoniously in a shed, and was notably in poor condition though intact.

This is hardly the case where someone has a weapon and is parading it around as belonging to some famous figure, but one researched and found in situ.

There are countless examples of weapons purported to have belonged to famous persons, but too often these have chain of custody and provenance flaws which compromise them. At best they can often serve as 'of the type' examples.
In our familiar studies of pirates, there are the wonderful paintings by Pyle and Wyeth which present colorful images of these characters, despite the inclusion of brass hilt naval cutlasses of Civil War period!
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Old 25th September 2021, 12:55 AM   #51
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Jim, I'm in total agreement with the Scots and their swords. To them, it was not only a weapon, but an heirloom, a symbol, a family tradition. Perhaps it was also the fact that they knew if they lost at Culloden, those weapons would be outlawed. The pride of the Scots were their swords, comparable in some ways to the Japanese soldiers of WW II, who also took swords to war that represented their culture and family traditions.
Mark I think you hit the nail on the head. You made a great and accurate comparison to the Japanese of WWII and their swords. I have seen Scottish pieces with provenance and family connections go for insane prices.
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Old 7th October 2021, 11:08 AM   #52
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From Robert's/Toaster5sgn's excellent article on Scottish fencing! Finally! An explanation of the added wrist guard to Scottish baskets and their significance to defending against the 'dreaded' hand slash. Yes, I know that's the whole purpose of ALL quillons on the guard; to protect the hand, but here I finally see proof that this 'move' to slash one's opponent's sword hand wasn't just a spur of the moment maneuver, but something practiced in Scottish fencing to get past the seemingly well-protected hand surrounded by the basket.


"The Highlander has nothing regular in Field Attacks and generally chop Right down to an Outside; or with a swinging and low Inside they endeavour to let out the Bowels, whilst every Part of his own Body is cover'd under a Target. In single Combat he aims at nothing more than disabling his Antagonist which he commonly does by chopping him across the Wrest within Side the Sword Arm, which he does in the following Manner; HE runs up boldly to half Sword, receives an Outside, and changing with his Adversary, drops his Blade below the Hilt upon the inside, draws the Edge of his Sword cross his Adversary's Wrest and springing backward saws it at the same Time."

Last edited by M ELEY; 8th October 2021 at 04:06 AM.
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