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Old 28th December 2021, 10:10 AM   #1
urbanspaceman
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Default Colichemardes

A very straightforward question to you all, please:

Is there any irrefutable indication as to where colichemarde blades were produced; or when they first appeared on the world stage?

I have a 'William Kinmen hilted' colichemarde that I have unhilted while looking for a possible tang marking, but there is none.

Like all smallswords (Klingenthall and Thomas Gill apart) they are always anonymous... why???
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Old 28th December 2021, 06:34 PM   #2
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I have a colichemarde blade that is marked N Tol for Toledo on one of my smallswords.

Another, with a regular tri-foil blade has the makers mark I.C.B on the ricasso. So we can’t really say all smallswords are anonymous.

And to be fair, this is not exclusive to smallswords, Osborn blades supplied to cutlers were only carried small identifying stamps on the ricasso. Many a Solingen blade is bare of any marks identifying a maker, leaving us to guess based on the blade decorations.

It could even be that this was a concession to the cutler who was interested in promoting their brand over that of the blade.
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Old 28th December 2021, 07:57 PM   #3
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Default Colichemarde markings

Hey Radboud, this is great news, thank-you for contributing.

Could you let me/us have photos of the markings and the complete swords please; I would be extremely obliged to you as they will be truly rare examples.

I wholeheartedly agree that blade decoration i.e. etching and/or engraving, was generally down to the slipper or cutler, who would want a blank sheet to work on; however, Klingenthal got away with it in abundance and despite that, there are some beautifully embellished blades that include their signature; so I'm not certain this can be a widespread rule.

Your response regarding unsigned blades in general is obviously well known and irrefutable, but in this case that was not my point: my point precisely is "where did colichemarde blades start and when did they finish. My request for help is because there is virtually no evidence to be seen, which is what makes your blades so unique.
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Old 28th December 2021, 08:01 PM   #4
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Default p.s.

My apologies, I should have asked this:

N Tol may be straightforward enough but does anyone know what I. C. B. stands-for?
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Old 28th December 2021, 08:08 PM   #5
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Hello,

Of the two marked blades, only the Toledo is a colichmarde, and it has a later hilt. However the blade has always been a smallsword blade. I have posted it previously in this thread:Composite Smallsword

The second has the more common, later blade, and is the second one in this post: Another two smallswords

Not a marked blade, but this smallsword is a French Model 1767 Officers sword, and it carries a colichmarde blade. This indicates at the very least that they were still carried into the last quarter of the 18th Century:

French Model 1767 Officer’s smallsword

Last edited by Radboud; 28th December 2021 at 08:30 PM.
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Old 28th December 2021, 08:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urbanspaceman View Post
My apologies, I should have asked this:

N Tol may be straightforward enough but does anyone know what I. C. B. stands-for?
I.C.B or sometimes I.G.B is believed to be the mark for Johann and Clemens Boegel of Solingen.
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Old 28th December 2021, 08:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urbanspaceman View Post
I wholeheartedly agree that blade decoration i.e. etching and/or engraving, was generally down to the slipper or cutler, who would want a blank sheet to work on; however, Klingenthal got away with it in abundance and despite that, there are some beautifully embellished blades that include their signature; so I'm not certain this can be a widespread rule.
Regrettably again there are no hard and fast rules, as we see sword blades marked to J J Runkel (especially the earlier ones) with typical Solingen decorations mounted on late 18th Century British cavalry blades. Which indicates that some blades at least were shipped from the maker with (J J Runkel was a merchant, not a manufacturer) pre-existing generic decorations.

Then we have markings of quality like the Passau wolf and the Andrea Ferrara mark, which were commonly forged. I think the one rule we can rely on is that if the customer wanted it, then the Solingen smiths were happy to mark their blades thus.
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Old 28th December 2021, 09:11 PM   #8
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Default Your smallswords

Wow! Two beautiful swords.

The first one (N Tol) takes us into territory that has been terribly overlooked; at least, if there is published research out there then I have not found it, but !!!!! as I am constantly declaring "I am an almost total novice" and have entered this world exclusively via Shotley Bridge.

This is unquestionably a colichemarde style, but being based on a flattened blade makes it - please correct me if I am in error - very early, probably early 1600s and not what I am researching, but...

This is, in itself, of considerable interest, as the colichemarde's fattened forte has generally been associated with trefoil smallswords, so may go some way towards establishing the history of the moniker i.e. was it called a colichemarde back then?

The concept of a fattened forte obviously begins well before the arrival of the hollowed blade, probably during the rapier/smallsword transitional period? Norman is frustratingly scant when it comes to blades; frustrating for me anyway because I have zero interest in hilts, and the beautiful reprint I bought was very expensive.

I suspect this is a Solingen blade marked thus for a particular market.

I have to confess, I have been on the lookout for one for some time.

The ICB blade is another matter altogether! Is it an 1800s product?
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Old 28th December 2021, 09:36 PM   #9
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Thank you, the inscription, N Tol, is very similar to the one pictured on page 211 of Armes Blanches Symbolisme Inscriptions by Jean L'Hoste.

But as you say it could well be a Solingen blade especially if sword production had halted in Toledo by that stage. I think it dates from the late 17th to mid 18th Century. The blade is robust and not a floppy court sword.

The ICB sword I believe is 1780s to 1800s but that’s only a guess based on the shape of the pas d’ane shell guard and the makers mark.
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Old 28th December 2021, 10:03 PM   #10
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Just to slide this in ....The colichemarde blade configuration is sometimes credited probably wrongly to one Graf von Königsmark (perhaps Otto Wilhelm Königsmarck), owing to the two names' similarity in pronunciation. This is now generally believed to be not true.

The colichemarde first appeared about 1680 and was popular during the next 40 years at the royal European courts. It was especially popular with the officers of the French and Indian War period. George Washington was presented with one during his inauguration... joining 3 others in his collection. The widespread misapprehension that the colichemarde quickly ceased to be produced after 1720 dates to the opinion given by Sir Richard Burton in his Book of the Sword (1884). However, many securely dated colichemarde swords from as late as the 1770s can be found in collections. Thud the detail noted by Burton is not accurate.

This sword appeared at about the same time as the foil. However the foil was created for practicing fencing at court, while the colichemarde was created for duelling. It made frequent appearances in the duels of New Orleans...and many other places Duelling was considered an act of honour and to refuse would mean almost complete ruin and being shunned in high circles as it would be looked upon as cowardice . The pistol largely superseded this weapon.

I read somewhere that the sword was not initially known as a Colchemarde but a squeezed blade short sword.

However it is my opinion that the Colichemarde was a fashion statement worn at Court under a short court coat... A new fashion in those days and to which the sword matched it in style.

Peter Hudson.
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Old 28th December 2021, 10:08 PM   #11
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Radboud, outstanding details, examples and observations, which are important in studying these.
I have been involved in research on Spanish makers lately, and it seems Toledo virtually ceased production during the 17th c and by1700 was all but done. It was not until 1761 that Carlos III was determined to reopen but had great difficulty as all the makers were gone.
It was in production finally but mostly with bayonets, though some sword blades were being made. According to "Spanish Military Weapons in Colonial America 1700-1821" (Brinckerhoff & Chamberlain 1972.p.90) the Toledo made blades were subject to breakage, so Catalonian were preferred.

RDC Evans ("The Plug Bayonet") notes that the Real Fabrica de Toledo inscription was changed to note 'Artilleria' Fabrica de Toledo, when he directed the activity to that arm of the military.

In Aylward, it is noted that the original colichemarde type blades seem to have been ground down from hexagonal flat blades and by later in the 17th to the triangular (three edge hollow ground) form (c. 1680s?).
While these went out of fashion in civilian circles, the military still kept them, but by 1780s Aylward points out the return the the flat face blade.

One thing I am suspecting is that Bilbao, a port in the northern Basque country has something to do with small sword blades with the Burton (1884) reference calling that triangular section blade 'Biscayan' (Basque).
Their close proximity to the French border and Bay of Biscay offer some possibility I think of cross influence?

Peter, crossed posts!! Excellent notes on the blade form! Another conundrum
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Old 28th December 2021, 10:33 PM   #12
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Hi Jim, and Seasons Greetings !!!

I was talking also to Keith at Urbanspaceman and referring to his opener as to where these strange blades were produced for which there is some proof that Shotley Bridge may well have been involved and knowing their dubious links with Solingen I can well see how. The Swedish spy noted there was a machine in Shotley Bridge so it is known they had the gear... and clearly they had the distribution potential and on a tasty blade like the Colichemarde they must have realised its potential as a good earner.

Naturally therefor, the question at #1 is not simple since if blades were being churned out as blanks in huge quantities where did these blanks go to? and since Colichemardes were in great demand who was finishing them and how much was a finished machine made blade compared to a hand made item..?
Regards,
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Old 28th December 2021, 11:25 PM   #13
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Thank you Peter, and wishing y'all a Happy New Year!

This hollow blade conundrum has been pretty baffling. Indeed, WHERE did they go? and there has to be something somewhere on this machine.
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Old 29th December 2021, 12:06 PM   #14
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Default Huguenots

I haven't had the opportunity, or the contacts, to research the Mohll family in Solingen archives, but...
Johann Mohll Senior was listed as a grinder - but he was not a guild member!

This is what first made me suspicious, as in Solingen you HAD to be a guild member and membership was severely restricted - usually to family.

It is my opinion, and the issue that needs local verification, is that Johann Mohll owned the Huguenot built machine/s for speeding-up fullering and hollow blade production as opposed to hand filing.

Hermann Mohll, his son, operated out of - and into - Shotley Bridge; owning the big grinding mill complex directly under the bridge after he arrived with all the other immigrants in 1687.

His brother Abraham spent 3 years there, then returned to Oak (?) in Solingen where the grinding mill location they inherited became a paper mill.

Neither brother was ever under contract to the syndicate, or the company who owned the SB enterprise; and nor were they ever Solingen guild members, which is why they were not listed in the indictment by the Solingen authorities in 1688.

There is first hand evidence (and illustrations) of the existence of one of the 'hollow blade' machines at Shotley Bridge from Swedish spy Angerstein when he visited Oley's works in 1754 and observed hollow blade production, and acid etching, in full swing. Oley had long since owned the Mohll grinding mill (1724).

The crucial issue here is that every colichemarde I have seen (and globally they only amount to 0.3% of all smallswords, with the biggest number in the Greenwich Maritime Museum: 6 out of 120 smallswords) features a rolled lower hollow of constant width.
Actually, a friend of mine up here in the North probably has more than six in his collection.

It is not possible (even today) to automate and machine, in one pass, a reducing radius hollow into a blade; but a constant width groove (as we see in all colichemardes - and many smallswords) is a simple procedure and more than possible for those ingenious Huguenots.

I consulted various professors of engineering to establish just what was possible then... and now.

Given that the machine came out of Solingen with Herman Mohll, and also given that machines were subsequently banned in Solingen, I am of the opinion that colichemardes are the sole product of Shotley Bridge.

Quite a bit to consider... I know, but that is precisely what I have been doing for the last five years. The issue that remains unrevealed is the name.

BTW: an interesting idea (and more than plausible) was that those flat blade colichemardes were simply cut down broadswords. I really do want one of those!
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Old 30th December 2021, 02:23 PM   #15
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Default flat blade colichemardes

Following on from my last sentence regarding the possibility/probability that flat blade colichemardes are modified broadswords I have to ask if anyone has any information regarding the time of arrival of this style of blade?

If the arrival of the smallsword had encouraged the learning of a new style of fighting, with an emphasis on the thrust, but the cost of the new hollow blades was (and it certainly was) discouraging, even prohibitive, then the conversion of a broadsword blade must have seemed like a good idea on more counts than merely financial.

I know that many were unconvinced by the efficacy of the smallsword due to its apparent delicacy when opposing a heavy battlefield blade - in particular the Scots - believing it to have little blocking and parrying ability; this reason has been suggested on more than one occasion as the justification for a 'squeezed' blade.

It suggests to me that the cut-down broadsword was the beginning of what would become the traditional hollow blade colichemarde.

Has anyone seen flat bladed colichemardes retaining a smith's marking and if so could they let me see them?

Curiously, Diderot does not show this style; and equally, does not show the style with the rolled lower groove that would eventually predominate. See attached for what is shown:
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