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Old 13th April 2017, 07:49 PM   #1
Victrix
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Default Austrian hussar sabre for ID

This is believed to be a mid 18thC Austrian hussar sabre. I wonder if someone is able to give me more information about it; where it might have been used and by whom? The hilt and scabbard metal parts are all brass. The tang end on the pommel is covered by an almond shaped brass plaque. There's a hole in the grip for a cord to tie around the wrist. The blade is quite elastic (not stiff, rigid) and worn. It's got a shallow fuller on each side. On one side can be seen the remains of inscriptions of a star in between two suns and further out I think there's a faint large man in the moon. The scabbard is made of wood with black leather and brass covering. The sword is overall approximately 87cm long. I cleaned the brass which was very dirty and had green oxidation on parts.

Many thanks for any feedback!
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Old 13th April 2017, 10:04 PM   #2
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18th century Austrian officers sabre around 1750-60s as noted.....beautiful example!! Need to check Wagner and others for more.
The usual astral motif.
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Old 13th April 2017, 10:35 PM   #3
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Default Much appreciated

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
18th century Austrian officers sabre around 1750-60s as noted.....beautiful example!! Need to check Wagner and others for more.
The usual astral motif.
Many thanks for your kind comments, Jim.
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Old 13th April 2017, 11:45 PM   #4
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Victrix, I had hoped to add more, but now realize that these resources are not presently at hand here in the bookmobile! I know that these are pictured in the huge Wagner volume (1967), and the paperback by Moudry on Hapsburg swords.
Sabres of this form and styling (yours is a wonderfully wide blade) are known distinctly as Austrian of the 18th c. and used by hussars. There are so many campaigns and wars in the Continent in which these saw use it is hard to say.
War of the Polish Succession (1733-38; Russo-Turk War (1735-39); and most importantly War of Austrian Succession (1740-48.....then war against Prussia.
A sabre remarkably similar in mounts (brass with scabbard openings) was used by the well known Count Hadik von Futak ( Andreas Graf Hadik)...a notorious pain in Frederick the Great's 'you know what'!

These blade decorating motifs were well known through the 18th century and it seems many of these blades were from centers in Styria, as well as of course Solingen.
Maybe others will have these references at hand, but this is what I can recall offhand.
Incredibly stunning example!
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Old 14th April 2017, 12:44 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Victrix, I had hoped to add more, but now realize that these resources are not presently at hand here in the bookmobile! I know that these are pictured in the huge Wagner volume (1967), and the paperback by Moudry on Hapsburg swords.
Sabres of this form and styling (yours is a wonderfully wide blade) are known distinctly as Austrian of the 18th c. and used by hussars. There are so many campaigns and wars in the Continent in which these saw use it is hard to say.
War of the Polish Succession (1733-38; Russo-Turk War (1735-39); and most importantly War of Austrian Succession (1740-48.....then war against Prussia.
A sabre remarkably similar in mounts (brass with scabbard openings) was used by the well known Count Hadik von Futak ( Andreas Graf Hadik)...a notorious pain in Frederick the Great's 'you know what'!

These blade decorating motifs were well known through the 18th century and it seems many of these blades were from centers in Styria, as well as of course Solingen.
Maybe others will have these references at hand, but this is what I can recall offhand.
Incredibly stunning example!
Yes thank you once again, Jim. I don't have Moudry's book unfortunately, but this sabre looks similar to the one on p.402 in Wagner's book but without the FRINGIA inscription. The blade might have had this inscription once, but it's now quite worn as mentioned previously.

I heard about the exploits of Count Hadik when I was in Budapest (their National Museum is highly recommended, by the way!). King Frederick was so humiliated that he allegedly refused to speak to Hadik after that.
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Old 14th April 2017, 02:37 AM   #6
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I will try to get hold of the Moudry book, but think it will simply conform to what Wagner had. The FRINGIA inscriptions I think were on Styrian blades, and I agree these were shallowly inscribed so may have worn off or become indiscernible over this long.

The Austrian swords were the key influence for British military swords in the last part of the 18th century, as LeMarchant was attached to their units in Flanders on campaign in I think 1770s. In any case, the heavy cavalry pallasch was influenced by their M1769 sword....the light cavalry sabres by their sabres of that period . These became the M1796 heavy and light cavalry regulation swords.

The British M1788 sabre had influences from these East European sabres as well, and the open panel scabbard was distinctively present in these British examples.

Lots of history in this sword, and interesting note on the rancor by Frederick toward Hadik!
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Old 14th April 2017, 03:46 PM   #7
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The Husar troops originally came in the 15th to 16th century from Poland, Romania, Croatia and mainly from Hungary, so most of the "Austrian" Husar sabres are of Hungarian origin. Some fotos of my former collection may be of some interest.
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Old 14th April 2017, 03:49 PM   #8
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More fotos:
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Old 15th April 2017, 10:22 AM   #9
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Default Sabre origins

Quote:
Originally Posted by corrado26
More fotos:
Corrado, many thanks for sharing your photos with us. That was quite a collection! Where did you obtain those sabres? The last one was particularly nice.

I agree with you that the hussar is essentially Hungarian in origin although Hungary was much bigger in size then and included other nations. Stephen Bathory (Transylvanian prince) brought the Hungarian hussars to Poland when he became king there. I read somewhere that "real" Hungarian hussars would only have sabre hilts made from iron (gilded or otherwise). There was a Hungarian general who allegedly won three duels by cutting through his opponents softer brass hilts (sounds like a ferocious fellow!). Given that my sabre above has a brass hilt I termed it an Austrian hussar sabre. Not sure whether this is technically correct or not.

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Old 15th April 2017, 12:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by corrado26
...Some fotos of my former collection may be of some interest...
Beautiful pices indeed .
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Old 15th April 2017, 06:23 PM   #11
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I very much second Fernando's comment!! Fantastic pieces!

I have not yet found the book I mentioned...it is a paperback.
"Edged Weapons:Sabres of the Hapsburg Monarchy 16th-20thc"
Jan Sach & Petr Moudry
This is primarily an identification handbook, captioned in three languages, but text is limited.

Victrix, excellent and concise insight regarding the 'hussar' development in these regions, which became the standard for European light cavalry.

I think the notion that the hussars evolved in 'Hungary', as mentioned, is very much as described, as the Hapsburg Empire with Hungary as its epicenter, broadly encompassed so many countries in Europe. Hungary became more of a collective term used descriptively by writers in earlier times.

Also, according to Jan Ostrowski, in "Origins of the Polish Sabre" (1979, p.222 ), "....Hungarian blade production, if it existed at all, must have been very limited, for the 17th c. records tell of blade purchase in mass from Styrian and Italian manufacturers and the great majority of surviving Hungarian sabres have Styrian and Genovese blades often marked with crescent moons and inscription Genoa, Fringia and Francia".

It seems that even with the strong favor for 'Hungarian' blades in Arabia presumed them to be from there, and termed them accordingly 'Magyar' ( though in Arabian of course). I have had Bedouin sabres which were clearly marked with the so called 'Transylvanian knot', essentially talismanic or magic oriented devices and wording.

There is a great deal of colorful and romanticized history of course with the hussar phenomenon in cavalry, and I recall one element which I researched for some time back in the 90s. It had to do with the notching of the blade back near the tip on Austrian cavalry swords. I first saw this in the illustration in Wagner ("Cut and Thrust Weapons", 1967). There were a number of the line drawings of these swords with this curious notch. Despite efforts with a number of museums noted in his book, there were no viable explanations of this strange but deliberate feature.

Perhaps those of you who have collected and studied these Austrian arms have noticed these, and might have some thoughts?
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Old 15th April 2017, 10:01 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
I very much second Fernando's comment!! Fantastic pieces!

I have not yet found the book I mentioned...it is a paperback.
"Edged Weapons:Sabres of the Hapsburg Monarchy 16th-20thc"
Jan Sach & Petr Moudry
This is primarily an identification handbook, captioned in three languages, but text is limited.

Victrix, excellent and concise insight regarding the 'hussar' development in these regions, which became the standard for European light cavalry.

I think the notion that the hussars evolved in 'Hungary', as mentioned, is very much as described, as the Hapsburg Empire with Hungary as its epicenter, broadly encompassed so many countries in Europe. Hungary became more of a collective term used descriptively by writers in earlier times.

Also, according to Jan Ostrowski, in "Origins of the Polish Sabre" (1979, p.222 ), "....Hungarian blade production, if it existed at all, must have been very limited, for the 17th c. records tell of blade purchase in mass from Styrian and Italian manufacturers and the great majority of surviving Hungarian sabres have Styrian and Genovese blades often marked with crescent moons and inscription Genoa, Fringia and Francia".

It seems that even with the strong favor for 'Hungarian' blades in Arabia presumed them to be from there, and termed them accordingly 'Magyar' ( though in Arabian of course). I have had Bedouin sabres which were clearly marked with the so called 'Transylvanian knot', essentially talismanic or magic oriented devices and wording.

There is a great deal of colorful and romanticized history of course with the hussar phenomenon in cavalry, and I recall one element which I researched for some time back in the 90s. It had to do with the notching of the blade back near the tip on Austrian cavalry swords. I first saw this in the illustration in Wagner ("Cut and Thrust Weapons", 1967). There were a number of the line drawings of these swords with this curious notch. Despite efforts with a number of museums noted in his book, there were no viable explanations of this strange but deliberate feature.

Perhaps those of you who have collected and studied these Austrian arms have noticed these, and might have some thoughts?

Salaams Jim, Knowing nothing about this field of weapons I can only add a brilliant book source I discovered whilst looking for the references you give above ...thus I draw members attention to the books illustrated at http://swordsdb.com/SwordsDB_Bibliography.php and hope to improve my library on European swords from that collection...at some point.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 15th April 2017, 11:16 PM   #13
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Default Jagged tooth/notch

Yes Jim, I find the Austro-Hungarian Empire quite fascinating in the way it was polyglot with people marrying each other across ethnic groups and speaking many languages with nationalism (as opposed to patriotism) being essentially a 19thC invention.

I did not know that Magyar swords with "Transylvanian knots" were popular in Arabia. Were the blades produced in Styria and N.Italy and then marketed by Hungarians? Would love to learn more about this topic.

The war in Hungary was very cruel (reading a history book on the subject is a hairraising experience!) with weapons developed to match the intensity of conflict. I'm afraid that notch which you mentioned was designed to inflict maximum damage in the opponent when withdrawing the sword from a stab wound. In Wagner's book on p.339 he writes about a heavy Austrian cavalry broad sword: "The tooth, cut into the back edge, helped 'the old heavers' to aggravate the wound when thrusting, especially when cutting with the back edge of the broadsword, where there was no room or time to put much strength into the cut."

Many thanks to Ibrahiim for providing the sword bibliography where I saw the book by Moudry which Jim mentioned earlier. There was another one about German sword manufacturers which should hopefully cover Styria as well.

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Old 16th April 2017, 01:26 AM   #14
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Wagner indeed mentioned the notion of the notch worsening a wound, which was part of what set me off on a research that lasted years to either confirm or disprove that idea. In a number of cases where museums which held some of the examples Wagner drew from, they concurred with his idea. Others claimed they had no idea, and had in fact taken no notice of this odd feature.
Most research with other resources offered absolutely no sound evidence of any thought given to these notches. One thing was certain...they were deliberately placed in that same location on Austrian blades....not only on the pallasches, but on the sabres (as the Pandour officers sabre c. 1750, Hungarian but in Austrian service) as well.

If these were to worsen a thrust wound, why then on the back of a sabre blade? While sabres were indeed used in a thrust as by French hussars on occasion.....the dilemma of withdrawing a blade literally snagged in the victim seems a problem. This was the reason the notions of saw blade bayonets in thrusting was an issue, as described by Burton (1885).

Actually, Wagner is probably the only person who ever gave these notches a second glance, and enough so he included them in his drawing. There is no mention of notching a blade or its purpose through most narratives and references I have seen. So it remains an unexplained conundrum which seems not to have been effectively noticed by anyone except Wagner..and me .

It may seem of little importance, but its the kind of thing that really gets me wondering.
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Old 16th April 2017, 12:36 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Wagner indeed mentioned the notion of the notch worsening a wound, which was part of what set me off on a research that lasted years to either confirm or disprove that idea. In a number of cases where museums which held some of the examples Wagner drew from, they concurred with his idea. Others claimed they had no idea, and had in fact taken no notice of this odd feature.
Most research with other resources offered absolutely no sound evidence of any thought given to these notches. One thing was certain...they were deliberately placed in that same location on Austrian blades....not only on the pallasches, but on the sabres (as the Pandour officers sabre c. 1750, Hungarian but in Austrian service) as well.

If these were to worsen a thrust wound, why then on the back of a sabre blade? While sabres were indeed used in a thrust as by French hussars on occasion.....the dilemma of withdrawing a blade literally snagged in the victim seems a problem. This was the reason the notions of saw blade bayonets in thrusting was an issue, as described by Burton (1885).

Actually, Wagner is probably the only person who ever gave these notches a second glance, and enough so he included them in his drawing. There is no mention of notching a blade or its purpose through most narratives and references I have seen. So it remains an unexplained conundrum which seems not to have been effectively noticed by anyone except Wagner..and me .

It may seem of little importance, but its the kind of thing that really gets me wondering.
Jim, you are right that the notches also appear on Austro-Hungarian sabres illustrated in Wagner's book, but he only comments on its function in relation to the broad sword which is why I mentioned this particular case. This brings us to the less palatable and romantic aspect of history. I understand that curved sabre blades are designed to deepen cuts, especially from horseback against unarmoured opponents on foot. I understand that sabres, although really single edged swords designed for cutting, often have a "false" edge on the top edge to facilitate thrusting (especially upwards). This would enable the user to make another strike against an opponent without having to first raise his blade again (losing precious time) for another cut. After using his sabre on horseback for a cut, the hussar would simply thrust his sabre into (possibly another) opponent by raising it in which case the "false" edge would be useful. The notch on the "false" edge would have a nasty effect as the sabre was being withdrawn. The risk for snagging is probably reduced by a single notch and the absence of a barb. Apologies for being so graphic. Saw-toothed bayonets were sometimes issued to engineer troops as multi function tools, but they were frowned on in WWI where German troops ran the risk of summary execution if captured using one.

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Old 16th April 2017, 03:58 PM   #16
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Honestly, I have never seen an Austrian/Hungarian husar sabre with a notch on the false edge of ist blade. But what I have seen and have posted fotos of are pallasches with these notches. I have no exakt idea what These notches have been for but one told me that they ease collecting things that had fallen down from horseback.
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Old 16th April 2017, 07:43 PM   #17
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Default Notch

Corrado,

Thanks for posting more pictures! The FRINGIA blade is nice. Wagner has a few sabres with notches in his big book. I hope you are right about the purpose for the notch.

Happy Easter to you all.
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Old 16th April 2017, 11:51 PM   #18
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Corrado, as noted Wagner (1967) has at least two sabres shown with these notches, as I explained earlier, and which brought even more thought toward why these would worsen thrust wounds, when a sabre from horseback is a slashing and cutting weapon.

As for utilitarian use, it is a tenuously applied suggestion for picking up things of the ground from horseback (note the direction of the 'hook' in the notch on the first photo) and other ideas as holding a pot handle over a campfire etc.

The idea of these notches being damage caused is patently dismissed by the consistant and deliberate placement at same blade location on the numerous examples. Even Burton (1885) noted an instance of a toothed edge which seemed a singular case, "...it is not easy to explain except by individual freak, the meaning of the toothed or broken edge which appears on a dagger of the 14th c.". This is drawn as a deliberately shaped notch at midpoint on the blade, which defies accidental probability......and more so, the reason why it is there.

This conundrum has defied the many authorities, museum officials, collectors and authors I have consulted over the years, so none of these explanations seem to satisfy any purpose or logic in this feature.
I apologize for any derailment in the thread here, but wanted to bring this mysterious feature to the attention of the clearly very well informed participants in this discussion of the weapons in this context.

Thank you guys for the thoughtful entries and great photos! This strange dilemma has plagued me for many years, so I hope you guys don't get the thing too!
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Old 17th April 2017, 12:33 PM   #19
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Two years ago a new book by Jiri Protiva was published under the title "Pallasche der Habsburger Monarchie" (Pallashs of the Habsburg Monarchy). The main part of the book is written in Czech language, but at the ende there is a summery in German language and there you can find on page 164 the sentence you see on the foto attached. In Emglish it reads as follows:
Remarkable too is the barbed hook or notch which we can see at some pallashs from this time at their back site. Its meaning is differently explained, often with the intention to hurt the enemy deeper as normally. The most simple explanation however is, that this notche is a hook, used for collecting fallen down objects without leaving the horseback.

I think, these notches have been in use for both possibilities. Very interesting for me would be to find out who made these notches, were they made in the factory or by the user.
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Old 17th April 2017, 12:48 PM   #20
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A minute ago a friend told me that such notches are not limited to Austrian swords but can be found at Prussian swords too. He had red in a book (he cannot remember the title) that plundering cavalry troops after a battle rode over the "field of honor" and with the notches in the blades of their swords collected cartouche boxes, bread sacks, knapsacks etc. in order to find eatable things or other lute

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Old 17th April 2017, 04:37 PM   #21
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Default Purpose of notch

Corrado,
Many thanks for including Jiri Protiva's book (another one not in my library) in the discussion. Now we have a published argument for the utilitarian purpose for the notch on sword tips from what must be considered an expert in the niche area of Austro-Hungarian pallasches! Clearly the topic deserves an open mind. My critique of this argument is that it's unusual for military to design their main weapons for utilitarian purposes like this unless engineers, etc. The military tends to be strict about troopers altering their weapons for private purposes. It's also not clear why a little notch would make it much easier to pick things from the ground with a sword, unless apples? Couldn't the troops use a wooden stick for the purpose instead? Jim mentioned the risk of the sword snagging. The notch could easily snag in the reins or equipment during a melee and pose risks to the user. Wagner's Cut & Thrust Weapons only shows Austro-Hungarian swords with notches, I could not find any German ones. Separately, I can't find any Swedish swords with notches. Were Swedish cavalry not interested in picking up things from the ground?

Wagner's argument for the notch makes sense from a physical point of view. The critique is that this seems uncharacterically cruel. The supporting argument could be that these notches on swords were perhaps used in South Eastern Europe, where the nature of conflict was more intense and there was less emphasis on chivalry? It would be interesting to find out if some pallasches of a particular model have notches and some don't, which could suggest that some swords might have been adapted to different theatres of war? Most of the swords with notches in Wagner's book are in the Military Museum of Prague, but this might not mean anything as I understand most Austrian heavy cavalry regiments (users of pallasches) were from Bohemia?

Greetings from a snowy Stockholm!
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Old 17th April 2017, 07:12 PM   #22
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Thank you Corrado for that supportive detail and the title of that reference!
It is most important to have such details as we pursue this unusual topic, which seems to have been largely unnoticed in most works except Wagner's.

As I have mentioned, this seems to have been a 'field application' and certainly nothing either done or permitted in arsenals or officially purposed armourers. It is good to know (and quite frankly not surprising) that the Prussians have instances of this practice as well. In discussions with other authorities I have been told the same of some French swords in these periods.
Again, the Protiva reference seems to carry forth the same suggestions from the Wagner reference, while the other Prussian related note is of the same type circumstantial mention as with the French case I noted.

It is important to note that the larger European armies including France and Prussia adopted what were known as 'grenzer' units which were auxiliary forces for skirmishing and foraging. The Austrians continued these as well although the original 'pandour' units of von Trenck had been disbanded.
The 'grenzer' term meant 'border guard' as these were essentially what the original pandurs had been prior to adaption to military purpose

The idea that these forces were actually intended for foraging suggests some strength in the idea that they would be engaged in collecting such useful items after battle. However why then would 'officers' swords be notched as well? would these 'duties' not be ascribed to regular troopers?
Also, if these notches were so intended, why then are some placed effectively 'backwards' where they could not serve as a 'hook' ?

The next important question for the pallasches would be that a notched blade would not only snag in a thrust, but in many cases, effectively remove the now imbedded weapon from its user and expose him to other combatants unarmed. In a melee, this would mean his end in mere seconds from surrounding enemy.

The idea of the horrifying notion of toothed blades (as Burton addressed and I noted in my earlier post) as deliberately inhumane weapons intended to frighten the enemy is actually more 'lore' than reality. In my personal findings on this I found that the most well known of the 'toothed' bayonets, the Schmitt-Rubin of the 1880s used by German forces in WWI, generated these kinds of stories among the British forces. The British, thinking these were 'designed' for this horrifying purpose, offered no quarter to any soldier found with one of these. For this reason, many of the German forces took to grinding down the back of the blades. I do not recall the source of this data but I think it was the late Roger Evans who told me that.

This same hatred toward lancer troops was well known in the Napoleonic campaigns, as the lance wounds carried all manner of debris and infecting material into the wound which brought an excruciating and often prolonged end to those who survived the initial thrust wound. The idea of 'worsening' a thrust wound physically, at the risk of imbedding the weapon out of service, is of course most unlikely in my opinion.

While the more pragmatic ideas of utility have a degree of plausibility, they seem equally unlikely (there was some levity as I talked with several fencing masters at one academy, and one suggested 'can opener'?...in jest).

While I think even Occam would have thrown up his hands on this one, there HAS to be an explanation to this less than usual, but profoundly notable practice in these times on blades.
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Old 17th April 2017, 10:36 PM   #23
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Jim,

This quote might come in handy for future reference regarding the notorious German bayonets: "We overhaul the bayonets...the ones that have a saw on the blunt edge. If the fellows over there catch a man with one of those, he's killed at sight." (Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front).

There seems to be a parallel discussion about the purpose of notches on knives on the internet. I guess it's highly implausible that the notches on pallasch and sabre blade tips could be intended to catch the opponents' blades and wrest those out of their hands? Apparently there's also something called a "Spanish notch" on Bowie knives which is something else?

I guess the existence of notches on Prussian and French sword blades are only hearsay so far. It would be nice to discover photos of some examples to prove their existence.
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Old 17th April 2017, 11:45 PM   #24
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Thanks Victrix! This is quite a trip down memory lane, and researches from many years back which were fascinating and actually pretty great adventures.
Interesting note on the Remarque novel, of course an all time classic which observed the accounts on those bayonets. I recall one of those being one of my very first weapons I collected as a kid, back in the early 60s. I thought it was pretty scary and my friends thought I was nuts for having such a ghastly thing...no need to mention my parents thoughts!

Thank you for that quote!!! I had never known of that in that book, but of course knew the movie well.

The old blade catcher myth is another well used chestnut, and pretty well dispelled by Egerton Castle, in "Schools and Masters of Fence" (1885) particularly with the toothed 'sword breakers'. These were primarily novelties with the left hand daggers basically out of use by their time according to his findings. It is virtually the same instance with most other 'sword catching' features such as notches, and only quillons and guards served such purposes, then usually nominally.

The 'Spanish notch' is another one which came up in my research years ago (now I really want to find these notes!). It was in an article in a magazine around 1979, and I cannot recall the authors name. No satisfactory conclusion was ever found but it seems these notches on the back of the blade were on 'Meditteranean' knives. These were typically used aboard ships by sailors, who used them of course as weapons in the expected knife fights among themselves. It was from these that the Bowie brothers learned the art of knife fighting, and it is believed that they were ancestors of the fabled 'Bowie' knife.
I was told by a blacksmith working in the James Black smithy in Arkansas, home of the 'Bowie', that Black always 'notched' his blades. These had no purpose but were a vestigial nod to those early knives, mostly Spanish but many French ( prevalent in Louisiana of course).

It is in that rather 'honorific' sense that these were notched that makes me wonder of there is perhaps some such 'gesture' or symbolic notion which might have been behind these mysteriously applied features.

Thank you for sharing in pondering these curious notches, and for your patience as I drag out all these research memories!
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Old 19th April 2017, 12:29 AM   #25
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For the record, three pages from Wagner (I think there are about 8 examples) and another blade with notches but source unk.

Actually in some notes I found, there is mention of reins being the object of attack where if a riders reins were cut, and control of his horse lost, he was in serious trouble in melee action. There were cases in which this actually prompted reins with guards or chain I believe.
Also, by the same token perhaps these notches could help a rider retrieve his reins if dropped without dismounting?
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Old 19th April 2017, 01:04 PM   #26
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Thank you very much - I take this for a very good and plausible thought, really a very good explanation and perhaps the best I have red until today.
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Old 19th April 2017, 02:01 PM   #27
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Let me not be a party pooper, Jim (and corrado) but, wouldn't you find these notches to small to pick and pull up 'thick' reins straps ? .
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Old 19th April 2017, 07:06 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Let me not be a party pooper, Jim (and corrado) but, wouldn't you find these notches to small to pick and pull up 'thick' reins straps ? .

Good question Fernando, and in actuality, most of the suggestions that have been presented by authorities such as Wagner and other museum officials, collectors et al, though desperately trying to find a pragmatic explanation for these notches, have been equally fanciful.

As I have noted, even the character of these notches, let alone size, defies reasonable plausibility in accord with the proposed purposes. In the case of one pandour sabre I handled, the notch was too small for any effective purpose, yet it was faithfully placed in the same blade location.

My only recourse throughout the many years of trying to resolve this unusual feature has been to consider some long forgotten symbolic gesture for it. As I had mentioned, Bowie knives have long received a vestigial notch on the back of the blade in this manner. We may consider the 'choil' on the back of the kukri blade, faithfully placed, but with no explainable purpose.
The notion of notching a blade to serve as a 'blade catcher' is of course pure nonsense as far as I have seen in more years of studying this phenomenon than I can say exactly.
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Old 19th April 2017, 08:00 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
...My only recourse throughout the many years of trying to resolve this unusual feature has been to consider some long forgotten symbolic gesture for it ...
My non-initiated perspective has little weight but, unless some clear (convincing) evidence of a practical purpose of these cuts shows up, i would subscribe your thoughts .
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Old 19th April 2017, 10:37 PM   #30
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From the discussions above I see no reason to reject the published claims put forward by Messrs Wagner and Protiva regarding the notches on Austrian swords from the beginning of the 18thC, unless evidence materializes to prove them incorrect.

I would be interested to know if all swords of the particular models in Wagner's book Cut and Thrust Weapons had notches, or only some rare examples. Intentionally or not, Wagner's book gives the impression that many Austrian pallasches and sabres from the first half of the 18thC had notches on their blades. Then the question is whether it's significant that these notches occur on blades which were used by Austrian cavalry during the time of Prince Eugene of Savoy, or whether this is a mere coincidence. Finally I would be interested to see photos of Prussian, French, or other swords with similar notches on their blades to prove that the practice was not limited to Austria.
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