Ethnographic Arms & Armour
 

Go Back   Ethnographic Arms & Armour > Discussion Forums > European Armoury

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 5th February 2021, 05:17 AM   #1
Bryce
Member
 
Bryce's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: North Queensland, Australia
Posts: 122
Default S Stamp on British Swords

G'day Guys,
I have come across several examples of British officers' swords from around 1800 that have an "S" stamp on their ricasso, in a similar way that Osborn marked swords have a "G" stamp. Most aren't maker marked, but a couple have Prosser marked scabbards and three have blades marked to Dawes. A search of the internet hasn't produced very many examples of Dawes marked officer quality swords. Dawes seems to have been a prolific producer of troopers' swords. I am wondering if the S stamp may have been an inspection stamp used by Dawes?

Does anybody have a Dawes marked officer sword they can check for S stamps?

Cheers,
Bryce
Attached Images
  
Bryce is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 6th February 2021, 10:50 AM   #2
CutlassCollector
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Scotland
Posts: 258
Default

I don't know if this is any help as it is later, around 1850s.

The Royal Navy was having trouble procuring enough good quality cutlass blades in England so thousands were ordered from several manufacturers in Solingen. The brits set up an inspection team there and these blades were stamped with an S for Solingen as opposed to E for Enfield or B for Birmingham.

regards,
CC
CutlassCollector is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 6th February 2021, 08:23 PM   #3
Bryce
Member
 
Bryce's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: North Queensland, Australia
Posts: 122
Default

Thanks CC,
Originally I thought the S may have had something to do with Solingen, as I know Prosser did use Runkel marked blades from Solingen, but I no longer think so. I have also seen an S stamp on the tang of an early Osborn marked blade, which may or may not be related to these blades with an S on the ricasso.
Cheers,
Bryce
Bryce is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 6th February 2021, 09:15 PM   #4
adrian
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 74
Default

The brits set up an inspection team there and these blades were stamped with an S for Solingen as opposed to E for Enfield or B for Birmingham.

I suspect that if viewers were sent to Solingen to inspect swords for the Board of Ordnance they would be have been given a stamp that included a crown & inspectors identification number, as well as a location letter, which was standard practice. For example, when Pattern 1853 Enfield Rifles were contracted from M. Escoffier of St.Etienne in France, a team of three viewers with a supervisor were sent by the Ordnance department to view the rifles and they had stamps with Crown over F over 1, 2 or 3.

I don't know what an 'S' on its own on these swords represents, but it is not, I feel sure, the Ordnance's inspection stamp for Solingen.
adrian is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 6th February 2021, 10:24 PM   #5
Jim McDougall
Arms Historian
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 8,326
Default

As Adrian has noted, according to Robson (1996), the viewing marks were:
B= Birmingham
BR= Birmingham repair
E= Enfield
L=Liege
S=Solingen
W=Wilkinson

These used from c. 1820 and were a crown over letter and number (presumably inspector)under those.

The single capital letters as seen on Gill, Osborn etc. blades seem to have had some other value or meaning. As we have found, the use of these letters seem to defy logic or consistency.
With G we thought it was Gill, but the G was not on Gill blades, but was on Osborn, then the GG, again Osborn but with Gunby?
It seems there was a letter P which arose as well.
I recall the P occurring on North European blades (I think Swedish).
Somewhere in the esoterica of records there must be an answer.

While S for Solingen sounds simplistic, it does not seem far fetched when the volume of blades going through the bureaucratic web is considered.
Perhaps with large blocks of blades coming in from Solingen, a simple letter without all the usual protocol might have existed as an ad hoc provision for a period .
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 6th February 2021, 10:55 PM   #6
Will M
Member
 
Will M's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: In the wee woods north of Napanee Ontario
Posts: 298
Default

The markings required for the country of manufacture shows how well governments controlled and taxed their people even 100's of years ago. I read it was profitable enough to smuggle in blades under the noses of customs officials.
I can imagine smuggling more easily done in the past though also more dangerous if caught or the weather changed.
Will M is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 8th February 2021, 11:52 PM   #7
Jim McDougall
Arms Historian
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 8,326
Default

It seems these large capital letters may have to do with the intrigue laden circumstances of the American eagle pommel swords period, which was roughly 1793-1815. After going through the outstanding book by the late Andrew Mowbray, "The American Eagle Pommel Sword", 1988, there are interesting notes which suggest these capital letters are more to do with this enterprise than with normal British purveyance.

There are contradictions (?) such as the note on p.97 which claims that the G deeply stamped on the obverse ricasso (which seems the favored placement location) is the 'house mark of Gill.'.

On p.104 it is noted that as on two examples c. 1805, there is a deeply stamped 'O' with others, but one with Ob (Osborn? as with the other 'O's as suggested. Here the firm of William Ketland & Co. (1780-1831) is noted,as purveyors to American firms (such as the Upson partnerships in New York. Blades were being supplied to various cutlers who were assembling these eagle head swords.
As they were purchasing blades from various Birmingham makers, which were appparently brokered by Ketland, a number of them were decorated in Birmingham even with American patriotic motif.

Another example with large capital letter stamped at ricasso c. 1805 is with the letter 'I' (Solomon Jackson Birmingham 1803-15, the ''I' for Jackson).


Here is where it gets confusing:
As earlier noted, on p.105 , a blade c. 1805 has the letter ''O', and another, the O said to be a mark associated with Osborn.
Again (p. 97) says G is the 'house mark of Gill'.

Osborn became partners with Gunby in 1808, here it is noted that the 'GG' in capitals may have been by Gunby to prevent blades from being attributed to Gill? It seems Gill did not mark his blades G (I cannot recall the reference) ,

But why would Gunby use a GG, when he was partnered with Osborn, who used an O? why not OG?

The letter 'S' on the Dawes blades mounted by Prosser (a cutler not maker) are interesting with this strange convention of large letters stamped on obverse ricasso apparently with officers blades for export to America.
Dawes, while well known in swords for other ranks is not listed among those involved in this trade (in Mowbray).
Truly a conundrum as this blade stamping 'system' suggesting 'house marks' is not apparently something documented in references on British swords.
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 9th February 2021, 02:04 AM   #8
Bryce
Member
 
Bryce's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: North Queensland, Australia
Posts: 122
Default

G'day Jim,
Henry Osborn was using the G and also GG long before he partnered with John Gunby. Recently I have become aware that earlier (possibly 1780's) Henry Osborn had been marking his swords with a Crown over HO stamp. I have an early (probably circa 1796) 1796 light cavalry sabre marked to Osborn, which I believed had a corroded G stamp on the ricasso. Now I think the mark may actually be a crown with the HO hidden beneath the guard? I have seen on the internet another 1796 sabre with what looks to be a crown over HO stamp.

Henry Yallop from the Royal Armouries confirmed that a sword like the one shown below from Jonathan Barrett's website, with the crown over HO stamp, was also stamped H.OSBORN on the tang.

Why Osborn used a G stamp is still a mystery, but I have never seen a Gill marked sword with a G stamp.
Cheers,
Bryce
Attached Images
  
Bryce is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 9th February 2021, 07:05 PM   #9
Jim McDougall
Arms Historian
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 8,326
Default

Hi Bryce,
Thank you very much for these insights.
it seems Robson mentions early in the century that the crowned view or acceptance process used numbers for certain makers for example '9' for Gill and 4 and 6, I think for Wooley and Osborn. It seems like in these early times there was a great deal of push and pull trying to establish some sort of consistency and control in administrative regulation.

The use of HO on these early examples of 1796 by Osborn is interesting and in all the references on British swords, this kind of data is markedly (no pun intended) absent.

It is interesting that an example with HO exists with the more common name on the blade spine next to hilt concurrently. I suppose that would be due to the name being placed by maker at mfg. and the other being placed at proof center on acceptance.

Perhaps these capital letter stamps were an identifying device used by the blade makers themselves in the sale of their blades to purveyors (such as Ketland) which were being sent to American cutlers or brokers such as Upson in New York. This must be who so much data regarding these capital letter stamps is found in a reference on American officers swords, while it is so noticeably absent n references on British swords.
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th April 2021, 10:55 PM   #10
Bryce
Member
 
Bryce's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: North Queensland, Australia
Posts: 122
Default

G'day Guys,
Just giving this thread a bump. Does anyone have a Dawes marked officer's sword? They seem to be as scarce as hen's teeth.
Cheers,
Bryce
Bryce is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT +1. The time now is 03:15 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Posts are regarded as being copyrighted by their authors and the act of posting material is deemed to be a granting of an irrevocable nonexclusive license for display here.