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Thread: Please help Identify this probably Mexican sword

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Please help Identify this probably Mexican sword

    Hello, I have been working on a small collection of Mexican and Spanish colonial swords as I live in Southern California and I view the mission and presidio period an interesting part of my states history.
    I have recently purchased this saber and would love to know more about it. The photos are the sellers, My camera is crap.
    The blade is 32 inches long (81.28 cm) and has a very narrow tapered point with no sharpening on the edge, there is a short- armed cross in a circle stamped into the ricasso which is the only mark I can see on the blade. The sheath is a very typical Mexican style with very elaborate leather work and the only metal being a few small rivets and eyelets.
    A feature I find very distinctive is the branched handguard that is almost completely covered inside and out with a thin and tightly stitched black leather that extends over the entire handle, the handle being much thicker than any Mexican sword I have handled and has a depression on the top for a thumb.
    I have seen two other sabers with different blades and guards that were both similarly covered that were both described by their owners as mid nineteenth century Mexican.
    I am curious if this piece was made to a military standard or what the origin of the blade would be, and of course the time period and local it might be attributed to.
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  2. #2
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    Looks like a Solingen export product to me resembling the 1822 French light cavalry model. I supose the guard is iron and not brass. Could be 1848 vintage, although the nice leatherwork seems newer than that. There are not many Spanish names starting with Q (Quintiliano), nor surnames with Z (Zapata, Zorro...).
    La vida amable, el enemigo hombre fuerte, ordinario el peligro, natural la defensa, la Ciencia para conseguirla infalible, su estudio forçoso, y el exercicio necessario conviene al que huviere de ser Diestro, no ignore la teorica, para que en la practica, el cuerpo, el braço, y los instrumentos obren lo conveniente a su perfeccion. --Don Luis Pacheco de Narvaez.

  3. #3
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    Zorro wasn't real?
    The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people." --- Tench Coxe

  4. #4
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    Zamorano, Zorita, Zaragoza... not too many surnames, but still quite a few.

    Nice sword, in any case. I've always thought that these swords in Mexico had a very long service life, more than in Europe, and the scabbards were usually renovated. Because of that, they come to us not with the original ones, but with later, while very nice and interesting, locally-made leather scabbards and suspension straps.

    Juan J.
    SI, SI
    NO, NON

  5. #5
    Similar thoughts to those above. My initial impression was a 1821 Pattern Light Cavalry Officer's Sword or similar, with a slightly re-profiled point.
    It certainly looks like a military sabre with a fancy leather jacket.
    This is a very interesting sword, congratulations
    I could in all honesty be happy JUST collecting Mexican swords! They are so varied and intriguing.
    Sadly they seldom come onto the market in England.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Don L W View Post
    Hello, I have been working on a small collection of Mexican and Spanish colonial swords as I live in Southern California and I view the mission and presidio period an interesting part of my states history.
    Well Don,
    I've just noticed the above and my sense of selfish self-interest picked up a scent!
    I've got a cup hilt that I would like to show you. I'll send you a PM so I don't hijack your thread.
    Thanks
    Gene

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    15
    Thanks for the responses!

    Javier - I think Solingen import sounds reasonable, I am used to seeing imported blades made up into complete swords by local craftsmen but not so many imported complete like this.

    Erik - He exists in our hearts, like Santa Claus.

    Juan - I agree fully about the long service life in Mexican swords, some of mine have really been through a lot and it shows. They must have been valuable and hard to replace in a land that was often starved for steel goods.
    As far as the sheath goes with Mexican swords I think the lifestyle and environment must have been rough on them. and so we see so few, and of those often later than the sword itself.
    I do wonder if, in the case of revolutions and rebellions where you have situations where a mans hat or shoes may identify him as one of us or one of them, having your leather work seem properly patriotic or nationalistic and not so European may have seemed like a good idea.

    Gene - There are some similarity to the 1821 but also some differences, I suppose I could learn more without all the leather covering it up but that is not going to happen, perhaps I can get an x-ray.

    Has anyone seen a similar covered hilt in Europe? I imagine it may have been a local style, but I can only guess why.

  8. #8
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    A very nice saber. I really like the use of leather with these sabers--I refer to it as artisan leather work found in the Mexican culture--the suspension is quaint but effective and pretty--the leather work runs the gamut and some of it appears to be as important as the saber itself, probably an indicator of the rank and/or means of the owner.
    Last edited by T. Donoho; 07-10-2014 at 10:36 PM.
    Tom Donoho

  9. #9
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    Jul 2010
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    Texas
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    Leather Hilt/Guard Covers

    Quote Originally Posted by T. Donoho View Post
    A very nice saber. I really like the use of leather with these sabers--I refer to it as artisan leather work found in the Mexican culture--the suspension is quaint but effective and pretty--the leather work runs the gamut and some of it appears to be as important as the saber itself, probably an indicator of the rank and/or means of the owner.
    were applied during the 1910-1920 period to prevent the sun from reflecting off of the brass components.

  10. #10
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    After working many years in the southern deserts of California and Arizona and I cannot discount the reflective theory as the sun does give bright things away in the sand. One of the problems with metal in the desert is it cannot be held. We wrapped our wrenches and tools with leather so we could use them without burning our hands. Of the few of this type I have seen I would place non before late 19th or later than early 20th. although the reuse of parts, rehilting of old swords and even reconditioning ungrading an old sword was rampant in Mexico. I can think of no argument against the 1910-1920 for the leather work and last use of this sword although the components may be older. Eric
    The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people." --- Tench Coxe

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