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Thread: Basket Hilts

  1. #101
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    Hi Alan

    I requested extra pictures of this sword and a couple of others. Whilst they sent me a number of additional pictures the initials referred to where not among them which I thought strange. Did anyone have the opportunity to examine this sword in the flesh, I would be most interested in there impression particularly of the signature.

    Regards Cathey and Rex

  2. #102
    Hi Cathey and Rex,
    I did actually handle the sword and the initials didn't look 'right' to me.Worth noting that at a previous L&T auction last August a sword allegedly made by Walter Allan was sold. Several collectors and dealers more expert than myself agreed afterwards that it wasn't a Walter Allan - and I see details of it have been removed from the L&T's archived catalogue and results: perhaps the purchaser asked for his money back.

  3. #103
    Going through a different box of old photos, I came across 3 more of my swords that would fit this thread.

    First up, Scottish "S" hilt, first half of the 1700s.
    Absolutely typical basket with the S members in the rear part of the guard.
    Blade is 31" long, se, with triple narrow fullers. In the fullers is the maker's name, Solingen, S stamps, and a few other stamps as well. I'll take a photo of the blade markings this summer, or if they don't photograph well, I'll do a sketch.
    This sword is missing the grip and has never been apart. I have made a grip for it that I can open up and clamp around the tang, and this grip is visible in the photo. If I have time this summer. I'll mount it in the hilt.
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  4. #104
    English, first half of the 1700s.
    32" se blade with two narrow fullers, signed "Andrea Ferara".
    Gilt brass hilt of two solid shells, and with 3 branches on both sides of the hilt.
    This sword retains quite a bit of its gilding, has the original grip, and does not appear to have been taken apart.
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  5. #105
    English, sometime in the 1700s, but probably in the last half.
    34" se blade with the narrow and wide fullers typical of English military blades.
    Half basket of two side branches. The guard base itself is composed of serpents, shells, and a human head, with openwork crowns at the base of the knucklebow and as a quillion. The guard base is very reminiscent of the "fish" hilt that Bob posted earlier. The shell motif is also found on the pommel.
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  6. #106

    English/Scottish basket hilt backsword, C.1730-50, another animal hilt

    Another very attractive hilt, which seems to belong to the same family of hilts as the "fish" and "serpent" swords and of Eljay's last post, which for convenience I call a "crown hilt."

    An expert description of it is:

    The iron basket is formed from well-executed rounded bars. The front two panels formed as crowns are held in place between the primary frontal and side guard bars by four "S" shaped secondary guard bars designed as snakes with knops for tails. The crowns and snake shapes are accentuated with engraved details. The frontal guard bar is boldly constructed and engraved with fretted semi-circular panels at the joins with the "S" shaped guard bars. The rear guard structure consists of a bar which traverses the rear quillon and merges into two large "S" shaped bars which join the rear guard bar to the side guard bars of the basket. The quillon terminal is formed as a short scallop shaped wrist guard.

    The upper terminals of the three main guard bars are forged onto a ring which extends around the full circumference of the base of the bun shaped pommel which has been forged with its own integral button. The spirally grooved wooden grip is covered with shagreen and bound with brass wire ropework and mounted with brass "Turks Heads" top and bottom.

    The robust single edged tapering blade has a short ricasso and a pronounced fuller extends from the hilt underneath the spine of the blade for most of its length either side to a distance some 8 inches (20 cm) from the tip after which it becomes double edged. A shallower central fuller extends from a short distance from the hilt to the blade tip inside which either side in capital letters the words "ANDREA FERARA" are applied flanked by bold orb and cross armourers marks and dot designs. The scabbard has tooled angular shapes applied to its front and is stitched together along a central ridged line to the rear.

    The hilt is solid without any evident repairs or breaks. The sword is well held together and firm in hand. It seems that the only hitherto known group of swords with pierced frontal guard panels shaped as crowns similar to this example are Scottish silver basket hilted swords made in the Scottish North East region (mainly Aberdeen) in the first half of the 18th century (see Cyril Mazansky's "British Basket-Hilted Swords", Boydell Press, 2005, pages 180 to 182). As a result this sword seems to possess some Scottish characteristics but may also be English.

    The blade length is just under 35.5 inches (just over 90 cm) and overall length 41.75 inches (just over 106 cm).Condition: The sword is in good condition with some small patches of old pitting to the hilt and blade.

    The only similar examples I can think of which have crowns as the main two frontal guard panels are the silver hilts illustrated in Mazansky pages 180 to 182. It is this similarity that causes me to think it may be Scottish. The terminals of the guard bars which attach the panels to the main guard bars terminate in what appear to be snake heads - in a way similar to that rare group of swords with "leaping salmon" in the guard. The blade is a sturdy example of a backsword blade circa 1720 to 1740 with bold ANDREA FERARA marks, orbs and crosses
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  7. #107

    Clansman's fighting broadsword,1715- 1745

    This is a fighting broadsword of relatively crude manufacture. It is the type turned out in large numbers to arm Jacobite clansmen in either the 1715 or the 1745 rebellion, or both.

    Two points stand out, the older-style bun form pommel keyed to engage the individual basket terminals, instead of the usual groove around the pommel and the length of the blade. Average stature at the time generated swords with blade lengths of about 30 1/2" - 31-1/2". This example is 35 ½”, nearly 15% longer and the hilt proportionately larger, suggesting a warrior of superior stature and strength..

    Scottish swords like this were made to use in the "Highland Charge", the do or die tactic of overwhelming the enemy with a frenzied attack on foot with sword, targe and dirk. Every man's sword needed to be optimal for his ability. A blade too long slowed the stroke and increased the engagement distance.
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    Last edited by bob erlandson; 05-19-2015 at 01:56 PM.

  8. #108
    Hi Bob,
    The details of your "Animal hilt" of post 106 is remarkably similar to my "Crown hilt". Same scales engraved on the snakes, same terminals to scrolled hilt elements (yours are snake tails, mine is the side branches). The similarities make me wonder if we have the same hit maker, or if we're just looking at common motifs.

    --Eljay

  9. #109
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    Hi Bob and Eljay
    Looking at both of these swords I agree it would be reasonable to assume that they had the same hilt manufacturer. I only wish an example would turn up in Australia, the Crown and Snake combination is particularly appealing. I wonder how many more there are out there and if anyone else would be kind enough to post them on this forum.
    Cheers Cathey and Rex

  10. #110

    Pinch-of-Snuff infantry & horseman's swords, Mid-18th C.

    So-called "pinch-of-snuff" swords are among the most attractive hilts created for fighting swords. In fact, last week I saw in a catalogue that they are being replicated along with regular basket hilts.

    Tony Willis, owner of Alban Arms & Armour, a high-end British antique weapons dealer, has written as good a description of these swords as can be found. Mr. Willis was describing one sword; I have altered his copy to include both the cavalry and infantry models pictured.

    The attractive and elaborate construction of the basket of these swords identifies them as members of a rare and distinct group of mid 18th century Scottish swords. The complex style of hilt is unique and identical to two hilts depicted in contemporary portraits.

    Some swords in the group possess a wristguard and others do not. Some have detachable frontal loops and on others the loops are fixed. Some are of "horseman" form with an oval aperture forged into the hilt whilst others lacking this feature were presumably for officers in infantry regiments. First there is a horsemans' form, without wristguard and with frontal loops manufactured from a separate plate pierced with a diamond shape to the front and secured to the hilt by screws.

    The bun-shaped pommel with integral pommel button sits comfortably in a ring forged around the top of the basket. The wooden grip is covered with shagreen and bound with twisted wire and Turks heads top and bottom made of bronze.

    The backsword blade has a pronounced fuller with a blunt front edge extending 1.5 inches (4 cm) from the hilt. A pronounced fuller extends from the hilt along the blade just underneath the spine for 26 inches (66 cm) to terminate 6.5 inches from the tip after which the blade becomes double edged to the tip. A second fuller follows a line underneath and parallel to the first commencing 7 inches (18 cm) from the hilt and terminates 4 inches (10 cm) from the tip. A blade smith's mark is present in the ricasso.

    The blade is just over 32.5 inches (83 cm) long. Overall the sword is 38.75 inches long (just under 99 cm).

    The infantry model has a broadsword blade with a single wide fuller. The hilt is the same style as the cavalry model but has separate forward guards and wide wrist guard.

    Both swords retain their red-backed leather basket liners. The infantry sword retains its sword knot and its scabbard.
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  11. #111

    English dragoon sword, mid-18th C., George II sculpted disks on decoraive basket hilt

    English dragoon regiments of the 18th C. carried some of the most interesting and decorative swords ever, and this is a nice example of one, a George II Heavy Dragoon Sword with sculpted-relief disks on the hilt.

    Double fullered 35.5 inch blade, bearing George II cyphers on both sides. Blade is totally straight and without nicks, chips or pitting. No maker mark is visible.

    Rayskin grip is original and totally intact and tight. The triple strand wire is all intact and tight.

    The guard is stunning. There are two relief disks, which differ from most seen on swords of this style, usually grotesque "green man" style portraits. On this hilt one disk is a dragoon firing a pistol backwards at the gallop. The other looks to be a wyvern, gryphon or dragon. Fine workmanship.

    There is a heart looped in to both sides of the underside of the guard. The pommel is very solid, textured with tessellating diamonds.

    Variations of this sword were used by the Scots Dragoon's and the 7th Queens Dragoons in the 1740's to 1790's.A stunning looking sword and of superb craftmanship. For a very similar basket see " British Basket-Hilted Swords" by Cyril Mazansky, page No 146.
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  12. #112

    High quality Glasgow form basket hilt broadsword, C.1730.

    This Scottish basket hilted broadsword dates circa 1730. The basket is of particularly robust form, well fashioned from thick iron bars into an oval shape displaying notably high quality artisanship. The sword has its original grip, fringe and remnants of a leather liner. It is in fine condition without any repairs or breaks.

    The flattened bars of the hilt are of rectangular section. Towards the front of the basket they are decorated on the outside with central shallow flutes. The two primary and secondary guard panels, as well as the frontal guard panel, are pierced with circle and triangle shapes arranged in geometric patterns and finished at the edges with high quality decorative merlons and grooves.

    The centre of each primary panel is cut with a saltire shape. A unique decorative feature of this sword lies in the extensions to the middle top and middle bottom of each primary guard panel which are pierced with heart shapes. These have a functional as well as a decorative purpose helping to further protect the hand of the user. This design is frequently found on Stirling-made hilts and suggests that the craftsman who made it had some association with the Stirling workshops and enhanced his Glasgow design.

    The upper terminals of the three main guard bar arms of the basket fit tightly into a deeply cut groove which extends for most of the circumference of the pommel just below its equator. The dome shaped pommel is decorated with four rows of triple set lines, the central line being wider than the two on its flanks in each case, which radiate from the pronounced pommel button. Between these further sets of similar lines are cut in the form of crescents.

    The double edged blade is of high quality and tapers to its rounded tip. It has a pronounced ricasso extending for 2 inches (5 cm) from the hilt and two parallel deeply formed fullers near the blunt edge either side extending for the length of the ricasso. From the end of the ricasso a shallow central fuller extends for 5 inches down the blade in which the words ANDREA FERARA are present either side separated by "X" and thumbnail marks. The blade is typical of many mounted with good quality Scottish basket hilts of the period.

    The original spirally fluted grip is covered with shagreen. A portion of its original strip wire binding is present at the base as is a part of the original leather liner. The original red woollen fringe is present at the top of the grip. Overall the sword is 41 inches long (104 cm) and the blade just under 34.5 inches (just under 88cm).

    The sword is illustrated on the cover of "The Scottish Sword 1600 to 1945 - An Illustrated History" by Harvey J S Withers Paladin Press, Boulder, Colorado, USA, and on page 60

    The high quality hilt of this sword has no makers marks but is of equal, if not better, quality than some swords signed by known Scottish makers working in the late 17th and up to the mid part of the 18th centuries. Comparable examples are illustrated in Cyril Mazansky's "British Basket-Hilted Swords", Boydell Press, 2005.
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  13. #113
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    Scottish Basket hilted Broad Sword c1730

    Type of Weapon: Scottish Basket hilted Broad Sword
    Date: Circa 1730 (18th Century)
    Overall Length: 101.6 cm (40 inches)
    Blade length: 87 cm (34.3 inches)
    Blade widest point: 3.3 cm (1.3 inches)
    Hilt widest point: 11.5 cm
    Inside grip length: 9.6 cm
    Marks, etc.: Numerous marks to blade shoulder and in both fullers.

    Description
    Basket Hilt-Scottish-c1730-Broad: - Thick steel basket Hilt has typical heart and circle decoration made of thick flat bars, no wrist guard. Blade length is pitted and has dark patina, numerous marks visible on blade shoulder and both fullers, probably German. The fuller runs almost the entire length of the blade. The blade may predate the hilt however they appear to have been together for very long time.

    Cheers Cathey and Rex
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  14. #114
    Cathey,
    I'm just curious, did you find all of your baskets in Australia? If so, there's more over in this half of the world than I thought there was!

    --ElJay

  15. #115
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    Hi Eljay,

    Almost all have turned up in Australia. I am a bit obsessive so if I get a sniff of one coming on the market I track it down. However, we don't see the high quality or unusual baskets surface very often.

    Cheers Cathey and Rex

  16. #116
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    BASKET HILT Broad Sword c1740, earlier blade

    Hi Guys

    This is actually one of the first Basket hilts I purchased back in 1996 in Adelaide.

    BASKET HILT Broad Sword
    Date: Hilt Circa 1740 (18th Century), Blade earlier
    Nationality: SCOTTISH
    Overall Length: 36 ½” 92.9 cm
    Blade length: 31 1/16” 79 cm
    Blade widest point: 1 ½” 3.2 cm
    Hilt widest point: 5” 12.7 cm
    Inside grip length: 4 ¼” 10.8 cm
    Marks, etc.: 2 short fullers containing remnants of inscription, only the letters I O H A N T can be read with any certainty. Blade is pitted and has dark patina, possibly predates hilt.

    Description
    BASKET HILT Scottish Broad Sword. The hilt guards are attached to a very prominent and board flat ring under the pommel, which is associated. The space between the rear and additional rear-guards has a very short transverse linking cross-bar, one third of the way up from the blade-end of the hilt. The margins of the plates and shields are scalloped to follow the outline of the piercing. These consist of large coarsely shaped hearts and circles, which give an open appearance to the shield and plates. This hilt has an oval ring on the inside of the hilt. The blade has 2 short fullers containing remnants of inscription, only the letters I O H A N T can be read with any certainty, followed by an anchor mark. Blade is pitted and has dark patina and a number of sharp contact cuts to its edge. I would suggest that the blade definitely predates the hilt.

    General Remarks
    The same hilt features on a sword in the National Museum of Scotland Edinburgh LA 140

    References:
    CAMPBELL.A. Scottish Swords from the Battlefield at Culloden. pp 54-55
    CURTIS, T The Lyle Official Arms and Armour Review 1976 Pp21
    MAZANSKY (C.) BRITISH BASKET-HILTED SWORDS: A TYPOLOGY OF BASKET-TYPE SWORD HILTS pp126 F20.
    MOORE, W. Weapons of the American Revolution and Accoutrements. Pp 146, plate E33.
    OAKESHOTT, E. European Weapons and Armour. (See Claymore) pp 175-182.


    Cheers Cathey and Rex
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    Last edited by Cathey Brimage; 06-07-2015 at 10:31 PM.

  17. #117

    Heavy Scottish horseman's backsword, 18th C

    This is a most interesting sword which is unique in my experience. I don't believe I've ever seen a truly Scottish horseman's sword before. However, I stand ready to be educated.

    The hilt has a thistle cut-out on one of the front panels and what could be a saltire on a side panel. It also has a couple of nice Scottish touches, starting with a groove in the quillon for the blade. The wrist guard has a small decoration of parallel lines and the pommel button has four small groves as would appear on a regular pommel.

    The pommel itself is quite interesting. It doesn't match any Scottish pommels I've seen. However, Robson's Swords of the British Army, pages 18-21 illustrate a series of heavy cavalry swords of the M1788 with pommels of similar design.

    The blade on this sword is 31 inches and is quite heavy. It has two fullers starting 8 1/4 inches from the hilt The longer fuller is 18 inches; the shorter fuller 12 3/4 iches. The top of the last 8 1/2 inches of the blade
    have been sharpened but nothing like the cutting edge.

    The wear pattern on the cutting edge starting 2 1/2 inches from the quillon suggests it has been sharpened repeatedly over its career.

    The hilt itself suggests the dragoon swords of the 1750s and perhaps this pommel could date from that period. But I don't know and I hope someone else does and will let us all know.

    This is a very hefty sword and would have taken a man with excellent upper body strength to wield it well.
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  18. #118

    Cavalry sword C/1750, interesting hilt and blade

    Here is a cavalry broadsword with English-appearing C. 1750 basket hilt.

    The horseman's ring has been filled in with a bar in what appears to have been a contemporary action. The patina of the hilt, including the additional bar, appears quite uniform.

    The 29-inch double-edged blade has a single wide fuller running nearly to the rounded tip of the blade.

    The front guard panel on the right side is stamped "No 38".

    The ricasso on both sides is etched with a crowned coat-of-arms. Unfortunately, the shield below the crown is illegible on both sides of the blade, The shield is guarded on each side by stylized lions, and there is a lion in the upper right-hand quarter of the shield.

    If anyone recognizes this coat of arms please respond on this thread.

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  19. #119
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    more pics...

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    mark@swordforum.com

    ~ Hostem Hastarum Cuspidibus Salutemus ~

    "Those who beat their swords into plowshares usually end up plowing for those who don't."
    Benjamin Franklin

  20. #120
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    and more...

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    mark@swordforum.com

    ~ Hostem Hastarum Cuspidibus Salutemus ~

    "Those who beat their swords into plowshares usually end up plowing for those who don't."
    Benjamin Franklin

  21. #121

    Additional photos of 1750 cavalry sword

    For some reason the SFI server refused to accept my photos of the sword. Mark McMorrow very kindly edited them and was able to add them to the post.
    I have just taken a complete new set of pictures (with the same camera) and will try to add a few of them to see if that solves my problem.

    It seems to have done.

    Thanks for your patience and thanks again, Mark, for your help.
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  22. #122
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    no trouble at all, Bob! (that's a very interesting example, btw)
    mark@swordforum.com

    ~ Hostem Hastarum Cuspidibus Salutemus ~

    "Those who beat their swords into plowshares usually end up plowing for those who don't."
    Benjamin Franklin

  23. #123
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    British Basket Hilt Cavalry Backsword c1740-55

    British Basket Hilt Cavalry Backsword c1740-55

    Date: Circa 1740-1755 (18th Century)
    Overall Length: 101.5 cm (40 inches)
    Blade length: 85.6 cm (33.7 inches)
    Blade widest point: 3.296 cm (1.3 inches)
    Hilt widest point:
    Inside grip length:
    Marks, etc. Blade has mark on both sides and one deep fuller 61cm 24” long. There is a number painted on the hilt under the buff liner, probably an old museum reference, which appears to be 1831.over 2RS.

    Description
    Iron hilt consists of a bun pommel with a rather tall cylindrical tang-button, and a basket of more or less conventional Highland type, except that it lacks the addition of rear-guards, and the entire Saltire bars on the forward corner of each shield towards the pommel combine to form a rounded arch. The rear quillon does not project beyond the perimeter of the basket. The bars, which are of flattened rectangular section, are plain and unpierced. The grip is covered in black rayskin, wire binding is missing but brass Turks heads remain. There is a number painted on the hilt under the buff liner, probably an old museum reference, which appears to be 1831.over 2RS. Backsword blade with dark patina has mark on both sides and one deep fuller ¾ length.

    General Remarks
    Swords of this type were purchased by the colonels of British cavalry regiments, both horse and dragoons, for the use of their men. Comparable weapons are illustrated in the paintings of British heavy cavalry by David Morier, 1751 at Windsor Castle.

    References:
    Culloden The Swords and the Sorrows The National Trust for Scotland catalogue. Plate 1:51, pp 48.
    Mazansky – Cyrill British basket Hilted Swords Pp95, Fig Fla (C1750)

    Cheers Cathey and Rex
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  24. #124

    Interesting Transitional S-hilt backsword, C.1670-1710

    What makes this sword of particular interest is that much of the hilt design is rudimentary and indicative of the better developed designs to come.

    The bar linking the side guards has a single tongue-like piece of the type most commonly seen on swords ascribed to the early and mid-17th C.

    There is minimal decoration on the edges of the front-guard panels and holes around their perimeter. There is a small effort to decorate the S-links. There is one attempt at a heart decoration, a crude effort on the front guard.

    The wrist guard is a later, but still early, addition, held in place by two rivets. The dome-like pommel has a groove to fit the arms of the guards.

    The 31 1/2-inch single-edged blade is unmarked, but relatively sharp and well-used. This sword appears to have seen a good amount of action during its working life.

    An English expert who surprised me by saying that he had owned this sword about 20 years ago before selling it to an American collector has been working on dating Scottish basket hilts and has come to believe that many of them date a quarter-century earlier than is commonly thought.

    I suggested that this sword dated 1700-1710. He said he believes it could have been made as early as 1670. Given what we know -- and mostly don't know -- there is every reason to believe he could right.

    And that's what makes all of this such fun!!
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  25. #125
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    BASKET-HILT c1745 British Dragoons

    Hi Bob,

    You do manage to pick up the most interesting examples. I particularly like the decorative edging to the S bar. I have just taken a week off between changing jobs again, hence I have been pretty much off line.

    To keep things going here is another Basket from out collection. The only unusual feature about this sword is its size. The Basket guard is unusually large and the blade one of the longest in our collection.

    BASKET-HILT c1745 British Dragoons
    Overall Length: 117 cm, (46.1 inches)
    Blade length: 101.5 cm, (40 inches) Back blade from hilt for 58cm
    Blade widest point: 3.128 cm (1.2 inches)
    Marks, etc: Remnants of etched pattern inlaid with gold on both sides. Scottish thistle and sun design still evident

    Description
    BASKET-HILT British Dragoon Guards Troopers Sword pattern 1745. Unusually Large Basket hilt with typical heart design and English style Bun Pommel. Wide central fuller full length of blade, slight remnants of etched pattern inlaid with gold on both sides. Scottish thistle and sun design still evident. Blade is 101.5 cm, back blade from hilt for 58cm.

    Dragoons were originally intended to be used as mounted infantry. In the early 18th century, cavalry was divided into 2 categories - regts of horse and regts of dragoons. The regts of horse were used in the traditional role of heavy cavalry - i.e. shock action. Dragoons were used mainly for reconnaissance - and usually fought dismounted in battle.

    References:
    BEZDEK, Richard H. SWORDS AND SWORD MAKERS OF ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND pp 282
    MAZANSKY (C.) British Basket-Hilted Swords: A Typology Of Basket-Type Sword Hilts. Pp97 Fig Fle & 125, Fig F17c
    Scottish Sword & Shield Catalogue September 1994 Pp 6 No 8.
    Wallis & Wallis Connoisseur Collectors Auction Spring 1996 15/5/96 Lot 126.
    Wallis & Wallis Connoisseur Collectors Auction Spring 1998 7/10/99 Lot 82.
    Wallis & Wallis Connoisseur Collectors Auction 5/5/04 Lot 52
    WILKINSON LATHAM, John, SWORDS IN COLOUR Plate 29.


    Cheers Cathey and Rex
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