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Thread: Is this a Prussian 1852 sabre?

  1. #1
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    Is this a Prussian 1852 sabre?

    Greetings all, recently joined the forum but have been enjoying the wealth of knowledge here.

    Just received this sword which I bought on eBay last week, advertised as a "German Infantry Officer's Sword And Scabbard" (please scroll down to see the actual auction with the seller's photos)

    A later edit to the auction by the seller stated:

    "...This is a Prussian/German Model 1852 Cavalry sabre, dress version, and very plain vanilla - no inscription or regimental attribution on the blade..."

    My photos (please click on thumbnail photos to enlarge):

















    picture host

    The yellowish color of the guard in some of the pictures is an artifact of the lighting - the guard is steel, not brass.

    Measurements:

    Overall length = 36.5 inches (92.71 cm)
    Blade length = 31.25 inches (79.38 cm)
    Blade width at ricasso = 0.87 inches (2.21 cm)
    Blade thickness at ricasso = 0.24 inches (0.61 cm)
    Blade thickness at tip = 0.07 inches (0.18 cm)
    Point of balance = 5 inches (12 cm) from the guard

    Blade is *not* a pipe back.

    Only marking on the entire sword is the letter "B" on the left side of the ricasso.

    No cyphers, no unit markings, no maker's mark (unless the "B" is one.)

    No leather finger loop on the inside of the guard, and it looks like there never was one installed.

    Peened pommel.

    A previous owner scrubbed the heck out of the blade and guard, as there are multiple fine scratches all over.

    There are traces of paint in the insides of the openings of the guard.

    Multiple nicks in the dull edge (may have been sharpened before), probably from a previous owner playing at swordfighting with friends.

    Scabbard is covered somewhat sloppily in black paint.

    Questions:

    - Is this indeed a Prussian 1852 sabre, one made for export, or a completely different sword?
    - What was the original finish on the guard - paint, bluing or nickel plating?
    - I plan to restore and sharpen the sabre to use for light cutting (water bottles) and solo practice - is this reasonable, or will I be burned at the stake for using an antique?
    - What replica sword knot would be proper (or close enough) for this sword, and what color leather for a leather washer to place in front of the guard?
    - What type of sword technique would one use for this - cutting or thrusting?

    Thank you for your patience.
    Last edited by Gabriel N; 01-19-2017 at 09:09 PM.

  2. #2
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    Lightbulb

    Gabriel: I saw that one as well. The finger loop is cut off, the remains of it are in front of the ring.

    It is an extra purchase Mod 1852, it is not an "Officers' Saber". Troopers who served the three years as a volunteer could buy one with their own funds. An officer in units that used these would have carried a Lionhead Saber.

    The scabbard should be black, as this one was undoubtedly after 1891, as it has a single ring. The Prussian mounted troops blackened their scabbards in 1902.

    The knot was "Rotjuechtenleder", with the usual open fist, depending upon Company or Battalion colors. The leather would have been red and crosshatched. Repros are sold by several persons in Germany. I do not have contact info handy.

    The correct washer would most likely be black leather. Actually they were natural leather, but soaked in oil...Balastol was used in those days, but before 1902, animal fat was used. (Oelfet)

    I have no opinion on sharpening, but look at several other German actual issue sabers as a guide, they did not sharpen the whole edge..If yours is sharpened on the distal part of the blade, it was done in WW 1, if a trooper returned to service, and brought his own saber, they were ordered to be sharpened in the same manner as issued weapons.

    The Germans designed this weapon to be effective in cut and thrust, which was their doctrine at the time. Others, I am sure will chime in on this...

    The original finish on these extra purchase sabers would be Nickel plate, on the hilt and blade. Sometimes they were sold with a natural finish blade, and a plated hilt. All of this depended upon the pocketbook of individual trooper. Most of the scabbards were black lacquer or blued steel. Before 1899, they would have been nickel plated the nickel plating lasted into the 20th Century, and was gradually phased out. One has to understand that the state owned blades would have been modified almost at once, but private purchase weapons would have taken a lot longer to be changed at the time of production. Private weapons were allowed to be obsolete for a while, as the Prussians considered the cost to the soldiers and officers..By 1908 the Kaiser required all weapons on active duty to be compliant with the various directives issued earlier.

    Dale

  3. #3
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    Dale,

    Thanks for the excellent information - I was concerned about the lack of any unit markings, so a personally acquired sword would not have these.

    Any thoughts on the "B" stamp on the ricasso?

    About the finger loop - I'm not sure that one was ever installed on this sword, after looking at photos of a similar 1852 sabre in this thread:

    Difference between Prussian model 1852 officer and NCO sword...grips?

    You mention there that extra-cost features included the finger loop; is it possible that the original purchaser chose to skip buying one?

    I smiled when you wrote about the Ballistol-soaked leather washers, as I have a large bottle of it next to my desk - I suppose the "unique" odor of Ballistol will add authenticity to the sword

  4. #4
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    Gabriel: I do not know which maker the "B" is...it remains a mystery to me...

    The finger loop on these extra purchase sabers seems to be always trapped in front of the grip. I still think yours is missing...

    The enlisted troopers could have officers' grips and wire if they wanted to pay for it, along with the etched blades. If a trooper wore his own saber, it would usually be marked for the Regiment and Company to identify it if it was lost and recovered. This is especially true if he wore it as walking out dress. If not unit marked, then is was most likely, a commerative of his service, purchased when he left the active Regiment and returned to the Reserves...These sometimes have the usual motto etched on them: "Zur Errinerung an Meine Dienstzeit"...but like all the other bells and whistles, he had to pay for them..

    I think the Fingerschlaufen was regulation for this design, trapped or attached with a screw..

    Don't huff the Balastol, it is nasty!!

    Dale

  5. #5
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    Dale,

    You are correct about the missing finger loop!

    I looked closer, and I saw a piece of black leather trapped (just as you said) between the grip and the back of the guard.

    There are cut marks where some grass-combing bugger sliced off the finger loop

    (Please click on thumbnail to enlarge photo)



    I was confused because I was looking for a screw attachment to the front of the guard.

    Is it worth trying to replace the loop? I imagine it would require the services of a swordsmith to grind off the peening, remove the hilt, install a loop, then re-peen the hilt into place.

    PS: I don't huff the Ballistol, just the fumes from wiping stuff down with it give me a mild headache

  6. #6
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    Gabriel: When I lived in Ft Worth, we used more colorful language..... You could make a loop, and remove the old one and slip the new one in by splitting the top of the slot...I have done it in the past, but it hardly seems worth the trouble now...In 1972 I had a regular production line making them. Today, the thin top grain leather is almost unobtainable from Tandy's. I cannot buy the Pactra Model Airplane nitrite dope any more...(I found out the Germans used a lacquer finish on the leather!) And the fine stitch sewing machine is long gone....I had all the colors down pat as I had an extensive Imperial Helmet collection with all the colors of the various states on charts to match....

    Dale

  7. #7
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    Many thanks again!

    Since this is sort of a "beater" antique for light cutting use, I plan to sharpen the distal part of the main edge and false edge, from the tip back to about where the fuller begins.

    I'll hold off on replacing the finger loop.

  8. #8
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    Bad news.

    I went to a local knife shop to have it sharpened, but the owner stated that although the blade was nickel-plated carbon steel, it was not tempered - I don't recall how he determined this.

    His opinion was that this had been a parade sword, and he declined to work on it, stating that I would be unhappy with the results.

    Now that I think about it, the blade is narrower (0.87 inches or 2.21 cm at the ricasso) than I would expect for a working sabre (given my zero experience), and there seem to be marks on the front of the guard where a wider blade used to be.

    An alternative explanation is that this was converted to a theatrical prop, which would account for the multiple nicks on the distal part of the (unsharpened) edge.

    Well, it cost me USD 118.50 + 30 shipping from Canada to the US, from a long-time 100% eBay seller.

    Is it even worth it to return this item, as return shipping is USD 50?

    Bah, I think I'll stick to replicas from now on.

  9. #9
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    Gabriel: Contact me via message..

    Dale

  10. #10
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    PM sent.

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