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Thread: Help identifying an antique basket-hilt

  1. #1

    Question Help identifying an antique basket-hilt


    I have been presented with an (apparently) antique sword. I know very little of its history -- only that it was found on an old galician house where once lived scottish expatriates.

    I have taken a few pictures and, under Matt Easton's recommendation, am bringing them here to see wether you can help with the identification process.

    I tried to photograph the relevant characteristics of the sword, but I am near-illiterate on basket-hilts, so if you need any extra pictures, please do ask for them.

    It weighs 905 grams, and measures 95cm (of which 80 belong to the blade).

    It handles like a real sword should (generally speaking): agile and well-balanced (there's a picture of the POB too), but the blade is quite flexible. Not so much I would dare say it is *not* intended for actual use, but certainly slightly whippier than I expected. It is unsharpened: the tip is rounded and the edges, although thin, do not cut and don't seem like they ever did. Near the forte of the blade they are even a millimiter thick or so; thinner near the foible.

    The blade seems one of the most intriguing characteristics (again, to my ignorant eye), since the ones I saw in basket-hilted examples don't usually look like this one, do they?

    I am also a bit intrigued by the markings on the inside of the basket, which I have marked with a red circle in one picture: they look like some form of soldering? I don't know anything about metalwork, so I wouldn't know if that helps to date the piece.

    At any rate, all oppinions and data would be very welcome.

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  2. #2
    The basket looks somewhat similar to the 1828 pattern, although it lacks the circles (or "ram's horns") at the top of the side guards and the decoration on the side guards is a bit different.

    The blade is unusual, as it is quite narrow and with diamond section; however, Harvey Withers does seem to show one or two blades like this in his book The Scottish Sword 1600-1945, seeming to date from the 19th century.

    Very tentatively, I may suggest that it is a 19th century basket-hilted sword, probably of English manufacture (although it may well have been bought by or issued to a Scotsman).
    -- Keith Farrell --
    Academy of Historical Arts: website | Facebook | blog
    Fallen Rook Publishing: website | Facebook

  3. #3
    Given that it all seems rather "light weight"..could it be remotely possible that it's a 19th C sword built for Scottish Sword Dancing ? or a theatrical sword ? A flexible, un-sharpened blade would make that a possible theory ?

  4. #4
    Thank you for your insights, Keith.

    Thanks too to you, Ralph. The idea of a theatrical sword also crossed my mind, given the flex on the blade, but I thought it was «too well-made» for it to be just a theatrical prop... Admiteddly, I know nothing about theatrical swords. Are they even a thing (in that: is there an actual tradition of designing and crafting swords specifically for drama plays)?

    I have some news about the sword procedence: apparently, before the scots a german family inhabited the place. The scots were actually keepers of the house, and the german family still retains property. So it is possible, to some degree, that the weapon came from the germans pre-dating the scottish inhabitants. I am trying to get in touch with the owners of the place, but this will take probably a very long time, since they don't even live here anymore.

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