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Thread: A tale of two sabres: Osborn & Gunby vs. Cold Steel

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    A tale of two sabres: Osborn & Gunby vs. Cold Steel

    A comparitive study of Cold Steel's reproduction 1796 sabre against an original sword, c.1810

    This is long overdue with much interest in the CS 1796 sabre throughout this forum.

    A semi-custom project required a decent sabre blade and due to the favourable opinion towards the Cold Steel 1796 sabre on SFI I decided I would give it a try rather than go custom. Alas, neither CS or any of the other vendors would supply an unhilted blade and I had to buy the sword complete (not a great loss as the CS88 from Cold Steel's UK dealer isn't terribly expensive and for a decent sabre blade it was worth the money). This purchase coincided with the opportunity to finally acquire a fine original 1796 sabre care of West Street Antiques; so the idea for this 'study' was born.

    This is going to be very picture heavy so I hope you all have broad band. First up I'll post the pictures for you to peruse. I forgot my notes and measurements in the rush to get to work tonight so I will post the statistics and measurements for each sword tomorrow.

    First up the Cold Steel CS88
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    Decent wooden cored scabbard with nice fittings and a good tight fit.
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    Not great resolution but it gives you the idea of the CS blade profile.
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    Hilt & grip

    as above; nicely executed hilt with a well formed grip and tidy leather wrap.
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    CS88 hilt

    Nice pair of shoulders and a very tight hilt.
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    Last edited by Jonathan Fletcher; 12-15-2005 at 12:43 AM.

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    Cruddy resolution I am affraid; was dog tired having just finished a long night. The peen is (was) very tight and a bugger to undo. In fact I just killed the upper grip plate with the dremmel to get it off because no matter how hard I hit it it was barely moving at all (and I really wanted to get to my bed!).
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    As mentioned, a well formed and comfortable grip. Very secure with the cross peen through the tang.
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    Blade tip with the secondary bevel. Razor sharp to my delight when taking the hilt off; also sharpened along the first part of the back edge.
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    Last edited by Jonathan Fletcher; 12-15-2005 at 12:12 AM.

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    Just a shot of the fuller fading out; smooth and nicely ground out.
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    Final CS88

    Last shot of the hilt just to show the proportions of the stirrup hilt to the blade.
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    Now after much swearing and several cuts....
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    Well formed and one piece (i.e. no welded rods)
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    Comparitive tang

    These are the only shots I have of an original 1796 sabre tang. The CS88 tang compares favourably and felt pretty solid despite its slim appearance.
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    Original tang

    Again, another shot of an original 1796 sabre tang.
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    The Osborn & Gunby sword, c.1810.

    Now for the original. A superb O&G sabre in very nice, albeit cleaned, condition. The pictures don't do it justice and the coating of wax makes the patina appear a little dull. Needless to say, in hand this sword is no where near dull and is a very imposing piece. You can see straight away the massive blade compared to the CS88. Also note the slight differences in the blade profile with much more flare at the COP on the original and the blunted tip.
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    Last edited by Jonathan Fletcher; 12-14-2005 at 08:29 PM.

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    O&G in scabbard

    The first thing that struck me about the O&G sabre when it arrived in the post (very well packed by WSA) was the massive size of the sword in its scabbard. This is a big sword and the CS88 pales before it.
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    Sword & scabbard

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    The grip survives in decent nick on the O&G sabre and side by side the CS88 hilt fares pretty well; give or take a couple of hundred years of wear.
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    Original peen

    The more I post the more I begin to realise that the best feature of the Cold Steel sword is the hilt. The blade is nice but the hilt is probably its most accurate feature. And I've destroyed it. Ah well, it'll look great with its new baskethilt.
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    Last edited by Jonathan Fletcher; 12-15-2005 at 12:15 AM.

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    Tight hilt

    The selling feature of the original sabre was its tight hilt. Despite all that time (and probably some restoration) this sword is still fit for service. There's no play at all in the guard and in the swing she holds up very well. The shoulders are built up to about 1/2" into the blade from where the very broad fuller starts. The scabbard meets a thick leather seating mounted in front of the guard; there's no rattling on this parade.
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    Last edited by Jonathan Fletcher; 12-15-2005 at 05:22 PM.

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    Blade marks

    Just some pictures of the stamped markings on the original. Thankfully my CS88 has no markings; some people have reported 'India' stamped into the blades on some of the 1796 sabres floating about (perhaps these are not true CS ones or perhaps made for a different distributor?)
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    Last edited by Jonathan Fletcher; 12-15-2005 at 12:20 AM.

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    Ordnance stamp

    Crown & letters stamped into the fuller near the guard
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    The more spatualte tip and the fade out of the fuller c/f the Cold Steel sword (sorry for the poor focus and note the wax streaks necessary to protect my metalwork from the vile Scottish climate)
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    Edge damage

    The O&G sabre has some nice edge damage around the COP: some are pretty deep and look like they might have been made from the edge striking the nails that hold the melons onto the posts on the range. They are also a little ground down; presumably from salvage sharpening when the sword was cleaned. It's hard to tell how much blade might have been lost to this kind of work but looking at it I'd say not much.
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    Last edited by Jonathan Fletcher; 12-15-2005 at 05:23 PM.

  25. #25

    Scabbard throat

    The steel scabbard throat: a nice good fit with no rattle. Kills the edge of course!
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