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Thread: Please help ID this British-made Naval [?] sword.

  1. #1
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    Please help ID this British-made Naval [?] sword.

    Got this one recently.
    Made by Firmin & Sons, St.Martin's Lane, London.
    Bezdek dates this address between 1895-1915.
    British p.1827 hilt and blade, pommel in the shape of dragon's head, dragon's head intertwined around a fouled anchor on the basket guard, blade decorated with floriform patterns, ying-yang circle and a fouled anchor. What do you make of this one? A Chinese navy officer's sword?
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  2. #2
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    More photos
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  3. #3
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    Not Chinese, but close. The yin & yang as a national symbol is most closely associated with Korea (and is featured prominently on the Taegeukgi). Quite a scarce piece.
    Last edited by Mark McMorrow; 06-29-2007 at 06:03 PM.
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  4. #4
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    Korea didn't have a navy, or anything else, between 1895 and 1915. It was a Japanese "protectorate". This sword is for the Chinese navy.
    hc3

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    Quote Originally Posted by hc bright View Post
    Korea didn't have a navy, or anything else, between 1895 and 1915. It was a Japanese "protectorate".
    Wikipedia article on Korea under the Japanese rule says differently. Japan made Korea its protectorate in 1910.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korea_u..._rule#_note-33

  6. #6
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    HC,

    They certainly did have something. More a coastal defense force than a navy in the Western sense, but they did have it. And they had a naval school at least until about 1895 (conducted under British tutelage, interestingly enough). Korea didn't become a Japanese protectorate until 1910 (putting this sword comfortably well within the dates in question). As regards Chinese, I've seen a lot of late Qing and Nationalist edged weapons. The Qing (in power until 1911) decorative blade motifs include dragons, flowers that resemble Japanese cherry blossoms, etc, but nothing like this sword. The Nationalists (1911 and post) used a sun design. Do you have a specific reference that concludes this particular sword to be Chinese??
    Last edited by Mark McMorrow; 06-30-2007 at 03:03 AM.
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    ~ Hostem Hastarum Cuspidibus Salutemus ~

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  7. #7
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    Proof mark. Interesting that Firmin went all the way and kept the ethnic decorations to the max, even forgoing the six-pointed star around the proof mark for the flower.
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    I hang my head in shame, I had it in my mind that the Japanese invaded Korea in 1890.

    Duh.
    hc3

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    Maybe Hong Kong?

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    Just stumbled on this old thread. To reassert the attribution, this is a Chinese Maritime Customs officer's sword ca.1900.
    A rare sword..sadly, it's not in my possession anymore.

  11. #11
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    I agree with Dmitry, Chinese Maritime Customs. Wilkinsons made a number of these from the 1870's onwards and also supplied buttons, belt buckles, embroidery for caps etc.
    Here is a drawing from the pattern Book

    Robert

    PS I have just added, a memo (just found it!) from William Donler of Birmingham Sept 1880 (Late Merry Phipson & Parker) Manufacturer of Buttons, Naval and Military ornaments, quoting for Gilt broaches special pierced dragon badges etc for Chinese maritime Customs belts, caps and swords. And an earlier Order from Wilkinsons to Donler dated May 1875 ordering Silver badges, buttons and clasps.

    Also a Blade rub from 1897 for Chinese Maritime Customs sword sold to Sir W.G. Armstrong Whitworth of Elswick who just happen to supply Maritime Customs' boats!!!!
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    Last edited by Robert Wilkinson-Latham; 03-13-2012 at 09:42 AM.

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    Thanks, Robert, as always, for the nice scans "from the source".

  13. #13
    Hi All,

    Following on the theme of British-made naval sword for other countries - here is what I believe is a 1846 pattern sword made for Turkey around 1920s? (due to the reduction in width at the ricasso)

    > Has the Turkish five-pointed star facing North above the anchor as the cypher;
    > Has a Turkey head pommel (well it looks to me like a turkey - certainly ain't a Lion nor Eagle)
    > Has a "PROVED" proof mark.
    > Width at the Riscasso is ~1" (15/16")

    I have been unable to find anything similar to compare with - so just curious how common these are?

    Please advise if I'm way of track with my above analysis????

    Thanks
    Cheers
    Drew
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  14. #14
    Your sword is a Chilean Naval sword. Not Turkish. The bird's head on the pommel is actually a Condor.

  15. #15
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    Here is a Chilean navy sword made by Wilkinsons in the 1920's/1930's showing hilt and also the design on the guard.
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  16. #16
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    Turkish swords should have a turkey as an emblem... Makes sense.

  17. #17
    Mark /Robert,
    Thank you for the clarifications - any ideas on which British Firm(s) may have made it? (Only has the "PROVED" proof mark, no other markings and an unetched blade)

    Dmitry,
    Well I guess a "Condor" is certainly higher up on the food chain status than a turkey (LOL) - perhaps not as high as a Lion nor Eagle.
    Would also now explain why there is no crescent under the star on the cypher.

    Thanks
    Cheers
    Drew

  18. #18
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    It certainly does depend on date. If in the 1920's, in the UK there was really only Wilkinson left (They took over Mole, Pillin and George Thurkle in the early 1920's and of course Reeves in 1883/4.)
    Chile was a bit of a mess between 1915 and 1920 and it's earlier history one of struggle so it is difficult to date this sword. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chilean_Navy)

    If the sword is late 1920's onwards it could well be a Solingen made sword, South America being partial to ordering swords from Germany) so without any marks on sword or scabbard it is difficult to attribute to any maker or in fact give and age. With 'Prooved' it could well be Solingen pre 1914.?

  19. #19
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    Here for completeness, it the Wilkinson Master Etching plate for Chilean Navy
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  20. #20
    Thanks Robert!

    Much appreciated!

    Cheers
    Drew

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