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Thread: British Slot Hilt Photos and Discussion

  1. #1

    British Slot Hilt Photos and Discussion Thread

    Dear All,
    The A&M Forum has been fairly quiet as of late, with most posts focusing on sword identification. We all love helping people discover more about the swords they have inherited, found, or purchased, but we have not had many other conversations lately. I thought it would be fun to start a thread that would provide a framework for some discussion not related to sword identification or questionable eBay auctions. Hence, a thread on slot hilts (inspired by the recent thread "1790's(?) British infantry non-regulation pattern").

    I see this as a show and tell and learn type of thread. Let us post pictures of British slot hilts from our collections, or nice examples we have seen in books, online, or at auction. We can describe the various design features and variations, offer theories as to approximate dates and why we ascribe the dates we do. We can discuss the resources that have been most helpful in our researches and offer direction to those in search of more information.

    To begin, when did the slot hilt emerge as a style in Britain, and when did it disappear? How would one identify a slot hilt as being specifically British (assuming the absence of makers names and royal cyphers and the like)? What variety of blades are associated with the slot hilt?

    Below is a British slot hilt from my collection. It was originally sold to me as a British cavalry sword c.1780. I knew it was not likely a cavalry sword as it is quite short measuring only 30.25" (~76.8 cm) overall. The blade is unmarked and has short ricasso (~.25") and a broad fuller that runs nearly the entire length of the blade, terminating about 3" from the tip. The guard, backstrap and pommel are brass. The four slot guard has a wavy or crinkle-type pattern and the vestigial quillon is formed as a shell. The pommel features a lionshead which causes the sword to look strikingly similar to the later 1803 Pattern Infantry Officer's Sword. The grip is leather and is missing its wire wrap. It is a very light and agile sword overall. The short, broad blade would lend itself well to close quarters fighting at sea or in an infantry melee, but not from horseback.

    I have always had trouble dating this sword. At one time I thought it might be an NCO variation of the 1803, and dated it to 1800-1810. More recently David Critchley pointed out that he has seen a similar silver crinkled slot hilt dated to the 1770s. I am now thinking that it dates between 1770-1790, but that is really just a best guess.




    Please post reactions to my questions or my description, as well as your own photos, questions, and comments!

    Best,
    Jonathan
    Last edited by Glen C.; 03-20-2008 at 08:08 PM.

  2. #2
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    Nice piece. I'd call it a short saber or even a hanger, as opposed to a sword though.

  3. #3
    Dmitry,
    Yes, it is a short saber/hanger, but I consider these designations to be descriptions of specific sword types. So I would say it is a sword, and more specifically, a short saber.

    Thanks,
    Jonathan

  4. #4
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    Jonathon,

    The guard of my 4 slot hilt resembled yours. The wavy bars resemble the "flamboyant" blades seen on some 18th century swords. Hence, I call it a "flamboyant" pattern. I guess some could call it scalloped. I suppose David calls it a "crinkle slot."

    Mine was steel hilted with an urn pommel and a bone grip with copper banding. It dated to circa 1775. I would say that yours post dates that a bit. The blade style and the lions head pomell to me, would date it to around 1790 - 1800.

    Of course, I may be wrong. I have been wrong before.

    Andre

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by A.Ducote View Post
    Jonathon,

    The guard of my 4 slot hilt resembled yours. The wavy bars resemble the "flamboyant" blades seen on some 18th century swords. Hence, I call it a "flamboyant" pattern. I guess some could call it scalloped. I suppose David calls it a "crinkle slot."

    Mine was steel hilted with an urn pommel and a bone grip with copper banding. It dated to circa 1775. I would say that yours post dates that a bit. The blade style and the lions head pomell to me, would date it to around 1790 - 1800.

    Of course, I may be wrong. I have been wrong before.

    Andre
    Andre,
    Thank you for your input. I have always been wishy-washy about the dates for the sword and will probably adjust my date to the 1790s.

    Do you still have that slot hilt? If so, I'd love to see some photos when and if it's convenient for you to post them!

    Jonathan

  6. #6
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    Crinkle slot, I like that. Some are quite ornate and have a twisted, or "writhren" look to the detail. Mowbray pictures quite a few.

    Here is a rather plain one that has turned up.

    http://usera.imagecave.com/Hotspur/swordD.jpg

    Cheers

    Hotspur; same dealer as the 1822

  7. #7
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    Are there any markings on the blade or hilt at all?
    She's really a beauty, this one.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Glen C. View Post
    Crinkle slot, I like that. Some are quite ornate and have a twisted, or "writhren" look to the detail. Mowbray pictures quite a few.

    Here is a rather plain one that has turned up.

    http://usera.imagecave.com/Hotspur/swordD.jpg

    Cheers

    Hotspur; same dealer as the 1822
    That is a really nice piece. Is it being sold as American? It look earlier based on the second thin fuller on the blade. Maybe that on is 1770s-1780s?

    Jonathan

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glen C. View Post
    Crinkle slot, I like that. Some are quite ornate and have a twisted, or "writhren" look to the detail. Mowbray pictures quite a few.

    Here is a rather plain one that has turned up.

    http://usera.imagecave.com/Hotspur/swordD.jpg

    Cheers

    Hotspur; same dealer as the 1822
    The grip is a definite replacement, imo. I think I know who the dealer is. Starts with a G...?

  10. #10

    Tiger Headed Pommel - Slot Hilt

    To be posted as new thread.
    Last edited by Nidhin Olikara; 08-23-2007 at 11:14 AM. Reason: Reply removed for posting as new thread

  11. #11
    Nidhin,
    I'd love to hear what fellow forumites think of your nice sword, but I would prefer to have that discussion in another thread. I would like to keep this thread focused on British slot hilts and not other patterns and their variants. If there are slot hilt patterns (e.g. the 1803) that have variants, discussion of these would be welcome.

    Thank you,
    Jonathan

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dmitry Z~G View Post
    The grip is a definite replacement, imo. I think I know who the dealer is. Starts with a G...?
    Yes, that is the source. The peen does look reworked but the the form could be correct. The fit to the ferrules stands out as well. The blade looks like it may have been heat "blued" in the same restoration attempt. Again, I don't think the dealer would bother to spend the time, just prices accordingly and doesn't hesitate to show condition.

    Jonathan, very possibly an American cutlery effort. He doesn't list it as American but it does have the look. I have to dig for another page I neglected to bookmark that had many, many 3rd quarter 18th century slot hilts.

    I need to pick up a copy of Neumann's book(s).

    Cheers

    hotspur; more later, running a bit late for something

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.G. Hopkins View Post
    Andre,

    Do you still have that slot hilt? If so, I'd love to see some photos when and if it's convenient for you to post them!

    Jonathan
    Alas, when I changed my focus area to US Civil War swords, this short sabre was the last to be sold. It was nice.
    Attached Images Attached Images    

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    What do you guys think of this one? Is this a British or an American manufacture?
    The shape of the lion's/bear's head pommel is reminiscent of the American ones I've seen in Neumann's books, but overall I think it rings of the good old England. The quality is superb here.



  15. #15
    Andre,
    That is an excellent looking sword. I would love to add a similar piece to my collection one day. Do you recall its dimensions at all? Was the blade a more standard 30"+ or was it also shorter like mine?

    Has anyone ever seen a slot hilt on a curved cavalry saber? The 1788 Heavy Cavalry Sword hilt is essentially a slot hilt with branches, but it is a straight bladed sword.

    Jonathan

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dmitry Z~G View Post
    What do you guys think of this one? Is this a British or an American manufacture?
    The shape of the lion's/bear's head pommel is reminiscent of the American ones I've seen in Neumann's books, but overall I think it rings of the good old England. The quality is superb here.



    Dmitry,

    looking at Neumanns, I see only one American lionhead pommel short sabre that remotely looks of the quality of this one. Based upon that, I would say British.

    Andre

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Dmitry Z~G View Post
    What do you guys think of this one? Is this a British or an American manufacture?
    The shape of the lion's/bear's head pommel is reminiscent of the American ones I've seen in Neumann's books, but overall I think it rings of the good old England. The quality is superb here.
    I would guess it is British based on the apparent quality and detail of the silver hilt. Does the dealer give that one a date? Nice find, Dmitry.

    Jonathan

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.G. Hopkins View Post
    Andre,
    That is an excellent looking sword. I would love to add a similar piece to my collection one day. Do you recall its dimensions at all? Was the blade a more standard 30"+ or was it also shorter like mine?

    Has anyone ever seen a slot hilt on a curved cavalry saber? The 1788 Heavy Cavalry Sword hilt is essentially a slot hilt with branches, but it is a straight bladed sword.

    Jonathan
    Thanks. I wish I had known you were in the market for one. I would have sold it directly to you. It was more in the range of 26 inches in blade length.

    Neumann's shows several American horseman's sabres that are 4 slot hilt. The British versions are the 1788 pattern hc sword and its predecessors. I think that the Americans relied upon this type of hilt because I would think it to be cheaper to manufacture than a baskethilt or a bilobate guard.

    There is a sword on ebay right now that is being described as an American revolutionary war cavalry sabre. However, I'm not making any statement as to the correctness of the sword or the description. Run a search for Revolutionary War Sword. It should be at the top.

    Andre

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by A.Ducote View Post
    Neumann's shows several American horseman's sabres that are 4 slot hilt. The British versions are the 1788 pattern hc sword and its predecessors. I think that the Americans relied upon this type of hilt because I would think it to be cheaper to manufacture than a baskethilt or a bilobate guard.
    I will have to take another look. I am at work and without any references, so some of my questions are just off the top of my head.
    (And yes, I am getting some work done )

    Oh, unfortunately I'm not in the market for anything at the moment, but if I had been I would have snatched that sword right up!

    Jonathan

    PS--I updated the photos in the first post.

  20. #20
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    [QUOTE=J.G. Hopkins;941132]
    Oh, unfortunately I'm not in the market for anything at the moment, but if I had been I would have snatched that sword right up!

    Jonathan

    It sold about 3 months ago.

    Andre

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by A.Ducote View Post

    Jonathan

    It sold about 3 months ago.

    Andre
    D'oh! Well, a sword of that quality was probably going to go for more than my April/May sword fund would have allowed!

    Jonathan

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.G. Hopkins View Post
    I would guess it is British based on the apparent quality and detail of the silver hilt. Does the dealer give that one a date? Nice find, Dmitry.

    Jonathan
    Jonathan, I wish it were mine. Do I ever! Dealer wants almost $6K for it, and claims it American, not British. But I do have doubts about that, much like yourself. Otoh, if it were English-made I would assume there would be silversmith's marks on it.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dmitry Z~G View Post
    Jonathan, I wish it were mine. Do I ever! Dealer wants almost $6K for it, and claims it American, not British. But I do have doubts about that, much like yourself. Otoh, if it were English-made I would assume there would be silversmith's marks on it.

    Could be both -- American assembled from import parts. As I see it, the only input you really need from the dealer at this point is his best price.

    I'm not sure about silversmith's marks, but it amazes me how many 18th century swords are completely unmarked. I guess it wasn't until the Napoleonic era that cutlers and retailers began to use the swords they sold as a cheap form of advertising.

    Andre

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by A.Ducote View Post
    Could be both -- American assembled from import parts. As I see it, the only input you really need from the dealer at this point is his best price.
    Unfortunately it's that distinction of national origin that makes a huge difference in price. Bloody Americans and their high-priced sword.

    When design and quality are comparable, and no provenance or markings exist, how does one distinguish between British and American manufacture?

    Jonathan

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Dmitry Z~G View Post
    Jonathan, I wish it were mine. Do I ever! Dealer wants almost $6K for it, and claims it American, not British. But I do have doubts about that, much like yourself. Otoh, if it were English-made I would assume there would be silversmith's marks on it.
    I'll be rereading parts of Neumann this evening to see if he draws any distinctions that can help us with this sword.

    Jonathan

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