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Thread: Basket Hilts

  1. #51
    Join Date
    May 2002

    Scottish Basket Hilt by Thomas Gemmill

    Hi Guys

    Thought it was time to pop another sword up, this is my favourite.

    Date: Circa 1718-1737
    Nationality: Scottish (Glasgow)
    Overall Length: 93.5 cm (36.8 inches)
    Blade length: 79.7 cm (31.4 inches)
    Blade widest point: 4.4 cm (1.7 inches)
    Marks, etc: Blade marked "Andria Farara" in the centre.

    The Iron hilt has a broad flared wrist guard with fluted decoration. The edges of all the broad and narrow guards are cut with pairs of claws with bifurcated ends. The piercing includes hearts made up of three separate holes, a diamond one shaped to fit between the other two which are round. The central piercing on the broad guards is in the form of an X. The grip is stag horn. All other bars are broad and have deep fluted decoration. This is a full basket. The broad sword blade is marked “"Andria Farara" on both sides.

    General Remarks
    Provenance: sold by Philip Fialides of Impala Antiques to retired Victorian Superintendent of Police Noel Standfield, Noel then sold the sword on to Murray Gray. Noel had done considerable research on this sword and was the first to claim it is an unsigned Gemmill.

    Sword has since been confirmed as an unsigned Thomas Gemmill by the Baron of Earlshall who will be featuring this sword in his book.

    Thomas Gemmill (Kings Armourer in Glasgow, c. 1718-1737)

    Cheers Cathey and Rex
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  2. #52
    I can see why that's your favorite basket; what a nice sword! And to have it attributed to a known maker is icing on the cake.


  3. #53
    German, ca. 1600
    32" curved se blade with single wide fuller, stamped with a mark on the left side.
    Grip is a replacement that I need to redo one of these days. I suspect that the pommel is modern, but won't know until I take the sword apart.
    Basket is of nice form, very robustly made, but the filed decoration is pretty crude. There is a short bar missing from the left side of the hilt.
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  4. #54
    English, last half of the 1700s.
    36" earlier de blade of flattened hexagon section, stamped at the forte with 3 groups of pellet marks.
    Grip is shagreen bound with copper wire.
    Mazansky p. 207 depicts similar hilts.
    Years ago I found an old "Museum of Historical Arms" catalog from 1964, and this sword was illustrated and up for sale. Price back then? $65.
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  5. #55
    English, last half of the 1700s.
    36" se blade with wide and narrow fullers, stamped "GILL".
    Oval paneled hilt with oval rein opening on the left.
    Shagreen covered grip bound with copper wire.
    The detachable forward guard is a modern restoration.
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  6. #56
    English/Scottish composed of rounded bars, arranged to form a basket of trellis form.
    32" se blade, narrow and wide fullers, spuriously etched in the wide fullers during the 1700s with ANDRIA FERARA and various orb and cross marks.
    Grip is sharkskin with gilt wires and Turk's heads (some wires missing).
    The original scabbard is present.
    The velvet liner is I think a later restoration.
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  7. #57
    German, ca.1600
    37" straight se blade with a single moderately wide fuller, stamped with a heart and cross on the left side. The heart/cross stamp has been tentatively identified as an Italian bladesmith's mark.
    While the basket itself is typical, the long straight quillions are unusual, and I've only seen one other hilt of this type with quillions like these. The base of the guard consists of two solid shells, the left one with a thumbring attached.
    This sword is in excavated and cleaned condition. The forward quillion is modern, and several pieces of the guard have been repaired. The leather covered grip is one of my restorations.
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  8. #58
    OK, here's my last basket for awhile. I do have other basket and half baskets to post, but they haven't been photographed yet. I will be in the US in July, and will hopefully have time to take pictures of them then. I'll post shortly thereafter.

    French, ca. 1750 (?)
    32” straight se blade with narrow and wide fullers. The blade has been shortened from about 36”, and is etched with the French royal arms, sun-in-splendor, and scrolls.
    Brass basket crudely made of two halves, copper brazed together. There are 4 holes where the forward guard loops were riveted on. There used to be a scrolled “quillion” at the wrist, but this has been removed.
    At first glance this looks like an English military sword, and when I first saw this sword and it's twin in a collection in Maine, that's what I thought they were. However, inspection revealed numerous detail differences between this and a product of the British Isles. The former owner produced a book, “The Auld Alliance”, by Wood, and in it was a photo of one of these with the riveted loops and the thumb scroll in place, and with a 36” blade (if my memory serves). The text stated that these were made for Jacobites who had fled Scotland and were serving in the French army. I mentioned above that there were two of these in the Maine collection: the only difference between the two was the blade etching. The other sword had a large panelled “VIVE LE ROI” on the blade. I did obtain both of the swords from the collector in Maine, but the "VIVE LE ROI" sword was traded off years ago.
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  9. #59

    Wilkinson M1865 Pattern Scottish Officer's Broadsword

    This is an example of the standard modern basket hilt sword carried on parade by officers of Scottish regiments.

    The difference, however, is that this sword is marked "PATTERN" in the presentation cartouche on the blade.

    The blade has the standard thistle etching but no regimental insignia or Royal Cypher. In the ricasso, Wilkinson has noted that it is swordmaker to QEII.

    The sword is accompanied by the standard steel scabbard with ball tip.
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  10. #60
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Kingston area, Ontario Canada
    Quote Originally Posted by E.B. Erickson View Post
    German, ca. 1600
    32" curved se blade with single wide fuller, stamped with a mark on the left side.
    Grip is a replacement that I need to redo one of these days. I suspect that the pommel is modern, but won't know until I take the sword apart.
    Basket is of nice form, very robustly made, but the filed decoration is pretty crude. There is a short bar missing from the left side of the hilt.
    Very interesting basket guard with oval for a horsemans reigns.

  11. #61

    Japanned Scottish baskethilt broadsword, Mid-17th C.

    This is a very rare early form of Scottish basket hilt, secured by what could be called a modified wheel pommel. The tops of the arms of the hilt are connected by an metal arc. The arc, in turn, is topped by a circular "wheel" on which is a small bun-shaped pommel.

    The diamond-shaped blade is 25 inches long, which one expert suggested made it for use with targe where a long blade would be more hindrance than help.

    The grip is covered by fish skin and the original buckskin liner is in place.

    The beauty of the sword is the fully japanned hilt, decorated with gilt floral designs and with pictures of a horseman, a kilted highlander and other figures on the panels of the forward guard.

    It is most unusual to find swords this early (circa 1650-60) with most of their japanning remaining.
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    Last edited by bob erlandson; 04-22-2015 at 12:53 PM.

  12. #62
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Hi Bob,
    We simply love this sword, where on earth did you uncover it? I have never seen anything so unusual particularly with the hilt decoration gilt on a black Jappan background. Between you and Eljay I am struggling to keep up, will post another sword soon, although after this one the next one I post may look somewhat mundane. Thanks guys and please keep them coming.

    Cheers Cathey and Rex

  13. #63
    Join Date
    May 2002

    Brass S Bar Basket Hilt

    Hi Guys, here is a Brass Hilted S-Bar which was one of the first few Baskets we purchased.

    Date: Circa 1714-1750 (18th Century)
    Nationality: English/Scottish Grenadier Company
    Overall Length : 101.5 cm (40 inches)
    Blade length: 87cm (34.3 inches)
    Blade widest point: 4cm (1.6 inches)
    Hilt widest point: 12.7 cm
    Inside grip length: 10.4 cm
    Marks, etc.: Mark on Sword blade, possibly German trade mark, Darling refers to it as the Solingen anchor.

    BASKET-HILT British 1714-1750 Brass hilted backsword
    Makers mark Solingen anchor and British broad arrow signifying government property on both sides of blade. English Dragoon, plain tapering single edged blade. The brass hilt consists of a flattened, mushroom-shaped pommel with affixed tang button and a guard made up of an open-work counterguard and four narrow vertical bars whose apices are soldered to a ring into which the base of the pommel fits. The bars are interconnected by three open “S” figures thus giving more protection to the thumb and fingers. The quillon is omitted, but the counter guard’s bar bend out on both corners to protect the hand in that area. Its straight single edged blade has a 23.5 cm false edge and a 64 cm fuller. The grip is wood, its leather cover long gone and the wood shows considerable worm damage.

    General Remarks
    Note: In the lately discovered regimental History of the Queens Own Hussars (7th Light dragoons) by C.R.B. Barrett and published in tow volumes in 1914, this type of sword is stated to have been used by that regiment, but at a date no later than 1714.

    AMERICAN SOCIETY OF ARMS COLLECTORS: BOOK OF EDGED WEAPONS Mid 18th Century British Military Swords with open S Panelled Guard by Anthony D Darling pp140-154
    DUFTY, Arthur Richard, European Swords and Daggers in the Tower of London Pp28 Plate 69 (c).
    LENKIEWICZ, Zygmunt S. 1000 Marks of European Blade Makers Pp1
    Mazansky – Cyrill British basket Hilted Swords Pp212, Fig IVA4, 216 Fig IVBC3 (c1725-50)
    NEUMANN, George G. Swords & Blades of the American Revolution Pp 152 plate 272s.
    WAGNER, Eduard, SWORDS AND DAGGERS Pp102, plate 70.
    WALLIS & WALLIS Connoisseur Collectors Sale Spring 1996 1/5/96 Lot 128

    Cheers Cathey and Rex
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  14. #64
    Quote Originally Posted by J.G. Hopkins View Post
    This English basket hilt would be called a Type G16 in the typology developed by Cyril Mazansky. The blade is marked ANDREA FERARA on both sides, and also has what appears to be a king's head stamp. West Street Antiques currently has for sale a similar (but in some ways very different) English basket hilt. Here are some measurements I took a long time ago:

    34 ½” long
    1 3/8” wide at the shoulder
    7 ¼” false edge
    1/8” wide (each)
    Two fullers run the entire length of the blade
    One fuller measures approximately 17 ¼”
    13/16” wide at the shoulder, peened at the pommel
    6 ¼” long
    4 ½” long
    4 ¼” wide
    3” deep (not including quillon)
    Bars are between 3/16” and ¼” wide and are approximately 1/8” thick
    Reins Ring:
    2 ¾” long
    1 9/16” wide
    1 ¾” long
    1 9/16” wide at base
    1” wide at center
    5/8” wide at terminus
    4 3/16” long
    2 lbs. 7 oz.
    Approximately 23 ½” from hilt
    Approximately 4 ½” from hilt
    Thanks for updating information basket hilt as these are very antique.

    I would like

  15. #65
    Hi Bob,
    I'd like to suggest that your japanned basket dates to the late 1500s-early 1600s. Which would then make the survival of the paint even more incredible!

    Wallace, "Scottish Swords and Dirks" has a very similar sword (dated to the mid-1600s) which also retains its japanning. I was fortunate to see this very sword at Jamestown years ago when the Tower had loaned a good number of swords to the museum there for a display, and at that time it was dated to the early 1600s (the display also stated that the Tower regarded the blade as later than the hilt). Last time I was there 8 or so years ago, another similar sword (but without japanning) dated to the early 1600s was on display, and I seem to remember that one of these had been excavated from the site of the fort(?) at Jamestown.


  16. #66
    So in my last post I mentioned an excavated basket from Jamestown, and that got me to thinking about what I could locate online about the Jamestown finds. So here we go.

    First, Peterson's "Arms and Armour in Colonial America", printed in 1956, shows 5 baskets from Jamestown. I couldn't find a photo of the pertinent page, but I did come across an online version of selected chapters of the book, and the baskets are included. Page 86 is the page you need. Copy and paste the address below and you should be able to view the hilts, along with a lot of other arms and armour.

    Next, James Julia's auctioned off part of the Peterson collection in 2011. These swords were not found at Jamestown, but were excavated in the area. These swords, while interesting, have lost their archaeological context. The link below will take you to a complete description of the lots, and see the attached photos below. The ribbon hilt is not a surprise for Virginia, but the German basket is.
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  17. #67
    I forgot to supply the link to the auction description. Here it is.

  18. #68
    Next is an article from 1957 about the ongoing excavations at Jamestown, and two more baskethilts and a rapier hilt were found. Interesting context, too.
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  19. #69
    Here's the sword that I was remembering when I suggested that his japanned sword is earlier than the mid 1600s. The location at the dig places this hilt in the early 1600s.

    I have two photos of the hilt, but for some reason, I can only get one of them to upload.
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  20. #70

  21. #71
    A basket and a rapier hilt are found here:

    And this link for 2007 will take you to an almost complete sword.

    The attached photo is of the 2007 sword after conservation.
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  22. #72
    Besides baskethilts, the Jamestown excavations have turned up halberds, bills, rapiers, armor, parts of a close helm, a fairly complete Scottish pistol, and musket parts along with the artifacts associated with daily life. It's well worth viewing all of their dig reports.

  23. #73
    Hi Eljay, I thought about that, but was trying to be conservative. I don't think I can edit the post at this late date. I would like to add a close-up picture of the pommel. If I can find a way to edit, I will change the date range. I think my wheel pommel fits into the same period and also has a short blade, 29 inches.

  24. #74

    Waterloo Dirk, a change of pace

    A bandsman's dirk of the 42d Regiment, the Black Watch, reportedly picked up at Hougoumont, one of the key battles in the over-all Battle of Waterloo. The bicentenary of the battle is 18 June 2015, just a few weeks away.

    The scabbard appears to be tin and was once leather covered. The mounts, probably brass, have pressed thistle decoration. The probably carried the traditional small knife and fork.

    The top mount carries the St. Andrew badge still seen on Black Watch dirks and the number, 42.

    The band identification is engraved on the back of the middle mount. The lower mount at the tip is long gone.

    The 11-inch blade is unmarked. The pommel and lower band around the bog oak hilt are broken away, Could be battle damage or just attrition over the years.

    I have a researcher in London trying find the Colonel H. Petrie, who is identified as the finder on the note pasted to the rear of the scabbard. He may be an impossible needle in a huge haystack because there is no indication when the dirk was found.
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  25. #75
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Hi Bob And Eljay

    Fabulous historic Dirk Bob, I hope you are successful in your hunt for more details on its origin etc. Eljay, your posts on the Jamestown discoveries prompted me to revisit my edition of Harold L Peterson's Arms and Armor in Colonial America 1526- 1783. I had completely forgotten about the basket hilts in this publication. I must say seeing the Wheel pommel basket in such a state sitting in someones hand without a blade was almost distressing, but what an amazing range of weapons to turn up in one dig.

    Cheers Cathey and Rex

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