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Thread: East India Compagny sabres

  1. #1

    East India Compagny sabres

    Currently I am working on a conservation and research project of 200+ sabres found at the wreckage of an East India Compagny vessel. The ship sank between 1730 and 1750. These sabres were part of the cargo, and as such only the blades are present, no guards or hilts. The typologies I have found for this period only look at the guards, but I have seen at least three different types of blades. I would love to hear if a typology for sabre blade shapes exists, and what it is called.

    I have attached a photo of some sabres where you can see the different types. Every blade has a double fuller.
    1: blade around 90 cm, total length around 110, small at center, broadens at tip
    2: blade around 90 cm, total length around 110, consistent width
    3: blade around 80 cm, total length around 100, consistent width
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Kingston area, Ontario Canada
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    The blade lengths suggest cavalry. Being so early little information exists at all. These would be British made blades to be hilted in India most likely with tulwar hilts, British steel was superior to the local steels. I would look at early known tulwars for more info.

  3. #3
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    Was the ship outbound to the East or homebound to England?
    hc3

  4. #4
    If they don't know when it was lost they obviously don't know what ship it was and probably don't know if it was inbound or outbound. It is very problematical to say British steel was better than Indian... at that point, before the invention of the Huntsman process for making crucible steel, relatively little steel was made in Britain which is why virtually all British sword blades were imported. When they weren't imported or were made from British steel, they were made from imported iron, usually from Sweden. The Indians made a form of steel known as wootz. It was very much in demand in Britain, so much so that some of the early British steel was marked as Indian because, in the popular mind, that implied quality. The Huntsman process eventually changed that but he didn't start production until 1740 and it was a long time before British steel supplanted the imported product.

    If those are British blades they are probably carburized iron. As mentioned above, they were probably just blades. If they had brass or bronze hilts those would have survived. If they had iron hilts (they would not have had steel hilts) they are more likely to have survived underwater than the blades so the lact of evidence of the hilts suggests there were none. The period literature nearly always speaks very highly of Indian-made sword blades, so much so that it was more likely for an Englishman in India to have an Indian blade with a British hilt (I've seen several of these) than an Indian hilt on a British blade.
    Last edited by JV Puleo; 08-16-2019 at 12:11 PM.

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