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Thread: Blue and Guilt question?

  1. #1
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    Blue and Guilt question?

    Hi,

    I'm currently mulling over the purchase of an 1786 pattern Infantry sword by F. Thurkle, with hilt markings for 1797/98.

    I've read in a previous thread that if the blued portion ends in a scroll generally means post 1825. I've attached a small pic of the end of the blueing, which looks like it doesn't terminate in a straight edge (I suppose it's possible it's faded!). Sorry about the lack of pictures, but conscious of using dealer's copyrighted photos!

    Was scrolling used to terminate the blueing, around the end of the 18th century, or is it possible it's a later blade. It says generally post 1825, so does imply some existed before, but around the 1797/98 period?

    Also, out of curiosity, why would a 1786 pattern military sword be made in 1797/98 when the 1796 pattern had come in?

    Any help greatly appreciated!

    Cheers.

    Brian Hagan
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  2. #2
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    G'day Brian,
    Scrolling was certainly used well before 1825. I haven't taken much notice before and just assumed that some swords had scrolling and some didn't. It may be that earlier ones had a straight terminus and slightly later ones had scrolling. Below is a photo of a couple of of my 1803's marked to Osborn and Gunby with scrolling. The partnership of Osborn and Gunby was dissolved in 1820.

    When you say 1786 pattern do you mean a 1796 with fixed shell guards or something else? Although there were regulations in place, they weren't always strictly followed by officers. Some officers carried all sorts of non regulation swords.
    Cheers,
    Bryce
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  3. #3
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    I've never seen a dull blue that was not later added to a blade which is common. Blades were highly polished before bluing, *if the polish is gone so is the original bluing*.
    These command a good $£ and your photo shows a dull blue indicating some level of restoration. You can google how to look for refinished arms and swords.
    Man at Arms had a good article regarding this. Bluing is a very thin chemical reaction that results in the colour. I also see two shades of blue on the blade you pictured which is not a good sign. If the sword is at reduced price due to this then all is well.

  4. #4
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    Hi Bryce,

    Thanks for the info and the photo. I'm collecting UK infantry swords and and an 1803 is definitely on my list!

    Well that certainly proves that a scroll pattern was possible in 1797.

    The 1786 is an ivory hilted 5 ball spadroon, so no shell guards as such.

    Cheers.

  5. #5
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    Hi Will,

    Thanks for the info. Does that mean that the blueing doesn't just dull over age. I have a few blue and guilts and wouldn't say that the bluieing is particularly highly polished.

    Below is a slightly bigger picture, which might give a better idea.

    Cheers,

    Brian
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  6. #6
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    In France, it is usually said that these plumes tend to appear in the Restoration era (so post 1814). I am not sure how many exceptions there could be, but it seems to be a fairly reliable indication. It's possible that they were used before that? Probably. I don't know what the common wisdom is about British blades. Are you positive that this blade was always fixed on this sword?

  7. #7
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    G'day Brian,
    Blueing does tend to fade with age. Your blade looks original to me. On British blue and gilt swords, scrolling is present on some examples well before 1810.
    Cheers,
    Bryce

  8. #8
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    Brian I should have said bluing can be less glossy but like a firearm once dull hard to distinguish from just being more a plum colour from corrosion and handling. Once steel has the polished finish removed it usually takes the bluing with it. I find taking these into sunlight or using LED flashlights will show up attempts at reblueing. Gold gilt extends well past the etched lines of design. When you find the gilt only in the depths of the etched line and blue right up to it you know it has been touched up.
    Your photo is not high resolution, I tried zooming in and I see the end of the bluing looks ok but as we go towards the ricasso bluing colour changes and is against the etched lines.
    Of course having it in hand with a bright light is best but what I see does suggest much of the bluing is touch up, again I don't have enough evidence other than it suggests this.

  9. #9
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    https://witherells.com/lot/1796-styl...-sword-4050303
    Just using this as an example, note the good blue is glossy and turns plum once dull and nothing with corrosion pitting and grey colour nearer the ricasso. You can't measure the bluing thickness it's so thin. Another:https://witherells.com/lot/1796-ligh...-blade-4050305. you can see how easily the blue can be removed by possibly mechanical means near the ricasso on this one. Just sheathing the blade repeatedly removes the blue. This auction has several good blue and gilt swords which are untouched and make good reference. Bluing is instantly removed completely with one wipe of muriatic acid on a cloth. Wiki "typically no thicker than 2.5 micrometres (0.0001 inches)https://www.turnbullrestoration.com/...arcoal-bluing/

  10. #10
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    Brian's blade looks fine to me and I agree the trellis effect in the ending of b&g was happening earlier than many maintain. I'd love to see more of Brian's find. The decoration is quite like some of the Bolton marked blades and the Birmingham shops.

    Will's Link is quite interesting to me because we see the very obvious straight line of b&g with an added scroll/trellis. We do see the straight line, or half diamond terminus on a lot of German blades and the scroll terminus appearing on both sides of the channel once more craftsmen were moving from Germany to England (see the elder Mowbray's eagle pommel book and his pages on blade decoration).

    Cheers
    GC

  11. #11
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    Hi,

    Thanks everyone for the very useful info. I think my initial concern was that the blade was a later addition. It has a hallmarked silver hilt, which I think was the main selling point, i.e. the bulk of the cost. I just wanted to be sure the blade was the right fit, pardon the pun! before I committed.

    Photos of the whole sword below.

    Cheers,

    Brian
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  12. #12
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    The sword is a nice one but I would question if the bluing has been touched up. That there is no bluing on the edge bevel from the ricasso to the end of the blue in the fuller is odd.
    Swords were not sharpened up to the hilt and if the blue remains in the fuller it should be on this area too and not just in the fuller. The ricasso also has no blue. I would suggest having this in hand and using LED light to make a decision. The lack of bright blue should be reflected in the price and if touched up it is as if there was no blue remaining. The hilt and blade matching I would really look at the pommel nut for clues though the whole look of the sword seems good. I would like to see closeup high definition photos of the blade and hilt to get a better idea. Is there any mention regarding the blue and gilt? Is there a description the seller has written?

  13. #13
    Hi,
    Looks like a nice sword but I am rather curious regarding the blade profile. The spearpoint tip seems to me to be rather anomalous as usually the fuller on blades of this era run almost to the tip, see photo. The spearpoint profile is more in line with a 19thC blade in my experience. The blade also looks quite substantial as again in my experience blades of this era and type tend to be quite light. The sword may be perfectly o.k. but I think it may be prudent to look into the blade type a bit more.
    Regards,
    Norman.
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    Last edited by Norman McCormick; 01-07-2021 at 04:21 AM.

  14. #14
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    The appearance of Brian's example may be from cleaning off rust while preserving what is left in the fuller.

    Neat sword.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Norman McCormick View Post
    Hi,
    Looks like a nice sword but I am rather curious regarding the blade profile. The spearpoint tip seems to me to be rather anomalous as usually the fuller on blades of this era run almost to the tip, see photo. The spearpoint profile is more in line with a 19thC blade in my experience. The blade also looks quite substantial as again in my experience blades of this era and type tend to be quite light. The sword may be perfectly o.k. but I think it may be prudent to look into the blade type a bit more.
    Regards,
    Norman.
    Continental made blade vs British (imo).

    The old "what does the peen look like" might come to mind.
    Last edited by Glen C.; 01-07-2021 at 09:51 AM.

  16. #16
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    Brian I zoomed in on some photos of this sword and here are my opinions. The scabbard has extensive repairs which is evident from the surface being not smooth but looking patched and filled. The blade has seen significant corrosion with pits still evident and the undecorated part of the blade cleaned and buffed to remove unsighly marks/pitting. Etched design at ricasso does enter the bevelled portion where no blue exists now for the length of the blade. At the termination of the blue it does not have sharp smooth edges but appears to be touch up blue as in other areas. The degree of corrosion it one had in my opinion I would say virtually no blue could remain. I would say this sword was originally a desireable sword but many years rusting in its scabbard has degraded it. Just because the hilt is silver does not make this one on par with others that have not been subjected to this level of deterioration/corrosion. Condition is everything, don't be swayed by price or the silver hilt. These are investment type swords but this one is not at the middle or top of condition and cannot give you appreciating value as others can. I think it would be a difficult sell to recoup your investment and it does not display as well drawing the eye to sections missing the blue. Personally I would wait for a better example. If this is a dealers sword try looking at past online auctions, you may find this sword and the hammer price.

  17. #17
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    G'day Brian,
    Very difficult to make a call on this one. Scabbard and hilt all look original (although repaired which is not unusual) and a match. The blade looks to have age as well, but is a very unusual design for a British sword of this period. Could be original to the hilt, or blade may have been replaced during the working life of the sword, or it could be a composite.
    Cheers,
    Bryce

  18. #18
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    I think it's always a possibility as well on these blades that the owner had the bluing redone later on. An officer deciding to have someone retouch the faded bluing after the war, or a veteran doing so for a celebration of some sort and the cutler suggesting they add these new fashionable plumes while they're at it. I wish we could find more catalogues to show what was being offered at different times.

  19. #19
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    Hi,

    A big thank you to everyone for their responses. I'm still new to the sword collecting game and learning all the time!

    Good point about the fuller running to end of the tip on swords of this period. I have another 1786 infantry spadroon, by Cullum, and the fuller does indeed extend down to the tip. I never thought to look at the fuller!

    Give the various comments, I'll think I'll pass on this one and bide my time for a better one. I thinks Will's comment about the displaying of it rings true. The blade concerns, and condition, would always draw my attention to it when on display, which would always make me think of potential doubts.

    I suppose the thinking is that if there are initial doubts and these can't be definitively addressed, then unless it's a absolute bargain, best to walk away and wait.

    Thanks again for everyone's help. Much appreciated.

    Cheers,

    Brian

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Will Mathieson View Post
    The sword is a nice one but I would question if the bluing has been touched up. That there is no bluing on the edge bevel from the ricasso to the end of the blue in the fuller is odd.
    Swords were not sharpened up to the hilt and if the blue remains in the fuller it should be on this area too and not just in the fuller. The ricasso also has no blue. I would suggest having this in hand and using LED light to make a decision. The lack of bright blue should be reflected in the price and if touched up it is as if there was no blue remaining. The hilt and blade matching I would really look at the pommel nut for clues though the whole look of the sword seems good. I would like to see closeup high definition photos of the blade and hilt to get a better idea. Is there any mention regarding the blue and gilt? Is there a description the seller has written?
    I'd like to keep, protect, some worn blueing on an 1786 Infantry Osborns. In past always kept my swords wet with oil, but someone suggested wax would be better, less damage to gold and blue. I suppose some blue wiped off by me over the years.
    So should I use oil or wax on 200 yr old blades with gold and blue?
    Would like to touch up worn patches of blue too.

  21. #21
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    George I use Renaissance wax only. Touching up patches of blue you cannot do to match as all cold blues are actually black nitrate. The blue achieved on these blades is similar to the old Colt blue which is a blue and not black. Sine this type of blue is achieved through a heat process it's unlikely more harm would be done trying to redo it and the blade must have a high polish.
    Of course some sections of these blue and gilt blades were left in the white so don't mistake these as having previous blueing. I've seen too many of these blades scratched from previous owners trying to remove rust. Rust on these must be flaked off using pressure, even the finest sandpaper will scratch the blue.

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