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Thread: Cutlass Photos and Discussion

  1. #1

    Cutlass Photos and Discussion

    The elegant yet business-like Italian cutlass I saw recently at the Hartford Show made me think it might be fun to create a thread about cutlasses in general. I propose that we discuss cutlasses from any country or time period, and that we post photos of cutlasses from our own collections. Like the "Cult of the Small-Sword" or the "British Slot Hilt Photos and Discussion", this thread can be used for educational posts about cutlasses, to ask questions about cutlasses, or to share new acquisitions.

    As a young collector I was not too focused in my collecting habits. In general I was interested in British swords of the Georgian period, but I bought anything interesting that I could afford. One such sword was my first and only cutlass; a US M1860 Naval Cutlass by Ames. Although it is still outside of my collecting interests, it is still one of my favorite swords.



    I am unaware of period references to its use, if indeed it was used in period, but it seems a very practical sword. My particular sword was probably never used as it is unsharpened and in very good condition. I have heard that some M1860s sat in arms lockers through WWII, and mine could be an example of this. The grip is either a replacement, or managed to survive better than most. As with most US swords, this cutlass is based on a French design, I believe the M1833 (?) naval cutlass. Other than the bits of miscellanea above, I know very little of this sword pattern (especially since I write this from work and do not have my copy of Peterson at hand ). So please feel free to enlighten me!

    Last edited by J.G. Hopkins; 10-15-2008 at 02:08 PM.

  2. #2
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    I am tempted to jump right in and terrorize with some of my collected images but I look forward to learning something. For nstance, when Todd and I bogged down at the show cutlass, we left it while debating if it was as wide as the 1827 Russian monster sawback thingie Dmitry had shown up with at Manville in 2007.
    http://usera.ImageCave.com/Hotspur/M...lle2007dmf.jpg

    Also check out MDL and the US sword section for a quite interesting officer's cutlass.

    I almost jumped on an Ames 1841 weeks before the show this month and maybe should have. They aren't getting any cheaper (and that one is priced right).

    Cheers

    Hotspur; not really my thing but I do have some images and manuals saved up
    Last edited by Glen C.; 10-15-2008 at 03:02 PM.

  3. #3
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    I did not bring a camera to the arms show, but one thing I saw that I have been wanting for quite some time, but was sadly a few hundred dollars above my budget for the day is a British Cutlass Bayonet. p1858 if I recall right. Very nice looking weapons, and at first glance unless you see the mortise slot they almost look not like bayonets. Not so beefy as some cutlasses, but still heavier than I would think wise to use as a bayonet. I believe I saw a couple, so there's hope for next year at least!

  4. #4
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    Here's the only one I have. Don't know much about it.

    Blade - The slightly curved single fullered blade is marked with the makers name ‘DEAKI' (DEAKIN).
    Hilt - All brass.
    Grip - Reeded carved mahogany.
    Condition - There are edge nicks on the blade and splits in the grip.
    Size - Approximately Overall = 29 ¼”, Blade = 24½”
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  5. #5
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    cutlass by deakin

    Nice sword. cutlass/hangar early 19Th century?
    typical early cutlass blade with a neat hilt. Ive only seen deakins with the big wider 1812ish style blades

  6. #6
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    Cutlass thread

    Great idea for a detailed discussion thread. I've been a cutlass guy for a long time. A true close combat edged weapon that saw extensive use in all the wars and piracy of the age of sail.
    Plain, relatively inexpensive to manufacture and made in countless variations they were truly tools of the trade. The relatively small numbers that were manufactured and the harsh environment they served in, all make them a challenging and fascinating sword to study and collect.

    In honor of Glen C. Here are two examples of the USN Ames 1841 cutlass
    The top cutlass is dated 1842 Cabotville. The first year of production I believe. and it has an original early riveted scabbard. and rack mark on the guard.

    The bottom one is dated 1845 Springfield and is in almost un issued condition with unfortunately a full blade sharpening. Keep those cutlasses coming!! Paul G
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  7. #7
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    This is a Royal Navy cutlass I inherited from my late father, and gratefully identified by members of this forum as an 1886 pattern cutlass, dated to 1894 from the blade stamps.
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    Here's a possible non regulation piece. It may have been refashioned as a cutlass. It's something I bought for parts that has a French ANXI light cavalry hilt mounted to a heavy cutlass/briquet blade.
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  9. #9
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    French An X

    Interesting thread, here is my first offering:

    French Boarding Cutlass Model An X

    According to Petard this model was introduced in 1801 with a 75cm blade. The blade of the An X was shortened to "about 67 cm" at some point before 1804. The blade on this example is 67.5 cm.

    It has a small naval acceptance stamp of an anchor and the poincon of S.F Beaumaretz, who served as an inspector from September 1803 to June 1807.

    The backstrap has the undated Klingenthal inscription of Couleaux Freres. The cravatte, which would originally have been made of red felt has been replaced by a leather one.

    Alan
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  10. #10
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    Nice cutlass Alan A rare one with nice markings. Love the Old black paint over even older black paint?
    Paul

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    Thumbs up Victorian Police/Prison Service

    Does this count? A Victorian Police/Prison Service short sword. c1880
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    The journey not the destination

  12. #12
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    Thanks Paul for those great pictures of 1841 examples. They goad me to revisit some articles online and prompt some more questions/thoughts to add to the list of considerations about this company.

    I was reminded how little I have studied these by running into another article by Dave Radcliffe while actually looking for something else he had penned about the Ames chronology. For those not familiar, Dave's musings are over on the Arms Collectors dot com page. One question that came to mind in seeing your pictures was the all leather scabbard and it was addressed in Dave's article A VETERAN QUARTET 101 YEARS BEFORE THE MAST
    However, two types of black leather scabbards are known. One has a brass throat and tip like that of the foot artillery scabbard and the other is entirely leather with brass or copper rivets on the reverse side Both scabbards have studs on the obverse for attaching to a belt frog.

    I think it was actually his artillery sword notes I went looking for today and instead answered what had been curiousity regarding the scabbards. Needless to say, the budget cutlass I had spotted sported neither a scabbard or wonderful condition your examples show.

    Another name came up at Hartford that I had never thought to associate with Ames research, Mike Silvey. A name I knew from other circles but had never thought a reference for all things Ames.

    It is somewhat curious to me that the 1841 Ames cutlass would more properly be referenced to the old French naval artllery swords.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; now off to find out exactly what Ames was sending to England and how far back that went

  13. #13
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    Ames Artillery/Naval

    Glen
    speaking of Ames artillery. here is an example of a
    1833 artillery with the 1862 date.This was the last year of production and the contract called for 1000
    swords only 300 were delivered and it is believed by some naval historians that the army delivered these to the Mississippi river boat squadrons for utility work and self defense. hence the naval association for me. This example appears to be unissued. many of these 1862 dates are found in excellent condition. i think many of them never saw much service. The artillery crews hated them as they were not much good against a solider on horseback or a bayonet attack There are several great Ames books available which I'm sure you know

    Also thanks for the mention of the great articles by the late Dave Radcliffe here is the link http://armscollectors.com/mgs/cutlasses.htm
    for anyone wishing to take a look.
    I was fortunate enough to acquire the Starr cutlass in his article in the parking lot of the Hartford show several years ago.
    Cheers
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  14. #14

    Lightbulb Need for clarification, please.

    Good Evening Guys

    While my primary interest in antique sword collecting lies further East, I do appreciate them all. What I have come to understand about cutlasses, hangers and sabers, has mostly been gleaned from Stone's Glossary, Newman's Swords & Blades of the American Revolution and a few other reference books. Oh yes... and what I have learned from you good folks on SFI. So, please forgive me for my small knowledge of the subject.

    Can someone elucidate about the difference between the cutlass, short saber and the hanger? Is it really as simple as one being for naval use and the others for infantry? Are the blades the same or does the cutlass typically have a wider blade? The blades seem quite similar in length and heft. Also, does a cutlass necessarily have a large cup guard (like Jonathan's and Alan's) to be classified as a "cutlass"? Those full cups sure do add to the beauty of these swords! Was there a greater need for hand protection on board a vessel, when engaged in combat? It sure does imply that the thrust was heavily utilized. Or should we say, more specifically, that stabbing was heavily utilized? I imagine there was a lot of tight, in-fighting and a close-quarters struggle would generate this kind of strategy. Thus, the weapons used would mirror this strategy. Much like the Roman gladius, the kindjal or even the artillery sword posted above this reply. Maybe because of the unsteady footing on the swaying deck of a ship? After all, you really couldn't expect a calm sea, just because you were waging a battle at sea. They were both cut and thrust weapons, yes?

    These are my late 18th century/early 19th century Western sabres. I bought them all from Fagan Arms. The bottom two are hangers and the middle one was referred to as a naval officer's cutlass (or is it a short saber?). They are of approximate blade length and proportion. Did sword-smiths make blades that could be equally at home in a cutlass hilt or a hanger hilt? I'm a little puzzled over the parameters of this issue and would appreciate some clarification.



    Be well and practice often, Jon Palombi
    Last edited by jonpalombi; 10-17-2008 at 11:23 PM.
    "A wise person aspires the study of swordsmanship. A lucky person finds a worthy teacher, an unlucky person finds yet another student... in the guise of a genuine Master. Sadly, a fool cannot tell the difference either way." Anecdotes of The Unknown Swordsman

  15. #15
    Jon,
    Thank you for sharing your excellent 18th century swords! Here is a good thread (that in turn links to another thread) on Cutlass vs. Hanger. Read both threads!

    If you want to bring any of the swords in your post (particularly the one in the center) along with you when you are in Burlington, I won't try to stop you!

    Jonathan

  16. #16

    A mystery wrapped in a riddle?

    Thanks Jonathan,

    I appreciate the link to these previous threads. Well, I don't feel as much like an idiot, now. Apparently, the terms apply, based on the intended user, than to a specific type or definition? It is now perfectly clear to me, just how unclear the overall consensus has been. I gather that all naval hangers are indeed cutlasses. Does this mean that there is no such animal as an infantry cutlass? Regardless, Jonathan's cup-guarded cutlass is a fox! In my mind, that's what a good cutlass should look like. I want one like it too!

    And around we go... Jon
    Last edited by jonpalombi; 10-19-2008 at 04:09 PM.
    "A wise person aspires the study of swordsmanship. A lucky person finds a worthy teacher, an unlucky person finds yet another student... in the guise of a genuine Master. Sadly, a fool cannot tell the difference either way." Anecdotes of The Unknown Swordsman

  17. #17
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    Great thread Jon. Go the eye candy. I'll keep an eye on this.

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    Possible non pattern cutlass

    Made from a 1796 light cavalry marked to the 14LD w/matching cut down scabbard. I sold this some time ago, but it was a nasty looking thing.
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    Another off pattern cutlass

    Here is another posibility. A 1796 heavy cavalry hilt with a cut down 1821 heavy cavalry(?) officers blade (with a little etching) with a clipped point. Maybe, maybe not. This one is gone also. The hilt was with upturned disk and the shape of the finger guard where it joins the pommel was also not normal.
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  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by jonpalombi View Post
    Thanks Jonathan,

    Does this mean that there is no such animal as an infantry cutlass?
    And around we go... Jon
    It's meaning changes over time. In Elizabethan times Cutlass or Coutlasse is used for any short heavy sword.
    By the 1700s it was a term that tended to indicate a Naval weapon.

    David

  21. #21
    David,
    Thank you for your concise clarification of terms!

    Paul,
    What is one of the more rare cutlasses in your collection? How about your favorite? I really like your M1842 cutlasses. They are strange as cutlasses go, but they are among my favorite models.

    Jonathan

  22. #22
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    I once had a Cutlass Supreme. It didn't cut nothing, just sat there, rusting away.

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    I learned to drive in a 1982 Cutlass Ciera; its a miracle I'm here typing this, and that Cutlass isn't being discussed over in the "confirmed kill" thread!

    On topic, I have a late-19th century Argentinian Marine's cutlass. Although I don't have snapshots, its just like this one over at Therion, down to the ground-off markings. Well constructed, and very pretty, but not an enjoyable weapon in hand. It feels rather like a crowbar with a knucklebow. I rather suspect that by this point, critical thinkers in the military procurement field may have realized that they were just going through the motions when designing new edged weapons.
    Cicatrices Virgines Placent.

  24. #24
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    Sharpen your cutlass..me hearties..!

    ...All this talk of your cutlass collections has made me remember this limerick....

    'There was a young sailor named Bates,
    who danced the fandango on skates,
    a fall on his cutlass....rendered him nutless,
    and practically useless on dates !!!'

    Moral : No dancing whilst fondling your favourite one !

  25. #25
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    true story

    Peter
    while photographing the two civil war cutlasses in my reply above i turned and accidentally knocked one of the stool they were sitting on. being short and quite sharp it bounced up and stuck me in the leg. bled quite profusely. fortunately it was about 18 inches lower than poor sailor bates. Id like to think I'm still good on dates but I'm married
    cheers. Paul
    Will post some other cutlass pictures this weekend
    [photographed on the floor]

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