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Thread: 1827 pattern officers sword question

  1. #1

    1827 pattern officers sword question

    Hi, this is my first sword purchase. I believe that it is the 1827 pattern rifle officers sword.The engraving is worn and parts of the blade are pitted but overall i am happy with it.

    My question is that there are no makers marks on the blade. When cleaning it i have found the letters ' NK ' & ' II ' stamped where the handle covers the sword. I have checked the other posts but have not found any references to this marking before.

    Can anyone assist with these markings and the possible age of this sword by looking at the proof mark or the stamp in the sword. I have also found the marking ' II ' on the guard of the sword as well.

    Thanks for any assistance.
    Steve
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  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve oakley View Post
    Hi, this is my first sword purchase. I believe that it is the 1827 pattern rifle officers sword.The engraving is worn and parts of the blade are pitted but overall i am happy with it.

    My question is that there are no makers marks on the blade. When cleaning it i have found the letters ' NK ' & ' II ' stamped where the handle covers the sword. I have checked the other posts but have not found any references to this marking before.

    Can anyone assist with these markings and the possible age of this sword by looking at the proof mark or the stamp in the sword. I have also found the marking ' II ' on the guard of the sword as well.

    Thanks for any assistance.
    Steve
    Steve
    The sword you have here is as you say a Rifles pattern sword probably made in the 1870;s. The proof mark shows that the maker was Robert Mole of Birmingham. As the blade is plain I would say that it was a Government Contract sword - Staff Sergeant- Rifles pattern 1886.


    As to NK (This is the best bit!), this was the mark of Mole's Head Bladesmith from the 1870's
    Nokes.(NoKes)

    Hope that helps
    Robert

  3. #3

    Some more photos of the engraving

    I have attached some more photos of what is left of the engraving on the blade. From what i have read would this still be a NCO's / Staff Sergeant sword or an officers. I was under the impression that officers swords were engraved and the blades of NCO's were not.

    Thankyou for the last information about the maker very fascinating that it could be linked to the maker and bladesmith. Was it common for the bladesmiths or makers to intial their blades.
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve oakley View Post
    I have attached some more photos of what is left of the engraving on the blade. From what i have read would this still be a NCO's / Staff Sergeant sword or an officers. I was under the impression that officers swords were engraved and the blades of NCO's were not.

    Thankyou for the last information about the maker very fascinating that it could be linked to the maker and bladesmith. Was it common for the bladesmiths or makers to intial their blades.
    Yes an Officers sword. I thought it had a plain blade! Silly me!

    Blade tangs on swords by Reeves, Mole and Wilkinson often have initials on the tang of the bladesmith who forged and hardened and tempered it. This was done to identify the blade in case of problems but also most of these workers were paid piece work rates so their wares needed to be identified for payment.

  5. #5
    Expanding on this topic, and i will relate it to sword types being british 1822, 1827 1845 which i ahve an interest in. Some questions i have are:

    1. How long would it take a bladesmith to bang out a blade, of this type?

    2. The proof marks of wilkinson indicated some sort of quality control, but what of other sword makers in this period of Victorian era swords? For example how did you know that you were buying a sword that could be used in battle or just for parades?

    3. Which leads me to the next question, if rifle volunteer officers were required to purchase their own swords, were they purchasing them for parade show or was there a real likelyhood that they could see active service?

    4. And lastly, out of curosity and very subjective, what would a sword being a 1822, 1827 pattern cost an officer if he was to purchase it himself back when it was the current issue? Would it equate to a weeks wages or was there a real difference in price between makers?

    Obviusly today the price of swords depends on maker, model and quality.

    These questions are for my interest but may make a good discussion point.

    Thanks
    Steve

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve oakley View Post
    Expanding on this topic, and i will relate it to sword types being british 1822, 1827 1845 which i ahve an interest in. Some questions i have are:
    1. How long would it take a bladesmith to bang out a blade, of this type?
    2. The proof marks of Wilkinson indicated some sort of quality control, but what of other sword makers in this period of Victorian era swords? For example how did you know that you were buying a sword that could be used in battle or just for parades
    3. Which leads me to the next question, if rifle volunteer officers were required to purchase their own swords, were they purchasing them for parade show or was there a real likelyhood that they could see active service?
    4. And lastly, out of curiosity and very subjective, what would a sword being a 1822, 1827 pattern cost an officer if he was to purchase it himself back when it was the current issue? Would it equate to a weeks wages or was there a real difference in price between makers?

    Obviusly today the price of swords depends on maker, model and quality.

    These questions are for my interest but may make a good discussion point.

    Thanks
    Steve
    This is a very BIG question as there were many operations and the bladesmith was only involved in a number of them.
    Here are the operations: (Note this is for a Rolled Military blade from 1887 onwards - Mole forged his blades which would take longer with Tilt Hammers or Ryder Hammers at this time and only later also used rolling.)
    a-Cut to length - 10 mins
    b-Ryder Hammer Mould - 10 mins
    c-Roll (2 ops) -6 mins )
    d-Crop Blade - 5 mins
    e-Pickle and descale - 5 mins
    f-Form Tang-Drop hammer and Ryder - 15 mins
    g-Crop tang to length - 5 mins
    h-Anneal - 2 mins
    i-Straighten - 8 mins
    (1 hour 5 mins)
    At this point the blade leaves the Smithy
    J - Flash grind - 6 mins
    k-Grind profile - 50 mins
    l- Grind fuller - 30 mins
    (1 hour 26 mins)
    At this point the blade leaves the Grinding Mill
    m- Hand File tang and shoulder - 6 mins
    n - Box Cut and thread tang - 5 mins
    (11 mins)
    Blade returned to Smithy
    o- Harden - 7 mins
    p- Temper and Straighten - 10 mins
    (17 mins)
    Proofing
    q- Spring and Strike tests - 2 mins
    (2 mins)
    Blade to Polishing Shop
    Polish - 70 mins
    (70 mins)
    Blade to Etching Shop
    Etch - 60 mins
    (60 mins)

    Total time just over 4 hours.
    NOTE; Wilkinsons Head bladesmith in the 1880's was William (Bill) Bonner. (WB Mark) Tom Beasley (TB) worked for Bonner and learned much of his craft from him. In contemporary documents, Bill Bonner is described as '...the legendary Bill Bonner'.



    2. Swordmakers such as Mole, Reeves, Thurkle and Pillin used various forms of blade testing for officer's swords based on the Government proof which, after 1885, was itself based on the Wilkinson 1844 'Blade Eprouvette' invented by Henry Wilkinson but there are numerous quotes from the 1880's onwards about foreign made swords being foisted on the unsuspecting by various Tailors and Outfitters.

    3. Swords for officers were meant to be fit for use - as in 2 above, some were not!

    4.Volunteer Sword from Wilkinsons in 1866 costs £3-6-0 and belt and slings 17/6

    In 1888, the average wage of workers at the Wilkinson Chelsea factory was 3/6 to 4/- a day which included boys as well.
    Some examples for skilled men;
    Bladesmith 5/- to 6/-a day
    Grinders between 6/- and 7/6 a day
    Fitters 4/- to 5/- a day
    Bench hands - 4/- a day
    Machine Operators - 5/- a day

    Calculating say £1-10-0 earned a week by a Bladesmith in the 1880's, in 2007 this would equate to £773.23 per week (using average earnings.)

    Calculating the cost of the sword at £3-6-0, this today would cost £1,701.10

    Note:
    A Pooley Rifles Sword with Nickel-plated Scabbard today costs £620 + £108.50 VAT at 17.5% = £728.50 Plus P&P!!!
    Last edited by Robert Wilkinson-Latham; 10-08-2009 at 03:27 AM.

  7. #7
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    Nice price comparisons, Robert.

    Steve, British swords such as yours were intended for use in the field, as well as parade. For most Officers there was no distinction - they had one sword for both occasions. Swords were still very much everyday weapons in the late-19thC and saw regular use in the Crimea, Indian Mutiny, Ashanti Wars, Sudan Campaign etc. There were only a few types of sword that were intended for 'dress' (such as narrow-bladed 'Levee' swords), and even they seem to have been made to a fighting quality at that time (though they'd only get worn to the Christmas Ball or whatever).
    What you will notice is that there is some variation in the robustness and balance of different swords - clearly some Officers desired slightly different characteristics from their swords, but ultimately they had to conform to a pattern, more or less, and had to be suitable for combat. I have noticed a general tendency for NCO swords to be on the more robust end of the spectrum, which makes sense militarily.

    Out of interest, how have you managed to remove the hilt from your sword?

    Matt

  8. #8
    Thanks for the replys, as a new novice collector these will be passed down to my kids. Just to have a knowledge about them makes much more pleasure for me.

    Matt,
    In regards to the hilt i have removed it so that i could check the condition of the tang for rust, the tang has the ' NK ' & ' II ' stamped in it. I have also located the ' II ' on the guard dont know what that means.

    Robert has kindly pointed out that this would have been the bladesmith Nokes or NK from Mole Birmingham. From what has been said i believe we can date the sword to between 1870-1886. Unfortunately no serial numbers so cant trace the exact year or to the orginal owner.

    Are all 1827 pattern sword blades with a pipe back or were some straight? I ask as i recently saw a sword as 1827 pattern but with a straight blade.

    Steve
    Last edited by steve oakley; 10-08-2009 at 06:41 AM.

  9. #9
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    Hi Steve,
    I was wondering how you've removed the hilt? The hilts are not usually made in a way that makes it possible to remove them without grinding the peened end off the tang, which would be a sad thing to do.

    In 1845 all infantry swords switched to a new type of fullered blade (as yours has). Previously to 1845, the 1822 and 1827 Pattern swords had pipe-back blades, with a round section running down the back of the blade.

    See this article:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gothic_..._1892_Patterns)

    Matt

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    p.s. Some 1845 blades are straighter than others. I have seen some people state that the straighter blades are generally later, but I'm not sure that is true, because I have an example dated to 1858 which is almost straight and I have an 1880's example which is quite curved.

    Matt

  11. #11

    Handle removal

    Matt,
    As this is my first sword, i have not seen any other handles in close up. But i have attached some photos. Let me know what you think.

    Unfortunately here in Australia our selection of swords are somewhat limited so this was the best example that i could find and willing to pay at the time. The more information that i have will guide me for my next purchase.

    Steve
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    Last edited by steve oakley; 10-08-2009 at 06:21 PM.

  12. #12
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    Interesting!
    Normally they are peened at the end of the tang.
    I knew these screw nuts existed, but I've never actually seen one like this in real life.

    Thanks for posting!
    Matt

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Easton View Post
    p.s. Some 1845 blades are straighter than others. I have seen some people state that the straighter blades are generally later, but I'm not sure that is true, because I have an example dated to 1858 which is almost straight and I have an 1880's example which is quite curved.

    Matt
    The War office sealed pattern of 10th march 1845 drawing is shown below together with Gauges etc.

    The blade drawing was done by Wilkinsons from the pattern in August 1879. The blade curve starts 10 inches from the point.

    Of course different makers had different interpretations for officers sword but this blade shape and weights and measurements was used on Staff sergeant contract swords.was used on

    Apologies or poor quality of photo but the drawing was done in pencil and some writing in ink



    Robert

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    Great!
    Out of interest, were many of the Sergeant swords made by Wilkinson? I've only handled 3 (1 of which I own) and they all had MOLE stamped on the spine.

    Matt

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Easton View Post
    Great!
    Out of interest, were many of the Sergeant swords made by Wilkinson? I've only handled 3 (1 of which I own) and they all had MOLE stamped on the spine.

    Matt
    Wilkinsons didn't start Government sword contracts until about 1889 so the majority of the pre 1897/8 patterns would be Mole.
    Robert

  16. #16
    This thread was referenced in a recent discussion on Facebook. Here is a link to the discussion so that it is accessible and doesn't get lost to time and buried in other posts on FB.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/iasc...15031405191298

    In summary, this thread was cited in the above linked discussion as evidence that Mole used a laurel wreath proof disc/proof slug at some point in time or for trade blades. The evidence used from this thread is Robert's statement that the sword in the original post 1) was made by Mole, 2) bears a stamp on the tang which was used by the head bladesmith at Mole by the name of Nokes. The counter-argument is 1) that no known swords etched with Mole's name have proof discs with laurels, but instead have a "starburst" style proof disc (which at a glance can appear to be similar to laurels), 2) that the only evidence that NK = Nokes is the statement by Robert in this thread, and there is no source with which to cross-reference this assertion so e can't treat it as a fact (and that NK = Nokes seems odd, why not use his initials?).

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    Useful summary Jonathan,

    Just to add a little more, here is a link to another thread in which Robert refers to another sword with the same disc as being "made by Robert Mole of Birmingham (His distinctive proof mark and surround) probably from the 1860's."

    http://www.swordforum.com/vb4/showth...ID-Help-Please

  18. #18
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    I have one Mole 1897p with the star burst proved disc. I have an earlier sergeants engineers sword by Mole without a proved disc and etched series of straight lines forming a star shape.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by james.elstob View Post
    Useful summary Jonathan,

    Just to add a little more, here is a link to another thread in which Robert refers to another sword with the same disc as being "made by Robert Mole of Birmingham (His distinctive proof mark and surround) probably from the 1860's."

    http://www.swordforum.com/vb4/showth...ID-Help-Please
    Thank you, James. I think the thread to which you linked shows that Robert had confused the laurels and starbursts at some point (2009-10), because the laurels are not distinctive of Mole, nor is the leafy/floral etching around the disc. The sword in the linked thread looks like another German-made sword blade to me.

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    Jonathan, I've gathered some more evidence which might be of some relevance to Mole's use of other proof discs.

    Disregarding Robert's attribution because the laurels are not distinctive of Mole, assumes that Mole only had one 'distinctive' proof disc and surround, that being the starburst disc that we are most familiar with and the straight line sunray proof surround.

    Is it possible that Robert was aware of other proof discs and surrounds which he considered distinctive of Mole? They don't have to be commonplace to be considered distinctive.

    With this in mind I have identified swords using Mole's starburst proof which have multiple other common features with swords using other proof disc designs, including one with a laurel wreath.

    Its not difinitively proof that every sword with these features was an early Mole but the similarities are striking (in my opinion)

    One possibility is that Mole did use a certain design of 'proof between laurel wreaths' but not the one which is the subject of the original thread. Another possibility is that Mole used multiple versions of the laurel wreath disc design.

    I'll try to upload some images below to show what I mean.

  21. #21
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    The following are 2 swords which use Mole's well known starburst proof disc.

    Name:  Screenshot_20211020_175256.jpg
Views: 195
Size:  84.7 KB

    (Photo property of Easton Antique Arms), please note the features:
    1. Distinctive proof surround.
    2. Chequered triangle design in etching.
    3. Retailer etch on blade not ricasso.
    4. Use of the word Proof rather than Proved

    Name:  Screenshot_20211020_175543.jpg
Views: 205
Size:  87.7 KB

    (Photo property of Jay Cassidy)

    1. Same distinctive proof surround.
    2. Use of Proof rather than proved

  22. #22
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    Now compare these with the following 2 swords which have a proof between laurels design.

    Name:  Screenshot_20211020_180203.jpg
Views: 195
Size:  93.0 KB
    (Photo property of George Everest-Dine)
    1. Distinctive proof surround.
    2. Chequered triangle design.
    3. Retailer etch on blade not ricasso.
    4. Use of Proof rather than Proved

    Name:  1634749485556.jpg
Views: 198
Size:  83.1 KB
    (Photo property of Easton Antique Arms)
    1. Distinctive proof surround (to reverse in this case)
    2. Chequered triangle design.
    3. Retailer - not shown
    4. Use of Proof rather than Proved
    Last edited by james.elstob; 10-20-2021 at 12:17 PM.

  23. #23
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    And more using a proof disc design of Proof between rosette & leaf.

    Name:  Screenshot_20211020_181451.jpg
Views: 196
Size:  87.4 KB
    (Photo property of Evenstar Swords) 114
    1. Distinctive proof surround (to reverse - slightly different)
    2. Chequered triangle design.
    3. Retailer etch on blade not ricasso.
    4. Use of Proof rather than Proved

    Name:  Screenshot_20211020_181513.jpg
Views: 204
Size:  78.7 KB
    (Photo property of Jack fletcher)
    1. Distinctive proof surround (to reverse)
    2. No chequered triangle
    3. Retailer etch on blade not ricasso.
    4. Use of Proof rather than Proved
    Last edited by james.elstob; 10-20-2021 at 12:19 PM.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by james.elstob View Post
    Now compare these with the following 2 swords which have a proof between laurels design.

    Name:  Screenshot_20211020_180203.jpg
Views: 195
Size:  93.0 KB
    (Photo property of George Everest-Dine)
    1. Distinctive proof surround.
    2. Chequered triangle design.
    3. Retailer etch on blade not ricasso.
    4. Use of Proof rather than Proved

    Name:  1634749485556.jpg
Views: 198
Size:  83.1 KB
    (Photo property of Easton Antique Arms)
    1. Distinctive proof surround (to obverse in this case)
    2. Chequered triangle design.
    3. Retailer - not shown
    4. Use of Proof rather than Proved
    Great examples, James. Very interesting to see the similarities, but for me that isn't solid evidence that the swords are by Mole. I think we need one of two things to be able to say that Mole used the laurels proof disc: a sword with said disc that is also etched or stamped with Mole's name or a period document that in some way illustrates or demonstrates that the laurels disc was used by Mole.

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    There are more swords found with similar features using other style proof discs.

    Are the similarities enough to say that this unusual proof disc surround was Mole's?

    Are they all Mole made swords?

    They mostly appear in date to be early swords and could indicate Moles use of various designs including proof between laurels.

    I've also found various other versions of the unique tendril like proof disc surround used on swords that appear to be similar to the above but not the same (including the sword which started this thread). Could they be copies or could mole have changed their design as they went on?

    I don't necessarily have a strong opinion that these are all Mole but I think it's a possibility.
    Last edited by james.elstob; 10-20-2021 at 11:45 AM.

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