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Thread: 1827 pattern officers sword question

  1. #26
    Just trying to gather all my thoughts in one place...

    In two separate thread, including this one, Robert Wilkinson-Latham attributed proof discs bearing laurels above and below the word “PROOF” to the maker Robert Mole. Here are the links to the threads:

    1) http://www.swordforum.com/vb4/showthread.php?97916-1827-pattern-officers-sword-question&p=1238349#post1238349]1827 pattern officers sword question (this thread)[/url]

    2) ID Help Please

    I believe Robert was incorrect in both threads, and may have confused the laurels with the documented Mole proof disc, which is a starburst above and below the word “PROOF”. At a glance, the laurels and starburst can appear similar. The laurels with “PROOF” is generally attributed to blades of German manufacture.

    In the first thread, Robert also attributes a stamp on the tang, “NK”, to the head bladesmith at Mole by the name of Nokes. To my mind, it would name more sense for Nokes to use his initials rather than two consonants from his surname, but that isn’t necessarily how a person in the period would have thought about it. There are several examples of German and German-sourced blades that have an NK stamp on the tang, which I will link below. The NK stamp’s German origins, combined with the proof disc design lead me to believe that the sword in the “1827 pattern officers sword question” thread was made in Germany and not by Mole.

    Prussian Sword with NK tang stamp

    Imperial German Navy sword with NK tang stamp

    American Society of Arms Collectors article “The Trade in Sword Blades” by Bruce S. Bazelon which states; “Many Horstmann blades, when unmounted, are seen to have the same crowned head mark. Some have the same tang mark 'NK' which is unknown but may relate to a shop or a workman at Weyersberg (Figure 8)."

    In the second thread, Robert refers to the disc (laurels above and below “PROOF”) and etched surround (a foliate pattern) as “His distinctive proof mark and surround” in reference to Mole. However, Mole’s distinctive proof disc had starbursts above and below “PROOF”, and most commonly a sun ray/sunburst etched surround (although there are some variations). In his own book on the subject, The Swords & Records of Robert Mole & Sons 1835-1920, he states, "Like other sword makers, Mole used their own distinguishing marks on their private and trade swords. Unlike other makers, Mole from 1850 to 1920 never altered his proof mark or copied the double interlaced triangles of Henry Wilkinson, preferring his 'sun ray' surround to the brass 'slug'." Robert illustrates his point with photos of the starburst with “PROOF” disc and etched sun ray surround*. The proof disc with laurels, combined with the slightly longer ricasso seen on this sword (a relatively common feature of German-made blades) lead me to believe that this sword was also made in Germany.

    There is currently no hard evidence that the proof disc with laurels was ever used by Mole. To date, I have not seen firsthand, nor been able to find with Google Images or OldSwords.com, any example of a sword with the laurel proof disc that also bears the name of Mole, whether etched or stamped. There is also no known period document which indicates that Mole used the laurels proof disc. Until such evidence comes to light, we cannot attribute the laurels proof disc to Mole.

    *James Elstob made an excellent chart of the etched surrounds on Mole-made blades--I believe this chart is based on a sample of images found on the internet. The chart shows that Mole did in fact use the star/interlocking triangles seen on Wilkinson swords, but not until the 1890s.

    This thread was inspired by this discussion on Facebook: Any opinions of maker for this 1827

  2. #27
    James' text is in bold:

    Are the similarities enough to say that this unusual proof disc surround was Mole's? I would say no, although based on your examples, clearly the surround was used by Mole.

    Are they all Mole made swords? Without his name or proof disc, I would say no.

    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?
    Either is a possibility.

    I'm not necessarily have a strong opinion that these are all Mole but I think it's a possibility.

    I think it is a possibility, but still speculation, and far enough from hard evidence that I would not feel comfortable identifying a sword as being made by Mole without his name on it or his starburst proof disc. With the examples you shared that have Mole's starburst disc, you nicely illustrated that Mole used more than the basic "sun ray" surround.

  3. #28
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    Excellent

    With the added evidence associating NK with German blades I tend to agree that the disc which started this thread has likely been attributed to Mole in error.

    I can't fault the rest of your logic. Although I suspect this proof surround design below was Mole's it requires a great deal more evidence.

    Mole may never have stamped or etched their own name on their earlier swords so we may never have definitive confirmation but as it says in 'Records of RM' it was from the 1850 that Mole never changed his proof disc implying he had used other discs prior to that.

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  4. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by james.elstob View Post
    Mole may never have stamped or etched their own name on their earlier swords so we may never have definitive confirmation but as it says in 'Records of RM' it was from the 1850 that Mole never changed his proof disc implying he had used other discs prior to that.
    I agree with the implication, but I do wonder where Robert got those dates.

    --Jonathan, the eternal skeptic
    Last edited by J.G. Hopkins; 10-20-2021 at 02:47 PM.

  5. #30
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    Another reason to belive that this proof surround design is indicative of mole is that if you take the first example below and compare it with accepted Mole examples, it could be argued that you can see the transition towards the more common sunray pattern used on later Mole swords.

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    (Image property of Easton Antique Arms)

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    (Image property of Easton Antique Arms)

  6. #31
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    The fact that manufacturers used very similar markings of well known names to boost sales can be a reason there are similar proof discs. I have not seen an identical Mole sunray pattern on any sword not marked to Mole. German made blades could copy the look for British retailers and nudge nudge, wink wink, oh yes most likely a blade made by Mole.

  7. #32
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    Two Mole swords, one an infantry officers 1895p of Maj. General Sir Edward Richie Coryton Graham. Secondly is a engineers sergeants sword dated 16 March 1872 and does not have a proof disc.
    Attached Images Attached Images      

  8. #33
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    I'm just going to throw this out there, but Reeves was using an 8 pointed emblem around his proof slug before Mole. Both were Birmingham based and in many ways Mole picked up where Reeves collapsed. I have some evidence that Mole deliberately took on some of Reeves' emblems, but that's for a separate thread.
    As stated on Facebook, I believe the foliate proof slug is a German maker. The etching on those swords is not a good match for Mole's, and no swords marked to Mole have that slug.

  9. #34
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    I've just found an example currently for sale using the proof disc which began this thread, marked on the spine "T. E. Bleckmann in Solingen".

    Conveniently wraps up an interesting discussion I think!

    https://www.antiques-atlas.com/chris...code=as883a532

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