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Thread: Recreating a mid-18th century hunting sword

  1. #1
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    Recreating a mid-18th century hunting sword

    So for some months I've been desiring a French and Indian War-era civilian short hunting sword. I'm looking for the parametres that would be acceptable for that period so this Frankenstein doesn't wind up looking inappropriate.

    To begin with, from the pictures I've browsed it would appear that both canted and in-line grips, slab and through tangs, and cap and animal-head pommels were used, but the grip just about always appears to taper toward the guard. Did other grip profiles exist, like the 19th-century style with the straight back and palm swell?

    Also, could short swords of the time have a significant ricasso? I'm still undecided on the blade; I'd considered a D-guard bowie but don't really like the broken back.

    I have a piece of antler for the grip that's big enough to cut to any shape necessary. I'm probably going to order a Rifle Shoppe crossguard.

    Thank you for any advice!
    They groan'd, they stirr'd, they all uprose,
    Ne spake, ne mov'd their eyes:
    It had been strange, even in a dream
    To have seen those dead men rise.

    -- Coleridge

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  2. #2
    Dan,
    It sounds like an interesting project. Will you be making the blade or modifying an existing one? What blade length are you going for? I will have a look through Neumann's Swords and Blades of the American Revolution to check on your ricasso question. I think you will find that most grips tended to taper towards the guard, although there are probably a exceptions. I don't recall seeing a swollen grip as you describe.

    You may find this link interesting: Catalogue of European Courts Swords & Hunting Swords by Bashford Dean

    In the mean time, here is a mid-18th century hanger with similar features to what you are describing (longer blade, though, and no ricasso). The hilt pieces are more plain, but you get the idea.

    ADDED: Just for fun, you might also enjoy browsing theroyalsword.com's selection of mid-18th century French edged weapon reproductions.









    Last edited by J.G. Hopkins; 10-10-2011 at 07:23 AM.

  3. #3
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    Hi Dan

    Neumann's book is really worth having on your shelf but can also be found through a local library..

    There are a number of military short swords out there as well. One retail solution with examples of French hangers has come to light in the past year or so.
    http://www.theroyalsword.com/

    An item I had picked up a few years ago that turns out to be of that King George War, Seven Year War period. Neumann's examples of more primitive make up of the short hangers overlap with what most would regard as hunting swords, While the Bashford Dean pages really outlining the less military examples with longer sweeping blades of narrower width. Of course, The George Washington cuttoe really a very good example of a civilian make up for dual purposes.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; a barreled grip with a simple counterguard and knucklebow quite contemporary for many short swords of the 18th century
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  4. #4
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    Hi,

    I'll have to buy a blade. The trouble is I had my sights set on one in the area of 18 inches so it wouldn't theoretically be too awkward for carving game as well as being a weapon. Otherwise it'd be easy to rehilt one of a number of existing repros. Nobody seems to make hangers in that length, though -- the D-guard bowie is the closest in appearance that I've seen. Haven't entirely ruled it out... The other option would be seeing if I know anyone (or anyone who knows anyone) who has some tool or machine that could cut an existing blade down.

    I'd also considered starting from a 19th-century long bayonet, which is why I ask about the ricasso and the particular grip shape (flat back, asymmetrical palm swell) that's normally found on them, as they're made with a slab tang that would have to be ground down to change the grip shape.

    Thank you for the links. The contents of Dean's Catalogue do seem to be in agreement that the grip should taper toward the guard. I've had an eye on Royal Sword for some time, especially their wire grip mousquetaire sword, however in this project I'm aiming for a civilian sword whereas, aside from smallswords, the barrel grip and globular pommel has a military look to my eyes.
    They groan'd, they stirr'd, they all uprose,
    Ne spake, ne mov'd their eyes:
    It had been strange, even in a dream
    To have seen those dead men rise.

    -- Coleridge

    Please, all you need for zombies is like 300ft of piano wire and a bus.
    -- Dana Price

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  5. #5
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    If your looking for a hunting sword that can carve game as well... maybe you might think of looking at some of the German examples... Solingen was exporting stuff all over the place... Look for something like a waidmesser. I think that would fullfill your idea of a more sturdy hunting sword.
    Both examples pictured are built more like a langemesser with probably a slabtangs.
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  6. #6
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    JG,

    That looks like a long blade. It reminds me of those American horse sabers with what are essentially hunting sword type hilts--I think Moore and Neumann show that kind. Is it possible your sword would meet that criteria for length?
    Tom Donoho

  7. #7
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    Early Period Scottish Dirk
    Unusually long, upswept blade for a dirk. Unfortunately, no information on the steel type or hardness.

    Cobra Steel Wakizashi
    Nice hanger-like blade, if a little hatchet-pointed. The tang is too long but I might be able to correct that with a hacksaw or cutting wheel. (Or not...)

    So it occurs to me that it's foolish to say "I'm going to order this or that fitting" until the blade is chosen, because the choice of guard will be determined by whether the blade has a slab or through tang, and the size and shape of the ferrule depend on the guard. Personally, I'd prefer one with a through tang so the antler doesn't need to be split into scales. But nothing's out of the question.
    They groan'd, they stirr'd, they all uprose,
    Ne spake, ne mov'd their eyes:
    It had been strange, even in a dream
    To have seen those dead men rise.

    -- Coleridge

    Please, all you need for zombies is like 300ft of piano wire and a bus.
    -- Dana Price

    Join the Horde! - http://xerxesmillion.blogspot.com/

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by T. Donoho View Post
    JG,

    That looks like a long blade. It reminds me of those American horse sabers with what are essentially hunting sword type hilts--I think Moore and Neumann show that kind. Is it possible your sword would meet that criteria for length?
    I don't recall the exact measurements, but the blade is less than 30" (28" maybe?). Not a horseman's sword.

  9. #9
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    Another thought: Do any manufacturers make a good sabre briquet? It has a curved through tang and would be perfect if I could shorten the blade. Offhand I know of WKC Solingen, Weapon Edge and Stanley London, but WKC Solingen's blades are stainless and a bit pricey considering how I plan on mutilating it, I've heard Weapon Edge's blades are tempered pretty soft and I know from e-mail exchanges that Stanley London can't/won't provide steel types or hardness.

  10. #10
    You might also want to consider the MRL/Windlass "English Cutlass". It is a replica of an 18th century infantry hanger and will probably work just as well as a replica briquet.

  11. #11
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    I think there is an English cutlass for sale in the classifieds right now

  12. #12
    I finally found my copy of Neumann and had a look through to try to answer your ricasso question. Tthe answer will depend on what type of ricasso you have in mind. Can you post a photo? If you are thinking of a ricasso like this one on a c.1790 hanger, then no:

    Last edited by J.G. Hopkins; 10-21-2011 at 07:05 PM.

  13. #13
    And while we are looking at other blade options, would you consider modifying a sword from G. Gedney Godwin?

  14. #14
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    I'll put the MRL English Cutlass as a definite option. I've written to G.G. Godwin about their India blades -- I think the others are a bit too pricey considering how heavily modified the final version will be. (It was actually seeing the G.G. Godwin Hunting Sword that made me decide I wanted one.)

    About the ricasso -- I ask because one of the blade options I'd considered was a 19th-century bayonet, like the 1871 Hirschfanger, which came to my attention because it shares a name with the hunting dagger. But on further searching I haven't seen anything from the 18th century that really looks the same -- there are too many small differences, the long 19th-century ricasso being one.

    On another note, I've got some options for the pommel already. One's a replica 17th-century coin and the other's an engraved washer (which I thought was steel until sanding the chrome off). Of course, the angular bits of the cap nut would be ground off.

    As always, thanks for all the advice!
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    They groan'd, they stirr'd, they all uprose,
    Ne spake, ne mov'd their eyes:
    It had been strange, even in a dream
    To have seen those dead men rise.

    -- Coleridge

    Please, all you need for zombies is like 300ft of piano wire and a bus.
    -- Dana Price

    Join the Horde! - http://xerxesmillion.blogspot.com/

  15. #15
    If you are willing to go a bit later in the 18th century, there are some ricassos. Not blocky ones like the one I posted above, but examples in which teh fuller does not begin for a good 3" or more from the guard.

    I am eager to hear about what you decide and to watch your project unfold. Best of luck!

  16. #16
    Dan,
    If you are still looking for a briquet, check out Bruce Brookhart's swords for sale.

    Jonathan

  17. #17
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    Will do. I got a reply from G.G. Godwin; they're unable to provide steel type or hardness on the Indian items.
    They groan'd, they stirr'd, they all uprose,
    Ne spake, ne mov'd their eyes:
    It had been strange, even in a dream
    To have seen those dead men rise.

    -- Coleridge

    Please, all you need for zombies is like 300ft of piano wire and a bus.
    -- Dana Price

    Join the Horde! - http://xerxesmillion.blogspot.com/

  18. #18
    That is shame. Good luck with the Brookhart sword. The briquet under the "sabers" section and it is inexpensive.

  19. #19
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    Well. I have been stalled in the endzone for about two years. I think all the research is done and it's just a matter of being able to afford a blade. The project's evolved a lot. As it stands, it's for an early 18th-century sword suitable for GAoP or later, originally made for a wealthy civilian. The hilt is basically complete except for being drilled to fit the tang.

    All the fittings will be yellow brass and the scabbard made of leather-covered wood. As I understand it, the blade should be curved and single-edged or straight and double-edged and any fullers should be narrow -- the combinations I've come across of straight single-edged blades and/or broad fullers with the small recurved guards all seem to be dated to the latter half of the 18th century.

    So basically, am I making any mistakes here?
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    They groan'd, they stirr'd, they all uprose,
    Ne spake, ne mov'd their eyes:
    It had been strange, even in a dream
    To have seen those dead men rise.

    -- Coleridge

    Please, all you need for zombies is like 300ft of piano wire and a bus.
    -- Dana Price

    Join the Horde! - http://xerxesmillion.blogspot.com/

  20. #20
    I have this old clunker I bought from a guy in a bar about 25 years ago. I have absolutely no idea who made it or when, but it might give you some ideas, maybe. Sorry the picture is so small, but the website here said it was too large until I resized it to this size.


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  21. #21
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    It's nice. I can't lay claim to expertise yet... I'm basing mine most closely on this one, and the blade on yours could be similar especially if it's double-edged, but something about its general look seems later to me.

    I've found recently that there were some military hangers from the same time that had broad fullers starting a few inches from the hilt; here's one example. I had even considered cutting down an M1860 cutlass, but its relative lack of profile taper would probably make it look clunky, and since I've never seen a hunting sword from the period fullered like that, it would be an obvious remount. Although it's more expensive, the old "pirate captain hanger" would still be a better choice if shortening the blade is an option at all.
    They groan'd, they stirr'd, they all uprose,
    Ne spake, ne mov'd their eyes:
    It had been strange, even in a dream
    To have seen those dead men rise.

    -- Coleridge

    Please, all you need for zombies is like 300ft of piano wire and a bus.
    -- Dana Price

    Join the Horde! - http://xerxesmillion.blogspot.com/

  22. #22
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    Hey there. The project has branched into several directions now, and one of them, lo and behold, is actually completed. Check it out.
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    The other things I'd like to add eventually are a c. 1715-1720 cuttoe (like the Queen Anne's Revenge sword) and a c. 1700 cutlass.
    They groan'd, they stirr'd, they all uprose,
    Ne spake, ne mov'd their eyes:
    It had been strange, even in a dream
    To have seen those dead men rise.

    -- Coleridge

    Please, all you need for zombies is like 300ft of piano wire and a bus.
    -- Dana Price

    Join the Horde! - http://xerxesmillion.blogspot.com/

  23. #23
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    The sword looks very convincing. Time will age it and it will appear even more so.

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