Determining quality of antique military swords?

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Determining quality of antique military swords?

Postby sbkittrell » 13 Nov 2017 17:31

Reading the Swordsmen of the British Empire, I found references to "tailor swords" that were bought at tailor shops that sold primarily the uniforms and provided lower quality swords as part of that uniform. I have noticed that some antique military swords in which the manufacturer is not named or mentioned in the sellers description. Would I be correct in assuming that many of these are antique but lesser quality swords? I also read that in the late 19th century sword blades manufactured in Solingen Germany were not of the highest quality? Any thoughts on that?

So far I have two antique swords, a takuba which I bought because it was inexpensive. It is about what you would expect but it is solid and well made in the hilt. It is more flexible than i expected and the blade does take a bend easily. Still, I am satisfied with it for what it is. I also have a tulwarwhich appears to my uneducated eye to be a true high quality sword. I can see the wootz pattern in the blade and the dealer provided provenance for this sword. I am satisfied with it even though there is no way I can tell who made it since it is an Indopersian blade over 200 years old.

But to get back to my original point, I intend (since I am a total novice and very ignorant about antique swords) to mainly collect military swords of the 18th and 19th century and stick with the established quality manufacturers such as Pillin, Wilkerson, far as British swords go. I would like input on sources that other European manufacturers of quality swords; French, German (I have learned that Solingen is a city, not a manufacturer), Spain, etc.

I am also trying to learn about the higher quality patterns. I learned from Matt Easton's videos that certain patterns of Spadroons were too light for effective cutting and too flexible for effective thrusting. I assume that those swords may have been made by quality manufacturers but are not the most effective combat swords just due to the design.

As far as American manufactured swords go, I have no idea of how the Ames or Starr swords stack up quality-wise to the established British manufacturers like Wilkinson, Pillin, etc. i do have a Henderson Ames Masonic sword, but it is just a ceremonial decorative sword. I have read that most 18th century swords made in America were made by blacksmiths and some by candlestick makers, so I guess there is not way to know if a particular sword is of high quality or not. I have heard that French swords were popular in the early 19th century in America.

I am just starting out collecting swords and I have found out very quickly what a huge subject it is. Just the study of Victorian British military swords is a massive undertaking. I guess the education/research never ends but I am going to enjoy the trip.
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