Posted: 01/03/18 (17:36pm)
"Winter is coming" may well be the family motto of the fictional House Stark but up here in the Scottish Borders it's a chilly fact. To be more accurate, winter is here! In spades! And the spades are out, so are the snow ploughs. Not that it's doing much good because the snow is relentless. We have drifts of over 100cm and even in sheltered areas the snow lies over 30cm deep and it keeps on coming.
To be honest though, I am rather enjoying it. For starters, Sue is home (the village is pretty much cut off so no one is going anywhere) so I have company and we have been for a couple of great walks. Yesterday we walked in the woods and today we walked down to the River Tweed. I was amazed that such a fast flowing and wide river was almost frozen over. Just the middle was still flowing and that was full of mini ice bergs.
The woods look beautiful (they always do) in their white covering.
Thankfully I spent last weekend buying new stock and after over 1000 miles on the road, got home on Sunday night before the snow.
I started my road trip by hiring a van (I knew I was going to need it) on Friday morning then headed south to a village near York for the first of my stops. On Friday afternoon I headed west to Halifax for my next appointment before continuing south. I stopped for the night in Cambridgeshire then continued early Saturday to Kings Lynn in Norfolk. On Sunday I drove to Northamptonshire where I bought two cannons - hence the need for a van and then back up the A1 to Scotland.
It was a long weekend but fun and hopefully profitable. Sue came too - which was a bonus. Usually I have to do my stock buying road trips alone as most of the time they occur mid week while she is working.
I have just listed a few of the items I bought over the weekend. The Honourable East India Company Sapper's and Miner's bayonet was a really special find. They are incredibly rare. As can be seen from the photos in the listing, this one is in great condition too.
It will take me a while to get round to cleaning up the cannons as they had been stored in a barn for many years and need some TLC. I will probably have to get the barrels media blasted and re-painted as one in particular is quite rusty. They are not quite a matched pair although they are a similar size and both have naval trucks. I will wait until their restoration is complete before putting up any photos - I want you to see them at their best.
Posted: 09/02/18 (14:50pm)
I always seem to begin my blogs by apologising for their intermittent nature and stating the reason for my tardiness as being down to my busy life. It's true, I am busy, and my blogs are intermittent, but hopefully, when I do get down to writing one it is because I have something interesting to share.
In the six or seven weeks since my last blog I have had a wonderful Christmas and New Year - I hope you all did too. I certainly wish you all the very best for 2018.
Sue and I went to Prague for Christmas and as a treat for her I bought tickets for the Nutcracker at the National ballet on Christmas day. It was my first ballet and I have to say I was impressed. Men in tights and desperately skinny women prancing around the stage is not generally my idea of a good night out but I have to acknowledge the fitness, skill and dedication of the dancers and the stage sets were fantastic. All in all, I rather enjoyed it although I'm not sure I will be hurrying to buy tickets for another performance.
Prague is a beautiful city. Probably the most beautiful city I have visited anywhere in the world and I whole heartedly recommend a visit. The Christmas markets filled every square and the smell of mulled wine, sugared almonds and barbecued meat filled the air. The architecture is impressive, the streets are spotless, the beer and food is great and the history and culture are not to be missed. Prague definitely has the "Wow" factor.
The one niggle for me was that the numerous "antique" shops all seemed intent on ripping off unwary buyers with their poor quality fake Russian Shashkas and other Indian made fakes. Shame on them.
In January, I spent a couple of days in the Manchester area at the much anticipated auction of the Reginald Cheetam collection. Inspecting the lots prior to the auction was like being in a museum that allowed visitors to handle the exhibits and where, if your pockets were deep enough it was possible to take home your favourites. Needless to say, I did. Some of my purchases are already listed for sale on the website and some have already been sold. There were a number of extremely rare bayonets in the collection and I was able o buy a few of them. My rarest purchase was of a Lee Metford M1888 Mk1 Type 1 bayonet with the iconic three brass rivets in the hilt. I also bought a scarce British P1903 bayonet in almost mint condition and a Royal Navy issued Lee Metford M1888 Mk1 Type II bayonet. My other purchases were mainly swords and included the Scottish Highland Infantry officer's basket hilt broadsword with Edward VII royal cypher, the Italian model 1833 artillery sabre, both of which are on the website, several sword canes and an early 19th century French naval cutlass.
Last week I bought an incredibly rare sword. In fact it is so rare that only a handful are known to exist and it doesn't appear in any of the books describing Victorian military sword patterns. The Royal Armouries do however own one, albeit without a scabbard and I know of two others in private collections.
The sword I am talking about is the British pattern 1821 artillery officer's short sword. At the beginning of the Crimean War, a small number of artillery officers decided to have 1821 pattern swords made with shortened blades.
The standard artillery sabre was intended for use on horseback but once the guns were in place, a mounted officer presented an easy target. Sensible officers dismounted. On foot, the standard length P1821 proved unwieldy so commissioning one with a shorter blade made sense. Any fight to defend the guns would be a close quarters affair and as a fighting officer knew, it was good to have an advantage.
It is likely that these rare swords were only carried by officers below the rank of Major. Officers more likely to be involved in a desperate defence of the battery. The swords were bespoke orders and were produced in very low numbers and as such were not adopted as an official pattern making it very hard to find one today.
Posted: 21/12/17 (11:50am)
Just a quick blog today to thank you all for your custom over the last year and to wish you all a very happy Christmas.
Have a wonderful and relaxing time and I look forward to dealing with you in the New Year.
Posted: 07/12/17 (11:32am)
So here it is, Christmas again. Where did the year go to? It is such a cliché to bang on about how fast time flies by but...
The year has been something of a whirlwind and rollercoaster combined. At times I have been rushed off my feet and barely have time to catch my breath, while at others it seems to have dragged by. I guess the same can be said by all of us.
During the course of the year it has been an absolute pleasure dealing with customers from all over the world and nothing gives me greater satisfaction than when a collector is able to repatriate a sword or bayonet. This year I have sent a Chilean cavalry sabre back to Chile, German swords and bayonets back to Germany, Portuguese bayonets to Portugal, French swords to France; the list goes on, and includes two English swords which have gone home to the families of the original owners. I love it when that happens.
I have also bought some beautiful swords, some of which are now on the website. Others are in my own collection but will/may in due course be offered for sale. My favourite purchase this year is without doubt a Muromachi period O-Wakizashi by the renowned Japanese master, Nagamitsu. I even had to buy an antique Japanese Katana stand just to display it. Thank goodness Sue is so understanding and accommodating because it now has pride of place on the sideboard in the lounge!
After years of restoring swords in my personal collection I decided this year to offer this service to customers. At some point I shall get around to adding a page to the website. I enjoy being able to return a badly damaged sword to its original, but aged condition and those of you who follow Bygone Blades on Facebook will have seen a P1803 flank officer's sabre which I have recently restored for a very happy owner. Here are a couple of before and after photos.
As you can see, the 1803 needed some major TLC and both I and its owner are very pleased with the results. Apart from the immediately obvious, the sword also needed to have the grip repaired and rewired and the blade was cleaned and neutralised before being coated with Renaissance Wax.
For anyone interested in a sword restoration please contact email@example.com
Other examples of customer restoration projects I have completed recently are the replacement of the shagreen (ray skin) and rewiring the grip of an 1845 pattern infantry sword, re-pointing a broken British cavalry P1885 and repairing the grip on a French cavalry sabre. At present I am working on another P1803 and am waiting for the new ray skin to arrive so that I can finish the grip and rewire it before reassembling the finished sword.
I have been rather lax as far as my blog goes - I have just been too busy - so just in case I don't blog again before Christmas, I want to wish everyone reading this a very happy and peaceful Christmas and a prosperous and healthy New Year.
All the best,
Posted: 02/11/17 (9:29am)
I have been so busy of late and it has been a while since I last blogged. Now I have something very important to blog about.
Proposed Home Office legislation could destroy my business and stop my only source of income; and not just mine but all those in the UK, who, like me make their living from selling and restoring antique edged weaponry.
If this new legislation is approved it will make it illegal for anyone to post an edged item such as a knife, bayonet or sword to any residential address in the UK.
The proposed-prohibition on posting knives or other bladed-articles will affect businesses and collectors alike. No one in the UK will be able to purchase a sword, knife, bayonet or any other edged weapon online. No one in the UK will be able to post their sword for restoration, or, having had it restored, get it posted back to them. Auction houses in the UK will stop using web based auction facilitators such as Invaluable and The Sale Room because they will no longer be able to accept online bids unless the bidder is able to personally collect any lots they buy. UK collectors and dealers will no longer be able to buy items from abroad because they will not be allowed to have it sent to them. International customers will also not be able to have their purchases posted to them from the UK so international trade will stop.
The list goes on, but you get the point and I am sure can add many more.
The consultation document is very unclear about what exactly will be covered by this prohibition and what the legal exceptions, if any, would be.
No yob, terrorist or murderous teenager has EVER conducted an attack with an antique weapon, much less purchased one specifically to do so. Yet this illogical, knee jerk response from the government seems to imply that every sword and knife in the UK, new or old, is a murder waiting to happen, and that being able to receive them through the post is going to facilitate this. Nonsense! This is the government showing their ignorance.
Tragic and terrible things do happen but usually involving kitchen and craft/hobby type knives. Never antiques.
Now a days nearly all businesses are moving online, and at a time when the UK is desperately trying to promote international trade, the Home Office is being ridiculous in proposing that legitimate dealers, restorers, collectors and a diverse number of other groups that would be affected should be restricted to conducting face to face business.
I urge you to join me in voicing your opinions and to lobby the Home Office to think long and hard before passing this bill without significant amendments. Contact your local MP (as I have done) and please take the time to read the Home Office consultation (link below) and respond to the online questionnaire.
Whether like me you are a UK based dealer or restorer, or your interests lie in collecting, all our futures depend on it. The same applies to our international friends. If the bill passes unchanged, they will not be able to buy from the UK.https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/offensive-and-dangerous-weapons-new-legislation
Posted: 13/10/17 (11:11am)
So first the specifics.
Blade length: 42 cm. Width at ricasso: 29 mm. Spine thickness at ricasso: 6 mm.
Flat spine and single edged blade with a broad, single fuller on both sides. Double edged for the last 14 cm.
Brass hilt furniture and bone hilt.
Scabbard is leather with nickel or nickel plated fittings. They could be silver but I think it is more likely that it is nickel.
The ricasso is marked with an oval comprised of dots containing the initials "F. H." which is the maker's mark for Friedrich Horster (the elder) in the early to mid 19th Century.
And there my knowledge about this dagger/hunting sword ends. In fact, I am assuming it is a hunting dagger/sword. It may not be, although I think it is a reasonable assumption. It certainly looks like a mid 19th century hunting sword but it could be a Prussian naval hanger. The line between hunting hanger and naval hanger or cuttoe is very blurry, indeed, naval hangers derived from hunting swords. Even the name "Cuttoe" is a corruption by early English sailors of the French "couteau de chasse" meaning "hunting knife."
So, I would love to hear from anyone who can shed more light on this. Please do get in touch either through the website or via Facebook.
On the subject of Facebook, I ran a competition, well, actually a give away, on Facebook. All entrants needed to do was to like the post, comment on which item on the Bygone Blades website they liked the most and then share the post. Having done that they would be entered into a draw to win a mint condition Swiss M57 bayonet which I would cover the cost of sending to the winner - wherever they were in the world.
Disappointingly, despite having over 2000 views, very few people entered. In fact, prior to the give away beginning I had decided to give the bayonet to whoever the 73 entrant was. I didn't get that many entries. In the end, I wrote the entrant's names on a cloak room/raffle ticket and drew one from a bowl.
Why so few entries? Surely the required like, post and share wasn't too much to ask? Certainly, there were some people who liked the post but didn't comment or share it, so they weren't entered. Others shared the post but didn't comment or like it. I wasn't sure what to make of this. Were they sharing it so that friends could enter, but they themselves were not interested in winning the bayonet?
Maybe it was the prize itself? Ok sure, Swiss bayonets are not exactly top of many people's want list but it was free and in great condition. It is also a very well made, high quality bayonet produced by Victorinox (of Swiss Army knife fame) and would make a great practical knife.
I guess I'll never really know why so few people entered. It hasn't put me off though and I will be having another give away soon.
I'm thinking a sword this time. But a sword is a valuable thing to give away and an expensive item to ship so I am a little nervous. Maybe I'll stick with another bayonet and see if the number of entries picks up before I offer a sword.