Posted: 12/02/19 (12:17pm)
What a week it is shaping up to be! I have managed to get hold of a couple of extremely rare items. Both from the Napoleonic/Peninsular Wars. The first is a Royal Field Artillery enlisted man’s short sword dating from the early 1800’s and the other is an Artillery officer’s dirk from the same period.
I will be adding the artillery gunners/artilleryman’s side arm to the website later this week. The officer's dirk is not for sale but I wanted to share it with you by way of my blog.
Both of these artillery side arms are incredibly hard to find. The chance of finding additional copies and in such great condition is about as likely as getting bitten by a toothed chicken!
This incredibly rare military dirk was the property of an officer of the Chester-le-Street Volunteer Artillery, which was raised on the 1st October 1803. The Chester-le-Street Volunteer Artillery were disbanded in 1811.
Artillery officers of the period carried a cavalry type sabre but when dismounted to command a battery, they often chose to carry a dirk instead. The cavalry sabre, intended for combat on horseback was too long for the type of close quarter fighting that took place when defending the battery on foot. The most senior officers would have remained mounted in order to move quickly between batteries and better oversee and command the regiment. That being the case, it is likely that this dirk was the property of one of the nine fighting officers.
Those officers were:
Major Richard Bell; Captain Luke Collins; Captain John Johnson; Lieutenants William Pubus, George Greenwell and William Matthews and Second Lieutenants Joseph Sowler, Robert Tanner and John Croudace.
The 374mm double-edged blade has a long central fuller on both sides, running to within 15mm of the spear point. The blade is in excellent condition, bright and clean with only a few small patches of tarnish. The blade retains its fighting edges.
The octagonal ivory grip is in good condition and has a gilded brass bolster, recurved crosspiece with ball quillons and a faceted, cushion pommel and button through which the tang is peened. The hilt retains much of its original gilding.
The dirk is complete with its original black leather scabbard with gilded mounts. The leather is in great condition and the stitching is intact and sound. The throat of the scabbard bears a circular cartouche within which is engraved “Chester-le-Street Volunteers.”
One to keep and cherish.
In a day or two you will find the Artillery gunner’s sword and additional photographs in the “Newly Added” section of the website.
Posted: 28/01/19 (16:08pm)
The P1796 Light Cavalry sabre restoration is finished. As you saw in the previous blogs, there was a lot of work to do. The sabre is now looking much better and, importantly, is safe. The tang is now strong and the blade secure.
Before Christmas I received the scabbard and hilt furniture back from the media blasters and all that was left to do was to polish the parts and then put everything back together again.
It is often a little tricky to know how much polishing to do. I feel that it is always better to err on the side of caution. After all, if someone wants to polish further they can always do so. No amount of polishing will ever remove pitting and to grind off so much material as to level out the pits would leave one with paper-thin steel.
Having polished the hilt furniture, it was time to peen the tang. As mentioned before, the ideal length of tang to leave protruding for peening is equivalent to the diameter of the tang plus 1mm. I measured the correct length then cut off the surplus.
Once the blade was firm in the hilt, I used a drill press to make the hole for the cross rivet and then repeated the peening process on both sides. Lastly, I made a rawhide washer for the base of the blade.
I am quite happy with the work and I feel sure that the customer will be too.
Posted: 18/01/19 (14:44pm)
It has taken me a while to get back into the swing of things. I have not yet resumed work on the restoration of the P1796 light cavalry sabre. In fact, I have not managed to get any work done in the workshop since returning from my Christmas break.
I have not been sitting idle though. I have been attending auctions and carrying out research on items that I intended to buy or bid for.
I was at an auction in Cumbria on Tuesday and really had my heart set on buying two early 18th century hangers. They were beauties, green stained ivory hilts and silver mountings, complete with scabbards. Once the early bidders had dropped out, only myself and one other bidder remained. Unfortunately, for me, the other bidders’ pockets were deeper and I had to drop out at £2000.
C’est la vie.
The next day (yesterday), I drove to Greater Manchester to attend another auction. This time with more success. I managed to come home last night with five Napoleonic period French sabres, the first of which, a year XI light cavalry sabre has just been added to the website.
Now that I am once more back in the swing, I will be returning to the workshop next week and will continue the work on the British P1796 LC. This work will feature in my next blog.
I am also meeting with my web guru on Monday and soon after will be holding the sale that I promised. I intend to reduce the price of all stock that has been on the website for more than a year. There are going to be some great bargains!
Posted: 31/12/18 (7:59am)
Happy New Year one and all. I wish you all the very best for 2019.
I haven't been doing much work over the Christmas period so don't really have much to share. I'm looking forward to getting back to the workshop and to finishing the P1796 restoration.
I will also be attending a number of promising auctions in January so hope to have plenty to share soon.
Posted: 23/12/18 (8:55am)
Happy Christmas and a peaceful and happy 2019 to all.
2018 has been a good year for Bygone Blades and I would like to thank you all for your custom and support.
I will be adding lots of exciting new finds to the website over the coming months and Bygone Blades will also be having a sale in the New Year.
Have a great Christmas!
All the best,
Posted: 19/12/18 (12:42pm)
I got the scabbard and hilt furniture for the P1796 back from the media blasters yesterday. I am not going to be doing any more work on the sword until the New Year but I thought that it might be interesting for you to see what steel that has been cleaned by media blasting turns out like.
The first time that I had something blasted, I thought that the guy had painted it with grey primer.
As you can see, the blasting gets to the bottom of any pits and removes all rust, paint and yes, patina. I would not usually use or recommend blasting but on something that is heavily pitted, and if the customer requests it, it is a quick way to clean up the piece prior to re-polishing.
Once polished, the steel will again be bright and shiny and as the customer requested, the colour and polish on the hilt will match that of the scabbard. After polishing the pitting will of course remain but as long as the metal is regularly cleaned and polished with Renaissance Wax, the rust will not return and the pits will merely be testament to the age and authenticity of the piece.
I photographed the blade alongside the scabbard and as you can see, it also requires a good clean and polish. I would never recommend having a blade media blasted. In this case, I will hand polish the blade, beginning with 240 grit and working my way up to a 600 grit finish. This will not remove all of the tarnish but it will remove some and lighten the rest, improving the overall look.