G or GG stamp on blade ricasso

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Richard
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G or GG stamp on blade ricasso

Post by Richard » Sun Feb 17, 2019 10:22 am

One of the posts we lost on the old forum was important research carried by Bryce Davies in connection with the G or GG stamp often found on the ricasso of Georgian officers' sword blades. Bryce illustrated many examples to conclusively demonstrate that such stamps were associated with the maker Henry Osborn and the subsequent partnership of Osborn & Gunby.

I hope that we can re-establish this particular thread and to get us started, I illustrate one example below: the G stamp on the blade of a (so-called) 1814 Household Cavalry officer's sword.

Over to you Bryce ....
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Bryce
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Re: G or GG stamp on blade ricasso

Post by Bryce » Mon Feb 18, 2019 12:28 am

Thanks Richard,

British swords of the 1796 – 1816 period are sometimes encountered with a “G” or “GG” stamp on the ricasso close to the tang. These stamps are also encountered on swords made in Britain for the American market. The stamps are only found on swords of officers’ quality, rather than those of trooper or enlisted men’s quality. The G stamps are found in a number of combinations on the ricasso. There may be a single “G” stamp, or “GG” stamp on one or both ricassos of a sword. When found on swords with a hilt that incorporates langets, such as the 1796 light cavalry pattern, the stamp can be difficult to spot as it is hidden behind the langets. Also it may be covered by the leather washer that most swords of this period originally had to produce a seal with the mouth of the scabbard.

Over the years, collectors and researchers have come up with a variety of explanations for these stamps, including that the G stands for the Birmingham sword manufacturer Thomas Gill, is an import/export mark, or denotes German manufacture.

One feature of these swords is that when the G stamp is found on a marked blade, the maker is almost always Osborn or Osborn and Gunby. Henry Osborn was a prominent Birmingham sword maker. He was in business from around 1785, but came to prominence after his collaboration with John Gaspard Le Marchant to design and produce the 1796 pattern light and heavy cavalry swords. In 1806 he partnered with John Gunby to form the firm of Osborn and Gunby. The partnership was dissolved in 1820.

When another name is found on a G stamped blade, it can be shown that the name belongs to a retailer, rather than the manufacturer of the blade. I have never encountered a Gill marked sword with a G stamp. All Osborn marked officers’ swords appear to have the stamp. Many Osborn and Gunby marked swords also have the stamp, but not all of them. As Osborn was known to manufacture his own sword blades, the most likely explanation is that the G or GG is an inspection mark used by Osborn and subsequently Osborn and Gunby.

Why GG was used in some cases rather than a single G is unclear. Where GG is used, it appears to be a single G stamp struck twice, rather than a single GG stamp. The G and GG stamp can be found on all blade forms manufactured by Osborn including the 1796 infantry spadroon, 1796 light cavalry, 1796 heavy cavalry, 1796 heavy cavalry dress broadsword blade and 1803 infantry officer blade forms including the highly curved unfullered version.

The G stamp used by Osborn is a different font to that used by Osborn and Gunby. Osborn and Gunby used a sans serif “G”, while Osborn used a serif “G” similar to Times New Roman.

Osborn and Gunby marked swords can be found without a G stamp. Many of these have the 1801-16 version of the British Royal coat of arms included in their blade decoration. This suggests that Osborn and Gunby may have stopped using the G stamp in the period between 1809 and 1816. More dated examples need to be examined to confirm this.

Cheers,
Bryce

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Re: G or GG stamp on blade ricasso

Post by Richard » Mon Feb 18, 2019 11:36 am

To illustrate what Bryce is saying, below are two 1796 Light Cavalry Officers' sword by Osborn with the single G stamp to the blade ricasso (note both sides). The first is the sword of William Waddell of the Loyal Birmingham Light Horse Volunteers and is dated 1798 and the second is that of Col. Charles Herries of the Light Horse Volunteers of London & Westminster dating from c. 1797.
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Bryce
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Re: G or GG stamp on blade ricasso

Post by Bryce » Mon Feb 18, 2019 9:41 pm

A 1796 Infantry officer's spadroon by Osborn, with a single G stamp on each side.
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Re: G or GG stamp on blade ricasso

Post by Bryce » Mon Feb 18, 2019 9:48 pm

A 1796 light cavalry officer's sabre with a single G stamp on each side. The blade is etched with American motifs.
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Re: G or GG stamp on blade ricasso

Post by Bryce » Mon Feb 18, 2019 9:55 pm

A short very curved 1796 sabre by Osborn and Gunby. Note the sans serif G stamp.
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Re: G or GG stamp on blade ricasso

Post by Bryce » Mon Feb 18, 2019 10:43 pm

An 1803 by Osborn and Gunby with the sans serif GG stamp.
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Re: G or GG stamp on blade ricasso

Post by Richard » Tue Feb 19, 2019 1:46 pm

Bryce
Thank you for posting those examples of this important research. Below is a small sabre by Osborn & Gunby which was carried by an officer of the 13th Light Dragoons. Although I had previously told you that I could not see any G or GG stamps, after some extensive cleaning out of the gunk under the langets, I can now confirm that there are faint GG stamps on both sides of the ricasso.
So another example to be logged ...
Richard
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Re: G or GG stamp on blade ricasso

Post by Bryce » Tue Feb 19, 2019 10:17 pm

Thanks Richard,
It seems that there may be very few Osborn and Gunby marked swords which don't have a G stamp. Here is one from the Royal Armouries collection.
Cheers,
Bryce
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Will
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Re: G or GG stamp on blade ricasso

Post by Will » Thu Feb 21, 2019 6:03 pm

I read years ago the G represented good cast steel from German manufacture. Unfortunately I did not make a note of the reference.
Are there known German made swords with the same G marking? If not we could rule out German manufactured import blades.

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