Richard Johnston mameluke

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Richard Johnston mameluke

Postby Richard » Wed Feb 22, 2017 4:53 pm

Some of you may recall this sword in Spink's New York auction last month. I have just received it (well actually I had to go and get it from Stansted airport because FedEx refused to deliver) and there are a couple of interesting features which once again illustrate the perils of buying remotely without first handling a piece:

First, I did wonder why the sword did not seem to go fully into the scabbard in the auction catalogue photo - in particular the bottom langet sat above the contour on the scabbard. The reason now fully apparent: the quillons are not original to the sword - they have bolt ends and have been secured in place by crude nuts hidden under the crossguard which prevent the sword from sitting as it should.

Second, the grips were described as horn but (as suspected), they are in fact ivory which has been stained to give the appearance of horn in order to circumvent strict US regulations regarding the sale of ivory products.

So, am I disappointed? - absolutely not! - it is a superb high-quality piece with a near-perfect Solingen made (engraved on backpiece) blue & gilt blade (Will M - its fine, not touched up, just in exceptional condition). The scabbard leather is even stitched at the back with bullion wire in the French style. I will have my accomplice restorer sort out the quillons and post more pictures when he has done his magic.

Richard
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Re: Richard Johnston mameluke

Postby Will Mathieson » Wed Feb 22, 2017 5:48 pm

Great that you can rectify the quillions. Possibly they the originals had been removed for a reason, a part of its history?
I would imagine it's possible to bleach the grips back to an ivory colour? They did look out of place being brown even though the description was horn, just didn't appear right.
Of course not purchasing online in fear of issues deprives us of some great swords, some at good prices.
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Re: Richard Johnston mameluke

Postby sword335 » Wed Feb 22, 2017 6:26 pm

I'm sure the Magic Workshop can sort out the hilt Richard.

The blade does look superb although it does look like the sort of thing that you would expect on a late 18th. C. sword. Is it possible that it has been rehilted ?

Regarding the stained ivory grip, you might like to try giving it a good brushing with toothpaste. It really does work on ivory !
Chris.

P.S. Will you be at the Park Lane on Sunday ?
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Re: Richard Johnston mameluke

Postby Richard » Thu Feb 23, 2017 2:03 pm

Will
The quillons are not original to the sword - they are machined and in brass (not gilt). But they go quite well ....

Chris
I agree the blade is late 18thC but I would date the sword c. 1805 so I don't think there's a problem. Foster must have had a large stock of old blades when his business was taken over by Johnston. Ever seen another mameluke by Richard Johnstone?

Richard

PS, I tried toothpaste on the grip - it got rid of the plaque but the staining is still there ...
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Re: Richard Johnston mameluke

Postby Richard » Fri Feb 24, 2017 4:42 pm

I took the sword to my restorer/repairer today - contrary to what I said above, the grips are in fact horn and not ivory. The white I could see in the cracks is old cleaning powder. When the quillons were unscrewed and the bolts removed, the sword fits perfectly into the scabbard. The restorer thinks the quillons are legs from an antique clock - but they seem to play the part quite well ...

Photos in due course.
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Re: Richard Johnston mameluke

Postby sword335 » Sat Feb 25, 2017 9:05 am

Horn grips - unusual. No wonder it wouldn't clean. Shows auctioneers aren't always wrong !

By the way, is it by "Johnston" or "Johnston, late Bland & Foster" ?
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Re: Richard Johnston mameluke

Postby Richard » Sat Feb 25, 2017 12:57 pm

'Richard Johnston' one side and '68 St James's St' the other side. The blade has 'SOLINGEN' on the back, i.e. Post 1800 spelling. I can't see if there is R or Runkel before it.
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Re: Richard Johnston mameluke

Postby Gordons Horse » Thu Mar 02, 2017 6:16 pm

Vert fine blade Richard, and a lovely scabbard.

Whilst not suggesting that the sword relates to India, I've seen a number of mameluke style swords and other types all that relate to India, and all those I refer to had horn grips.
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Re: Richard Johnston mameluke

Postby Richard » Fri Mar 03, 2017 12:21 pm

Gordons Horse wrote:Vert fine blade Richard, and a lovely scabbard.

Whilst not suggesting that the sword relates to India, I've seen a number of mameluke style swords and other types all that relate to India, and all those I refer to had horn grips.


Gordon
Well I would guess that horn was somewhat more exotic than ivory in India so you could be right ....
Richard
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