1796 Beak Pommel

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1796 Beak Pommel

Postby Bryce » Fri May 18, 2018 6:15 am

G'day Guys,

I have spent a lot of time lately looking at 1796 pipe-back swords. Most of these have extended "beak" pommels and langets which aren't flush with the edge of the guard. This got me wondering about who invented the 1796 beak pommel. I have one by Thomas Gill dated 1799 on the blade. I have seen another by Thomas Gill dated 1798. Did Thomas Gill invent this style hilt and why did it become so popular in the later Napoleonic Period?

Cheers,
Bryce
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Thos Gills Warranted 1799.jpg
thos Gills Warranted 1799 1.jpg
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Re: 1796 Beak Pommel

Postby Richard » Mon May 21, 2018 1:21 pm

Hi Bryce
I have always thought that encasing the pommel in metal to form the so-called 'beak pommel' was simply a matter of practicality to overcome an obvious flaw in the grip construction, i.e. if one supposes that the grain of the wood that forms the grip runs vertically alongside the blade tang, where the tang and grip lean forward to form the pommel, you get a weak spot where the grip is likely to split with the grain - see my 16LD sword below. Encasing the pommel with metal prevents (or goes a long way to) the problem.
You see this in particular on later pipe-backed 1796s where there was a tendency to elongate the pommel hence it is relatively common from about 1813-1814 onwards. However, having said that, there is no doubting the date of your Gill sword which indicates the innovation was introduced considerably earlier than might be supposed.
Richard
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Re: 1796 Beak Pommel

Postby Bryce » Mon May 21, 2018 9:15 pm

G'day Richard,

The other characteristic these early Gill beak pommels share with later beak pommel hilts, are langets that aren't flush with the outside of the guard. Most standard 1796 hilts have langets flush with the outside of the guard. Standard Gill 1796 officer's sabres have guards which are narrower than trooper sabres. This allows them to fit into slimmer scabbards and makes the whole sword less bulky than trooper sabres. By having the langets stepped back from the edge of the guard as in the beak pommels, means they will still fit snugly over the mouth of a slim-line scabbard, while maintaining the increased hand protection of a full width guard.


Osborn officer's sabres on the other hand, tend to have full width guards and thus need bulkier scabbards.


Cheers,

Bryce
Attachments
Langets.jpg
1799 Dated Gill Langets
Langets2.jpg
1796 Quill-point Langets
Hilt.jpg
1796 Quill-point Hilt
Langets3.jpg
Osborn Officer's Sabre
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Re: 1796 Beak Pommel

Postby Richard » Thu May 24, 2018 5:59 am

Hi Bryce
Here's the only 'beak pommel' I have and it also has the langets set in as you have observed. Blade is etched XI LD and has battle honours to Egypt, Peninsula and Waterloo which means it must date after 23 Nov 1815 when the last of those was granted, probably around 1818.
Richard
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