British Quill Point Swords

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British Quill Point Swords

Postby Brimage » Mon Jun 11, 2012 2:52 am

Hi Guys

Thanks to one of our members we recently acquired our first Quill point and as we see very few of these in Australia I would be interested in viewing other examples and members thoughts on the origin of such an unusual blade design.

The one in our collection posted on this site previously we believe to be British although the extensive etched decoration does not feature a Royal Cypher or Coat of Arms.

Overall Length: 93.3 cm in scabbard 92.8 sword only
Blade length: 81.2 cm Quill point 30.2 cm
Blade widest point: 3.1 cm
Hilt widest point: 16 cm
Inside grip length: 8.8 cm

Marks, etc.: Etched decoration including foliage, flowers, shield and cross lances and what appears to be a feathered bonnet.

General Description: Stirrup hilted Quill Point Officer’s light cavalry sword. Steel stirrup hilt with round langets, fluted combination back strap and pommel and faceted ferrule. Dark fishskin grip bound with silver wire. Quill pointed blade profusely etched for just over two thirds with decoration including foliage, flowers, shield and cross lances and a feather bonnet.

We are hoping that as with our post on the Horse Head Sword, members will respond and post their examples and thoughts on these great blades.

Cheers Cathey and Rex
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01-Pattern-British-Cavalry 1796-Light Officer's-Stirrup Hilt Quill Point.jpg
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Richard » Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:32 am

Hi Cathey

These are my thoughts and conclusions concerning the so-called 'quill-point' blade (which will be in my book of course):

The 'quill-point' blade is very much associated with the 'Celtic-hilt' heavy cavalry officers' sword which was prevalent from around 1813 to 1821 (the sword of Maj Hadden who joined the 3DG in 1813 is potentially the earliest example). However, of course, as a state-of-the-art fighting blade, it soon began to appear with other hilt forms - I have seen it on 1796 LC stirrup hilts (such as yours), with 1821 LC '3-bar' hilts, a P1803 infantry sword and, of course, in a shorter form it was used on the P1827 Naval officer's sword. I also have an 1807-21 10th Hussars regimental pattern sword with a quill-point blade. This sword belonged to Lord Thomas Cecil who joined the 10th in 1816 (photo below).

Several quill-point blades I have seen are marked 'Prosser's Invention' and, in fact, I have a Celtic-hilt which is etched 'Prosser's Invention Charing Cross 1818' (photo below). I am pretty certain that Prosser was claiming the quill-point blade as his design, although of course it was copied by several other makers. Interestingly, where other makers are involved, their name virtually always appear on the scabbard and not on the blade. The only quill-point blade I have seen with a maker on the blade other the Prosser is the Hawkes Moseley sword P1796 heavy cavalry sword now on M D Long's site (which I used to own).

The quill-point was also very popular on swords used in India as well (I previously posted a photo of my Bombay light cavalry sword here).

Regarding your sword, therefore, I would date it somewhere around 1815-20.

Richard.
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby trevor boddy » Sat Jun 30, 2012 12:32 pm

Hi All,
I was hoping you can help me with info on this Quill point sword .
It has a 83cm blade , i believe it a 1796 British cavery sabre.
The old fellow i got it from said his granddad was with the Australian Light Horse in WW1 and picked it up in Europe.
I would like to tell him its history, when i got it it had 80 years of rust on it . The timber grip was half missing & i replaced it .
Thanks Trev
Australia
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Richard » Sat Jun 30, 2012 2:15 pm

Hello Trevor and welcome to the group.

Your sword does not have the so-called 'quill-point' blade. The 'quill-point' is characterised by the large extension to the back edge as shown on the photos above. Rather, your sword has the more traditional and standard 'pipe-back' blade. It looks quite similar to one of mine - photo below. This sword has XVI QLD etched on the blade (16th Queen's Light Dragoons) and was made around 1814-1815. I would think your sword dates from around the same time. So, it could be described as a '1796 pattern light cavalry officer's sword with (variant) pipe-back blade c. 1814-15'

Richard
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby trevor boddy » Sun Jul 01, 2012 1:38 am

Hi Richard .
Thanks for the info . i will pass it on :D
Thanks Trev
(not long untill we take all your golds at the Olympics :lol: )
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Richard » Sun Jul 01, 2012 6:55 am

You're welcome, Trevor - and after the cricket, I suppose we ought to let you win at something :roll:
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby michael » Mon Jul 02, 2012 12:39 pm

Just to add a bit more to this post. The blade on one of my French Napoleonic swords as a sort of quill point. I hope that you can see how part of the blade as been flattened to make a small section of what i can only call a quill to the blade. So it was not only the good old brits making these sort of blades. michael
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby alan campbell » Sun Sep 16, 2012 12:40 pm

Any thoughts on Lot 52 in the forthcoming Christies South Kensington sale? It has a Scottish basket hilt (not the 1798 pattern) and a quill point blade. Catalogue description is "late 18th century" which seems highly unlikely to say the least. Has anyone ever seen a similar hilt/blade combination?
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby sword335 » Sun Sep 16, 2012 3:49 pm

Totally composite. The hilt is probably not even Scottish but British Military 1760 - 1780 and the blade early 19th C.

Useful for spare parts if you're interested in making up swords but at about one third of the estimate !

Chris.
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Matt Easton » Mon Sep 17, 2012 10:01 am

michael wrote:Just to add a bit more to this post. The blade on one of my French Napoleonic swords as a sort of quill point. I hope that you can see how part of the blade as been flattened to make a small section of what i can only call a quill to the blade. So it was not only the good old brits making these sort of blades. michael


Hi Michael,
In my humble opinion that is not really a 'quill-point' as such, but rather it is clearly emulating a 'yelman' as found on Egyptian and Turkish swords (kilij), which Napoleon's cavalry enountered (and captured).
The quill-point, in my view, must 'flare', ie. raise up from the back edge in a curve, before tapering back to the point.
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby michael » Mon Sep 17, 2012 3:22 pm

hi, matt, I do take your point, but its a form of quill point in that it hads strength to the point of the blade. As to the highland sword at christies, god knows what that is about.Mind you i have just come back from an auction in switzerland and it was jokes all round, as far as their lots went. No wonder most did not sale. I am getting sick of auction houses just making things up. michael
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Matt Easton » Mon Sep 17, 2012 8:33 pm

There is a dealer currently selling an 1827 Rifles hilt mounted on a big Prosser 1796HC quill-point blade. As for whether that is an original Victorian mating or not I couldn't say from photos alone, but it looks awesome!
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Dmitry » Tue Sep 18, 2012 5:34 pm

Is there any significance to the absence of the Royal regalia, ciphers, etc., on the topic-starter's photos [magnificent-looking sword]?
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Richard » Tue Sep 18, 2012 5:55 pm

Dmitry wrote:Is there any significance to the absence of the Royal regalia, ciphers, etc., on the topic-starter's photos [magnificent-looking sword]?


Dmitry

I don't think there's any particular significance to the absence of Royal regalia. Some Scots officers were adverse to having GR on the swords and some officers serving with 'Irregulars' in India may not have insisted on royal cyphers. I've seen a few standard 1796 without GR cyphers and arms - not common but not that unsual either. But, of course I could be totally wrong!

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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Dmitry » Tue Sep 18, 2012 8:47 pm

Thanks, Richard. So it might be safe to discount the absence of the royal regalia among the decorations as anything meaningful then, unless proven otherwise...

Going back to the topic-starter's sword, I find the image of the plumed hat curious and unusual. It reminded me of the strange and elaborate hats worn by the very upper strata of the Indian sub-continent. The plume might be a peacock's feather?
Perhaps this sword served with her owner somewhere in those parts..
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Princess Shah Jahan (1838-1901) of Bhopal, November 1862.jpg
Illustration from a manuscript of the Rasikapriya of Kesava Das - Early 17th Century.jpg
Enthroned man with a flute in hand listening to a female messenger.jpg
01-Pattern-British-Cavalry 1796-Light Officer's-Stirrup Hilt Quill Point.jpg
01-Pattern-British-Cavalry 1796-Light Officer's-Stirrup Hilt Quill Point.jpg (75.43 KiB) Viewed 25470 times
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Bryce » Fri Dec 04, 2015 12:15 am

G'day Guys,
I am a collector of Napoleonic Era British swords based in Australia. Recently I acquired an interesting 1796 pattern heavy cavalry officer's undress sword with a transitional quill point. It may be something along the evolutionary line between the standard 1796 heavy cavalry sword blade and the prosser pipe-backed quill point. Equally, it may just be another maker's interpretation of a similar concept. The blade is 35 inches long, slightly curved, with the usual single broad fuller. The spine is rounded and the blade has a 13 inch false edge raised above the line of the blade. The hilt is a well made example of the ladder hilt, but of the later, asymmetrical form with the rolled quillion. The scabbard has a pointy end similar to the ones you sometimes see associated with the prosser celtic hilts. The scabbard has been thru the "wars" and the sword doesn't sheath very well due to a couple of dents and a deep cut on the end of the scabbard. The blade is in beautiful condition with some original polish and light staining and a small number of edge nicks and chips. Unfortunately the sword is unmarked.

Cheers,
Bryce
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Richard » Fri Dec 04, 2015 5:29 pm

Hello Bryce and welcome to the forum.

Yes, transitional blade between standard regulation and pipe back. This hilt form is found with an amazing number of different blade types. Here's another similar to yours

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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Bryce » Fri Dec 04, 2015 8:48 pm

G'day Richard,
Have you noticed that a very high percentage of these ladder hilts have plain, unmarked blades, compared to their light cavalry counterparts? I think I read somewhere that it was the fashion in the household cavalry to have plain blades. Does this explain it?
Cheers,
Bryce
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Richard » Sat Dec 05, 2015 10:57 am

Bryce wrote:G'day Richard,
Have you noticed that a very high percentage of these ladder hilts have plain, unmarked blades, compared to their light cavalry counterparts? I think I read somewhere that it was the fashion in the household cavalry to have plain blades. Does this explain it?
Cheers,
Bryce


I hadn't really thought about it too much but yes, you're right, it is more common to find an undecorated blade on a 1796 heavy cavalry officer's sword than it is on a light cavalry officer's. Possibly because a light cavalry officer's sword had to double as both undress and dress (where one might want to impress the ladies*) whereas the heavy cavalry officer had a sword for each occasion.

[*apologies ladies if this is sexist]
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Bryce » Mon Nov 07, 2016 2:26 am

G'day Guys,

There was an interesting quill-point on Ebay last week. This one is the first mameluke - hilted quill-point I have seen. The other interesting thing is that it has a "Damascus" blade, something you don't often see on British sword.

Cheers,

Bryce
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Richard » Mon Nov 07, 2016 8:09 am

Hi Bryce
Thanks for posting that. This is also the first mameluke I have seen with a 'quill-point' blade. However, I have to doubt that the blade is truly Damascus or watered steel. European makers struggled but ultimately failed to reproduce watered steel blades. I would guess it is etched in imitation of watered steel.
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Bryce » Mon Nov 07, 2016 8:54 pm

G'day Richard,

The seller described it as "Damascus" and "watered steel" and the photos looked pretty convincing. If it is etched they did a great job. Could the owner have brought home a true "Damascus steel" blade and had it reforged? Sounds unlikely?

Cheers,

Bryce
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Will Mathieson » Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:57 pm

Appears to be authentic damascus steel. I've seen some etched blades that try to imitate damascus but the patterns look different and not as fine.
I would think this sword blade once properly restored will be a real beauty.
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby sword335 » Tue Nov 08, 2016 2:13 pm

Yes, certainly a real Damascus blade so most unusual. It will be a real so and so to restore as the pitting must be taken out and that will blur the pattern. Stil, it can certainly be improved. Did you buy it Bryce ?

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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Bryce » Tue Nov 08, 2016 7:44 pm

G'day Chris,

Yes I did buy it. I bought it because it is a quill-point. If it is or isn't Damascus, isn't a deal breaker for me. I will let you know when it arrives.

Cheers,

Bryce
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