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P1805 Senior Naval Officers sword - restoration

PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2018 11:42 am
by Jerry Cottrell
A couple of years ago I bought this sword at auction in the hope I could have it restored to its former glory. The problems were that the top hilt rivet had decayed to a point where the hilt was in separate pieces, though all the parts seemed in every good condition. The second issue was the loss of the bottom third of the scabbard and chape, with detiorated later. However the two lockets were in good condition.

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I was advised to take the sword to Ray Colt, who ran a shop in Surrey called Casque and Gauntlet, a quirky type of shop I thought had died out long ago. Ray also did excellent restoration work on swords i was informed. Ray sadly passed on this year, he was a very engaging character and I enjoyed lengthy chats on each visit.

The before and after photos show what a fine job Ray made of this sword, with a reassembled hilt, restored scabbard leather and a replacement shape supplied.

So this post is in tribute to Ray.

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Re: P1805 Senior Naval Officers sword - restoration

PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:00 pm
by sword335
Great sword Jerry. I do like the 1805 with the diamond section blade. Makes the sword a really useable weapon. Also a nice early example with D rings.
Ray will be greatly missed by several people on this forum. If anyone can recommend a restorer who can do work to a similar standard please let us know.

Chris.

Re: P1805 Senior Naval Officers sword - restoration

PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2018 9:05 pm
by Richard
I have held off saying anything about Ray Colt I suppose because I was so upset about his passing. I knew him since 1980 and he was a true friend for nearly forty years. He was indeed a ‘character’ and a one-off with an amazing sense of humour but also the most talented restorer of antique weapons in the country. Not just that as well, but with a real appreciation of the history of the piece such that he would refuse to do anything he thought was not commensurate with the original character of a sword. Below is one example of his work: sword dating from c. 1792, scabbard from 2016 ....
I will tell just one anecdote about his life (of which there are many): a few years ago someone brought a sword into his workshop which had been dug up in the WW1 battlefields of France. The sword was stuck in its scabbard and the owner asked Ray to free it. He told me that as he was working on releasing the sword, he looked up and his workshop was full of orange gas. He started to feel sick and his nose started to bleed - freeing the sword had released mustard gas trapped in the scabbard and thus, as his doctor said, he had the distinction of being the last Briton to be gassed by the Germans in WW1 !
A really great man and a friend. He will be missed ....
Richard





Re: P1805 Senior Naval Officers sword - restoration

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:35 pm
by Jerry Cottrell
A very nice tribute Richard, and what an astonishing story about the mustard gas! Hard to believe after so many years.

And thanks for the kind remarks Chris. Took a bit of a punt on this sword from auction - looked a bit of a mess which put people off I think. However when I got it back from Ray I was absolutely thrilled with the result. It's a rather beefier 1805 than many I have seen. Now has pride of place on the wall and will always remind me of Ray and his lovely quirky shop.

Jerry

Re: P1805 Senior Naval Officers sword - restoration

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2018 1:47 pm
by Richard
Jerry

Yes, a very nice sword you now have. Apologies for hi-jacking your thread.

Richard

PS, I take it the ivory grip was all OK and didn't need restoration? If it had needed work, it would not have been a problem for Ray: last year he showed me a mameluke he was restoring which had massively chipped grips. 'How are you going to repair those' I asked - 'no problem' said he and went out to his back room only to return with two full size elephant tusks. 'I've had these for more than 40 years' he said (i.e. well before the ivory trade - quite rightly so - became illegal).

Re: P1805 Senior Naval Officers sword - restoration

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2018 5:36 pm
by Jerry Cottrell
No hijack, very pleased to hear another tribute to Ray - he was a colourful character with a fund of stories. Very sorry he has passed.

All the components of the hilt, including the ivory grip, were in A1 condition. I think Ray reshaped the backstrap a touch, and of course replaced the rivet, but you can see how good the hilt looks. The blue and gilt is not bad, about 60-70% complete. There is a blade cartouche with the makers inscription 'Osborn & Gunby, Sword Cutlers To His Majesty, and his Royal Highness The Prince Regent. Warranted'. The regency was from 1811 I think so I would guess the sword dates from around then.

The scabbard for the 1792 sword you show is superb. Unusual hilt, is that what they call a 'coffin' hilt?

Jerry

Re: P1805 Senior Naval Officers sword - restoration

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2018 10:28 pm
by Will Mathieson
Jerry the auction house called Richards sword a Chinese sword. When I saw the sword I forgot that Richard has an eagles eye.

Re: P1805 Senior Naval Officers sword - restoration

PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2018 7:23 am
by Richard
Jerry,
Given that your sword is by Osborn & Gunby, is there any evidence of a G or GG stamp at the top of the blade adjacent the hilt?
Richard

Re: P1805 Senior Naval Officers sword - restoration

PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:25 am
by Jerry Cottrell
Quite difficult to be sure because of the langets, but apparently not.

Re: P1805 Senior Naval Officers sword - restoration

PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2018 8:10 pm
by Bryce
G'day Guys,

I have been away, so Richard got in ahead of me with the G stamp question.
Jerry,
That is a beautiful sword, I am jealous. Can you please do me a favour and have a really good look for a G stamp? Remove the leather washer and shine a torch under the langets. Given we can date your sword to 1811-1818 it could help us date when Osborn and Gunby stopped G stamping their swords (if indeed they did?).
Cheers,
Bryce

Re: P1805 Senior Naval Officers sword - restoration

PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2018 4:44 am
by Bryce
PS Jerry,
The G stamps are always on the ricasso, so if you can't see the ricasso because it is hidden by the guard, you can't tell if it is stamped or not.
Cheers,
Bryce

Re: P1805 Senior Naval Officers sword - restoration

PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2018 11:13 am
by Jerry Cottrell
Hi Bryce
Had an other look, with a torch, very carefully. There is no G or GG; or if there is it is fully concealed under the hilt. There is no ricasso as such on this blade, the diamond section goes all the way up to the hilt.

A tip for anyone peering under langets for marks or makers names, backlighting works better than front. In other words point the torch under the langets from the opposite side towards you - much better contrasty light.

Jerry

Re: P1805 Senior Naval Officers sword - restoration

PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2018 9:10 pm
by Bryce
G'day Jerry,

Thanks for doing that. Unfortunately, because there is no ricasso visible on your sword, the result isn't conclusive one way or the other.

Cheers,

Bryce

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