British Quill Point Swords

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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Bryce » Wed Sep 27, 2017 8:52 pm

G'day Richard,
It does have a new home in Australia now.
Was there a maker's name on Ponsonby's sword?
Below are photos of a similar sword that was sold in Australia last year.
Cheers,
Bryce
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Bryce » Tue Feb 06, 2018 4:24 am

G'day Guys,

Another one sold at auction recently.

Cheers,
Bryce
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Gordons Horse » Sun Feb 25, 2018 10:19 pm

Hi Richard,

In your opinion, when did John Prosser Jnr. stop making swords?

Gordon
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Richard » Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:01 am

Hi Gordon

For a long time, I never came across anything at all by Prosser Jnr. and I began to wonder if, in fact, he ever did make any swords as opposed to just selling off old stock left by his father. However, then someone (Matt Easton maybe?) posted something here (but I cant find it) that, by its date or VR cypher, could only have been Prosser Jnr.
Southwick in his article on Prosser in Man-at-arms magazine (May/June 1988) also notes that the accounts at Windsor Castle contain an entry for a sword supplied by Prosser on 01 May 1840. Southwick also notes that, whatever business Prosser Jnr had, went into a sharp decline in 1849.
So, the Windsor Castle sword in 1840 is the last I have heard of but giving him the benefit of doubt, I suppose 1849 is probably a backstop.

Richard
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Richard » Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:10 am

On the subject of Prosser and quill point swords, here is one I used to have (and I'm still not sure why I sold it) marked 'Prosser's Invention, Charing Cross, 1818'.
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Gordons Horse » Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:06 pm

Richard wrote:Hi Gordon

For a long time, I never came across anything at all by Prosser Jnr. and I began to wonder if, in fact, he ever did make any swords as opposed to just selling off old stock left by his father. However, then someone (Matt Easton maybe?) posted something here (but I cant find it) that, by its date or VR cypher, could only have been Prosser Jnr.
Southwick in his article on Prosser in Man-at-arms magazine (May/June 1988) also notes that the accounts at Windsor Castle contain an entry for a sword supplied by Prosser on 01 May 1840. Southwick also notes that, whatever business Prosser Jnr had, went into a sharp decline in 1849.
So, the Windsor Castle sword in 1840 is the last I have heard of but giving him the benefit of doubt, I suppose 1849 is probably a backstop.

Richard


Hi Richard,

Thanks for the interesting information.

regards,

Gordon
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Richard » Thu Mar 08, 2018 1:48 pm

Gordon
Look on ‘jemswords’ - there’s a Mameluke with a VR cypher by ‘Prosser manufacturer to the Queen’
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Gordons Horse » Thu Mar 08, 2018 7:29 pm

Hi Richard,

Thanks for that, now added to my research notes.

Regard,

Gordon
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Matt Easton » Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:23 am

I have a few quill-points, some visibly marked to Prosser and some without markings, including light cavalry, infantry and navy. I'll try to put photos up when possible.
Regards,
Matt
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Gordons Horse » Tue Apr 10, 2018 8:23 pm

Richard wrote:On the subject of Prosser and quill point swords, here is one I used to have (and I'm still not sure why I sold it) marked 'Prosser's Invention, Charing Cross, 1818'.


Hi Richard,

There is obviously no doubt as regards the date of invention noted in this particular marking however, for those who have an opinion or in fact have datable swords, I have this question.

What in your opinion is the date of the earliest quill-pointed sword bearing the Prosser name, that also bears the notification, that he Prosser (senior) was "Manufacturer to The King" ?

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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Richard » Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:58 am

Gordon

I have always thought that the date of 1818 was either a retrospective claim by Prosser or the date he registered the design given that dateable examples of quill point swords exist before 1818. For example: Celtic-hilted swords of Capt Thomas Fenton 2Ds (c. 1815-17), Major James Hadden 3DGs (c. 1813), Major Norcliffe 4Ds (c. 1814) and Cornet Lord Thomas Cecil 10Hs (1816).

Regarding 'Prosser Manufacturer to the King', I think Prosser only started to use this title after the accession of George IV (with whom he was closely associated) in 1821. So, earliest examples of quill-pints with that marking would be 1821 ....

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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Bryce » Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:23 pm

G'day Gordon,

My 1796 quill point is maker marked to Odell, 17 Old Bond Street. After further research in the London directories I have discovered that Bennet Odell left this address in 1816, making my sword pre 1817 and incidentally, also making it unlikely that the original owner of this sword was Robert Harrington of the 12th Light Dragoons who joined in 1819.

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Bryce
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Gordons Horse » Sun Apr 15, 2018 6:30 pm

Richard wrote:Gordon

I have always thought that the date of 1818 was either a retrospective claim by Prosser or the date he registered the design given that dateable examples of quill point swords exist before 1818. For example: Celtic-hilted swords of Capt Thomas Fenton 2Ds (c. 1815-17), Major James Hadden 3DGs (c. 1813), Major Norcliffe 4Ds (c. 1814) and Cornet Lord Thomas Cecil 10Hs (1816).

Regarding 'Prosser Manufacturer to the King', I think Prosser only started to use this title after the accession of George IV (with whom he was closely associated) in 1821. So, earliest examples of quill-pints with that marking would be 1821 ....

Richard


Richard,

Of the swords that you are aware of that pre-date 1818, how many with a quill pointed have the Prosser name on the blade?

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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Gordons Horse » Sun Apr 15, 2018 6:36 pm

Bryce wrote:G'day Gordon,

My 1796 quill point is maker marked to Odell, 17 Old Bond Street. After further research in the London directories I have discovered that Bennet Odell left this address in 1816, making my sword pre 1817 and incidentally, also making it unlikely that the original owner of this sword was Robert Harrington of the 12th Light Dragoons who joined in 1819.

Cheers,
Bryce


Hi Bryce,

What I'm trying to quantify, is how many quill pointed blades are people aware of that are actually marked with the Prosser name, and pre-date 1818.

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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Bryce » Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:49 am

G'day Gordon,

When you look deeper into this, I don't think there really is any evidence that Prosser invented the quill-point, apart from his claim in 1818. There were obviously many quill-points made before 1818, by many different makers. Unfortunately the earlier datable swords don't seem to have any maker marks on them.

Cheers,
Bryce
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Bryce » Thu Aug 02, 2018 1:14 am

Does any one know when (or even if) Prosser began making his own blades? All of his earlier swords seem to have Solingen blades.


Cheers,

Bryce
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Bryce » Thu Aug 02, 2018 11:53 pm

Prosser marked swords with the JP stamp seem to appear around 1830. I wonder if this is when Prosser started manufacturing sword blades himself?


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Bryce
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Richard » Fri Aug 03, 2018 6:31 am

Bryce
This presentation sword is by Prosser and dated 1800 - Prosser's name is not on the blade itself but its seems unlikely that it was Solingen made (but conceded also that it does necessarily mean that Prosser made it)
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Bryce » Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:52 pm

G'day Richard,

If you Google "Prosser Sword" or search the Oldswords database, all of the 1803 or 1796 pattern, Prosser marked swords with standard, fullered blades seem to be from Solingen. Prosser swords with flat unfullered blades such as your example above are not obvious Solingen products. Runkel must have imported blades like this as well (or perhaps sourced them from bladeswiths within Britain) for special orders as evidenced by Lachlan Macquarie's sword which is in the National Museum of Australia and is marked on the blade to Runkel. Perhaps Prosser did make these unfullered blades himself, but given his London address and the large number of Solingen marked swords in Prosser mounts, the evidence suggests he was only a cutler, rather than a bladesmith. I guess this fact doesn't preclude him from inventing the quill point as it may still have been his idea, but he had someone else actually manufacture the blades.


Cheers,

Bryce
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Bryce » Fri Aug 03, 2018 10:03 pm

Another thing that has got me wondering is, if as we all seem to agree, the pipe back blade was very popular for officers' swords from around 1815 onwards, who was actually manufacturing these blades? The majority of examples I have seen are marked to cutlers who wouldn't have forged their own blades. Where are all of the big name manufacturers such as Osborn etc?


Cheers,

Bryce
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Richard » Sat Aug 04, 2018 6:47 am

Bryce

Prosser was originally 'shopman' or general manager to Mary Cullum, widow of the Royal maker Thomas Cullum who was one of the London cutlers who had leapt to the defence of the merchant J J Runkel when Thomas Gill launched his attack on German blades and Runkel in 1787. Many of the London cutlers at that time all seemed to be using imported Solingen blades to one degree or another so when Prosser took over Cullum's business in 1795 it would seem logical that he would continue to use Solingen blades. However, I am in little doubt that by the time we get to around 1813-14, i.e. after Runkel had ceased trading (1808), Prosser must have been making his own blades as evidenced by his claim in 1818 relating to the quill point blade. From that time onwards, we do start to see Prosser's name appear on blades rather than just on the scabbard (I have a mameluke that can positively be dated to 1818 with Prosser blade). As regards the quill-point, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, I do not see how we can doubt Prosser's claim that this was his 'invention'. I think this is also supported by the fact that it is very rare to find a quill-point from around that time with any other maker's name on the blade (I can only recall ever seeing one such example by Hawkes, Moseley).

Richard

PS, My 16QLD pipe-back which was made c. 1814-15 has 'Prosser, Maker to the Prince Regent' etched on the blade both sides
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Bryce » Sat Aug 04, 2018 9:55 am

G'day Richard,

In this thread there are two quill points marked to other makers on the blade. One to Brander and Potts and another to Gill's. I don't think having your name engraved or etched on the blade necessarily denotes that you forged the blade. I have a sword marked to Maullin and Co who were merchants and there are plenty of other swords with the names of tailors and outfitters etched or engraved on them. Having your name stamped somewhere on the blade is a different kettle of fish. Those later Prosser swords with the JP stamp got me thinking along these lines, but you are right, we only have Prosser claiming the invention so far.


Cheers,

Bryce
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Re: British Quill Point Swords

Postby Richard » Sat Aug 04, 2018 10:54 am

Hi Bryce
Granted that the name of a 'cutler' on the blade of a sword does not always denote that the so-named company actually made the blade, however I think the evidence surrounding Prosser suggests that he was much more than simply a retailer or mounter of blades. For example, he was always designated as a 'cutler' in the trade directories and his trade card stated that he was a 'manufacturer' of arms to the King'. As well as officers' swords he also supplied troopers' swords: according to Board of Ordnance records, he supplied 548 'new' 1796 light cavalry swords in 1797. He was also involved in the gun trade and took out patents for improvements in gun-making in 1800. By 1821 he was offering up new regulation pattern swords to the Board of Ordnance. All of this suggests to me that he was a maker of blades from the time he commenced in business although of course he was not averse to using imported German blades whenever he could.
Regarding other makers names, yes, I had forgotten you had posted the Brander & Potts sword - I had always thought that Prosser started advertising the fact that the quill-point was his invention in 1818 because other makers had started coping his design.
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