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Please help me ID a possible Rev War sword guard!

Discussion in 'Civil War Weapons and Ammunition' started by davebleedsblue, Feb 12, 2018.

  1. davebleedsblue

    davebleedsblue Private

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    Hello everyone - I recently acquired this sword guard and I confess swords aren’t my forte. Can anyone help me ID the sword this guard was attached to, and maybe a roundabout guess at when/by whom it would’ve been used? Thank you so much.

    https://m.imgur.com/a/wio3J

    The seller gave me this info (which he collected from the man who dug it out of the ground):

    - sword guard used by the Royal Navy
    - 1750-1780
    - dug from raid site (harbor) of the burning of Norfolk VA (Jan 1st 1776)

    I tried googling to find the guards that show on various 1700s British swords but can’t find this exact one. Also, the anchor meshed with an R is a symbol I can’t locate. These are the only two photos - it’s just the guard so there’s not much more (unfortunately) to see. There are no other markings. It’s fairly weighty.

    Thanks again for any assistance you can provide!
     
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  3. major bill

    major bill Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    Nice piece, sorry I am not more help.
     
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  4. Larryh86GT

    Larryh86GT Sergeant

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    Nice piece. It sure looks pretty pristine for being that old and dug up.
     
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  5. davebleedsblue

    davebleedsblue Private

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    Thanks everyone - anyone have any thoughts or resources? Coming up blank on this one...
     
  6. mofederal

    mofederal 1st Lieutenant

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    I like the piece, it looks a bit odd, I guess it was treated with something. I can believe it was dug. Thanks for posting @davebleedsblue. I'll have to check back here to see what others on the CWT say regarding it.
     
  7. Glen_C

    Glen_C Corporal

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    Looks to be a bit of a poser to me (click for bigger)
    [​IMG]

    Why anyone would embellish the guard with "that" would mean only that it was done to fool.

    Half shell guards are not unknown pre revolution and of the French&Indian war period. Next time I'm at the bookshelf, I'll flip through a couple of books, including Neumann's Swords&Blades of the American Revolution and Gilkerson's Boarders Away V1. Neumann's a book any early sword buff should have and at minimal cost.

    I would expect the blade for that guard was straight, shorter than 30" and fairly broad for its length. Here is my French half shell hanger from the early 18th century.

    posrse 004.jpg posrse 002.jpg

    Another example and view
    IMG_2092.jpg

    While your guard is different, it is of the same general period. I view the entire anchor and R as entirely spurious. Annis&May is a big book on British naval and I believe one of the LeHoste volumes covers early French stuff.

    I'll look at my couple of books at some point today, including Flayderman's Medicus collection. There is no reason an earlier sword would not turn up in the area but finding only the guard always makes a flag go up, as the pommels were substantial and would have pinged a detector as easily, even if the blade had rotted off.

    Could it have been other than French or British? I don't know but likely a hanger of some sort with a fairly short blade, mid 1700s.

    Cheers

    GC
     
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  8. Glen_C

    Glen_C Corporal

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    The best similar in Neumann's. The thing about the added anchor is that if it was original to a period piece, it would have been a detail that was cast in, like the horse here.


    A later piece might have had a GR for George III (George Rex) I just cannot justify the crude scratches as original. If it was done by a service trooper, no doubt flogged for his artistry.

    So anyway, quickly added here.

    Cheers
    GC

    DSC00222.JPG
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
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  9. davebleedsblue

    davebleedsblue Private

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    Thanks so much for the replies. I picked this up at a CW show locally here in Charleston a month ago. Haven’t worked with that dealer before so I can’t vouch for anything.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
  10. James N.

    James N. Major Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
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    This has a possibly French look to me, and the French were known to engage in such "embellishment" as @Glen_C mentions. An anchor like this (minus the R) was the French-and-Indian War-era symbol of what were known as Troupes d'la Marine, a confusing designation usually misinterpreted as Marines. These Troupes were individual companies of militia scattered throughout the French colonies all over the world. They were called Marines because all foreign (those not actually IN France) lands and territories came under the jurisdiction of the French Navy, which in French is marine. During the F&I War for the very first time regular troops were sent to Canada under the Marquis de Montcalm where they joined the "normal" garrison of Troupes d'la Marine for the defense of that province. It was not unusual for these Troupes to have their equipment marked with an anchor to indicate it as the "property" of the navy. My guess is that this is a genuine clamshell-type counterguard from a French hanger or short infantry sword. I'm not sure about the included R - probably it had some local designation.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
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  11. davebleedsblue

    davebleedsblue Private

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    Wow, super interesting read!! The dealer said it was from Norfolk VA so I’m not sure what the R may be but who knows. I’ve been referring to it as a colonial sword guard - which seems at least period-accurate so far.

    I wish I had more of the sword than just this bit. My collection of militaria is well over a hundred items now, and this piece plus my two Navy belt buckles are the only pieces I haven’t fully come to a proper ID with yet. Although the buckles are close with the help of some folks on here.
     
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  12. James N.

    James N. Major Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
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    Thanks; I learned quite a bit about this period and the Troupes d'la Marine portraying an officer of them during the 1991 filming of Last of the Mohicans!

    Lake James, 1991 002.jpg
     
  13. Schwallanscher

    Schwallanscher Captain Trivia Game Winner

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    is there a movie you are not in? :devil:
     
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  14. davebleedsblue

    davebleedsblue Private

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    Ok, that’s AWESOME
     
  15. Jobe Holiday

    Jobe Holiday Sergeant Major

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    I have played with the photo a bit, enlargements, etc. Some parts of it almost appear to show enhanced original engraving. Or, in other words, recut over top of what was originally there to make it stand out more. The majority of the lines shown seem to be "bright", while some others near the cracked/split areas seem to have age in them. Just some other thoughts!
    J.
     
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  16. Glen_C

    Glen_C Corporal

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    Excepting that the Troupes d'la Marine hilts were a fairly specific half heart, rather than the shell in question that likely had another branch forming a half basket. On the other hand, many, many variations of English hangers, most of which were also heart and half heart configuration. Let me see if this will upload. Pages from a Petard article. Part II is applicable to the F&I period. Let me see if I can find another photo on the French anchor, which was found as an inspector's mark. Shhh.... I promised years ago not to share this particular book page
    pc1.JPG


    No disrespect for film and reenactors master's at arms but (imo) not likely the scratches were done 250+ years ago and if so, why on earth would they be bright while the field is dark. It really hardly follows to present it in that manner, particularly by anyone but an extreme novice doing so on a dug object (re graving the lines). Marking it to distinguish it a naval sword, imo, a waste of time for a period armourer to spend the time seen in this art. A random sailor's art? arms were drawn from the armourer and not worn daily. A French troupes de terre sword? Why the anchor and if so, not what an officer would want to see on a troops sword unless everyone did. Again back to effort involved and uniformity.

    David Leyoden, of The Royal Sword Has spent a passionate amount of time and effort to produce fairly exacting reproductions of the French military swords of the early 18th century. Perhaps an email to him might be in order. We had discussed (at some lengths) the Troupes d'la Marine swords and the scarcity of finds. I have a few more picture files but the hilts are all virtually identical. The single vs double shell more an economical matter than the ease of wear and changed during the 1730s-1740s period.
    info@theroyalsword.com

    Early in the thread, there was a mention of an odd look to the patina, and I agree, as dug brass doesn't really look like that to me. Black and green verdigris is what I normally encounter..but...highly buffed mebbe. Colors are not uniform on all monitors (but I have viewed in on two).

    Neumann's Swords&Blades is an inexpensive buy, Gilkerson's Boarders Away VI not so much but having both and looking through both, I offered up the best match from either. Below you'll see some thoughts in the part II pdf that are relevant and again, David Leyoden all over the subject of early 18th century French military swords.

    Long story sort, I am not suspecting a French sword. British or Scandic (Danish, Swedish) would be my best guess. Dutch, German, Belgian? Meh, I don't think so.

    FWIW
    Cheers
    GC
     

    Attached Files:

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  17. kevikens

    kevikens 2nd Lieutenant

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    Is it possible that is the letter "B", not the letter "R"? If it is the letter R and it is French it could stand for anything like Roi (for the king) or Republic for after the Revolution. These 18th Century (if it really is from that period) weapons were often made by individual metal smiths and not well marked. What makes me nervous about this is the almost fresh appearance of the monogram. Curious piece but I would not throw a great deal of money into it.
     
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  18. Package4

    Package4 Sergeant Major Trivia Game Winner

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    As a rule with all metal memorabilia, if it was dug, then all surfaces should match, this has been played with at sometime to enhance the etching or to actually create the etched part. Case in point, bury a penny for a year and then dig it up, Lincoln will not be shiny, nor will the Lincoln Memorial on the obverse. Could be legit and digger wanted to enhance the etching, but it should be called out upon every sale. Patina is one of the most important aspects of collecting arms, relics and memorabilia, hard to fake without a trace.
     
  19. Jobe Holiday

    Jobe Holiday Sergeant Major

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    Save the "Patina" by all means! What Package4 has said is so true! A friend has an ungodly rare musket lock that he just barely saved from total destruction of its authenticity. He found it a gun show where the dealer was sitting behind the table filing the rust/patina off the tail of the lock! The dealer said he was doing that "...so you can read the name better..."! My friend said "How about you just stop filing and sell the lock to me the way it is?" The deal was made, and the authenticity was saved.
    J.
     
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  20. kevikens

    kevikens 2nd Lieutenant

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    Same thing with old coins. Don't try cleaning them and never take a brush to them. Cleaned coins, edged weapons and fire arms are like graven images, an abomination in the eyes of heaven.
     
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  21. davebleedsblue

    davebleedsblue Private

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    Thanks everyone for the replies! Sounds like it could be anything at this point, heh. I’m hoping it’s at least from that colonial period. Wish I could share more but it’s just a front and back kind of deal. It’s pretty heavy.
     

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