rayskin on Confederate swords

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Apr 10, 2018
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#1
Greetings,

I'm wondering if Southern sword makers ever used rayskin/sharkskin on their sword handles. None of the reference books on Confederate swords that I have show Southern made swords with this feature. European imported swords, did at times have that type grip. Thank you for the help!
Jonl51
 

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#3
Some swords and sabres imported by the Confederacy (particularly from England) have ray/shark skin wrapped around the wooden grip. My question is how do we differentiate between ray and shark skin? Both "ray" and "shark skin" are used to describe the same item. Some just use the term "fish skin" as they appear to be confused as well. Since rays and sharks belong to the same family they have similar skin. I'm going with "ray skin" until I learn something definitive from an expert as the skin is thin and the pattern of dots are in straight rows on some sword wraps. I have no inclination to go swimming with sharks in order to see their skin up close. I would think too that sting rays would be easy to get in shallow water.
 

ucvrelics

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#4
Southern sword makers were only interested in making quality blades and didn't have the luxury or time for the ray skin which was really only present on HIGH end swords.
 
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#5
I took some photos of both sharkskin and ray skin sword grips, but found much better shots on the internet.
Both of these swords, now in my collection, were obtained from the late Kevin Hoffman. They are photographs and descriptions still on line at http://www.civilwarpreservations.com/Home.aspx. The "Swords of Honor" catalog contains many very useful photos and descriptions of US/CS swords and cutlasses;

Here you go, Ralph.


Sharkskin: "thin and straight"
SJM342-01.jpg


Ray skin: very distinctive.
SG183F.JPG
 
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#7
I took some photos of both sharkskin and ray skin sword grips, but found much better shots on the internet.
Both of these swords, now in my collection, were obtained from the late Kevin Hoffman. They are photographs and descriptions still on line at http://www.civilwarpreservations.com/Home.aspx. The "Swords of Honor" catalog contains many very useful photos and descriptions of US/CS swords and cutlasses;

Here you go, Ralph.


Sharkskin: "thin and straight"
View attachment 205783

Ray skin: very distinctive.
View attachment 205784
Thank you for sharing the pictures and congrats on two beautiful swords.
 
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#8
[QUOTE="Jonl51Thanks. I assume in this case “HIGH” end swords refers to imported rather than Southern made, HIGH end swords.

In most cases that's correct, but a few of the CS makers had the skill to make amazing swords, especially Griswold and Dufilho in New Orleans, and McElroy in Georgia. Two General Officers swords below are from New Orleans. The first is a solid silver, and ivory hilted, gold wired Dufilho, while the second one is a gold and silver Griswold made sword , finished {incised engraving and detailing} off by Dufilho for a CS General.

dufilho G-O ivory.JPG

Griz-Dufilho  G-O.JPG


that's about as "high" end as it gets.
 

Legion Para

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#9
Many Confederate swords had leather wrapped or wooden grips.

S01f.jpg


"Confederate General William Mahone cased presentation sword - The Last Sword of the Southern Confederacy

The Last Sword of the Southern Confederacy – only 4 Confederate swords exist in private hands with an actual presentation etched blade to a Confederate General. Mahone is the only Confederate Major Generals presentation sword known to exist in private hands; he was one of only 3 Confederate Division Commanders left in 1865. Made by Boyle and Gamble, this was their Last Sword, presented by the Citizens of Petersburg for saving their city from Union General US Grant; presented in the field at Chesterfield Court House just 3 weeks before Lee’s surrender. Gen. Mahone would have had this sword with him at Lee’s surrender to US Grant, where Mahone hand delivered to Lee and helped negotiate, General Grant’s Terms of Surrender."

S01_a2071c62d93858329670f7a534ee7976.jpg


S01b.jpg
 
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#11
[QUOTE="Jonl51Thanks. I assume in this case “HIGH” end swords refers to imported rather than Southern made, HIGH end swords.

In most cases that's correct, but a few of the CS makers had the skill to make amazing swords, especially Griswold and Dufilho in New Orleans, and McElroy in Georgia. Two General Officers swords below are from New Orleans. The first is a solid silver, and ivory hilted, gold wired Dufilho, while the second one is a gold and silver Griswold made sword , finished {incised engraving and detailing} off by Dufilho for a CS General.

View attachment 205791
View attachment 205792

that's about as "high" end as it gets.
Yes, really fantastic swords by these Southern makers, as fine as anywhere. I was aware that several Southern firms produced high end swords, my question was if they ever used sharkskin or ray skin on the grips of any of their swords. Thank you.
 



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