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German Sword Construction.

Article about: I know, I can hear you thinking, Oh no nat another Sword Thread !!! Sorry but yes, I am setting this thread to try to answer some of the questions a would be sword collector may wish to ask

  1. #1

    Default German Sword Construction.

    I know, I can hear you thinking, "Oh no not another Sword Thread"!!! Sorry but yes, I am setting this thread to try to answer some of the questions a would be sword collector may wish to ask having either purchased a sword or two or who is activelly considering adding swords to his collection. It is intended to be a stop gap between the beginner with limited sword knowledge and the established collectors who are prepaired to buy the very expencive sword reference books out there. It is not definitive and can not compair to said books but it can and I hope will be an aid to some. It will be set in three installments, these being entitled
    1. The Hilt
    2. The Blade
    3. The Scabbard

    Any errors are obviously mine and I would welcome any corrections or constructive comments and or photographs which can either support the thread or prove and correct any errors. So, here we go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    THE HILT



    What comprises the nomenclature of a German sword? Basically, there are three component elements to a sword. These being:

    1. The Hilt assembly also referred to as the handle or grip. The hilt assembly is comprised of a number of component parts which may vary depending on the type of sword or its design aesthetic requirements. They are constructed in steel, alloy and brass and can have or be given natural, gilt, paint and nickel finishes. Occasionally, hilts are encountered with a mix of metals.


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    I. TR Naval Sword Hillt. "D" Guard with hinged cartouche.
    II. Bavarian Army Sword Hilt. " D" Guard.
    IIIc. TR Army Sword Hilt. "P" Guard with langets.
    IV. Bavarian Diplomatic Sword Hilt. "D" Guard with clam shell cartouch.

    a. The Pommel which in the early days of sword manufacture was designed as a counter weight in order to better balance the blade when the weapon was in use and also to secure the hilt assembly to the blade. However, in more recent times the pommel has also become a more aesthetic feature and has also developed into an integral part of the back strap. There are five fitment methods:

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    (1) Screw Fitment. In cases like the Luftwaffe “Flieger” sword, the pommel remains as an ornamental but functioning securing feature which, when screwed into position on the end of the tang secures the whole hilt assembly as a unit.

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    (2) Peening. In the case of the pommel being attached directly to the tang, the tang protrudes through the top surface of the pommel and is then peened over to form a small “button” thus securing the hilt assembly to the blade On lion head swords in particular, this button is usually disguised whereas on the standard sabre, it is left on full view.

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    (3) Riveting. When the pommel is not directly attached to the tang, a pair of rivets are inserted through the back strap lugs or flaps into the actual grip assembly.

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    (4) Internal or External Nut. This involves a thread being cut into the tang onto which a nut is secured thus securing the hilt assembly. The nut is then usually hidden using ether the back strap or a pommel cap .such as is employed on the Model 1889 Infantry sword and the Ordnance issue sabres.

    (5) Through bolts and rivets. On earlier weapons, in particular, the shorter side arm, either bolts or rivets can be seen to pass straight through the tang thus securing the hilt assembly to the blade. This is the strongest and most functional method and usually only used on fighting weapons.

    I. Patterned Dove Head Army. TR.
    II. Police. TR.
    III. Eagle Head Diplomatic. Imperial Prussia.
    IV. Plain Dove Head. TR.
    V. Lion Head Navy. TR.
    VI. Lion Head Diplomatic. Imperial Bavaria.
    VII. Screw Fit Air Force. TR
    VIII. Peened Tang Army. TR
    IX. Rivetted Back Strap Army. TR
    Last edited by Michael Ryan; 10-02-2014 at 12:56 PM.

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  3. #2

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    I dont think anyone here is tired of your expert threads Mike. Beautifully presented and informative.

  4. #3

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    b. The Back Strap usually forms an integral element of the pommel particularly in the case of sabres and again was part of the balancing of the weapon. Again its function in more recent times has become more aesthetic and is usually patterned to complement the pommel. At the lower end of the back strap is a small tongue which is inserted into the ferrule as a securing method.


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    X. Internal view of a TR Army Sword Back Strap showing rivet holes and lugs.
    XI. External View of the same Back Strap.
    XII. Internal view of a TR Army Sword Back Strap showing rivet securing tongue.
    Last edited by Michael Ryan; 10-02-2014 at 12:57 PM.

  5. #4

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    c. The Grip assembly comprises a former, usually made from wood, with either spiralling groves cut into it or a cord wrap around it again in a spiral. Usually, but not invariably, the former is coated in either shagreen, plastic or leather and where the grooves have been formed a brass, steel or alloy twisted wire wrap wire is wound around and secured on the back side of the grip at each end by means of small wooden pegs. Notable exceptions to the above are the Naval sword which can employ solid bone, ivory or plastic, the police sword which employs solid wood grips and the diplomatic sword which employs grip slabs. Other grip styles and designs are also encountered.


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    XIII. Grip Assembly and Backstrap of an Army Sword TR. The grip is wood with shagreen cover and brass wire rap.
    XIV. Grip Assembly in solid plastic. Note, this is a replacement item.
    Last edited by Michael Ryan; 10-02-2014 at 12:58 PM.

  6. #5

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    d. The Ferrule is a key feature of the hilt and forms the interface between the grip and back strap and the cross guard of the weapon. The primary function of the ferrule is to secure the back strap to the grip assembly and is often patterned.


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    XV. Ferrule with pattered design and brass rivets from an Army TR sword.
    Last edited by Michael Ryan; 10-02-2014 at 12:58 PM.

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    e. The Knuckle Guard or bow is usually cast as part of the cross guard and incorporated in most sword patterns. One notable exception being the “Flieger” sword which does not employ a knuckle guard at all. The vast majority of guards are either “P” or “D” shaped but other variations are also employed such as those used on some of the judicial swords. The upper end of the guard has a fixing hole through which the upper end of the tang is inserted. On swords with the riveted style back strap, the tang is peened over this hole rather than the pommel.


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    XVI. Knuckle Guard or Bow from an army TR sword showing both the round hole for the end of the tang and the rectangular hole for the base of the tang and blade shoulders.
    XVII. Knuckle Guard or Bow from an army TR sword showing the langets and general molding. As can also be clearly seen is the high quality black paint on the inside of the bow. I have no idea why this swod hilt was ever painted black??? Have you??
    Last edited by Michael Ryan; 10-02-2014 at 12:59 PM.

  8. #7

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    f. The Quillon Block can be either stand alone as in the “Flieger” sword or can be part of the knuckle guard. Originally, the item was designed to give a degree of protection to the users fingers when fighting but is now an aesthetic element of the hilt. Hidden by both the grip and ferrule from above and yje blade sshoulders from below, the quillon has a rectangular hole at its centre through which the tang passes. The blade shoulders form the base of the hilt assembly. The block can be devoid of finials as in the “Flieger” sword, have a single finial at the rear, often in the form of and animal head or ball etc., as is the case with the sabre or double finials, ergo one at each end of the block as is often the case with rapiers.


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    XVIII. Quillon Block of a TR Army sword showing both the obverse langet with applied Military Eagle insignia and single finial.
    XIX. Quillon block without finials from a TR Air Force sword.
    XX. Underside view of a TR Army sword clearly showing the rectangular hole for the blade tang and positions of both the blade shoulders and the langets.
    Last edited by Michael Ryan; 10-02-2014 at 12:59 PM.

  9. #8

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    thanks Micheal.

  10. #9

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    g. The Langets, from the French “Languet” meaning small tongue, is a pair of shield shaped protrusions under the base of the cross guard covering the obverse and reverse blade ricasso. On Ordnance and plain sabres, the langets are usually devoid of insignia or inscription. However, on the private purchase officer pattern sabres the obverse langets of the TR tend to bear a representation of the then national emblem of an Eagle surmounting a Swastika. On some TR and most Imperial swords the langet depicts the branch of service of the owner ergo, Crossed Cannon for Artillery and Crossed Sabres for Cavalry. Others just bear a pattern or foliage etc. The reverse langets usually have a plain shield or escutcheon within or superimposed over foliage on which the owner can have his name or initials engraved.


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    XXI. Obverse TR sword langet bearing a Military Eagle.
    XXII. Reverse Imperial sword langet bearing the original owner's monogram.
    XXIII. Reverse TR sword langet bearing an escutcheon.
    XXIV. Obverse TR sword langet bearing a laurel wreath rather than an eagle.
    Last edited by Michael Ryan; 09-29-2014 at 09:39 AM.

  11. #10

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    h. The Cartouche can be found in at least two different formats. With TR naval swords, it has the fouled anchor and on Imperial it has the anchor ensigned by the Imperial crown. The cartouche can be either hinged of fixed as part of the knuckle guard. The second type is in the form of a ”clam shell” and is largely found on Imperial court swords bearing, in the case of Prussian weapons, the Imperial Prussian Royal Cypher.


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    XXV. Imperial Wurtemmberg 1889 Pattern Infantry officer's sword cartouche in the form of a hinged guard.
    XXVI. Imperial Prussian 1889 Pattern Infantry officer's sword cartouche within a bascet guard.
    XXVII. TR Navy officer's sword cartouche in the form of a hinged guard.
    XXVIII. Imperial Bavarian Diplomatic sword cartouche in the form of a clam shell guard.
    XXIX. Imperial Bavarian Diplomatic sword cartouche in the form of a clam shell guard.
    Last edited by Michael Ryan; 09-29-2014 at 09:39 AM.

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