Harvey Withers – Musings on my Favourite Antique Swords #1

Here is the first of a series of articles looking at some of my favourite antique swords...

Over the years, I have come across thousands of unusual and interesting antique swords and I thought that it would be good to share with you some of the best.  They don't come in any particular order of merit but check back often as I will be adding more on a regular basis.

dutch-east-india-cutlass-pi

Background

This interesting ordinary seaman's naval cutlass was produced in large quantities for the Dutch East India Company (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_East_India_Company) in the late-18th Century and is of a type that was manufactured in Solingen, Germany from the early 1700's right through to the 19th Century.

It is a pretty scarce sword and I have only come across a few examples in many years.  It is of very simple construction and consists of an  iron double shell-guard and open knuckle bow, faceted pommel and turned wooden grip.  The blade is slightly curved and single-edged (double-edged towards the end of the blade) and single-fullered.   The blade is stamped with the VOC company motif and the date of 1787.  The VOC stands for Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC - United East India Company - and is found on many of their swords.

dutch-east-india-company-motif

Handling the Cutlass

When I first handled the cutlass I was surprised at how light it was and also skeptical as to its effectiveness in battle as the iron shell guards do appear to be quite thin and against a heavy edged weapon, I would not fancy my chances.  Saying that, it was probably a useful weapon if wielded against comparable cutlasses and would also have been light and flexible during an onboard melee.

dutch-east-india-cutlass-image-1

Pleasing Patina

What I like about this cutlass is the simplicity of design and also the pleasing patina to both hilt and blade - thankfully, it has not been attacked by any abrasives and has retained a great age colour - this is how you want to find original antique swords but unfortunately, most have been cleaned and polished over the years - I don't blame the original owners - swords, particularly examples with brass fittings, were rarely left alone and if it was a family sword, you wanted to keep it shiny and attractive as a mark of respect and appreciation.

© Musings on my Favourite Antique Swords article #1 by Harvey Withers - harveywithers.com

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