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Thread: Basket hilt

  1. #1
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    Basket hilt

    I have recently acquired (for a song) a Cold Steel Broadsword as shown in the first picture on this page... http://boldblades.com/html/basket_hilts.html

    All of these type reproductions have the ubiquitous red felt-like lining(?) in the basket. Would that have been "correct" for the period or would leather/hide have been the material of choice? Or nothing at all?
    Tulach Ard

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    Mine is a Seaforth Highlanders broadsword from the Boer war era and it is original with the red on the outside. Inside is off white/cream and the two are joined around the outside edge by a blue trim.

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    I have a number of Scottish basket-hilt backswords and broadswords, 18C to 20C. Two are without liner now, but are the earliest and there is evidence they had some protection when they were in use. One has a leather liner with a stitched cloth backing. The others all have cloth liners, some with several layers. I have two Schiavona-design basket hilts, one from the 17C and one from the 18C, a 17C Mortuary-hilt and an 18C English basket-hilt. None of these four ever had liners.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 48HofC View Post
    Mine is a Seaforth Highlanders broadsword from the Boer war era and it is original with the red on the outside. Inside is off white/cream and the two are joined around the outside edge by a blue trim.
    My observations of 18th c. originals (from books of museum or personal collection photos) shows more basket hilt swords without liners than with them. The liners which survive appear to be of leather with a red wool cover. Some liners only covered part of the basket's interior, while others covered the entire interior, the purpose of them being to provide additional protection to the user's hand from hostile blade or point strikes. Of course, it may be that some of these liners were later additions when swords were reconditioned for display (the same occurred with original browning or japanning metal finishes, that were later cleaned off in favor of a "bright" hilt). This was especially true in the Victorian era, since people of that time had a decided affinity to "improve" old things and practices. Many modern reproduction basket hilt swords carry on this practice.

    Good books to look at for more information are

    John Wallace, Scottish Swords and Dirks, Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, PA, 1970
    Cyril Mazansky, British Basket-Hilted Swords, Boydell Press & Royal Armouries, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2005.

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    The hilt of the Cold Steel sword is based on the 1828 regimental pattern, the broad, triple fullered blade is more reminiscent of an earlier 18th century Jacobite era blade, so it`s kind of a mash up. I`d say that the liner it came with is about as good as anything, though the buff leather/ red wool felt ones are very nice.

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    Here are a few swords that actually have liners. The Cold Squeal swords liner is not anything at all like any original I have looked at. Now if you decide to take it out, you will need patience. Just like the liner is not like anything I have seen, how the hilt and blade are joined together are nothing like I have ever seen, with extra nuts, set screws and the like all holding it together. I do not have a good set of instructions for you, but can only say its almost counter intuitive.

    http://www.nms.ac.uk/explore/collect...?item_id=16438

    http://www.nms.ac.uk/explore/collect...?item_id=26757

    http://www.nms.ac.uk/explore/collect...?item_id=26777

    http://www.nms.ac.uk/explore/collect...item_id=237166

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    Thanks you for the replies.

    Luke, you pretty much answered my next question, which was going to be: How to take it out? Perhaps it's best left alone.
    Tulach Ard

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacKenzie View Post
    Thanks you for the replies.

    Luke, you pretty much answered my next question, which was going to be: How to take it out? Perhaps it's best left alone.
    I would leave it alone. If I remember correctly, the Cold Steel sword has a pommel which screws onto the tang. That makes the basket easier to remove than one which is peened but it is still possible to bugger up the threads on the tang while doing so, which creates some problems. Basket liners are correct for the 1828 pattern sword. Most of the earlier swords were originally equipped with a pad at the front of the basket to protect the hand and a few may have had partial or full liners but this did not become common until the 1828 pattern was introduced.

    The Cold Steel sword is pretty well made and does have a nice blade but I agree that it combines a Jacobite era blade with a basket which would have been much later. However, no small number of newer baskets attached to older blades survive in Scotland.
    Last edited by MacRob; 9th December 16 at 09:09 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacRob View Post
    I would leave it alone. If I remember correctly, the Cold Steel sword has a pommel which screws onto the tang. That makes the basket easier to remove than one which is peened but it is still possible to bugger up the threads on the tang while doing so, which creates some problems. Basket liners are correct for the 1828 pattern sword. Most of the earlier swords were originally equipped with a pad at the front of the basket to protect the hand and a few may have had partial or full liners but this did not become common until the 1828 pattern was introduced.

    The Cold Steel sword is pretty well made and does have a nice blade but I agree that it combines a Jacobite era blade with a basket which would have been much later. However, no small number of newer baskets attached to older blades survive in Scotland.
    The pommel is merely decorative, it comes off, then you have to remove one or two actual nuts that hold handle and blade together, then there are a couple of shims that go between top and bottom of handle and hilt. Its more that what you want to do when you have 10 mins till formation and think taking that horrible polycotton felt liner should take no more than 5 mins.......

    MacRob is right about old blades and new baskets, recently handled a very early 18th Cent basket hilt with a 1531 date and a Passau Running Wolf.

    The half liner, the ones I have seen have been buff leather, are nice, I need to put one of those in my sword!

    Of course finding some good buff leather, not just buff colored leather is always problematic.

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  14. #10
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    I never took one apart in the 14 years I sold swords. So, that is what happens when you assume that one sword is constructed just like another. Good to know that it is easy to disassemble, although I do not have one and probably will not.

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