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Sword Knots


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Gentlemen,

I collect sword accouterments in addition to the swords themselves and I thought I might start a thread on sword knots. While long time sword collectors have knowledge of various sword knots, some visitors who read these pages may not.

The sword knot began existence as a simple cord that was attached to the hilt of the sword of mounted soldiers. It was securely fastened to the guard of the sabre and then tied to the wrist of the mounted trooper. The purpose of this sword knot was to secure the sabre to the wrist, so that if it were knocked from the hand of the mounted soldier, he would not lose it in the heat of battle. The sword would be at the end of the cord, which was tied to the wrist. The design evolved into a double strap which was attached to the sword guard and wrapped around the hilt when not attached to the wrist. The double strap had at least one sliding loop, referred to as a slide, which was at the end of the strap to make a loop to go around the wrist. At the end of the strap was either a stem or a crown, or both, which secured the end of the strap. The knot itself generally consisted of a crown and an open tassel or closed ball which could securely close the end of the double strap to give the slide something solid to press the wrist against when it was inserted into the loop made by the strap. This sword knot evolved into both dagger knots and bayonet knots in the German service and all three distinctive styles of German knots retain these design features.

First, let's look at the manner in which sword knots were used in the US military. Plain leather knots were, generally speaking, first used in US service but differences soon emerged between enlisted and officer knots. Early officer knots were often colored leather and then evolved into wire bullion or lace knots while enlisted knots remained plain utilitarian leather. Around 1850 US Military Officers were authorized to wear a gold bullion knot and this knot is still worn by US Navy Officers on their Model 1852 Navy swords to this day. This CW period gold bullion knot is shown below.

US Army Officers wore a gold bullion knot like the USN Officers during the same time period from approximately 1850 to 1902. US Army Officers were then authorized two new knots to wear on their 1902 Officer Sabre. A gold wire knot with blue silk highlights was worn on dress occasions and is shown below as well. A russet leather knot with a plaited strap was authorized for general service wear. This knot is shown next. This brown leather knot color was changed to black after WWII. Both of these knots are still authorized when the Army Sword is worn and both have been US regulation since 1902. The USMC Officer sword is worn with a similar gold and red dress knot and a black leather plaited knot of the type worn by the Army in brown. US Coast Guard Officers wear the same knot as USN Officers while enlisted men of both these services do not wear sword knots.

 

US General Officers wear a distinctive gold bullion knot with round straps and an acorn shaped ball. This knot was worn prior to, and during, the US Civil War but it is unknown when it was authorized.

 

 

 

CW sword knot.JPG

sword knot 1902.JPG

02 sword knot close.JPG

Sword knot 02.JPG

Sword knot 02 close.JPG

Gen Off knot.JPG

"You can't please everyone so you have got to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

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There are other styles of US sword knots that were worn prior to 1902 but they are mostly enlisted knots and interesting variations. We can look at those knots later if there is interest.

 

Meanwhile, here are a couple of period military supply company catalogs showing available swords and knots for the officer to purchase. Also, a couple of NOS un-issued US sword knots.

 

 

 

 

Pasquale sword knots.jpg

Baily sword cat.jpg

Sword knots boxed.JPG

Meyer knot.JPG

Meyer knot box.JPG

"You can't please everyone so you have got to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

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Very interesting post.

I have a sword knot on one of my swords, it is 16" long. I don't know anything about sword knots but I used to collect Civil War swords.

Can you tell me anything about this sword knot?

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Just a couple of pre ACW notes from my Google library

 

"Bring the hand smartly across the body to the swordknot, place it on the wrist, and give the hand a couple of turns inward, in order to make it fast, and at the same time seize the hilt and raise the sword-blade six inches out of the scabbard; by a second motion....."

 

 


A New System of Broad and Small Sword Exercise, Comprising the Broad Sword Exercise for Cavalry and the Small Sword Cut and Thrust Practice for Infantry: To which are Added, Instructions in Horsemanship. Illustrated by Forty-five Handsome and Effective Engravings


https://books.google.com/books?id=UfwpAAAAYAAJ I.R. & A.H. Diller, 1843

 

quote from Benedict Arnold

"At the time they were friends, Washington gave a pair of gold cuff-links to him. After his desertion, he gave the links to a friend; and they are now the property of Gen. James Grant Wilson, of N. Y. City. It is said to have been his last request that the epaulettes and sword-knot which Washington had given him might be brought. "Let me die," said he, "in my old American uniform, in which I fought my battles. God forgive me for ever having put on any other." (Montgomery's " American Hist.," p. 180)"

 

The Refugees of 1776 from Long Island to Connecticut

https://books.google.com/books?id=T5aAAAAAIAAJ Frederic Gregory Mather J. B. Lyon Company, 1913

 

Others, such as Burton's The Book of the Sword, Knight's American Mechanical Dictionary, 1862 Ordnance manual, Alonzo Gray re cavalry ACW, On and on.

 

Not limited to just mounted use and apparent in the 18th century. Not sure exactly how far back but as to American use, back to our start.

 

Cheers

 

GC

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Mikedon,

 

MastersMate is correct that your knot could have been worn by the Revenue Marine prior to it morphing into the Coast Guard. It could have also been worn by Marine Corps Officers. Unfortunately, clear written sword knot regulations prior to circa the 1850s are few and far between. Illustrations are mostly non-existent.

 

 

Horseclover,

 

Excellent snippets on US sword knots. These books on sword exercise regulations are very helpful to see how these knots were utilized and the illustrations give a good idea of the style of the sword knot. Here are some pages from the 1908 Provisional Sword Exercises for the Experimental US sword that sought to replace the Enlisted Light Cavalry and then newly adopted Model 1902 Army Officer swords.

 

Also shown is the circa 1904 brown leather sword knot shown in the book regulations. This particular knot was basically a russet colored version of the earlier circa 1872 black leather sword knot.

 

 

1908 Saber Manual title.JPG

1908 Saber nomenclature.JPG

1908 Saber drill close.JPG

1908 Saber practice.JPG

1904 sword knot.JPG

"You can't please everyone so you have got to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

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  • 1 year later...

I´m not collecting sword knots but this knot once came in a lot of stuff from different periods.

I have no clue but I´m guessing an infantry officers knot but I have no idea what period it could be.

Its all goldish metal wire with some blue.

 

Can someone ID this knot?

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Constabulary,

 

I am not familiar with this particular knot. It appears to be made in the German fashion but I do not recognize it I am afraid.

"You can't please everyone so you have got to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

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I absolutely have no idea - I´m not at all interested in German military items. I thought the acorn looks very much like the one in your 1st picture. So I assumed some sort of US knot and because of blue thread I assumed infantry. Mine has a different "slider" and cord but I thought it could be just from a different period. Iwill try to look for similar pictures on Google...

 

Wasn´t there something like a regulation for knots? I mean almost everything had some sort of regulation in the military...

Save Your Butt - Wear A Helmet

 

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