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    Solingen

    Solingen the city of Swords




    SOLINGEN

    ]


    Solingen
    was first mentioned in the year 1067, and for centuries it was a tiny Rhineland village. From 1347 to 1352, the plague devastated the population. Engelbert II, Archbishop of Cologne, who was eventually assassinated, had many enemies and built a castle in Solingen which was used until 1386 as a residence by the Counts of Berg who had been elevated to Dukedom. Solingen became a city in the early 15th century with city rights granted by the Dukes of Jülich.


    In the year of 1600, Solingen consisted of 188 houses with about 1200 inhabitants and it was already famous for its sword-blades. The 30 Years War put an end to Solingen's prominence and it was 100 years before it fully recovered. The old castle was put back into temporary use as a fortress for a while during the 30 Years War and not conquered by the invading Swedes. Afterwards, it was basically levelled. In the latter part of the 17th century, a group of disgruntled Lutheran swordsmiths from Solingen broke their guild oaths and took their sword-making skills and formulas with them to Shotley Bridge, then a remote village in England, where they set up shop. Shotley had rich iron deposits in the area and, because of the fast flowing waters of the River Derwent, was ideal for tempering swords. The little English town therefore became the heart of Britain's swordmaking industry.


    Solingen passed to Prussia in 1815.


    On November 4, 1944, 174 both American and British bombers dumped 4,921 tons of high explosives bombs and mines and 138 tons of incendiary bombs on it, igniting 900 fires. Although it destroyed the hospital and broke the water, electric and telephone lines, no historical buildings were yet hit. The second attack took place, the following day when there was no capacity to fight fires or save the town. In a 26 minute raid, 165 British bombers dropped 783 tons of high explosives bombs and 150 tons of incendiary bombs on Solingen, this time destroying the densely populated, ancient town center. 1,200 fires raged and the town was in rubble. 1,609 homes were totally destroyed, and 20,000 persons became shelterless. On November 5th, the English broadcast stated: “It is announced that Solingen, which is the heart of the German steel goods industry, is a dead city.” Also dead were 1,040 civilian.



    Siegen, Soest, Solingen, Staubling, Stettin, Stralsund, Stuttgart


    Bombing Hell Of German Cities - Exulanten


    Solingen
    26 III 2020.



    SOLINGEN, Germany – The City of Blades

    Solingen was first mentioned in 1067 by a chronicler who called the area "Solonchon". Early variations of the name included "Solengen", "Solungen", and "Soleggen", although the modern name seems to have been in use since the late 14th and early 15th centuries.



    Blacksmith smelters, dating back to over 2000 years, have been found around the town adding to Solingen's fame as a Northern Europe blacksmith center. Swords from Solingen have turned up in places such as the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in the British Isles. Northern Europe prized the quality of Solingen's manufactured weaponry, and they were traded across the European continent. Solingen today remains the knife-center of Germany.



    It was a tiny village for centuries, but became a fortified town in the 15th century.



    In Medieval times, the swordsmiths of Solingen coined the town's image, which is preserved to this date. In the latter part of the 17th century, a group of swordsmiths from Solingen broke their guild oaths by taking their sword-making secrets with them to Shotley Bridge, County Durham in England.


    SOLINGEN, Germany – The City of Blades




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  3. #2
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    Böker makes awesome knives from steel produced in Solingen.

    American by birth, made of parts from Emmingen, Baden-Württemberg.

    Der Familie Rentz seit 1535 - Meine Ehre heißt Treue

    Das Leben ist zu kurz, um billiges Bier zu trinken!


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    I use one of these practically every day:





    In fact, they are the only knives I ever use, except for the table knives I use to spread butter and such.
    [02-10, 17:07] Chlodovech: cats may have a reason for meowing too

    [02-10, 17:08] renownedwolf: same reason as the missus then.. give me stuff/affection..though she doesnt need me to let her out in the garden for a poo..

    [02-10, 17:09] Chlodovech: that's more than I can say of Thoreidar

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  7. #4

    Carl Eickhorn one of the many Solingen Manufacturers


    Wardaggers.com - Carl Eickhorn was arguably the largest edged weapon and fine steel manufacturer based in Solingen from 1900-1945. Paul Casberg, who worked for Eickhorn was tasked with designing many of the German dagger patterns carried throughout WWII. Eickhorn was established in 1865 and quickly built a reputation for producing very high quality products, the firm advertised their wares by stamping or etching the firms squirrel trademark onto the blades. This page shows many of the trademark variations which can be found on various edged weapons and German daggers produced between 1930-1945.
    Please note that variations not shown on this page will exist and a few of the dates are educated guesses based on dagger configuration, so although these examples can be used as a guide, they cannot be relied upon to determine German dagger authenticity.
    CARL EICKHORN - MAKER MARKS
    Paul Casberg pictured in his studio in 1943. Casberg was a renowned artist and graphic designer based in Berlin and was contracted by Eickhorn to submit new patterns or designs for edged weapons and German daggers, swords, and related regalia produced throughout the Third Reich era. He was also instrumental in the design of many graphic blueprints used in advertising and catalogue illustrations. Moritz Ruhl publication dating from 1916 and featuring large graphics plates created by Casberg. Although this is not the same drawing that Casberg is working on to the left, you can certainly see the similarity of the style and the quality of the finished product. Today, Paul Casberg's creativity and Art Nouveau styling is a large contributor for the desirability and fascination for German dagger and militaria collectors Worldwide.
    German Army Dagger - 1935-1942
    1935 1935-1941 1936 1942
    German SA Dagger - 1933-1942
    1933-1935 1933-1935 1933-1935 1933-1935 1936-1939 1936-1942
    German SS Dagger - 1933-1942
    1933-1935 1933-1935 1933-1935 1933-1935 1936 1937-1938 1938 1936-1939
    1939 1936-1942
    German KS98 Dress Bayonet - 1906-1942
    1906-1921 1921-? 1930-1933 1933-1935 1933-1935 1935-1941 1942
    German Hitler Youth Knife - 1931-1942
    1931-1932 1933-1935 1936 1936-1941 1942


    " Which would your men rather be, tired or dead " Erwin Rommel.

    wardaggers.com - Carl Eickhorn Maker Marks

    wardaggers.com/Carl_Eickhorn.htm
    Wardaggers.com - Carl Eickhorn was arguably the largest edged weapon and fine steel manufacturer based in Solingen from 1900-1945. Paul Casberg, who worked for Eickhorn was tasked with designing many of the German dagger patterns carried throughout WWII.

    27 III 2020.



    Eickhorn "Field Marshall" Swords Identification Guide

    www.germandaggers.com/Gallery/FMS.php
    During the mid to late 1930's, the Carl Eickhorn firm produced a series of swords named for famous men in German history. Collectors refer to this group as the "Field Marshall" series even through only 4 of the 9 actually held that rank. Original design drawings produced by Paul Casberg exist for most of the swords.





    I have 2 of these sabres: a WW1 Carl Eickhorn and
    a later WW2 acid etched inscribed 1. Das Feldartill. = Regt. No 20. cast and carved brass hilt with broad langets, one with the Eagle and Swastika the reverse with a vacant oval, etc.

  8. #5

  9. #6

    History of Sword making in Solingen


    The Great Swordmakers


    It was while clearing land for farming that the inhabitants of the Wupper valley first discovered that veins of plentiful and easily obtainable iron ore, were to be found just below the earth. Nearby beechwood forests could supply the charcoal, the numerous streams and rivers the necessary power. With such abundant resources, craftsmen could make high-quality, long flexible steel swords. That alone did not lead to high quality craftsmanship: the people of Solingen did the rest. Even King Phillip II of Spain, an Austrian Habsburg, flaunted a sword created there, as if to keep the craftsmen of Toledo in their place. The German town was greatly helped by the Knights of St John’s decision to settle in the area, and during the Crusades a chosen number of the local swordmakers would accompany these Knights abroad, enabling them to see for themselves the practice and techniques of foreign rivals.


    By the fifteenth century, the reputation of the “City of Swords” shone bright. In Solingen the term “Kotten” does not refer to a shed or a cottage, as it does elsewhere, but rather to a grinding workshop operated by water power. These Kotten first appeared in the river valleys and on the banks of the Wupper. Contrary to practice elsewhere twin workshops – Doppellkotten were set up, so that hammering and quenching went side by side. A German historian noted that the craftsmen would take the iron ore “and smelt it in draught and smelting ovens and fashion it into axes, spades and weapons.” It was these “draught and smelting ovens” that enabled Solingen’s smiths to rival the steel refinements of Damascus.


    Yet the artisans of Solingen were not the only craftsmen of their kind. Bladesmiths elsewhere, in Prussia as well as Württemberg, Saxony, and the lands beyond sought to emulate the quality and reputation of the Solingen smiths. Some went so far as to mark their blades “Solingen” when the true place of manufacture was as far away as Spain or Russia. For centuries, the most famous mark remained that of a running wolf, still used to identify blades made in the Solingen and Passau regions.


    The pirating of the Solingen name was not a one-way affair. Some German bladesmiths, recognizing the personal reputation of their best foreign competitors, applied fake markings – work attributed to Tomas de Ayla, a prominent Spanish swordsmith, is one example. In some cases these forged blades were actually inferior to the German smiths’ usual product and may have been poorly made in an attempt to destroy the competitor’s reputation.


    How highly the city’s work was prized may be gathered from the fact that in 1600 Pope Clement VIII presented the convert King Henry IV of France with a Solingen sword on the occasion of his wedding, while Louis XIV paid 28,000 livres to the Elector of Brandenburg and 40,000 livres to the Elector of Bavaria for their craftsmen’s swords – huge sums for their day. Royal families throughout Europe ordered their swords from Solingen.


    The Thirty Years War (1618 - 48) sharply increases the demand for weaponry, forcing Solingen into mass production and creating intense competition among the swordsmiths. The guilds enforced stringent controls over production, so a swordsmith could not make more than four broadswords daily – although he could substitute six daggers or stilettos. Trademarks were de rigueur, and bladesmiths jealously guarded their skills. “The ability to produce an artisan product in defiance of another’s knowledge,” writes Frederick Stephens in his history of German swords, “was the foundation stone upon which almost all the craft guilds came into existence – closed societies which taught only their own, and some other chosen few, the skills and secrets of their craft, thus ensuring for perpetuity their labour, market, and wealth from their own skilled hands. ” Members were put under oath never to leave the jurisdiction, and by the seventeenth century, three hundred specialist families in and around Solingen were producing swords.


    The cartelism of the closed brotherhood cut two ways:.many who wished to become bladesmiths but were excluded left for Copenhagen, Paris or Moscow. In 1687 a group of English merchants lured nine families of swordsmiths from Solingen to settle in Northern England. This came as a devastating shock to the burghers of Solingen and nearby Cologne, who threatened dire penalties. The emigrant cutlers responded by marking their blades with the famous emblem of the Solingen wolf: they were not to be intimidated. The exodus continued: a group of Solingen Smiths established themselves at Tala in Russia in 1730, four decades later, groups emigrated to Eskilstuna in Sweden, Danzig, and Klingenthal in eastern France. In 1814, following Napoleon’s disastrous campaign in Russia, a number of German swordsmiths set up in Zlatoust, north of Omsk. The blademaking centre they founded continues today, having evolved into one of the largest weapons-manufacturing complexes of Eastern Europe.


    Around 1875 Richard Burton, working on his second volume of the history of the sword, came to Solingen. On notepaper headed “Hotel Feder, Turin” he recall this day “ in the industrious valley of the Wupper,” which is quite enough to show the reasons why the foils and rapiers bearing that famous hand are so popular throughout Europe.” Solingen , Burton went on, “is a regular black town, one long street following the brow of a hill and splitting into a three pronged fork to the south. It is never clear, dark with coal dust like the faces of the men.” When Burton passed through, the Gua (district) had about 30,000 inhabitants, the town itself 14,000.”They are independent in manner,” he observed. “The men drink hard and are handy with their knives.”


    The city had not yet been touched by the Industrial Revolution. “The hammering and forging are utterly ignorant of progress,” Burton noted, with a clear contempt for the distasteful modern affection. “if more machinery were it would soon lose rank.” This statement is doubly surprising, first because water rather than oil was being used, and second because the advent of the steam engine had led to the creation of countless new engines, and by the time of Burton’s visit the arduous job of forging a blade over an anvil by hand was already yielding to mechanically driven hammers. Many blade-smiths disliked and distrusted the new machines, but such innovation provided opportunities for mass production that could not be avoided.


    Business in Solingen was nevertheless brisk. The extension of trade, as well as the demands of war, meant that orders poured in from around the world, including the United States, for swords and bayonets. In 1847 a mechanism for rolling blades from long strips of steel was introduced, a painful blow to the old masters. Within the year, the sword-smiths had given up their traditional proof marks and substituted the trademarks of the newly consolidated firms. Solingen’s artisans had finally been recruited to factory work.


    However, after 1900 craftsmen once more came into their own, as diplomats, statesmen, and military officers requested individually made arms. Solingen flowered again, into a prosperity that lasted almost two decades. The total defeat of the Reich in 1918 brought ruin on the town. Attempts were made to convert the factories to such items as scissors and tableware, but these contributed little. Solingen would lie dormant and decaying until Adolf Hitler came to power. In 1933 a group of city fathers went to Berlin to petition the Führer. Not only did he agree to see them, but it was at their first meeting that the idea of daggers for servants of the Third Reich was proposed.


    Hitler was keen to lift Germany from the economic depression gripping the developed world and to remind his countrymen of their past glories. A professor from Solingen’s Industrial Trade School designed the prototype weapon for the SA and SS, and on February 6, 1934, the first order was placed. Soon weapons fever was rampant: nearly every Nazi Party and military organization wanted its own identifying brand of dagger and sword.


    Led by Hermann Göring, who was seldom seen without an edged weapon of some fashion in his belt, the new German idolized the sword. One Solingen firm alone produced seventy thousand swords and daggers between 1938 and 1941, just for naval use (and the German Navy was principally a submarine force) – still only a small proportion of its overall output for the period.


    The last three years of the war saw yet another reversal as Allied bombs shattered Solingen. The Reich’s worsening position meant that even skilled craftsmen were being called up. Copper shortages forced the substitution of aluminium in pommels, crossguards, and scabbard fittings, while a diminished workforce made inferior products. With war’s end, hundreds of thousands of Nazi swords were removed from Solingen’s factories by Allied soldiers, who drove tanks back and forth over them.


    One sunny October morning two years ago, I visited Solingen. The valleys leading into the town were bathed in a light haze, and the falling leaves imparted a melancholy beauty. It could not have been more different than Toledo, perched defiantly atop of a huge hill as if challenging its enemies to besiege it. Toledo still looks like a proud medieval fortress, but Solingen bears little trace of its famous past. Now even “Old Frit” the affectionate nickname given to its emblematic statue of a swordsmith, has been removed from the marketplace of the old town, where it stood for centuries. The one factory that I visited was little more than a couple of rooms devoted to making steelware for domestic use: if I had been hoping to find glittering blades to rival those of earlier times, I was disappointed.




    Old Fritz, swordsmith, Solingen


    The author of the book I was reading on Nazi weaponry concluded sadly, “Since the demand today for edged weapons is so limited, (Solingen’s) firms are turning more and more towards the production of cutlery and tableware as a fulltime industry. It is extremely doubtful that the Solingen machinery for producing swords and daggers will ever again hum at the high pitch attained during the Third Reich.” Only an obsessive sword collector, I reflected, would regard that as a calamity.


    After the war a ban on making or possessing swords was imposed on Japan as well as Germany and lasted seven years – effectively until the Americans left in 1952.



    By the SWORD
    Richard Cohen
    P 116 - 121

    18 X 2021.

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