Friday, August 12, 2016

2016 CLF Auction Item: American Hanger by Ian Pratt, Maryellen Pratt, & Joe Seabolt

This American hanger by Joe Seablolt and Ian Pratt accompanied by a Strap and Baldric by Maryellen Pratt is a hard to find Frontier item. This style of short sword or cuttoe was a fighting weapon, useful to mounted troops and a mark of prestige for officers. Extremely useful in hand to hand combat, their relatively short length is useful in close quarters.

The reason they are seldom seen today is not their usefulness, it is the difficulty encountered in making them. Ian and Joe forged this one from a large file in keeping with the frontier recylcing heritage of such a sword. The knife smiths out there will quickly tell you that forging an almost 17" blade from the high carbon content steel of a file and keeping the blade straight through all the forging and tempering steps requires great skill. This hanger has a fine blade and a superior edge, as we would expect from these two superior knifemakers.

The blade is not some crude apple seed cross section homemade looking blade. It is properly flat on the sides, perfectly tapered, with a fuller and just vestiges of the file tooth pattern showing near the hilt. It represents the work of a fine smithy with a skilled journeymen at work. The guard and bolster are of wrought iron. The pommel and the guard are elegantly shaped. The turned sugar maple handle show vestiges of red oxide paint, worn by long use.

A blade this large and this sharp needs an appropriate sheath. Well known leather worker Maryellen Pratt made this rawhide lined Baldric with bark tanned deer hide from Adams County, Ohio. Maryellen's skill is apparent in the sewing and edge patterns in a style perfectly in keeping with the American hanger concept. The nicely forged wrought iron buckle finishes the set.

This is the sort of thing you would see carried by John Sevier in the Cumberland or by the mounted militia defeating Tecumseh in the War of 1812. This is a remarkable set commemorating remarkable times. If you pass this up, it will be a long time before you see another. 

The contact information for Ian, Maryellen and Joe are below

Ian Pratt can be contacted by email at

Maryellen Pratt can be contacted by email at

Joe Seabolt can be contacted by email at

Copy by Heinz Ahlers with photos supplied by the CLF.

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