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Antique swords produced or predominantly used in the United Kingdom. British arms manufacture, particularly of swords, had a troubled history, always struggling to establish itself in the face of competition from the Continent, especially Germany. Those who needed a blade generally bought the best, not necessarily the home-grown. To end reliance on foreign manufacture efforts were made to coax German smiths to move to British shores with their families and establish domestic 'schools': Henry VIII established the Greenwich School, Charles I the Hounslow School, and private businessmen the enterprise at Shotley Bridge. In each case the quality was good, but quantity never matched domestic demand and imports continued. Government-issued arms from the late 1700s on tended to be made in Sheffield by a small group of successful businesses, while privately purchased blades tended to come from London, where imported and domestic components were freely mixed to create bespoke arms for the gentleman buyer. British arms finally came into their own with the Industrial Revolution, turning Britain into the 'Workshop of the World' and allowing firms like Wilkinson and Mole, and the Royal Arms Factories at Enfield and Poole, to produce blades on a massive scale with Sheffield steel to consistent tolerances.

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British Swords

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