“It’s the Gospel”; a term meaning that something is beyond reproach, to be taken at face value, no questions asked. The Gospel also, of course, refers to a religious book and this is not the topic for debate today. We use the term, perhaps a bit liberally, to mean that any work, especially a work requiring research, is the definitive word on the subject.
Here we are interested in military history and or collecting artefacts of historical military importance, at least important to the individual collector. In our search for information regarding our chosen areas of interest we might venture out and purchase a book or two or failing that refer to the Internet. Once we have such a book or information gleaned from the multitude of websites far too often we simply file that information away as fact, cold hard unshakeable fact. Accumulate enough of these factoids and you are an authority or expert on the subject; you might even decide to write these down and publish a book of your own, or post them a website or forum such as this one.
Here’s a hypothetical problem, your research was flawed, for whatever reason you were incorrect about a fact, or two. Someone else reads your work and after a while felt they too would like to write a book and like a virus your error has been passed on, and on and on. As each new author researcher has taken your work as the definitive word on the subject, used your work, and those who followed you, to qualify their own work and now, the “virus” becomes pandemic.
We read the work by author “Z” (to indicate author zero in 1966) and take his findings as correct as we might for Author “Y” (in 1975, revised edition in 1988) and then Author “X” (in 2003, 2010 and again in 2013) as we also purchased their books. I used the term “we” as I too tend to accept the works of researchers who then become authors. Why not, after all they have done the research and we (I) have simply taken the easy path and relied on their hard work. The problem was and still is that they all missed the research done in 1977 by another researcher.
This is where I feel compelled to state that I am not criticising the work of any of the authors noted (or hinted at to be more accurate) as their work is for the most part completely on the mark. However, we need to remain sceptical and continue to ask questions and look for answers, not simply accept what others tell us is true.
You cannot take anyone’s opinion either verbal of written as gospel. Well...except for mine of course.
The sword I have managed to avoid to mention is the 1816 Baker Rifleman’s Sword which I will cover in a proper article later this winter in the section, “Let’s Talk British Swords”. I won’t go through the material found here again in the proper article but rather stick to the history of this very interesting and rare British sword.