Saturday, 13 February 2016
Sword Play on St. Valentine's Day
Life Skill as Seduction Technique
No doubt you will have stocked up with world-beating English sparkling wine to enjoy with your loved one this Saint Valentine's Day. 'Shampagne' bottle in hand, you will be reasonably hard to resist in your Daniel Hanson gown as you recite Elizabeth Barrett Browning's How do I l love thee? — but think what would happen if you add a sword to the mix. As I've mentioned time and again, if there is one skill you need to add to your C.V. it's being adept in the art of sabrage — the removal of the top of a champagne bottle with a sabre.
The tradition of opening a champagne bottle with a sabre began in France during the Napoleonic era. The French Hussars were known to celebrate victories by guzzling gallons of champagne. Having a sabre at hand and wanting quick access to the bubbles a solution presented itself.
A sabre has a curved, single-edged blade. You may wish to acquire an 1803 Pattern British Infantry Sabre for a dash of added drama, but there are a surprising number of sabres available specifically made for opening champagne bottles. The blades on these sabres are blunt, as the technique is more of a pushing rather than slicing action. The angle and rotation of the bottle are important. The bottle needs to be hit at the seam.
My sword hand is drawn to the limited edition Mathusalem Damasco (above) by Viper of Maniago, Italy, a champagne sabre of the highest order that transforms — in Viper's words — 'a death instrument . . . into a convivial accessory'. Champagne Sabres call it the 'undisputed King of champagne sabres'. The sabre has a Damascus pattern-welded steel blade with a handle of cocobolo wood. The wooden box, which also serves as a display stand, may be engraved.
Fox Knives is also based in Maniago, and also produces champagne sabres. Maniago might just be the home of champagne sabres. Fox's stainless steel beauty below — also sold by Champagne Sabres — is designed for 'killing champagne bottles'.
Blade manufacturers Böker of Solingen, Germany — famous for their open razors — promote Viper and Fox sabres, so there is a commercial link between the three manufacturers. In the video by Böker below you will see the Fox sabre put through its paces.
Pay careful attention, you need to get this right if you want to impress, or it could all go disastrously wrong.