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Author Topic:   Cocos (Keeling) knife ?
Ian
Senior Member
posted 09-08-2001 11:29     Click Here to See the Profile for Ian   Click Here to Email Ian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Several months ago I purchased this knife off eBay from an English dealer who listed it as coming from the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are a mere speck in the Indian Ocean, south west of Indonesia. They were uninhabited before being settled by seafaring Englishmen in the 19th Century. Owned privately by the Clunies-Ross family, the islands became an Australian Protectorate in the late 20th Century.

I find it hard to believe that this is the correct origin for the knife shown in the accompanying pics (which I am sending to Lee). I have found no reference to any knife production from this outpost of civilization.

The knife has some European appearance, with a lanyard hole at the end of the hilt. But otherwise it looks very Asian, having a golok-like, forward-weighted chopping blade and a notch on the cutting edge just forward of the hilt that is a little reminiscent of a khukri.

The scabbard is of an indeterminate hardwood held together by numerous small iron pins.

It almost looks as though the knife was designed by a committee, selecting a blade from here, a hilt from there, and a scabbard from somewhere else.

Altogether a well made piece. Probably no more than 50 years old judging from the general condition of the blade and scabbard.

Has anyone seen a similar knife and can give me a clue to its origin?

Ian.

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Lee Jones
EEWRS Staff
posted 09-08-2001 17:03     Click Here to See the Profile for Lee Jones   Click Here to Email Lee Jones     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


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Carter Rila
Senior Member
posted 09-09-2001 00:29     Click Here to See the Profile for Carter Rila   Click Here to Email Carter Rila     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A very graceful, minimalist design. Certainly is a true bolo in function with that dropped hilt.

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Ian
Senior Member
posted 10-19-2001 14:44     Click Here to See the Profile for Ian   Click Here to Email Ian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, here is another one on eBay posted by our friend Artzi Yarom of Oriental Arms:

http://www.oriental-arms.co.il/OA/items/000393.html

Artzi lists it as Indonesian (?).

I'd still like to hear from anyone who has a more definite idea about where these bolos come from.

Ian.

[This message has been edited by Ian (edited 04-02-2002).]

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Conogre
Senior Member
posted 10-19-2001 15:17     Click Here to See the Profile for Conogre   Click Here to Email Conogre     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would think there's a good possibility it came from Indonesia...paricularly Lombak. They are putting out some contemporary very nice pieces, some REALLY nice, with elaborate hilts, but many kukri/chopper/butcher knife styles.

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Ian
Senior Member
posted 10-19-2001 15:31     Click Here to See the Profile for Ian   Click Here to Email Ian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is a reply I received by e-mail a little while ago about my knife shown above:

"I was at an arms show about a year back and I noticed a really strange blade on one of the tables. It was clearly of European manufacture but it looked very Pacific Rim so I asked the dealer about it and he said it was made to issue to native island troops who were resisting the Japanese in WW II. I forget which island. He said that early on the British commissioned a number of local smiths to make blades for use in the field and to serve as prototypes for the British model. That one you have looks like it has European influence. The lanyard hole with its metal sleeve looks especially European. The rivets and ferrule also look European. All in all a nice piece and if it has a Pacific theater pedigree itís value is greater than what you paid."

Interesting comments. Ring any bells with anyone?

Ian.

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Oriental-Arms
Senior Member
posted 10-20-2001 04:43     Click Here to See the Profile for Oriental-Arms   Click Here to Email Oriental-Arms     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I marked it as Indonesian (with a big question mark) just because of the general shape and grained wood. It can be as well from Malaya Thailand or elsewhere in the region.

The fact that there are two almost identical (Minor differences in the grip collar and the notch shape) support the postings above that it may be a kind of a prototype military issue. I will consult with my colleagues collecting military knives.

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Conogre
Senior Member
posted 10-21-2001 11:07     Click Here to See the Profile for Conogre   Click Here to Email Conogre     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A few months back, an Ebay dealer out of Australia ran a rather large collection of bladed weapons from Indonesia, and although there were a few geniune unaldulterated antiques, the large majority we listed as either antique blades refitted with VERY elaborate contemporary hilts and scabards, or contemporary pieces that appeared to be of VERY nice quality, and I believe it was stated they were coming out of Bali or nearby Lombok, and I'm almost certain these are one of the knives that were offered. Does anyone else remember seeing these?
Being a dragon afficionado, several of the pieces made a strong impression with me, while all appeared to be of substantial quality and well made, as does this piece.

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not2sharp
Senior Member
posted 03-26-2002 15:08     Click Here to See the Profile for not2sharp   Click Here to Email not2sharp     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

There seem to be at least three of these knives in circulation.

Do we have any updates on them?

n2s

[This message has been edited by not2sharp (edited 03-26-2002).]

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Ian
Senior Member
posted 03-26-2002 15:35     Click Here to See the Profile for Ian   Click Here to Email Ian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
n2S:

Still nothing on my end. I'm continuing to try to track them down. Obviously not a common knife and the suggestion that these may have been prototypes for a European or military knife remains unconfirmed. Definitely an oddity.

Ian.

[This message has been edited by Ian (edited 03-26-2002).]

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not2sharp
Senior Member
posted 03-26-2002 18:14     Click Here to See the Profile for not2sharp   Click Here to Email not2sharp     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ian,

Was your example ever carried/used?

I am looking at the two photographed above and I see no discoloration around the wood from either contact with the body, a frog, equipment, or the environment. They do seem to have some age (~50-75 years) and there are some minor bumps and scratches from storage, but they were not carried extensively in the field.

n2s

[This message has been edited by not2sharp (edited 03-26-2002).]

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Ian
Senior Member
posted 03-26-2002 22:47     Click Here to See the Profile for Ian   Click Here to Email Ian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
n2s:

Mine is in nearly mint condition. Never been carried or used as best I can tell. The blade is very clean and the scabbard has only a few small bumps and dings. Could have been sitting in a drawer for years from its appearance.

Ian.

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not2sharp
Senior Member
posted 03-29-2002 17:00     Click Here to See the Profile for not2sharp   Click Here to Email not2sharp     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ian,

Someone contacted me on another site. They think they may have some information on the knives; but they wanted to find out whether the bolster were made from recycled bullet cases. That looks to be the case on my example. It looks like the bottom portion of a .50 cal round. I'll let you know if I hear anything else.

n2s

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Ian
Senior Member
posted 03-30-2002 23:46     Click Here to See the Profile for Ian   Click Here to Email Ian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
n2s:

I'm not sure about the brass ferrule. It does not really look like an old brass shell case, but I suppose it might be.

A few weeks ago I came across another knife that has some similarities in the blade. This one was presented as Indonesian. Not sure whether it helps in identifying our mystery knives, but the pictures can be judged for their similarity or otherwise.

Length of blade = 10 3/4 inches. Overall length = 14 1/4 inches.
Maximum blade width = 1 1/2 inches. Thickness of spine of the blade in front of hilt = 1/4 inch.



Ian.

[This message has been edited by Lee Jones (edited 03-31-2002).]

[This message has been edited by Ian (edited 03-31-2002).]

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Carter Rila
Senior Member
posted 04-01-2002 21:54     Click Here to See the Profile for Carter Rila   Click Here to Email Carter Rila     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Two very similar items just closed on ebay. They were listed as Royal Thai Army pieces. One with a wooden sheath was designated as ceremonial and a plain one with a sheath made of nylon webbing was listed as a regular field service pattern. Both were listed as machetes.

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Ian
Senior Member
posted 04-01-2002 23:20     Click Here to See the Profile for Ian   Click Here to Email Ian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Carter. Both of those are indeed similar in shape and style to the ones above. I'll post pictures of the ceremonial one with the wooden scabbard when it arrives in the next week or so.

Ian.

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tom hyle
Senior Member
posted 04-02-2002 18:27     Click Here to See the Profile for tom hyle   Click Here to Email tom hyle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Traditional ferules are usually wrapped and welded (often soldered/brazed), some varieties (Dyak comes to mind) are cast to shape. If it doesn't show a soldered seam there's a good chance it's modern machine-made tubing of some kind, especially if it is of round section. It is far from unknown for cartridge cases to be used for this.

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Ian
Senior Member
posted 04-26-2002 21:13     Click Here to See the Profile for Ian   Click Here to Email Ian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well folks, I'm still looking for the answer.

Here are the two knives that Carter Rila mentioned on 4/1/02 that were listed on eBay as Royal Thai Army pieces of recent manufacture. The top one was described as an officer's ceremonial knife, and the bottom one (somewhat heavier blade and overall construction) was described as a Special Forces knife.

There is some similarity to the other knives posted above, but not very close.

Stubbornly persistent,

Ian.


[This message has been edited by Lee Jones (edited 04-27-2002).]

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not2sharp
Senior Member
posted 04-30-2002 16:57     Click Here to See the Profile for not2sharp   Click Here to Email not2sharp     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ian,

The Thai knives don't do it for me. I don't think we are looking at the same thing. The texture and shape of the blade and woods just don't match. The knives we posted above look older, rounder, and better finished.

I haven't found any further information on these knives, but, I'll keep looking. They are probably WWII theater made knives.

n2s

[This message has been edited by not2sharp (edited 04-30-2002).]

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not2sharp
Senior Member
posted 05-07-2002 01:38     Click Here to See the Profile for not2sharp   Click Here to Email not2sharp     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Ian,

Are you sure that it was Cocos(Keeling) - this Cocos Island would make alot more sense.

n2s

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Ian
Senior Member
posted 05-07-2002 09:07     Click Here to See the Profile for Ian   Click Here to Email Ian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
n2s:

I checked my records and the dealer from whom I acquired this knife definitely said "Cocos (Keeling) Islands." He may have been confused. After receiving the knife, I queried this designation with him but received no reply.

Still looking.

Ian.

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DAHenkel
Senior Member
posted 05-07-2002 20:25     Click Here to See the Profile for DAHenkel   Click Here to Email DAHenkel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Cocos and Keeling islands are a group of islands off the coast of Sumatra in the Indian ocean. They're famous as the place where the German commerce raider Emden was destroyed during World War I.

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not2sharp
Senior Member
posted 05-08-2002 19:51     Click Here to See the Profile for not2sharp   Click Here to Email not2sharp     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

This is a sketch recorded by a French scientific expedition during a visit to Guam in May of 1823. The knife is worn on the waist by a man identified as a native hunter. It does have some general similarity to the knives pictured above. Perhaps it was the Cocos Island off Guam instead of the Cocos Islands (Keeling)?

I have written to some blacksmiths that are still producing traditional knives on the island. I don't have any direct contacts on Guam, but I'll let you know what I hear.

n2s

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