Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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Ian 3rd January 2018 07:12 PM

Anglo-Indian Knives
 
4 Attachment(s)
Two things come to mind when I read "Anglo-Indian knife." The first is the knives made in England in imitation of Indian knives. The Rogers company, for example, made several such knives.

The second is the knives made in India during the late 19th and early 20th C aimed specifically at European markets and British people who liked to travel to exotic places. There is a particular style that stands out in this regard. The most common of these is a knife that has a curved blade of polished steel with "Pure Steel," "Victory," and occasionally "Kirpan" reverse-etched at the forte. The hilts comprise small plates of MOP with interspersed straight or zig-zag black lines made of jet. A brass guard, ferrule and pommel are present, with a brass chain often linking the pointed pommel to the cross guard. The hilt is of full tang construction, with a screw thread on the end of the tang that takes a nut to hold the hilt in place. These knives originally came in a red leather sheath with a brass chape and locket. In my experience the chape tends to get lost first and later the lockets.

A less common variant of similar construction has a karud style blade of T-section, usually with a fuller, and a hilt of MOP with interspersed black jet, a brass ferrule and pommel, but no cross guard or chain; the hilt is again of full tang construction.

I have shown a small sample of these in the pictures below. Despite being mainly "tourist" knives, they are generally well made and attractive knives. There are quite a few of them around, so they are neither rare nor particularly valuable. I think the karud style is less common, and indeed knives of this form seem to be offered for sale at quite a high price these days.

The accompanying pictures illustrate the two styles and some of the marks found at forte. Close up views of the hilts show the MOP and jet construction.

I would be interested to see any other variants of this genre that folks have found over the years.

Ian.

thinreadline 3rd January 2018 11:52 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Two things come to mind when I read "Anglo-Indian knife." The first is the knives made in England in imitation of Indian knives. The Rogers company, for example, made several such knives.

The second is the knives made in India during the late 19th and early 20th C aimed specifically at European markets and British people who liked to travel to exotic places. There is a particular style that stands out in this regard. The most common of these is a knife that has a curved blade of polished steel with "Pure Steel," "Victory," and occasionally "Kirpan" reverse-etched at the forte. The hilts comprise small plates of MOP with interspersed straight or zig-zag black lines made of jet. A brass guard, ferrule and pommel are present, with a brass chain often linking the pointed pommel to the cross guard. The hilt is of full tang construction, with a screw thread on the end of the tang that takes a nut to hold the hilt in place. These knives originally came in a red leather sheath with a brass chape and locket. In my experience the chape tends to get lost first and later the lockets.

A less common variant of similar construction has a karud style blade of T-section, usually with a fuller, and a hilt of MOP with interspersed black jet, a brass ferrule and pommel, but no cross guard or chain; the hilt is again of full tang construction.

I have shown a small sample of these in the pictures below. Despite being mainly "tourist" knives, they are generally well made and attractive knives. There are quite a few of them around, so they are neither rare nor particularly valuable. I think the karud style is less common, and indeed knives of this form seem to be offered for sale at quite a high price these days.

The accompanying pictures illustrate the two styles and some of the marks found at forte. Close up views of the hilts show the MOP and jet construction.

I would be interested to see any other variants of this genre that folks have found over the years.

Ian.

Very interesting to see such an excellent selection of variants of this interesting knife illustrated . I have had several of these over the years and never considered them to be as early as you describe , though I have no evidence of this , just an opinion. My gut feeling was that they were 1940s possibly made for sale to British servicemen as souvenirs in WW2, but as I say, w/o any evidence to support this view. I see them fairly often at militaria shows , very often described as '19th C midshipman's dirks' which of course is ludicrous. Superb collection Ian.

Ian 4th January 2018 06:36 AM

3 Attachment(s)
Here are a couple more examples of sold items from the Oriental Arms site.

.

thinreadline 4th January 2018 12:22 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Here are a couple more examples of sold items from the Oriental Arms site.

.


yes those handles are very similar in style.

David R 4th January 2018 01:24 PM

1 Attachment(s)
I bought this one some time ago from an internet dealer. Engraved on a panel of the grip, "India 1943" so this one is definitely WW2 era. A nice sturdy blade with signs of differential hardening, alas now pitted from neglect.

Kmaddock 7th January 2018 06:45 PM

6 Attachment(s)
Hi
Here is my version, I reckoned Indian but this is as far as I went
Do you think it is from same family tree
Overall37 cm
Blade is 26 cm

Handle feels v cold like some sort of stone
Regards
Ken

Ian 8th January 2018 12:54 PM

Hi Ken,

The blade looks similar but the jadeite hilt scales are obviously different. Its age is hard to assess, but perhaps later than the ones I have shown. Nice looking knife.

Ian.

Kmaddock 8th January 2018 02:01 PM

Hi Ian,

The shape of the brass finial on the top of the blade at the bolster looks practically identical to your example without the chain.

I picked the knife up in a swap and i have no idea of where it came from, the brass on the handle is v shiny, cleaned before i got it but brass on the neck of the scabbard looks old, they are a perfect fit together though.

It is a v sharp blade and definitely usable.

Regards
Ken

Kubur 8th January 2018 04:35 PM

I disagree with Ian.
This knife is much older than the others.
The others are late 19th c. early 20th c.
Your knife Ken is probably early 19thc. with a very nice Agate hilt and a very nice sheat, Indian of course.
Not recent at all and much better than the others!

A. G. Maisey 8th January 2018 06:09 PM

Much better, or much older?

Kmaddock 8th January 2018 06:21 PM

Hi all
Nice to see this knife being of interest.
I had it in my mistake acquisition pile, might the blade be potentially be worth etching.
Regards
Ken

Kubur 8th January 2018 06:48 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Much better, or much older?


Both my general
:)
here another one...

Sajen 8th January 2018 08:16 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Its age is hard to assess, but perhaps later than the ones I have shown.


Agree with the first half of the sentence but for the second; it could be older though. :shrug:

Just see, Kubur think similar!

Sajen 8th January 2018 08:21 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Much better, or much older?


I think both! :)

shastardhari 24th January 2018 09:53 AM

I have a recurving pesh kabz I purchased recently. It had a jadite handle..many of these daggers are faux wootz. Not worth etching.

A. G. Maisey 24th January 2018 05:46 PM

Both Kubur and Detlef think that the knife shown in post #6 is both much better and much older than the knives shown in the other posts.

I find this very interesting.

In respect of age, I cannot guess how old the post #6 knife is, so I am prepared to accept it might be older than the other knives.

However, what interests me is that two very experienced people should have formed the opinion that the post #6 knife is much better than the other knives shown.

I might be missing something here, but I simply cannot see that.

I have taken the word "better" to mean that the quality of craftsmanship, and the overall condition of the post #6 knife are better than the other knives shown.

Really?

I would very much appreciate a clear objective explanation as to exactly what characteristics of the post #6 knife make it better than the other knives shown.

Kmaddock 24th January 2018 08:15 PM

Hi
As owner of knife 6 I too am interested as to what makes this a better knife, especially as I had it in my mistake acquisition pile.
Regards
Ken

Jon MB 24th January 2018 08:36 PM

I am surprised it's not immediately evident that Ken's piece from post six is both older and of superior quality. The Agate Grip is but one indicator of the latter, and the patina of the fittings and blade of the former.

For example, compare the craftsmanship of the scabbard throat on all the pieces here, (or of the chapes). less of a 'mass produced' feel to Ken's piece.

A. G. Maisey 25th January 2018 05:21 AM

Thank you Jon for explaining to me that the hilt material is just one of the things that makes the post #6 knife superior to all of the others .

I would be very pleased to hear of the other things.

I'm only addressing the knife with my question, not the scabbard. The scabbard may be better than some of the others, or it may not, I'd have to handle all of them to form any opinion at all, I cannot assess the scabbard from photos, but I can form a good preliminary opinion of the knives from the photos.

Just as you are surprised that it was not immediately evident to me that the post #6 knife is superior in quality to all the other knives, it was very surprising to me that two of our very experienced members voted the post #6 knife as better than the others.

I admit, these knives are a little bit out of my field of study, so perhaps I do not see them in quite the same way that some other collectors might. Bearing this inadequacy in mind, I have put aside the objects in which I specialise, and I am drawing upon my experience as a custom knife-maker and blade-smith in attempting to form an objective opinion.

I eagerly await further education.

Sajen 25th January 2018 07:04 AM

Hello Alan,
I was yesterday busy but have seen your question, in the moment I am at work and write now by smartphone what I hate. Better from quality I see it (the piece in post #6) special in comparison with the three pieces in the first post on the right from Ian, his first shown dagger and all other shown pieces have a similar good workmanship. The three pieces on the right from the first post look like well worked early tourist pieces to my eyes. That was meant by my statement.
Regards,
Detlef

A. G. Maisey 25th January 2018 07:52 AM

Thanks Detlef.

Yeah, communication by Smartphone sucks. Agreed. I hate it so much I don't even own a Smartphone, and I leave my 15 year old mobile switched off, unless I want to make a call.

I'll wait until you get onto a proper keyboard where you can express yourself clearly and give me a proper analysis.

What I'm looking at is fit, finish, condition, design, craftsmanship.

I'm looking at the post #6 knife, and all the others, as if they were in a competition to select the knife that has been most skillfully crafted. In other words, which knife from amongst all of these is likely to be the work of a master, not the work of a village tinkerer.

I am not looking at what I might like to own for one reason or another.

I am applying purely objective judgement --- the sort of judgement that gets applied to knives in custom knife making competitions.

Jon MB 25th January 2018 08:16 AM

Apologies if my previous post seemed abrupt, I'll add more later.

Kmaddock 25th January 2018 08:17 AM

if any more pictures are required for the "competition" :) ask away. I am in no way strongly attached to this knife so I do not mind at all if the judges vote against my knife in the virtual competetion

The scabbard has no chape and has been singed in a fire at the top.
The cover is a v fine leather
Regards

Ken

mariusgmioc 25th January 2018 09:33 AM

Double message deleted.

mariusgmioc 25th January 2018 09:43 AM

I disagree with the idea that the knife at #6 is better than the others.

While the knives at #1 are quite touristy and probably made for the souvenirs market (see the fairly crude etchings on their blades), the knives at #3 (second one) and #12 are of very good workmanship that I find much better than that of #6.

Both knives at #3 (second one) and #12 have very carefully chiseled blades, with T-shaped spine and reinforced edge, as opposed to the blade of #6, that is only grooved.

Moreover, the knives at #3 (second one) and #12 have much more elaborate hilts, with pommels and front bolsters of hard stone and mid portions with intricately made mother-of-pearl geometric paterns, as opposed to the knife of #6 that has very basic hilt made of two slabs of hard stone.

So in my oppinion, the knives at #3 (second one) and #6 are of significantly better workmanship/quality than the knife at #6.

A. G. Maisey 25th January 2018 10:12 AM

Thank you for your contributions gentlemen.

To clarify a point:- my intent was not and is not to stage any sort of competition, virtual or otherwise, I asked the question because I felt that I needed to understand the reason, or reasons, why two experienced people should select the post #6 knife as "better" than all others.

Why is it "better"?

What makes it "better"?

What does "better" mean?

That it might be considered "better" is an opinion, and in somebody's opinion it might indeed be "better", so just exactly what factors make it "better" for that person.

This is what I really would like to know, or at least, understand.

Kubur 25th January 2018 11:37 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Thank you for your contributions gentlemen.
Why is it "better"?
What makes it "better"?
What does "better" mean?
.


Hi Guys,
My post was related to the original message from Ian
"The second is the knives made in India during the late 19th and early 20th C aimed specifically at European markets and British people"

So when I wrote better, I meant better than the late 19th - 20th c. early touristic products for Europeans.
Better means earlier
Better means for authentic use by local people
As it's an ethnographic forum, my "better" makes sense no??

:)

Kubur 25th January 2018 05:37 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Another one
from the Brittish Museum...

A. G. Maisey 25th January 2018 06:46 PM

Thank you for your response Kubur, this is exactly the sort of thing I was looking for, the rationale behind the thought process that will rank one thing "better" than another.

So, for you, a knife is "better" if it is older.
A knife is "better" if it is intended for use by people living in the area where it was made.

This then raises another couple of questions.
In respect of the knife in post #6:-

1) what is its approximate age, and how do we know this?

2) you posit that the post #6 knife style was aimed specifically at European and British visitors to the area of production. In the case of some of the knives produced in this style, this idea of production for visitors does seem to be so, but is it true for every knife produced in this style?
If this is so, what evidence do we have that this is true?

Ian 25th January 2018 07:26 PM

Alan:

You raise some fundamental questions about worth. Inevitably, I think, this is largely a subjective assessment, but there are some aspects that are more objective than others. Quality of materials, expertise in construction, association with a prestigious person or important event, religious or symbolic importance, considerable age--all might add to the merit of a piece.

I think what we have in this discussion are more shades of grey. The attribution of one item to the early 19th C and others to later in that century is, IMHO, largely subjective based on assumed material component in the hilt and some decorative work on the scabbard. In my initial response to the knife in post #6 I noted that the hilt looked like jadeite. Others have said agate. Both are hilt materials on Indian knives, so it could be either. However, we see much more jadeite around, and there is a fairly common white form with greenish streaks that closely resembles the knife in question. The hilt material on that knife could also be a replacement as the profile on the hilt seems rather heavy and "bulbous."

As for the scabbard, do we really know that it came with this knife? It is a common custom, especially online lately, to marry unrelated parts in an attempt to make a piece look older/better than it is.

I think it is interesting that the British Museum has seen fit to place a couple of these knives on display of the type posted originally in this thread. Someone with curatorial experience thinks they are worthy of showing off. Which brings us back to what does "better" mean in the context of this discussion.

Ian.


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