Amazingly, I somehow missed that old thread at the time.
Ariel, the similarity of the labels is striking and any interpretation that your Pakistani acquaintance might provide (hopefully considering all four) would be appreciated. Did you ever receive and report a translation for Tatyana Dianova's example with the better preserved label (posts #106, 107)? I cannot help but suspect that these four knives share some common past history. Hopefully this past is not a police evidence vault for misused knives.
Granted that inks in Asia may not have been the same as those in use at the same time in the US and Europe, the oxidation of the ink does point to the 19th century. Does the brittleness of the paper suggest the inherent vice of acidity when wood pulp paper
began to replace rag paper, and again dates of transition will surely vary regionally. I expect Dr. Baker has considered these factors and will be as correct as is possible.
I personally believe that some of the ethnographic arms that we encounter are indeed significantly older than is generally accepted, especially when there is a lack of surviving local written documentation and we are relying on published documentation and specimens collected by colonizers and early tourists. Our dating gets tied to publication and collecting dates and not dates of making and use. For example, the really nice old spearheads from the Sulu Archipelago. When I freed one nice pattern-welded blade from the pitch holding it into a wad of failed epoxy repair and a broken wood socket pictured in this old thread
, the tang had the dark brown patina of an old koto Japanese sword and there was not any fresh rust on the wood or pitch, suggesting the tang was pretty much as it had been when it went into those mounts.