Originally Posted by Oliver Pinchot
This is a very nice example of German or Austrian work in Ottoman style,
dating from the second half of the 18th century. The yataghan form was used by the Pandours, as you noted, as well as many other Balkan groups. By association, it became popular amongst officers (famously, Von Trenck) and this is where the unusual combination of hilt and blade originally arose.
Ahah!!! von Trenck!!!
We know that these yataghan type blades were used in certain European armies in Pandour-type units long after the original units were disbanded mid 18th c. These large yataghan type blades seem to have been favored by cavalry officers of French cavalry around 1809 possibly slightly earlier in some Balkan regions, Illyrian if I recall.
Yataghan type blades were even in some consideration as various forms were evolving in British cavalry swords in the opening years of the 19th century, and I believe a stirrup hilt cavalry example with yataghan style blade was carried by an officer of the 10th Hussars at Waterloo.
As has been well described, the term 'damascus' is rather collectively used in describing the various types of 'watered steel' or patterned, and as also noted very confusing, so detail best left to our metallurgists here.
It does seem that imitation forms of these kinds of steel were being made in some shops in Solingen, as well as in Russia (I think Tula) around this time, but production was extremely limited. There have been examples of other European officers swords with highly patterned steel blades known but again, not sure of exact character.
The combination of these 'hirschfanger' style hilts were on occasion combined with 'oriental' style blades in carrying forward the convention of this exotic fashion favored by the earlier pandour forces as mentioned.