Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: The Aussie Bush
Hi Detlef and Rick:
Thanks for the comments on the quality of this sword. My previous comments were perhaps too cryptic, so let me expand on them.
When speaking of the "S"-shaped marks on this blade as being post WWII, I was drawing on my own experience of swords that have been offered on the market for several decades. Typically, these marks were often applied randomly and have no particular meaning (according to one or two Thai collectors who have posted here previously)--blades marked in this manner were intended for the popular market rather than for use as a machete or general purpose sword/knife. The vast majority of these have poor quality blades, as I'm sure both of you know. Among those offered online, for example, it is very uncommon to find a reasonable quality blade with these particular markings applied in the manner of the sword shown above. One does certainly find decent, and possibly older, blades with a carefully engraved line of these "S"-shapes that forms a chain running adjacent to the spine of the blade, but not the stacks or clusters seen on late 20th C versions. The better quality blades are northern Thai/Lao in origin.
Similar comments can be made about the thinly inscribed lines running adjacent to the spine of the blade. These, too, appear to have emerged as common decoration in the second half of the 20th C. Although earlier examples do occur, these are deeper, and in the nature of shallow fullers, compared with the more superficial scratches that are found in late 20th C examples.
I agree with both of you that this appears to be a much better quality of blade than most of those bearing these marks. If the blade was cleaned and showed a hardened edge then it would be clearly a blade intended for use rather than display.
The degree of oxidation on these blades depends so much on how they have been used and stored. Similarly, the amount of wear and "aging" on the scabbard depends on use and storage. However, we don't know whether this sword and scabbard started out together or are a later marriage, so the scabbard does not really help in dating the sword. Interestingly, the amount of wear on the hilt (which is quite good quality for its type) is minimal, suggesting little use.
Could this sword be from the first half of the 20th C? Perhaps. But for me, the blade decoration is key to dating the sword, and that most likely points to the second half of the 20th C. The sword shown above appears to be a better quality sword than the vast majority of similar ones that were marketed heavily to US servicemen during the Vietnam war and to tourists to Thailand subsequently.