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Old 11th March 2019, 02:33 PM   #1
alex8765
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Default Italian Stiletto

Hi gents,
What do you think about the authenticity of this stiletto? Is it 17th century original or 19th century reproduction?
It looks like Gunners Stiletto, but it's smaller (13 5/8") and without measuring scale on the blade. Is it Venetian or Brescian?
Handle has unusual design and it's made of bone.
Thanks
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Old 19th March 2019, 12:53 PM   #2
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I hope I didn't ask inappropriate authenticity question.
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Old 19th March 2019, 01:27 PM   #3
fernando
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By all means Alex. That is a rather pertinent question to place here.
Hopefully, knowledged members will chime in with their opinion.
It seems to me, ignorant as i am that, a typical gunners stiletto blade would have a different cross section, apart from the missing scales.
Say, isn't that a makers mark ? ... just curious.

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Old 19th March 2019, 03:06 PM   #4
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My novice oppinion is that it is an original, albeit maybe 18th century, Italian stiletto.
I do not see any Brescian traits, but that doesn't mean it cannot be Brescian.
But certainly it is NOT a gunner's stiletto since it is precisely the gauging scales that characterise the gunners' stilettos. My two...or better yet one and a half... cents.
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Old 19th March 2019, 03:47 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
My novice oppinion is that it is an original, albeit maybe 18th century, Italian stiletto.
I do not see any Brescian traits, but that doesn't mean it cannot be Brescian.
But certainly it is NOT a gunner's stiletto since it is precisely the gauging scales that characterise the gunners' stilettos. My two...or better yet one and a half... cents.


No expert either, but I tend to agree, having acquired one of the later stiletto types myself-
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Old 19th March 2019, 03:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
My novice oppinion is that it is an original, albeit maybe 18th century, Italian stiletto.
I do not see any Brescian traits, but that doesn't mean it cannot be Brescian.
But certainly it is NOT a gunner's stiletto since it is precisely the gauging scales that characterise the gunners' stilettos. My two...or better yet one and a half... cents.


No expert either, but I tend to agree, having acquired one of the later stiletto types myself-

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=24346
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Old 19th March 2019, 06:13 PM   #7
Jim McDougall
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The story of the 'gunners dagger' is a curious and mysterious one, as we have uncovered in past discussions. Apparently the stiletto evolved from the earlier types of misercorde, narrow thrusting daggers used in medieval times for close in combat piercing mail, or in the legendary coup de grace.
It later became the weapon of assassins, easily concealed and naturally for no other purpose than a fatal thrust.

In Renaissance Italy, these deadly weapons were outlawed however in 1661 the notorious Council of Ten in Venice (known for their 'enforcement practices') pronounced an edict in 1661 authorizing only 'bonified artillerymen' to possess these. This was because it was claimed that these thin bladed weapons were used by artillerymen to 'spike' a gun if position had to be abandoned. To ostensibly carry this purpose further, there were graduated scales and often indiscernible numbers or characters engraved in the blades. With these 'properly adorned' daggers, many men 'legitimized' them being in their possession if questioned.


According to Sir James Mann (1931) in Brescia as early as 1571, there were stilettos with a blade which expanded into calipers for measuring the bore of a gun to match the shot. Later it was presumed that the calibration in the scales were to measure powder. Other suggestions were that the thin blade penetrated the sewn powder bags. Either way, corrosion on the blades of some examples known suggest exposure to black powder.


These fell out of use by early 18th century, although (according to Mann) there was a specific legal notice to someone named Antonio Spadone in 1728 granting him permission to have such a stiletto.


It would seem that while not popularly or widely worn about due to their sinister reputation and seemingly legal concerns, there seems to have been a fanciful attraction to them specifically to these characteristics.


Many examples fashioned in this invention carried unusually and often indiscernible metering in their engraved gauging. With that it is hard to say where in the 'spectrum' this example might fall. It does appear to be of notable age and probably 18th century as suggested. I'm really not aware of Victorian reproductions.
Most interesting piece!
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Old 19th March 2019, 07:07 PM   #8
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Adding to the well & succinctly put description by Jim i would, if i may, remind Ewart Oakeshott's manner to describe the gunner's stiletto, AKA fusetto.

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Old 19th March 2019, 09:57 PM   #9
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Thank you Fernando! This is a great entry from Oakeshott I was not aware of, and did not know the term fusetto.

Much of the material I had was from Marcello Terenzi, , "Gunners Daggers' in Arms & Armor Annual (ed. Robert Held, 1973).
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Old 20th March 2019, 12:05 PM   #10
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Fusetto; i would say, a term more associated with its 'puncturing'/'spiking' purposes than to its measuring 'abilities'.



-

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Old 20th March 2019, 03:16 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Fusetto; i would say, a term more associated with its 'puncturing'/'spiking' purposes than to its measuring 'abilities'.



-





Totally agree, the narrow blade would be exactly perfect to spike a gun out of service, and while that seems a kind of a 'narrow' purpose to call for an entire weapon instead of just a simple rod or whatever.....a weapon could be worn and kept handy.

In war, the guns were of key importance, and were to be defended at all costs, but if all failed......better they were rendered useless than to have them fall into the hands of the enemy.


It does seem far fetched to place such elaborate 'decoration' on a weapon which was intended for such simple purpose and possible destruction, but no army or its gunners went into battle with defeat in mind.



The biggest question on most of these 'gunners stilettos' was, what in the world were these often odd and complicated calibrations for? While the notion of measuring black powder certainly seems feasible, and many extant examples of these are said to have corrision commensurate with the effects of such powder, that may be from their use in puncturing powder bags.


The more commonly held idea is for measuring bore to exact ammunition for discharge, but even this seems questionable. That idea I think came from the 16th c. stilettos that were fashioned as calipers that closed into a blade.


Probably the truest character of the stiletto, is the deadly weapon of the assassin, its mystery and disdain as such. That dark reputation surely attracted the testosterone and hubris effect for many and added to these kinds of weapons produced more for show than actual use. Weapons were often a showcase item which were intended more as an accoutrement of formidability that would deter attack or threat as well as display status and character.


I recall younger days (uh about a zillion years ago when after "West Side Story "; "Blackboard Jungle" every testosterone addled young guy seemed to either get a switchblade knife, or wanted to. After all, they were 'against the law'. While many guys carried and often brandished these formidable knives, the stirring click as the blade locked was like the 'ratchet' of a shotgun......few knew how to use them.


Such is the 'mystique' which often accompanies many weapons.
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Old 20th March 2019, 03:54 PM   #12
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Thank you gentleman! Very helpful info.

Hi Fernando, yes I believe this is maker's mark.
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Old 20th March 2019, 05:19 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alex8765
Thank you gentleman! Very helpful info.

Hi Fernando, yes I believe this is maker's mark.



Which I think secures authenticity rather than possibility of 19th c repro.
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Old 20th March 2019, 07:33 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
...The biggest question on most of these 'gunners stilettos' was, what in the world were these often odd and complicated calibrations for?

I wouldn't know whether this adjusts to the question in context but, before bore calibers were normalized (standardized) among the various nations, and even inside each determined one, there were caliber measures for every taste, so i wouldn't be surprised if the master gunner took some precaution to figure out the right ammo for each bore. I am too lazy to go back to files and books to cite respective timelines .

Quote:
Originally Posted by alex8765
...Hi Fernando, yes I believe this is maker's mark...

Followed by:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
...Which I think secures authenticity rather than possibility of 19th c repro.

Righto .
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Old 21st March 2019, 02:34 PM   #15
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Thank you!
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