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Old 1st June 2019, 02:18 PM   #1
kronckew
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Default Italian Stiletto for comment

Not normally my forte, this one called to me, and I've made room for her to come live with me from Italy.

Billed as a 19c Italian stiletto,I have been informed the grip is likely gutta percha. 30cm overall, 19cm. blade. metal Scabbard fittings look like they may be loose.

While it's currently Italian, is that it's likely origin? Is it 19c?
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Old 4th June 2019, 02:54 AM   #2
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Hi Wayne. While no expert, this appears to be a 19th c. "boot dagger" or gambler's dirk. They were a mode of self defense and popular in the Old West (American, that is). I'm sure with their popularity, they might have also been used in Europe?? Many of the late 19th c. bowies, gambler dirks and such were made in England and sold in N. America. Even the 'soiled doves' (ladies of ill repute) carried smaller daggers in their garters to ward off attacks, If you check out any site selling Old West memorabilia, you might come up with a similar example. Oh, if these blades could only talk, the stories they'd tell!
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Old 4th June 2019, 04:57 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M ELEY
Hi Wayne. While no expert, this appears to be a 19th c. "boot dagger" or gambler's dirk. They were a mode of self defense and popular in the Old West (American, that is). I'm sure with their popularity, they might have also been used in Europe?? Many of the late 19th c. bowies, gambler dirks and such were made in England and sold in N. America. Even the 'soiled doves' (ladies of ill repute) carried smaller daggers in their garters to ward off attacks, If you check out any site selling Old West memorabilia, you might come up with a similar example. Oh, if these blades could only talk, the stories they'd tell!


Hey Cap'n, , we're all students here always learnin' and these weapons actually do talk to us!!! You really nailed this one, I never thought of a western stiletto.....in these parts.....its all about Bowie's.

You're right, many of these were made in Sheffield, just like so many Bowie's.

In looking more into these 'gamblers knives', or sometimes boot daggers, it seems in the 19th c. there were many Italians emigrating to the US, to New Orleans notably in reference to these daggers. Along with this diaspora, came the 'Black Hand' extortion racket, and these stilettos became a key weapon in these dealings. Apparently in 1874 there was a law passed in New Orleans against the sale or possession of these stilettos due to the number of killings carried out with them.

I was wondering how there was a connection from this stiletto from Italy, as Wayne indicates this one is sourced, but clearly these matters in New Orleans might give us some perspective.
The gutta percha handle is of interest, and this material was well known in pistol grips. While known earlier, to have become more regularly used after about 1850, when it was begun used more in England.

With gamblers, at least in the west, especially in san Francisco those push daggers were popular, but as mentioned, the 'working ladies' seem to have favored these stilettos. The Italians of course had a long history with them
already.

Wayne, your eclectic adventures in edged weapons know no bounds!!!
Thank you for sharing this
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Old 4th June 2019, 09:13 AM   #4
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Thanks to all! As I suspected, It can only be called an Italian by reason of it's temporary residency. I'd like to think of the Madam or one of the girls tucking it into their garter at the brothel that was Ruby Red's in New Orleans, tho it was a hamberger joint when I was stationed nearby. Good burgers then, and I recall you get a bowl of monkey nuts (peanuts in the shell) on every table, and you were encouraged to add the shells to the already deep layer on the floor. The girl's rooms, no longer in use, were upstairs and outside off the courtyard. bar had a huge oil painting of Ruby. Sadly, it's no longer in business for either of it's past occupations I hear.

p.s.- Jim, I'm going to branch out into collecting nose hair scissors, cheaper and as I age, a more usefull edged assault weapon.
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Old 4th June 2019, 09:55 AM   #5
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Isn't that too long for a 'dague de pute ' ? Long enough to be a waist dagger ?
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Old 4th June 2019, 01:15 PM   #6
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19cm=7.5in
30cm=11.8in.

Kinda long for a lady with a long dress. depending on where she kept it. Long Boots? Maybe in the belt behind the back, Gambler?

One of Ruby's House Gambler's then

Haven't held it yet, maybe it'll tell me something when it gets here if I feed it a mint julep as a libation. I will of course drink any of it the dirk leaves behind.

The world is more curious than we think. So many questions, so few answers.

Found this one Googling: Very close in diminsions to mine: Listed as a 'gamblers dirk around 1850-60'. Blade looks a bit wider than my more stilettoey one. I like mine better I think, this one is a bit common looking. only sold for 6 times what I paid for mine, and scabbardless. It was apparently stamped 'Sheffield'.
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Old 4th June 2019, 01:58 PM   #7
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Default 'Nother tidbit

Never bring a gun to a knife fight - if you are closer than 5 or 6 yards. Nowadays we'd likely have saved the guy with the stomach wound.

Also found g̶u̶r̶g̶l̶i̶n̶g̶ googling.
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Old 4th June 2019, 03:55 PM   #8
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LOL! great humor as always Wayne
Absolutely love New Orleans, and have been going there for many years. There is so much fascinating history, and you cannot beat the music and food. This city has been a key location through American history, and intriguing how many nations flags have flown there over the years.

These stilettos were deadly as noted with the manner of stabbing, repeated stabs where the weapon is not lodged but causes massive hemorrhaging wounds, much in the way a 'shiv' is used in the grim business in attack in prisons.

With the Bowies, far too large for this sort of carriage of course, many were indeed made in Sheffield, in fact in larger number than made here in many respects. It is not commonly realized just how many English weapons were used in American frontiers, not just the knives but often the pistols.

This example you are getting is of course a bit long for discreet wear by one of these 'ladies of the night', but probably able to be concealed by men who frequented shady places in those times wearing frock coats. Knives were often carried as in cities open carry wearing of firearms was prohibited. Often carrying small pocket pistols was done, but many of these, especially the cheap available kinds, were called 'suicide pistols' presumably for misfire rate or other issues.
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Old 4th June 2019, 04:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
LOL! great humor as always Wayne
...Often carrying small pocket pistols was done, but many of these, especially the cheap available kinds, were called 'suicide pistols' presumably for misfire rate or other issues.


Thanks. I try. Breaks the boredom & adds colour.

I once owned a .25 pocket pistol i recall buying in Miami. Someone told me once not to actually shoot anyone with them with that, it might make them mad and they'll beat the tar outta you. It was very accurate for it's size, I'm sure I could have hit a Battlehip at 10 yards at least 5 times out of 10. I'm guessing similar ballistics and terminal lethality for you suicide pistols, allowing time for the target to get in a few jabs, essentially suicide by it's effectiveness. Might scare the horses tho. never did sink that battleship either.

p.s. - another NOLA anecdote, my Birthday, took some of the other officers to the New Orleans Playboy club. We were in summer dress white ossifer's uniforms (it was of course a bit warm out), which are tie-less. Doorman insisted he could NOT let us in without a tie. We were going to leave when his manager arrived with a solution. He 'loaned' us a tie, we each put it around our necks, walked in , took it off and tossed it back to the next. problem solved, the rule didn't say you have to keep wearing one once you were in.

The food was, as you note, unbelievably good. Best in the world. Loved my tour there, in spite of the eagle sized Mosquitos that could carry off a small child in the night...

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Old 4th June 2019, 05:38 PM   #10
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You guys are cracking me up! Never been to New Orleans, but absolutely intend to some day. Jim, you brought up an excellent point with migrants bringing these types of dirks over from their home countries. This is the 'melting pot', after all. I have seen several examples of gambler dirks and boot knives with thin, stiletto blades. One, I believe, was identified as belonging to a Confederate soldier.

All this makes me want to watch "Silverado" again. Remember? Jeff Goldbrum playing the villain with the boot dagger?
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Old 4th June 2019, 06:38 PM   #11
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LOL!
Yup, Nu Olaans, quite a place. As much as I love music, it was awesome....not just in the 'joints' but musicians often assemble in the street, start jammin' and more join in. Before long there are whole groups of players all incredibly in complete harmony just makin it up as they go.

Remember we were there in the rig, right by the levee, the fishing boats would dock, and you got buckets full of shrimp etc. and just lit up the BBQ.

With knives, Barateria, where Jean Lafitte was 'king' (his place still there) in late 18th into 19th, was named for knife fighting. Jim and Rezin Bowie learned knife fighting there, and likely with knives of this size but based on the Meditteranean knives used by sailors from Spain, Italy and France.

At night, Bourbon Street becomes lively and jubilant, rather than bustling as during the day, and while there seems a threatening darkness, it is mostly indiscernible in all the excitement. It really does not seem to have changed much from those days in the past centuries.
A lotta fun, but ya gotta always 'check your six'

Oh, and mosquitos?? here in Texas they have navigation lights on the wings!!
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Old 5th June 2019, 08:57 AM   #12
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I recall the Skeeters in Baytown, and along the coast & swamps down to Galveston. puny little fellers, could hardly pick up anything larger than a small child. Those back home in Alabama could take off with a calf under each arm.
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Old 5th June 2019, 03:54 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M ELEY
You guys are cracking me up! Never been to New Orleans, but absolutely intend to some day...

Yes you should, Cap'n; and don't listen to what those frightening guys are telling you about the mosquitoes. They must have been in N.O. in their previous incarnation; there are no more mosquitoes over there .
And, as you are a boatsman, i recommend you a little cruise in the steam paddle boat along the Mississippi and another in a nearby bayou. And don't forget to carry a handful a marshmallows to attract the 'gators. Some are so big they could play the role of the croc that devoured Captain Hook's hand .
And, as you leave or as you enter, an overnight (or two) in one of those mystic plantations .
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Old 5th June 2019, 06:10 PM   #14
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Well, It has arrived, cute little tyke, more stiletto than dagger, scabbard a bit tight & dry, using some leather rejuvenator on it. Photo below in my hand for scale. no markings on the blade. Sharp, as 'Doug' says 'this knife will cut'.

-
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Old 6th June 2019, 05:31 AM   #15
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Nice piece indeed .
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Old 6th June 2019, 06:08 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by fernando
Yes you should, Cap'n; and don't listen to what those frightening guys are telling you about the mosquitoes. They must have been in N.O. in their previous incarnation; there are no more mosquitoes over there .
And, as you are a boatsman, i recommend you a little cruise in the steam paddle boat along the Mississippi and another in a nearby bayou. And don't forget to carry a handful a marshmallows to attract the 'gators. Some are so big they could play the role of the croc that devoured Captain Hook's hand .
And, as you leave or as you enter, an overnight (or two) in one of those mystic plantations .


"Nando, you make me want to pack my bags and go right now! Just had a friend that went and did a cemetary tour of the city. She was completely blown away! I hear that the bar where Jean Lafette used to hang out is stil there. That river boat also sounds extremely amazing! Fernando, did you go while you were visiting here?

Speaking of river boats, didn't Jim Bowie have a knife fight atop one in a famous duel on the Mississippi? Have to do a little research on that one.

Wayne, that is truly a nice piece! Good find!
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Old 6th June 2019, 07:35 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M ELEY
"Nando, you make me want to pack my bags and go right now! Just had a friend that went and did a cemetary tour of the city. She was completely blown away! I hear that the bar where Jean Lafette used to hang out is stil there. That river boat also sounds extremely amazing! Fernando, did you go while you were visiting here?

Speaking of river boats, didn't Jim Bowie have a knife fight atop one in a famous duel on the Mississippi? Have to do a little research on that one.

Wayne, that is truly a nice piece! Good find!



Avast there Capn Mark!
Been to New Orleans MANY times, and yup, the building that is claimed to be Lafitte's is still there. The cemetery's are kinda spooky, if you recall the scenes out of "Easy Rider" (1969) pretty good idea. People still pay pilgrimages to the Voodoo queens crypt.
There are the 'dueling oaks' (not fighting trees but the place where many duels were fought).
Bowie's 'sandbar fight' took place in a sandy shoal in the Mississippi near Natchez, chose to avoid jurisdiction in legal aspects as it was neither Louisiana nor Mississippi . The fight was actually a brawl that broke out AFTER the duel with seconds and witnesses all involved. They had all gotten to the shoal by boat.
Going through Arkansas, I visited the blacksmith shop where Black made the knives for Jim and Rezin Bowie. They are still forging and it was amazing to see.
Mosquitos......the quarter and tourist areas aren't too bad as there is a lot of spraying etc. but get out of those into outlying areas and yikes.

Alligators....along with popcorn shrimp, gumbo, the catfish and gator are pretty good eatin'.....along with beer and blues, oh yeah!.

Late at night, Bourbon St. is pretty much the way it was back then in those heady days nearly 200 yrs ago as far as liveliness, and the great buildings that came later as the city grew, and the antebellum mansions etc. are awesome.

Fantastic place! and Wayne, your stiletto is pretty awesome too, looks very New Orleans in the manner we have described.
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Old 6th June 2019, 01:01 PM   #18
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NOLA even had a good German Restaurant, I couldn't afford to eat there on an Ensigns salary. Ate many a Po'boy or Muffeletta sandwich (aka 'hero' or 'submarine') which were cheap and you could get just about anything layered on them. Them or red beans and rice (usually with hamhock and cajun sausage in it). And tons of shrimp and crawdads (crayfish) tho I never could bring myself to suck the heads out like the locals.

When we first moved there, in 1968, we lived in a small efficiency apartment on Royal just off Canal street a few doors down from a large Antique arms and armour dealer. Bought a cool elaborately engraved double headed indian parade axe there, since lost over the years of moving. racks of swords, halberds, spears, flintlocks, etc etc etc. It's still there! Antique Guns and Swords, 437 Royal. see below! spent many an hour drooling in there (and spending a few dollars). Y'all can blame them for getting me started in this mad avocation

French market was a couple blocks away as was Bourbon street. Beignets and coffee every morning before getting to the MIO offices at 9 that was a long trip of two blocks. We were on Camp & Common, a block other side of Camp from our flat.
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Old 6th June 2019, 02:54 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Yes you should, Cap'n; and don't listen to what those frightening guys are telling you about the mosquitoes. They must have been in N.O. in their previous incarnation; there are no more mosquitoes over there .
And, as you are a boatsman, i recommend you a little cruise in the steam paddle boat along the Mississippi and another in a nearby bayou. And don't forget to carry a handful a marshmallows to attract the 'gators. Some are so big they could play the role of the croc that devoured Captain Hook's hand .
And, as you leave or as you enter, an overnight (or two) in one of those mystic plantations .


In Florida you don't view the Gators; they view you and you don't have to leave your house.
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Old 6th June 2019, 03:11 PM   #20
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joF...mwEUDQDWOSA6VD8

Some Gators are domesticated and cuddly. Crocodiles, not so much...
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Old 7th June 2019, 08:51 AM   #21
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Default Pirates of the Mississippi

Let us not forget others that carried such pieces. I know we've already discussed Lafitte briefly, but few have heard of the nefarious Harpe brothers and their bloodthirsty exploits on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Called the 'first serial killers in America' by some. It is hard to imagine their barbarity happening in such a pastoral setting...

http://1mississippi.org/pirates-of-the-mississippi/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harpe_brothers
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Old 7th June 2019, 10:09 AM   #22
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... That river boat also sounds extremely amazing! Fernando, did you go while you were visiting here?...

Yes, i did. Will send you some pictures ... assuming i know your email address.
We don't want the resident moderator to remind us that we keep diverting from the basic house business .
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