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Old 23rd October 2022, 02:37 PM   #1
fernando
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Default Rare folding knives for your enjoyment

So often we see here, and out there, countless variations of the Spanish so called NAVAJA.
This we may have a look to the Portuguese NAVALHAS, with some age, produced in charismatic cuttlery centers.
The first one marked with the maker stamp "Fabrica União" from Guimarães. The second one marked with initials identified as one the cuttlers of Benedita, a industrial county of Alcobaça city.
The third one also produced in Guimarães in the Nogueira cuttlery, belonging to the father of the owner of the examples above, as ilustrated in the catalogue of an exhibition in the city Industrial Association premises, measures the impressive length of 113cms. I hope the lock systems are fully visible; all images were taken by cell phone and sent by WhatsApp. Needless to say that the owner knows what he has and, despite my repeated begging to buy one of those from him, and i have not succeed.


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Old 23rd October 2022, 02:39 PM   #2
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Daddy's large example.


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Old 23rd October 2022, 08:26 PM   #3
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Cool Impressive

I'm at a loss for words, Fernando.
Were folders of this size ever legal to carry in your neck of the woods; it would be pretty hard to conceal one that big unless it was tucked into a sash around the waist.
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Old 23rd October 2022, 08:35 PM   #4
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Thank you Rick.
I realize these big things were made to publicize the maker. I once read in a Spanish source that sellers used to hang huge examples in the top front of their stands to entice buyers to buy their products. This could be the case over here too.
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Old 25th October 2022, 03:00 AM   #5
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Hi Fernando,

Read your PM.

Thank you for posting these pics, would love to know more about `navalhas' but unfortunately my inability to read Portuguese is a major handicap.

From what I have seen here and there, they appear to parallel Spanish and French designs.

Can you throw some or any light on the laws that were applicable to these knives?

As for their size, I tend to agree that the larger ones were either showpieces or else intended for tourists as collectables. From having examined quite a number over the years I came to the conclusion that once the blade length exceeded something like 200mm they became very weak at the pivot point and were unsuited for any real world application other than dramatic effect.

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Old 25th October 2022, 02:10 PM   #6
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Thank you for coming in, Chris .

I believe that, although Portuguese cuttlery has significant presence, with tracks back to the 17th century, in parallel with Spanish expansion (their Kings were ruling in Portugal at the time), the career of our neighbor's navaja was more emphasized by writers, result of its profusely use by the common Spaniard. I suspect the Portuguese locking systems were plain manners to prevent the navalha to close in their hands and not those belic ratchet systems from (some) Spanish navajas. But i am playing a bit by ear, as i do not find solid material to expand better the subject.
Concerning the law, the old illiterate saying was that a blade to be legal to carry, must not be longer than a palm of the hand ... cross wise. The written law says that a blade longer than 10 cms. is considerd a weapon, thus ilegal.


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Old 26th October 2022, 07:31 AM   #7
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Hi Fernando,

Quote:
Concerning the law, the old illiterate saying was that a blade to be legal to carry, must not be longer than a palm of the hand ... cross wise. The written law says that a blade longer than 10 cms. is considerd a weapon, thus ilegal.
From what Forton tells us, the Spanish navaja came into being on account of the laws that prohibited swords and fixed blade knives early in the 18th century, after the Burbons took over- I was wondering if there was a similar ban on weapons in Portugal at around the same time or in the 19th century.

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Old 26th October 2022, 07:17 PM   #8
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Hi Chris,
I will try (hard) to find some data on the subject; apparently not so easy.
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Old 30th October 2022, 02:08 PM   #9
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Well Chris, this is what i got from a Portuguese antique arms authority; whether it fits the context and answers your question..


In the 16th to 18th centuries, the use and carrying of a navalha (provided it was not used with bad intentions) was free.
Navalha was called a knife with a folding blade, whose cutting part should not exceed the width of four fingers of an ordinary man, that is, 10 cm.
Once Alicante, Toledo and Seville had, in Napoleonic times, supplied navalhas of enormous dimensions, copying the idea of ​​the French navy's boarding saber, which allowed the blade to be folded into the handle, such giant navalhas were called "cuchilos to kill the French", who had banned them.
This denomination is just a popular curiosity. There was no law other than the banning of French occupation forces, both in Spain and Portugal.
Portuguese legislation made no difference between a folding blade (navalha) or a non-folding blade, knife or dagger.
There were laws in the 18th century that forbade knives with triangular blades, so called "diamantadas" or "diamond" blades. The penalties were severe. Being a nobleman, he was applied ten years of exile to Angola. If not, it was ten years in the galleys, which amounted to a very likely death penalty. Left-handed daggers were forbidden to any ordinary citizen and only used in combat zones of declared war. The sword could only be five spans long. Being larger than allowed by law was confiscated and heavily penalized both the bearer and the seller or manufacturer.
The "hand palm length navalha story" is an unregulated popular myth.

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Old 30th October 2022, 04:00 PM   #10
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The large oversized navajas were indeed used for fighting...
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Old 30th October 2022, 06:30 PM   #11
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Spanish half vara or 17 3/4" is about 45 cms.. Assuming this is the length with the blade unfolded, it is a big knife but, incomparably not so large as those huge things made for show off. The one posted in the last picture of #1 measures 113 cms. and we know there were larger specimens.
The example held by the First Spaniard may be a bit exuberated by the author.
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Old 1st November 2022, 08:38 AM   #12
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Hi Fernando,

Thanks for that information re Navalhas in olden times. Seems that Portugal was marching to a different drummer than Spain after the Burbons took over.

Cheers
Chris
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Old 1st November 2022, 08:44 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc View Post
The large oversized navajas were indeed used for fighting...
Those illustrations are imbued with what we call these days `artistic license' and Gustav Dore was the grand master of dramatic illustrations.

I refer you to post #13 in http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showth...anual+baratero

Cheers
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Old 3rd November 2022, 06:36 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando View Post
the width of four fingers of an ordinary man, that is, 10 cm.
}\:o.

*glances at own apparently tiny hands*
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Old 3rd November 2022, 07:38 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by werecow View Post
}\.

*glances at own apparently tiny hands*
Well, it depends somehow from where you measure the fingers.
I, for one, am no dwarf


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Old 4th November 2022, 12:00 AM   #16
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Hah! Well, let's just say I will comfort myself with the thought that my hands will fit even the smallest sword grip.
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Old 5th November 2022, 09:50 AM   #17
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Hi Fernando

Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando View Post
.......Assuming this is the length with the blade unfolded<Snip>
Why do you assume that the measurement refers to the blade length, as opposed to the overall length? After all folding and fixed blade knives are often described by their overall length as well as by their blade length.

Of course, we'll never know which dimension the author had in mind but if it described OL, then the blade length would be around 18cm, entirely consistent with what Forton tells us and that is the length of the majority of surviving Spanish pre 1900 navajas.

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Old 5th November 2022, 09:54 AM   #18
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My bad,Chris !
I meant unfolded knife, not unfolded blade; thus knife entire length .
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Old 5th November 2022, 01:53 PM   #19
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Isn't the straight one - dagger shaped - a Portuguese knife?
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Old 5th November 2022, 02:16 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by broadaxe View Post
Isn't the straight one - dagger shaped - a Portuguese knife?
I am afraid i don't know what you mean, Broadaxe .
The three knives posted in #1 are all Portuguese ...
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Old 6th November 2022, 12:51 PM   #21
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I was too hasty. This one - isn't it strictly Portuguese type? I have a modern made one of identical form.
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Old 7th November 2022, 12:03 PM   #22
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We may assume that the example posted was made in Portugal but the model may not be strictly Portuguese.
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Old 7th November 2022, 02:10 PM   #23
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Hi Fernando,

Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando View Post
We may assume that the example posted was made in Portugal but the model may not be strictly Portuguese.
I am inclined to agree with you for its styling suggests French provenance, though it could have been made in in that country for the Portuguese market, or merely a locally made copy.

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Old 17th November 2022, 02:29 PM   #24
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It is visible that what i said in my post #6 that Portuguese navalhas didn't have the ratchet system, is nonsense; you just have to look at the example i posted in my very first sample. And now just to reassure it, here are excerpts of a work written by Alberto Pimentel in 1904, where the scenario in context let us know what it was about. See how the beg. XIX century Lisbon ruffians behaved, their 'tools' being the Fado guitar and the Santo Christo, the large pointed navalha with the 'triple theeth on the spring', which they hid in the short jacket sleeve.


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Old 17th November 2022, 02:42 PM   #25
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Hi Fernando,

Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando View Post
It is visible that what i said in my post #6 that Portuguese navalhas didn't have the ratchet system, is nonsense; you just have to look at the example i posted in my very first sample. And now just to reassure it, here are excerpts of a work written by Alberto Pimentel in 1904, where the scenario in context let us know what it was about. See how the beg. XIX century Lisbon ruffians behaved, their 'tools' being the Fado guitar and the Santo Christo, the large pointed navalha with the 'triple theeth on the spring', which they hid in the short jacket sleeve.


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Thanks for this post, seems like the customs of the rougher gentry were not all that dissimilar from that of Spain.

Cheers
Chris
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Old 17th November 2022, 02:45 PM   #26
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It is only natural;we are neighbors ... stumble upon each other .
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Old 17th November 2022, 02:50 PM   #27
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Only that the country Spaniards carried in their sash and the Lisbon scoundrels hid in the sleeve; differences to note.
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Old 17th November 2022, 04:39 PM   #28
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I have a series of questions as always.

I've always wanted to know if there is an advantage to the ratcheting system? Does it serve as a backup lock in case the blade is bumped out of the main notch (caja [esp]) that locks the blade in the open position?

To complicate matters and begin to relieve my confusion the first example of post #1 would have a spring (molla [it.], muelle [esp], mola [port]) that Medrano in "Navaja antigua" p62 caption 2.3 of a Salvatici illustration in Italian describes as "molla fissa a finestra e tallone a tre scrocchi" other captions describe similar lock releases to post #1 as having a ring (cierre de anilla [esp]. Fernando's source in post #24 calls the spring system a "triplice de calço na mola." So when we describe these knives, we use a terminology of spring system combined with lock release system?

Finally, does anyone have any recommendations for books on folding knives in Spanish and Portuguese that provide a good foundation for the discussions we are having? I wouldn't mind titles of books on fixed blades as well

Thanks in advance for any advice given.
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Old 17th November 2022, 05:21 PM   #29
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I guess part of the answer is determined by comprehending the different namings; technical, popular, romantic.
I will try and clear it with a couple drawings ... hoping not to increase the confusion .


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Old 17th November 2022, 08:45 PM   #30
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Thanks Fernando. From what I can tell the locking systems in Spanish are cerre de anilla if there is a ring. Cierre de golpe if it doesn't have one but the spring is released at the top of the hilt. If no lock but a back spring is present cierre de muelle, no spring no lock cierre de pulgar. A lockblade would be cierre de fieles. I don't know what a lock back would be or if the system was used in the southern Mediterranean region in the 18th and 19th centuries. Where would I find the terms in Portuguese?

So, to be clear; the ratchets are only for the sound?
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