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Old 27th June 2017, 05:28 PM   #1
Richard W
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Default ratcheting mechanism on Spanish Navajas

I have for a long while wondered what is the function of the ratcheting mechanism on the locks of traditional Spanish navajas. It makes it impossible to open them silently. The only advantage I can see is that it could not be accidentally closed on the hand while opening the knife; perhaps if someone kicked it in mid-open? I have read that it acts much as the rattle on a rattlesnake; announcing imminent danger. If any of you experts have an idea, I would love to know.
Thank you.
Richard.
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Old 28th June 2017, 03:15 AM   #2
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Hi Richard,

Quote:
I have for a long while wondered what is the function of the ratcheting mechanism on the locks of traditional Spanish navajas. It makes it impossible to open them silently. The only advantage I can see is that it could not be accidentally closed on the hand while opening the knife; perhaps if someone kicked it in mid-open? I have read that it acts much as the rattle on a rattlesnake; announcing imminent danger. If any of you experts have an idea, I would love to know.
Thank you.
Richard.


There's no easy answer to your question.

The current urban myth is that it was intended to frighten the opponent, but this does not stand up to scrutiny because only a very timid and inexperienced fighter would be so affected and a bolder adversary would take advantage of this impediment.

Some years ago I was told by a knowledgeable Spanish collector that there was some evidence that it was a requirement by the authorities to slow down the opening and provide a warning noise. To me this seems more plausible especially when we recall that a good many navajas had only three teeth, which appear to be some kind of token concession to a requirement.

Another plausible justification is that the ratchet, `carraca’ is Spanish, prevented the inadvertent dangerous opening of the larger blades, say if falling of a horse, but again three teeth do very little.

The undisputed authority on the navaja, Forton, in his very comprehensive and definitive work on this knife, completely avoided this subject.

I’ll add that with the post 1900 levered latch, the navaja can be opened without the back spring engaging with the ratchet and in fact can be flipped open, but not always reliably.



Fernando: I think that this thread should be transferred to the Ethnic Weapons forum where all the past discussions on the navaja took place.


Cheers
Chris
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Old 28th June 2017, 03:23 AM   #3
A. G. Maisey
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I am no expert on navajas, but I have owned several. All the ones that I owned were quite old, quite large, and they could very easily and positively be flipped open, once open it required two hands and effort to close them.

I got rid of all of them probably in the early 1980's.

I had assumed that they were weapons, rather than tools, and as weapons they required a very positive locking system to prevent the blade being closed on the user's hand by an opponent.

At the present time the Roman pattern Italian folder, which is usually just about normal pocket knife size, employs a very similar mechanism to the one that my navajas used --- but my navajas were all over 12" long when closed.

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Old 28th June 2017, 03:30 AM   #4
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I have always been partial to the rattlesnake idea, many of these knives had a pommel that is composed of a series of globes that kind of/sort of resemble the tail of the rattlesnake and some do have a motto engraved saying" if this serpent bites you there is no remedy in the pharmacy" (or so I am told, it is not my translation) so a serpent motif makes sense to me. I do not think it was to warn others but just to appeal to the buyer, makers of small pocket weapons had to appeal to a young male market so a bit of flash and uniqueness helped to sell the piece.
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Old 28th June 2017, 04:32 AM   #5
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A. G. Maisey:

According to Forton the bulk of the navajas were relatively small, if I remember right, six to nine inches in blade length. The larger ones were show pieces, many destined for the souvenir market.

And yes, the ones with very large blades, especially if a bit loose, could be flipped open.

As an aside, the technical problem with navajas once the blade length exceeded nine inches was that their weight went up significantly and they remained very weak at the pivot point.

Quote:
I had assumed that they were weapons, rather than tools, and as weapons they required a very positive locking system to prevent the blade being closed on the user's hand by an opponent


This is another thesis for explaining the ratchet. If the main tooth failed, then there were others as `back-ups'


Machinist: I think that what you are describing with the rattle snake pommels are large folding knives made in France, mostly for the Spanish market.

Cheers
Chris
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Old 28th June 2017, 05:53 AM   #6
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Chris, my navajas are now +30 years out of my possession, but I do recall that two of them had very strong pivot points, the blade extension that provided the foundation for the ratchet teeth went back a good distance into the handle, these were loose joints when unlocked, but very solid joints when locked, there was absolutely nothing "tourist" or souvenir about them.

The third one I had I seem to recall was a bit flimsy, not nearly the same quality as the two I mentioned with solid joints.

I'm probably wrong, but I've never thought of navajas as smaller knives. If we can count any folder with a ratchet locking joint as a navaja I've actually had quite a few navajas, I think all were fairly recent --- say not more than 60 or 70 years old, and just about normal pocket knife size. Over the years I've traded most of these away for other pocket knives, I think I've still got one though.
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Old 28th June 2017, 06:30 AM   #7
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couple for illustration, the stag one is quite large (and noisy).

...and some ring pulls, they are mostly in the same family

there is a saying that the sound of the navaja was the last thing many people heard.
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Old 28th June 2017, 06:42 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Evans
Fernando: I think that this thread should be transferred to the Ethnic Weapons forum where all the past discussions on the navaja took place ...

Done
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Old 28th June 2017, 08:43 AM   #9
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A.G. Maisey:

I cannot comment on your navajas without photos and some additional information.

However, I have a representative collection of traditional 19th and 20th century navajas and none of the larger ones are light, in practical terms, or passably strong at the lock. I have handled many antique navajas over the years and have yet to see one with a blade over 9" that was practical..

This subject got a very through airing on this forum about 13 years ago and if you do a search you'll finds lots of good information.


kronckew: Nice collection!


Cheers
Chris
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Old 28th June 2017, 11:39 AM   #10
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Thanks for your remarks Chris.

Obviously I'm not looking for any comments on the navajas I had +30 years ago. They are no longer in my possession, and I have no idea where they might be, I was only throwing an offhand comment into the discussion.

Yes, I've seen previous discussion on navajas, but I'm not really interested in pursuing the subject. I accept that you are expert in this subject, I admit that I am not, I can only comment in objective terms upon what I have seen.
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Old 28th June 2017, 12:27 PM   #11
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A.G. Maisey:

I apologize if I sounded a bit censorious and I do not for a moment disbelieve what you say.

The original question by Richard was re the function of the ratchet, which originated in Spain quite early in the development of the navaja. In that context, we have to keep in mind the technical limitations that those cutlers were confronted by, and the role of the said ratchet in that historical setting.

What I mean by my remarks was that the justification for your experience has to be sought in the make, typology and age of your knives. Modern knives can do all sorts of things that the antiques could not and have no bearing on the original intent behind the ratchet.

As an aside, locking clasp knives of the Spanish pattern were made in many countries besides Spain, as afar as India and Africa, and many of these were way better than those of Hispanic make. The French in particular made very good `navajas' in the 19th century and these were eagerly imported into Spain in huge quantities.

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Chris
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Old 28th June 2017, 12:46 PM   #12
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The navajas I was talking about were all old ones, i recall one had a horn handle, and the horn was separating because of age and neglect. I had never thought of navajas as small folders until I read the remarks in this thread.

As I have said, I have no expert knowledge of navajas, and very little interest, but I do have a background in custom knifemaking and I was a member of the Australian Knifemakers Guild for about 12 years. My opinion of these knives as a maker is that they needed an effective method of locking the blade in place, and when these things first appeared it is unlikely that good spring steel was a practical application. I would guess that the very early ancestors of navajas were like a lot of early folders, no backspring, no locking mechanism. A lot of Italian folders are made like this even today.

The blade in a folder without a spring or locking mechanism can be made with an extension that comes down onto the back of the handle when the blade is open, and the hand holds the blade open, but this design is far from a secure lock. Probably when it became possible for small pieces of spring steel to be used the cheapest and most practical method was the notch on the back of the blade locking into a sprung catch. The ratchet would have followed this.

That's the way I look at it as a maker:- a simple, cheap, mechanical fix. Totally practical for somebody working with simple technology and tools.
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Old 28th June 2017, 01:16 PM   #13
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A. G. Maisey:

Quote:
I had never thought of navajas as small folders until I read the remarks in this thread


Well, "small" is a relative term and I did qualify it by quoting Forton's 6"-9"range for average size.

Whilst they did come in all sizes, from very small to gigantic, my remarks were in relation to the big navajas that many collectors wrongly believe were meant for use.

With all this said, we are still no closer to knowing the intended function of the ratchet.

Cheers
Chris
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Old 28th June 2017, 03:31 PM   #14
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Smile

I thought some might enjoy this related image.
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Old 28th June 2017, 04:45 PM   #15
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Wink A very well worn and nibbled upon navaja from Brimfield

Here is a very well worn and nibbled upon navaja that I bought last year at the Brimfield flea market for $25. I have been using it to open envelopes. It is about 9½ inches long closed and the blade is about 7¼ inches long. It is loose enough now that you can close it without lifting the latch, but each ratchet point does engage and give some resistance. Put your thumb over the latch and fingers naturally around the horn scales and the blade is securely open. I prefer this design to the pull ring clasp style that was reputedly derived from it. I'd welcome any comments as to how long this old knife may have been around.
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Old 29th June 2017, 02:31 AM   #16
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Yeah, you're right Chris.

Intended function of ratchet?

Prevents accidental closure of blade.
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Old 29th June 2017, 04:10 AM   #17
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Rick:

That painting is titled `El Enano De La Venta’ (The Dwarf Of Sale) by Antonio Medina and is located in the Museo Taurino De Madrid.

`The Dwarf Of Sale’ is a quaint popular expression that is based on a fictional personality and which is used to describe a person who makes bombastic threats but cannot carry them out.

The size of the navaja on the ground is consistent with the majority in use, according to Forton.

Lee:

Your navaja’s style is consistent of those made in the 19th century in the city of Albacete. It has what we call a pick-lock, meaning that the backspring has to be manually lifted upwards to disengage from the lock notch in the blade. These were superseded by the ring lock around 1875, so yours is earlier.

A.G. Maisey:



That is the role of the engagement notch in the blade and not of the ratchet teeth.

Most modern navajas of the traditional pattern do not feature the ratchet and have a simple engagement notch in the heel of the blade so as to secure it in the open position.

As suggested earlier, the ratchet may form a kind of a backup in case the back-spring for some reason disengages from the blade notch. Or, its main function is to prevent the navaja from being opened easily, unintentionally or intentionally as by being flicked open.

In Forton's 490 page in depth study of the navaja, which dedicates a whole chapter to the technicalities of this knife, mention is made of the ratchet stating that it is a variant of the plain `window' lock and that it appeared in the 18th century, but without giving any reason for its raison d'etre. This I find noteworthy, because Forton knew navajas extremely well and must have felt that its intended function is lost in the mist of time.

Cheers
Chris


.

Last edited by fernando : 29th June 2017 at 04:50 PM. Reason: Post edited by accident; remains the original.
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Old 29th June 2017, 04:54 AM   #18
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With my most humble apologies Chris, I beg to disagree that the role of notch and latch is to prevent accidental closure of the blade.

The role of the notch and latch is to lock the blade into position.

However, if that positive lock is not effectively made when the blade is initially opened, what occurs is accidental closure. Similarly, if the latch is accidentally or intentionally knocked the notch becomes disengaged and again we have accidental closure.

The mechanical function of any ratchet system is to permit incremental opening or closing of a loaded body. The blade of the navaja is loaded by virtue of its weight, it relies totally on the notch and latch to keep it in place. Failure of proper engagement of the notch into the latch by whatever cause will free the blade and cause damage to the hand of the user. Use of a ratchet system that will permit an incremental closure will provide a degree of protection to the user.

Risk management Chris. Just that. People have always managed risk, and this is the way they managed the risk of a loosely swinging blade in an unlocked navaja.

This entire question is actually an engineering question. I don't see it as a cultural question, or a question connected with the inherent categorisation of collecting, but rather the type of question that could be put to a design engineer , even today.

As has already been said:- "--- the ratchet may form a kind of a backup in case the back-spring for some reason disengages from the blade notch.---".

I've said exactly the same thing but in different words. In fact, my initial five word opinion is in agreement with the previous comment.
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Old 29th June 2017, 06:04 AM   #19
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A.G Maisey:

We are in agreement that the ratchet can function as a backup to the main notch. However, it is also undeniable that it impedes silent, fast or inadvertent opening. So here we have three more functions, all related to opening.

Now the question remains which was paramount in the incorporation of the ratchet and why. The Cold Steel Elan and Kudu renditions of a traditional navaja also incorporate a ratchet, but the teeth are rounded and do not positively stop the blade at any one position, only impedes its motion - Clearly it serves a greater role re opening than closing.

Quote:
This entire question is actually an engineering question. I don't see it as a cultural question, <snip>


When it comes to weapons, engineering considerations very often address legal requirements. What stands in the way of the there being a cultural/legal aspect to this or for that matter any design feature, especially one that is targeted by the law, as locks were?

Forton makes it clear that old Spanish law concentrated on the locking mechanism and navajas with a positive lock were illegal. So now we have a curious situation in which the law declared lockable navajas prohibited weapons, but in many areas they were sort of tolerated. By sort I mean that from time to time the authorities clamped down on their use and at others did nothing.

The Castilla La Mancha area is and was the traditional home of the Spanish cutlery industry and zealous enforcement of the law would have had serious economic consequences; So this accounts for the lax and inconsistent law enforcement.

As a hypothesis, and that is all this is, it is reasonable to posit that the local authorities required the presence a ratchet on all navajas, as suggested by my Spanish contact, to reduce their efficacy as weapons.

Here we have to remember the that the sole reason behind the navaja’s existence was the banning of all effective weapons after the Spanish War Of Succession and the subsequent ascent of the House of Bourbon to the Spanish throne, a French royal house imposed on Spain and one that greatly feared rebellion.

I have an open mind on the subject, though I find the explanation of intimidation by the noise produced hard to accept.

Cheers
Chris
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Old 29th June 2017, 07:37 AM   #20
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Hi Chris,

You are correct concerning the Spanish legislation on edged weapons, but it was not privative of the borbonic regime. Carlos III reigned from 1759 to 1788, but before his legislation on this subject (pragmática from April, 1761), there were other laws before him expresly prohibiting all edged weapons to the common people (pragmáticas from 1740, 1751 and 1754), stating that only working knives were allowed, but should have no point whatsoever rounded. Navajas developed as a way to avoid the law, since they have not fixed blade, though the navajas with locking mechanisms did were prohibited. There are diverse myths surrounding this type of navaja, called "de carraca", "de muelle" or "de siete muelles" (for those which had seven notches). In fact, this mechanism was only adopted by reasons of secure handling, and latter were added the myths concerning the initimidation and legal factors. If for legal reasons, the locking mechanism would be an obstacle and not a way to facilitate their use.

You are also right about the fear of rebellion. Authoritarian and unpopular goverments are always fear of rebellion and love prohibitions, specially on weapons. In the New Spain (more o less actual Mexico), only the Spaniards could use weapons and ride horses. And only they could produce knives or swords. But the people always find a way to avoid the prohibitions, and even to disobey them. So, the navajas were tolerated to a certain point as working tools, less dangerous than the fixed blade knives, no matter they grew in time to greater sizes. I am under the impression that the navajas de carraca are a late devolpment, when this legislation was no longer enforced.
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Old 29th June 2017, 07:46 AM   #21
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Chris, I do not disagree that that there could be a legal element involved in this matter, and if this is the case then those with an interest in this subject should be able to carry out the requisite research to establish precisely what the law and attached regulations and definitions were. After all, we're dealing with a European power here surely the sources are there to be found.

If a legal element is involved, the whole matter becomes much more interesting.

However, considered in light of what is actually known about this knife form, what we do have in front of us is a reasonably simple engineering problem that was solved by a reasonably simple engineering application. Perhaps that engineering solution was applied because of some presently unknown, or at least indefinite, legal requirements, perhaps it was applied because users got sick of losing fingers. But there is no doubt at all that the ratchet does serve an engineering based function.

As you point out, the noise hypothesis is rather dubious.

The legal requirement hypothesis is very spongy and seems to rely on unauthenticated hearsay.

The risk control hypothesis is at least demonstrably practical.

I've got no stake in this matter at all, somewhere between little interest and no interest at all in navajas, and precious little knowledge of any of the cultural background. One could say I'm on the outside looking in, and what I see through the window is a tool (weapons are tools made for killing) that originally had a design defect that was remedied by application of engineering principles.
Perhaps there is a legal element that needs to be researched, but right now that relevant data does not seem to be available. When it does become available and legal or social reasons can be effectively argued, I might well change my mind, but right now all I can see is plain old fashioned practicality and common sense:- the blade flops open : lets fix it.
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Old 29th June 2017, 10:56 AM   #22
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Gonzalo:

Nice to have you back again as I always enjoy reading your valuable contributions.

Quote:
….but it was not privative of the borbonic regime <snip>


Quoting Forton (freely translated): The first legal proclamation in this matter was made on December 21, 1721 by King Philip V, in Lerma.

As you well know, Philip V was Bourbon and that the whole Spanish War Of Succession was about the virtual annexation of Spain by France/Bourbons altering the balance of power in Europe.


Quote:
In fact, this mechanism was only adopted by reasons of secure handling, and latter were added the myths concerning the intimidation and legal factors.


The lock was certainly and obviously added for the safety of the wielder, but as for the ratchet we simply do not know. We can all guess, but we do not know. If Forton with all his knowledge shied away from expressing an opinion, then we will all be well served in being equally prudent.

Quote:
I am under the impression that the navajas de carraca are a late devolpment, when this legislation was no longer enforced


There are navajas dated to the 18th century with `carraca’ and Forton dates this feature back to the earliest navajas.

A.G. Maisey:
Quote:
Chris, I do not disagree that that there could be a legal element involved in this matter, and if this is the case then those with an interest in this subject should be able to carry out the requisite research to establish precisely what the law and attached regulations and definitions were.


Firstly, I must declare that I and Gonzalo have an advantage in this discussion because he is a native Spanish speaker and I have a good command of the language, and thus we both have read extensively from many original sources, the principal being the writings of Rafael Martinez del Peral Y Forton, the foremost expert in Spain on the subject. Unfortunately, his works remain untranslated.

Forton's most important work is `La Navaja Española Antigua', mandatory reading for anyone who ventures forth to study this most interesting tool and weapon.

In the 490 pages of this huge work, Forton dedicates a whole chapter to the legal aspects of the navaja. He concluded that the navaja, as we know it, appeared in Spain early in the 18th century and not before, and the historical study or relevant documents pre-dating this era failed to mention its presence because people could own whatever weapons they could afford. Here it is important to note that the Spanish wars of Succession unfolded between 1702 and 1715.

So simply stated we can say that the navaja came into being on account of the weapon bans brought in by the ascent of the Bourbons after the last of the Spanish Hapsburgs, Charles II, failed to establish a successor.

As such, the navaja cannot seriously be studied outside of the laws of the time, which effectively created it. And here we have to remember that the navaja is a very poor weapon compared to a fixed blade knife and it was something that the Spaniards defaulted to rather than what they wanted to have as a sidearm.

Your suggestion of researching the laws of the time is sound and is exactly what Forton did. But what muddies the waters, so to speak is that on the one hand there were the laws and on the other these were inconsistently enforced, mostly at the arbitrary whim of the local authorities who had to take many other factors into consideration. One important contributing factor to all this was the political unrest that troubled Spain throughout the 19th century.

As an aside, the cumulative effects of the punitive and repressive laws, albeit inconsistently applied, in time reduced the once world famous Spanish cutlery industry, in Forton's words, to a mere shadow of itself by the mid 19th century, and by which time millions of navajas made in France flooded into the country - These were both better made and cheaper.

Cheers
Chris
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Old 29th June 2017, 04:35 PM   #23
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Hi Chris,

It is nice to "talk" with you again. You are right, I forgot Philip V was enthroned in 1700. My apologies.

I have some doubts about the work of Forton. The locking mechanism "de muelle" (spring loaded) is present since the early "Spanish" navajas, but dating the specific carraca mechanism to so early date gives me some of these doubts. The other, more important point about Forton: navajas were presumably known and used in this area since the Roman times. The original navaja from Albacete is attributed to the muslim culture in its stytilistic features. Albacete was founded by the muslim rulers (the city of Al-Basit), and was famous for its muslim knifemakers since that time.

The Spanish people has been systematically denying and hiding their muslim and jewish heritage since the time of the catholic kings, and moreover since the Franco's dictadorship, but for some architectural and decorative contributions. I believe Forton is no exception. Do you believe that the production of navajas was forgotten completely after the fall of the Roman Empire, and suddenly, after the creation of the Spanish state in the 16th Century, they began producing navajas? and less those navajas from Albacete which does not look "Spanish" at all, but moorish? I know, there are not historic items connecting the Spanish navajas with their ancestors from the muslim rule. But you also cannot find historic muslim cimitarras and alfanjes from that time, in spite that they are abundantly mentioned in the sources as moorish weapons. The few ones I have seen as such are in fact Renacentist Venetian stortas!

I am sorry if this comment on Forton statements became a disgression, but I think it is relevant to a certain point to contextualize the possible bias of this author.
Regards
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Old 29th June 2017, 04:47 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Evans
...That painting is titled `El Enano De La Venta’ (The Dwarf Of Sale) by Antonio Medina and is located in the Museo Taurino De Madrid.

`The Dwarf Of Sale’ is a quaint popular expression that is based on a fictional personality and which is used to describe a person who makes bombastic threats but cannot carry them out...

A little preciousness ... if i may, Chris . The term 'Venta' has a double meaning, both in castillian and portuguese; in this context would not mean 'sale', but a place where women would buy groceries and men would spend time drinking and playing cards, or the like; a sort of tavern. This would make it more consistent with the legend of the dwarf:


Parece que antes había
En la venta del Candil
Un enano que tenía
Voz equivalente a mil.


in a strict translation:


Apparently there was
In Candil's 'tavern'
A dwarf that had
Voice equivalent to a thousand.


.
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Old 29th June 2017, 05:06 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by machinist
I have always been partial to the rattlesnake idea, many of these knives had a pommel that is composed of a series of globes that kind of/sort of resemble the tail of the rattlesnake and some do have a motto engraved saying" if this serpent bites you there is no remedy in the pharmacy" (or so I am told, it is not my translation) so a serpent motif makes sense to me ...

One may understand that calling the opening cracking noise that of a rattlesnake is a coloquial term to go with english speaking media but, i see it as a rather remote use in Spanish terms, where in fact there are no rattlesnakes over the Iberain Peninsula. Actually the motto in navaja blades reads "se esta vibora the pica ..." . This is more plausible, as vipers are common snakes in the territory. The reason for the 'globes' in the pommel will certainly have a different explanation ... perhaps one related with Moor culture.
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Old 29th June 2017, 05:43 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Evans
...We are in agreement that the ratchet can function as a backup to the main notch. However, it is also undeniable that it impedes silent, fast or inadvertent opening. So here we have three more functions, all related to opening...
Now the question remains which was paramount in the incorporation of the ratchet and why...
... As a hypothesis, and that is all this is, it is reasonable to posit that the local authorities required the presence a ratchet on all navajas, as suggested by my Spanish contact, to reduce their efficacy as weapons...
... I have an open mind on the subject, though I find the explanation of intimidation by the noise produced hard to accept...

No doubt the ratchet purpose is the one million dollar question, Chris. Personally, while in absence of hard evidence, i fail to digest that the multiple crack is a back up to the main notch; why would you have four, five or six back ups all in a row ?. On the other hand i can easily accept that, the knives with one only notch are those for domestic utility, while those with multiple cracks have a lethal vocation. And then we go on the ratchet purpose; the version i fancy is that related with the noise produced, not with safety ... and saying that, i would realize that such noise is made to warn the victim (?) that a navaja atack is iminent ... be it a law enforcement or some consuetudinary code of ethics.
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Old 29th June 2017, 06:17 PM   #27
fernando
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee
Here is a very well worn and nibbled upon navaja that I bought last year at the Brimfield flea market for $25. I have been using it to open envelopes. It is about 9½ inches long closed and the blade is about 7¼ inches long. It is loose enough now that you can close it without lifting the latch, but each ratchet point does engage and give some resistance. Put your thumb over the latch and fingers naturally around the horn scales and the blade is securely open. I prefer this design to the pull ring clasp style that was reputedly derived from it. I'd welcome any comments as to how long this old knife may have been around.

An excelent example Lee; a genuine one for an amazing price. I guess the pull ring clasp version ended up giving place to the 'the last of mohicans' of these mechanisms; one certainly made for purposes more directed to tourists other than villagers. Another system was that like the one of your example but with a lever to easier operate the opening. This was the system that i got used to see around since my youth; the main weakness was that the lever was rather feeble and worn out very quickly.
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Old 29th June 2017, 11:38 PM   #28
A. G. Maisey
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I'm out of this discussion now, I've pretty much said a lot more than I wanted to say anyway. We now have a group of people who are conversant with the subject and the culture, and I want to escape this thread.

However --- Fernando you raised a question that I think I should in all fairness respond to for you. Bear in mind, I have approached this question of the ratchet not from a cultural nor from a societal base, but purely from the perspective of a maker who does have some understanding of knife and tool design relative to engineering principles.

You have said:- "--- i fail to digest that the multiple crack is a back up to the main notch; why would you have four, five or six back ups all in a row ?. On the other hand i can easily accept that, the knives with one only notch are those for domestic utility, while those with multiple cracks have a lethal vocation.---"

The multiple teeth found on this ratchet are not there as a back-up in case of failure of the lock notch, but rather to prevent immediate closure of a sharp blade onto the fingers of the user:- in a case where the blade notch is dislodged from the latch, that blade will decline towards the handle, the multiple teeth on the ratchet provide a longer length of interference on closure, and thus a better chance --- in fact multiple better chances --- of stopping blade closure prior to contact with fingers.

You have noted that navajas as tools have only the notch & latch, but larger navajas, possibly intended as weapons do have the ratchet.

In old treatises on knife fighting, and on fencing with a sword, what we find is that especially in knife fighting techniques we are in fact looking at free-style fist fighting or free-style wrestling, but with a knife in one hand (or maybe both).

The knife does not get used independent of the rest of the body, nope, the whole body is involved in getting the knife to where it is intended to be. This means that the hand that does not hold the knife is also engaged in combat. That empty hand is sometimes used to grasp the knife hand of the opponent.

If there are treatises specifically on fighting with a navaja, I feel that close examination of these treatises might reveal that one of the combat techniques used in combat with a navaja was for the empty hand to grasp the opponent's knife hand and trip the latch on disengagement. The ratchet prevented complete disengagement which meant that a navaja with ratchet provided a preventive measure against such a technique.

Now I'm out of this discussion. You gentlemen with a genuine cultural interest are far better equipped to discuss this important matter than am I.
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Old 30th June 2017, 12:40 AM   #29
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Mr. Maisey,

I find your contributions very sensible and useful. I am personally interested in the "engineering" aspects on the construction of edged weapons and your reasonings on this subject are specially valuable to me and for certain are also very interesting to everybody. The matter of this thread is the function of the ratchet mechanism on the navajas de carraca, and it was examined from different points of view, since this subject admits it, given the common beliefs existing around this mechanism. I completely agree with your perspective and your statements and I don´t find they have less cultural interest than the historical and legal perspectives. After all, the technology is part of a given culture and your comments contribute to shed a valuable light on this topic.
Regards
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Old 30th June 2017, 03:13 AM   #30
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Fernando,

Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
A little preciousness ... if i may, Chris . The term 'Venta' has a double meaning, both in castillian and portuguese; in this context would not mean 'sale', but a place where women would buy groceries and men would spend time drinking and playing cards, or the like; a sort of tavern. <snip>


Thank you for clarifying that Iberian idiomatic expression. I learned my Spanish in Sth America and never associated "venta" with a grocery store.

Much appreciated and,

Cheers
Chris
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