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Old 30th July 2018, 06:43 AM   #1
Cathey
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Default 17th Century Scottish Iron Bill

Hi Guys

Another item I am photographing for a friend that I have not seen in the flesh before and know nothing about. It has been described as a 17th Century Scottish Iron Bill, with a makers mark. The mark seems strange to me as it is the word “RISON” or perhaps “BISON” stamped into the metal. I have no reference to this sought of stamp and/or the Rison or Bison in any of my library and was wondering if anyone has come across this before. Also the style and shape of this item is not what is usually seen in reference books on Scottish pole arms.

Cheers Cathey and Rex
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Old 30th July 2018, 07:15 AM   #2
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Well BISON makes axes and agricultural tools in Germany to the current day. To me, this looks more agricultural 19th century than a Scottish weapon from the 1600s
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Old 30th July 2018, 12:16 PM   #3
fernando
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertGuy
To me, this looks more agricultural 19th century than a Scottish weapon from the 1600s

Agreed ! Also it appears that, the term BISON (wild animal) is spelled the same way in English as in German.
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Old 31st July 2018, 08:58 AM   #4
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Being a billhook collector, this is obviously a late 19th, early 20th century billhook, and I would say very likely French. Germany doesn't have a great tradition of billhooks, and I may be wrong, but I've never seen one with a socket like this made to be mounted on a pole. These, with the large hook in the back, are specifically designed for debranching: you chop the branch, and the hook is used to catch the branch and bring it down if it is stuck.

I don't have that very exact pattern in my catalogues, but these two come pretty close. From the Revolier catalogue from around the 20's I scanned and is available on the internet, and see Bob Burgess website for more catalogues. But unlike hand-held billhooks, these pole billhooks don't have a strong local identity and recognizable traits. And basically, the same kind of tool could also be found in Italy, Spain or Portugal. Maybe Germany also, but that would be unusual.

Estimated value: no more than 30€. 10€ is more like it. If you friend paid for this as a 17th century Scottish bill, he got screwed big big time.
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Old 31st July 2018, 12:03 PM   #5
fernando
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Madnumforce
... Being a billhook collector, this is obviously a late 19th, early 20th century billhook, and I would say very likely French... Germany doesn't have a great tradition of billhooks ... And basically, the same kind of tool could also be found in Italy, Spain or Portugal. Maybe Germany also, but that would be unusual...

Wise words Madnumforce. Actually i was going to remember in my previous post that the term Bison also has the same spell in french, but i thought i was diverting. Indeed these "podoas" can also be found in large numbers in Portugal ... both in flea markets and also in current use. I once had a fine example with some age, but i let it go ... and must have erased its pictures, except for this tiny one, kept from some smith's marks discussions.

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Old 5th August 2018, 02:12 AM   #6
Timo Nieminen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Madnumforce
These, with the large hook in the back, are specifically designed for debranching: you chop the branch, and the hook is used to catch the branch and bring it down if it is stuck.


The hook is also good for standing the billhook stably, point down on, e.g., a stump, for sharpening.
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Old 5th August 2018, 09:56 AM   #7
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Hello,


It's a agriculture tool, early XX Century.

Regards,

BV
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Old 7th August 2018, 12:21 AM   #8
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An anecdotal aside. Someone once at a yard sale tried to push a "medieval halberd" on me... It was a brush axe. Didn't feel like arguing much about it with him. But I still bought it because it was in good shape and he wanted $5. Cleaned it up a little and sold it for $60.
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Old 7th August 2018, 12:46 PM   #9
Pukka Bundook
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A question if I may;

On the farm I have used a billhook of varying types for the last 50 years, but being from Northern England the style I used did not have this pointed projection on the back.
Apart from standing on a stump to sharpen as Timo mentions, What practical use has it?
If it was bent back down towards the handle, (like a hook) it could be used to pull down branches, but facing up to the tip, it has me puzzled.

Any thoughts on the idea behind it?
(My only thought is for hedge laying, where the partly cut sapling is bent over at an angle. Could be used for pushing I suppose.....)

Thank you all for your time,

Richard.
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Old 7th August 2018, 03:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pukka Bundook
...(My only thought is for hedge laying, where the partly cut sapling is bent over at an angle. Could be used for pushing I suppose.....)

Yes Richard; pushing, not pulling. I have checked with a local; after pruning the branches, those that hang in there and don't fall by themselves, you pushed them up with that back hook, to set them free to fall.
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Old 8th August 2018, 05:36 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pukka Bundook
A question if I may;

On the farm I have used a billhook of varying types for the last 50 years, but being from Northern England the style I used did not have this pointed projection on the back.
Apart from standing on a stump to sharpen as Timo mentions, What practical use has it?
If it was bent back down towards the handle, (like a hook) it could be used to pull down branches, but facing up to the tip, it has me puzzled.

Any thoughts on the idea behind it?
(My only thought is for hedge laying, where the partly cut sapling is bent over at an angle. Could be used for pushing I suppose.....)

Thank you all for your time,

Richard.


I know these are also present on brush axes (about the largest category of billhook?) Which is basically the more heavy duty version of a scythe. You get at the actual undergrowth with it that a scythe couldn't handle. Unwanted bushes and saplings. Often there is a branch already broken off long ago nested in there. Best not to just grab it. There could easily be a wasp nest on the under side. You give it a few prods. Then pike it and toss it if all seems well. Even after jostling it to check for wasps there could still be scorpions, spiders, or venomous snakes habitating on or under it.So again it's best not to grab it bare handed or even with a glove on if you don't have to.
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Old 16th September 2018, 10:20 AM   #12
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One being sold in a current local flea market. You can still see the price stamp.


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