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Old 3rd May 2009, 07:51 AM   #1
Iliad
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Default Folding Knife

Hi guys, in accordance with Jim's wish that I post pics of the items in my collection, here is a Folding Knife about which I know very little. It looks Arabic to me, but what do I know! The pics may at least go in the files and be useful for research in the future.
It does not have a mechanism for locking the blade in place, so surely wouldn't be of much use as a weapon. Too big for cleaning one's fingernails? Table cutlery? Too clumsy to use to spread jam on the bread and butter?
Regards to all my new friends,
Brian
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Old 3rd May 2009, 08:09 AM   #2
ingelred
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Hi,

You have a 19th century Spanish Navaja, probably made in Albacete.
Nice piece.

Greetings, Helge
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Old 3rd May 2009, 08:13 AM   #3
Gavin Nugent
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Default Very nice Brian

A very nice and fine piece Brian. It is a Navaja and a good quality one at that, unfortunately it is missing the back spring that acts as a lock.
Search the forum for Navaja and you will find a lot of information from some knowledgable people.
I recently sold one that opened to 1.63metres. You will find these knives interesting and well presented within these pages.

Gav
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Old 3rd May 2009, 09:14 AM   #4
ingelred
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Hello freebooter,

Quote:
A very nice and fine piece Brian. It is a Navaja and a good quality one at that, unfortunately it is missing the back spring that acts as a lock.


I don't think, that the knife misses its back spring.
As far as I can see from the pictures it seems as if the knife has a slip joint rather than the ratchet lock.
More pictures will show.

Best regards, Helge
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Old 3rd May 2009, 09:54 AM   #5
Lew
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I am not an expert in these knives but if it is 19th century it strikes me as early 19th or even late 18th century? The engraving and inlay are of excellent quality.
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Old 3rd May 2009, 11:17 AM   #6
ingelred
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Hello,

I just took a look into NAVAJAS ANTIGUAS - ANTIQUE CLASP KNIVES by Rafael Martinez del Peral y Forton.
In picture 018 on page 19 You can see a Navaja very similar to the Navaja shown in style as well in the detail of being a slip joint (it's the one on the right).
The book says 19th century Albacete.

Greetings, Helge
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Old 3rd May 2009, 12:13 PM   #7
Gavin Nugent
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Default Please show image

Quote:
Originally Posted by ingelred
Hello,

I just took a look into NAVAJAS ANTIGUAS - ANTIQUE CLASP KNIVES by Rafael Martinez del Peral y Forton.
In picture 018 on page 19 You can see a Navaja very similar to the Navaja shown in style as well in the detail of being a slip joint (it's the one on the right).
The book says 19th century Albacete.

Greetings, Helge


G'day Helge,

Please do show the image you refer to, I am interested as I have never bought the book, only the knives.

I too cannot see any ratchet teeth but ratchet lock or slip joint, a back spring is a spring that sits on the back of a knife and both ratchet or slip joints mechanisms do have a back spring that is clearly missing on this piece.

Look to the out of place circle to the middle, it is a pin to hold the back spring and the empty hole towards the rear of the handle, is where a pin would sit to hold the rear as seen in both slip joint and ratchet mechanism back springs.

As a footnote I know I have one Alvero Garcia exhibition Navaja here that has proved Forton wrong on one count on manufacture.

Well noted about the slip joint though.

Gav
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Old 3rd May 2009, 01:23 PM   #8
ingelred
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Hello Gav,

sorry for not showing You the picture I refer to but I have very little time at the moment.
Concerning slip joint, okay, let's call it simple back spring.
I have also a Albacete made Navaja with a simple back spring and no real locking system.
This back spring holds up on the handle which is made one-piece, so no second pin for the back spring.
Also this knife has a small hole where You thought a pin should be.
But when I look at the handle, this hole just goes through the hande but not through the back spring.
As I mentioned already the back spring only holds up against the handle.

Sory for not beeing able to go on with the discussion but I will be picked up now.

Best regards, Helge
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Old 3rd May 2009, 05:46 PM   #9
Jim McDougall
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Hi Brian,
Thank you for continuing the post the great items you have collected, and giving us the opportunity to discuss them and learn more on them together here. These fascinating knives have always been intriguing to me, especially with my fondness of Spanish edged weapons. While the guys have already added outstanding observations on identifying these navaja, I have spent the morning trying to learn more on thier history, and since I'm the official blowhard around here, I'll share what I've learned so far.
Without a doubt the true expert on these knives here would be Chris Evans, and searching through his posts is a true wealth of information.

Your observation on Arabic influence is well placed, as the Moorish influence in Spain is of course profound, and is seen throughout its culture.

Apparantly the 'navaja' (Latin, novacula = razor) developed in the 15th century in this folding blade/sheath configuration. It was used by barbers, who also doubled as surgeons, and these were often aboard ships. In "Navajas of the Galleons" (Corey Malcolm, 'The Navigator:Newsletter of the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society' Vol.21, #4, Jul.2005) it describes the number of these found on the 1622 Spanish "Atocha" wrecksite.
There is apparantly a painting in the Prado in Madrid titled, "The Surgeon" by Jan Sanders van Hemessen c.1555, showing one of these being used in this 'surgical' manner.

Apparantly the concept of these easily concealed weapons was readily adopted by the roughneck sailors who used them adeptly in thier own shipboard version of dispute settling 'surgery'. The use of these in this type of combat spread quickly to land based ruffians as well, and while the more refined duelling with 'etiquette' and swords was confined to the gentry, the navaja became the weapon of the commoner, and the deadly baratero or knife fighter.

I think one of the most fascinating things about Spanish edged weapons is the maginificent romanticization and artistry, thoroughly laced with mystery. The art of fencing in Spain known as 'Destreza' is both puzzling and fascinating with all of its geometric esoterica and symbolism, and while this art served the duellists of Spain's nobility and gentry, there was a singular 'art' in its own sense developed for the navaja.

Until the 19th century, as far as is generally known, this 'art' was not documented as was the fencing techniques of Destreza. In about mid 19th century, the "Manual del Baratero" was published by a mysterious author known only as M.d.R.
For years, this 'manual' was the subject of mistranslations, interpretations and finally effectively translated and reviewed by James Loriega in 2005 ("Manual of the Baratero: The Navaja, the Knife and the Scissors of the Gypsies").

The use of the navaja was well known in France and Spain in the 18th and 19th centuries and one of my favorite cities to visit here in the U.S. has always been New Orleans. Here the fantastic history and cultural influences of these countries remains profoundly preserved, and the sector of the Old Quarter where the French pirate Jean Lafitte 'presided' was appropriately termed 'Barateria'. Here the knife fight reigned supreme in the street, again while the gentry elegantly duelled at the famed 'duelling oaks'.

In looking at the profile with pronounced clipped point on the blade of the navaja, it is easy to see the ancestry of the famed Bowie knife and the brothers who developed it.

Absolutely fascinating knives, and in looking at them, I cannot help fond memories of the substantial 'switchblade' I had in my younger years
There was a distinct 'feel' to the deadly click as the blade locked open.
This is discussed in various references as the profoundly demoralizing and threatening sound comparable to the deep cocking sound of a shotgun. The ratcheting of the 'la carraca' locking mechanism led to the nickname 'carraca' for these knives.

A beautiful example Brian, and yet another example of your discerning taste in compiling a great collection !! Thank you for sharing it!!

All the very best,
Jim
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Old 3rd May 2009, 11:57 PM   #10
Iliad
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Default Navaja

Gee whiz and gollygosh guys, I had no idea that I had something so good! I am gobsmacked! I bought this a few years ago from my good friend Stu (aka Kahnjar) and can't even remember what I paid for it. Thanks Stu!!
I must confess that on occasion I have looked at it and wondered why I had bought it, as it didn't seem as exciting as full-sized swords; I was uncertain about posting it here as I thought that you experts would laugh at this old country bumpkin for having the temerity to post pics of something totally uninteresting. You guys have made my day!!!!
Brian
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Old 4th May 2009, 12:50 AM   #11
M ELEY
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Default Nice piece!

Brian, if you ever want to casually buy any pieces for me, I'll send you my address! A pretty cool piece and one that spans a much broader time period than I first realized.
Jim, as always, I am in awe of your amazing skills. In all of my naval readings, i had not come across that Mel Fisher piece on the fact that these folding knives went to sea. Even Gilkerson, who mentions the blunted knives used to trip the ropes, didn't catch that fact! Makes total sense, though. Undoubtedly, they would have been smuggled aboard on ships of the line, as such a weapon would have been lethal in the hands of a grog-soaked sailor. Also would have undoubtedly seen service on privateers as both a tool and weapon of self-defense. Quite a few of the folders were popular during the American colonial period as well. See Neumann's "Swords & Blades of the American Revolution", plates 33-56K. A number of them were found in French/Indian trading sites. One in particular (plate 39) is similar. They have a wide range, with French, Spanish, English and American examples shown. Brian's piece, possessing the more ethnic qualities of Spanish influence, might have served on a Spanish Man-o-war. Damn it, Jim, now you'll have me looking all over for one of these to add to my maritime collection!!!
It seems from my readings that the Spanish navy was more lenient with their rules concerning what sailors were allowed to carry as personal items compared to the Brits and Americans. Quite interesting!!!

Last edited by M ELEY : 4th May 2009 at 12:52 AM. Reason: another comment
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Old 4th May 2009, 02:27 AM   #12
Chris Evans
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iliad
Hi guys, in accordance with Jim's wish that I post pics of the items in my collection, here is a Folding Knife about which I know very little. It looks Arabic to me, but what do I know! The pics may at least go in the files and be useful for research in the future.
It does not have a mechanism for locking the blade in place, so surely wouldn't be of much use as a weapon. Too big for cleaning one's fingernails? Table cutlery? Too clumsy to use to spread jam on the bread and butter?
Regards to all my new friends,
Brian


Hi Iliad,

That looks like a mid to late 19th century Spanish navaja, perhaps from Sta Cruz De Mudela, a rival of Albacete, and judging by the decorated blade and good state of preservation of its edge and point, most likely intended as a souvenir or display item. The slipjoint, or perhaps demi-lock, reflects the ban, in most jurisdictions, on more effective locks, for it lowered the knife's potential as a weapon. Its overall style is a precursor to what nowadays in Spain is called an Arab style navaja, best exemplified by the wares of the cutler JJ Martinez. For a modern piece see: http://www.filofiel.com/tienda/prod...roducts_id=3530
For a similar period piece, I refer you to Forton's `La Navaja Espaņola Antigua' pg243 Fig 112

It is a nice piece and worthy of any collection.

Cheers
Chris

Last edited by Chris Evans : 4th May 2009 at 04:04 AM.
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