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Old 4th December 2018, 06:10 AM   #1
Battara
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Default Scottish Dirk Late 18th Century

Well once again I'm over here in this section, only sharing my first Scottish dirk. Due to the shape of the baluster hilt, the silver studs, and screw top, I place this example in the late 18c to early 19c, leaning toward the late 18c.

The first picture is how I got it with a bent blade. The second picture is after my cleaning and restoration.
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Old 4th December 2018, 06:12 AM   #2
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Pictures of the hilt and pommel top.
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Old 4th December 2018, 06:21 AM   #3
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Here are the engravings on the front and back of the silver mounts of the hilt and scabbard. The name: "J McLeod". There is a crown stamp and the pictures of cannons, battle flags, and swords, and spears indicate to me that this person was also an officer in the British military.

My 2 questions:

1. Does the presence of cannons indicate being part of an artillery unit?

2. What does "RB 2" mean?


Other comments welcomed as well.
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Old 4th December 2018, 05:25 PM   #4
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Wink

That also looks like a Gorget engraved on one of the panels.
So, officer?

Oh yeah Jose ; "There can be only one.."
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Old 5th December 2018, 03:30 AM   #5
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GOOD POINT RICK! I missed that. Many thanks.
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Old 5th December 2018, 04:15 AM   #6
Jim McDougall
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Jose!!! This is an absolutely phenomenal dirk!! and my Highland blood is raging with envy
I have been going through resources for hours and I feel confident this example is much as you have suggested, but I think more toward 1770s because of the wider 'haunches' in the beautifully Celtic knot baluster hilt. The metal studs are of this period to 1790s.
Whitelaw (1908 (1977), p.313) notes that after the Disarming Acts of 1746, following the tragedy at Culloden, proscribed Scots from owning weapons. However the dirk, with its utilitarian purposes was typically permitted, and often the now banned Scottish basket hilts were dismantled and blades repurposed into those for dirks.


This blade seems likely to be one of these blades as its profile seems contrary to most specifically for dirks, and the fuller at the forte resemble known Solingen backsword blade types.


Clearly this dirk is for an officer in a Scottish regiment of the third quarter 18th c.+ as suggested by the military motif, the gorget, sword, cannons and the RB 2 is of course likely a regimental unit. This may well be a heirloom blade mounted in military dress as noted. It would be exciting to imagine that the heirloom blade was in use at the time of Culloden.


The cannon do not suggest artillery ...perhaps the RB 2 could mean Rifle Battalion 2 or some such designation but those units seem much later.


The style of pommel and the mounts predate the familiar stone mounted dirk pommels which began around 1800. It is amazing to have the scabbard also! This is truly amazing Jose, congratulations!


Sources: "The Scottish Dirk" James D. Forman, 1991

"The Scottish Armoury" D. Caldwell, 1979

"Scottish Arms Makers" Charles Whitelaw, 1908 (1977)

" Scottish Swords & Dirks", John Wallace, 1970
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Old 5th December 2018, 04:43 AM   #7
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Oh Jim, I was excited to be able to get this. I am generally not interested in any Scottish dirk past 1800 due to the transformation of the hilt.

Rifle battalion - not thought of that. The hard part is the first name - James or John?

Still researching this. Thanks for your well informed input! I have the first and last references, but not the 2 middle ones.

BTW - I know I have Irish blood, but Scottish - maybe-ish (if so, perhaps from the McKinnon clan who fought alongside the McDonalds with Bonnie prince Charlie at Culloden!).
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Old 5th December 2018, 02:06 PM   #8
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A Very interesting dirk, and as Jim says a little earlier in the century I would say.
Towards the end of the century and into the 1800's, blades were much wider towards the tip, and have a different look to the hilt. This one is definately earlier.
I can't make out the letters/ initials on the gorget, but I see a crown below it.

It Has to be an officer's dirk,...and I am always very careful about using the term "Officer"!
Crown, Gorget, and if we knew what the letters are on the gorget, it may help ID it.
What is interesting to me, is that it appears to have been used a great deal.

Lovely piece and congrats!!

Edited to add;
This hilt has been niggling at me Jose, so Just looked, and the shoulders on this hilt look nearly identical to those on Government hilts, C 1725 -50.

Best,
R

Last edited by Pukka Bundook : 5th December 2018 at 04:09 PM.
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Old 5th December 2018, 11:21 PM   #9
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Well to answer your question, the initials on the gorget are "JML" I think for "J McLeod" on the backside.

With so many McLeods/MacLeods, honing in on the right military service would be helpful to see who it might fit. I emailed the auction house for info on the former owner but no answer.
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Old 6th December 2018, 02:31 AM   #10
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The cross section of the blade 'feels' older than mid-1700s. Not an academic opinion, I'll admit, but there's a look about it that feels older.
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Old 6th December 2018, 03:32 AM   #11
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Well, I emailed the curator of the Royal Regiment of Scotland and enclosed the link to this thread.
Let's see what happens.
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Old 6th December 2018, 01:02 PM   #12
E.B. Erickson
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That's a nice dirk! I am in agreement with what Jim says above about it, with the addition that the blade could be from an English military sword, as the narrow & wide fuller combination was very common on English swords, and the Scots often used English blades in their baskets. The thing that would make me think that this may not be an English blade is the the wide fuller seems a bit wide, and the narrow one a bit narrow when compared to most English military blades.

--ElJay
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Old 6th December 2018, 04:02 PM   #13
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Did you successfully straighten this blade Jose?
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Old 6th December 2018, 06:51 PM   #14
Norman McCormick
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Hi,
The disposition of the fullers is quite typical of some 18thC blades. See attached photograph of a French Petits Montmorency sabre from which I think one could easily craft a blade similar to the Dirk shown here.
The Dirk is a nice thing and I think it might be worth your while dropping a line and some hi-res photographs to the Arms and Armour curator at the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow for more info.
Regards,
Norman.
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Old 7th December 2018, 05:38 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
Did you successfully straighten this blade Jose?

Sure did. The first picture is how it came, the second picture is after I carefully straightened the blade.
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Old 7th December 2018, 05:40 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Norman McCormick
Hi,
The disposition of the fullers is quite typical of some 18thC blades. See attached photograph of a French Petits Montmorency sabre from which I think one could easily craft a blade similar to the Dirk shown here.
The Dirk is a nice thing and I think it might be worth your while dropping a line and some hi-res photographs to the Arms and Armour curator at the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow for more info.
Regards,
Norman.

Great idea, Norman, thank you. And thank you all for your thoughts, confirmations, and help. Great ideas.

In the meantime, here is the back of the scabbard that I forgot to post.
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Old 7th December 2018, 01:22 PM   #17
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Jose,

Have you looked at Government hilts?
In your last photos, I can see the side panels on the shoulders. These, with the three pins and the shape, are identical to the Government hilt of 1725-50.
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Old 8th December 2018, 02:37 AM   #18
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Although I have studied what I can before getting a dirk, I am quite ignorant in many many areas.

Government hilts? Never heard of them. Please elaborate!
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Old 8th December 2018, 02:10 PM   #19
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Jose,

From quite an early date, the British Government raised regiments in Scotland. Particularly the Highlands. The Government issued these soldiers muskets swords and dirks. Even pistols in the style of the "Doune "All metal , but made in Birmingham or London.

Even the blade shape of yours, (more a straight taper) although a little shorter, is Very like the Government issue in style.

Very best,
Richard.
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Old 8th December 2018, 07:00 PM   #20
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Thank you Richard. In fact thank all of you for your help.

I will take your suggestions seriously and they have been very helpful and greatly appreciated.
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Old 8th December 2018, 07:03 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pukka Bundook
Jose,

From quite an early date, the British Government raised regiments in Scotland. Particularly the Highlands. The Government issued these soldiers muskets swords and dirks. Even pistols in the style of the "Doune "All metal , but made in Birmingham or London.

Even the blade shape of yours, (more a straight taper) although a little shorter, is Very like the Government issue in style.

Very best,
Richard.


So we are talking about the government raised regiments after 1745, right?
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Old 8th December 2018, 07:32 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Battara
So we are talking about the government raised regiments after 1745, right?


The Black Watch (the 42nd), a Highland regiment was raised around 1725. The Royal Scots, a Lowland regiment was raised in 1633.
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Old 8th December 2018, 09:42 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Battara
So we are talking about the government raised regiments after 1745, right?



Hi.
The fact is that there were more Scots on the Govt side at Culloden than in the army of Charles Edward Stuart https://www.nam.ac.uk/explore/battle-culloden and contrary to popular belief not all Scots from the Highlands and Islands joined the army of the 'Prince'. The McCormicks are affiliated with the McLaines of Lochbuie from the Isle of Mull and they were one of the Clans that did not join the fight. Hope this explains a bit more the why the Govt tag might be applicable to your dirk.
Regards,
Norman
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Old 8th December 2018, 11:24 PM   #24
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Ah.........I understand better now, thank you.

On a different matter, 2 questions:

1. should I braze the crack to help stablize the blade?

2. should I attempt to restore the scabbard?

I will also attempt to contact that museum in Scotland.

Last edited by Battara : 9th December 2018 at 01:42 AM.
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Old 9th December 2018, 02:42 AM   #25
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Norman,

Have you ever read any of the letters of the Chiefs of Grant? Particularly the personal correspondence?
It is a wonderful window into the time period of the '45 and both before and after.

I looked at it extensively when I procured a flintlock pistol belonging to one of the Chiefs of Grant. It gives us a very good idea of how many saw the rebels as just that, and continued about their daily business. Both Sir James Grant and his son, Ludovic Grant were MP's for their home ridings, and spent much time in London.
I will say no more as it may be deemed off topic, but if you wish to look at these letters, PM me and I'll link you with an on-line source.

Best regards,
Richard.
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Old 9th December 2018, 04:34 PM   #26
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I am unsure about fixing crack
If mine I would leave alone,
if I had to do a repair as in it is likely to break apart if it was picked up roughly I would use silver solder rather than braze as it is easier to work with and will tarnish to look less obtrusive
Lovely item though
Well done

Ken
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Old 9th December 2018, 08:52 PM   #27
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Some good and helpful points Ken, thank you.

Iíll leave it alone for now, but need be in the future, Iíll use very hard silver solder (had forgotten that one).
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