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Old 19th June 2018, 08:00 PM   #1
Hammondtx
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Default Help with ID

Can anyone help with identification of this sword? I have searched the internet and can't find anything with this type hilt. Blade is marked VOC with a M over it and 1776 for the date. Thanks in advance for you help.
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Old 19th June 2018, 09:37 PM   #2
Ren Ren
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As the experts say, the letter M means the branch of VOC in Middelburg.
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Old 19th June 2018, 09:38 PM   #3
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VOC is the symbol for the Dutch East Indies company so that is where the blade is from.
This might give you a starting point on the hilt

Maybe the European side of the forum would be the place to post this sword?

Regards

Ken
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Old 19th June 2018, 10:57 PM   #4
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Transferring to the European section.
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Old 19th June 2018, 11:23 PM   #5
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Another entrant for the 'Shaver Cool' style of sabre.

Was it made here (east indies); or there (Europa)?
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Old 19th June 2018, 11:51 PM   #6
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Oh Noooo! Don't say those words, Rick!!! 'Shaver Cool!'

I believe the blade is legit: a Dutch East India Co. sword with proper marking and the talismanic numerals. if it were over in the Indies, its possible that the...ahem...later hilt was put on it for the tourists. The hilt does appear to have some aging to it. If it came from Malay or Shri Lanka, it would undoubtedly have some sort of dragon/naga type hilt as this.

Can we get a shot of the capstan/screw on the top pommel and in the dragon's mouth? Perhaps not tourist, but more of a refit??? The side mounted screw from the knuckle bow is remeniscent of the Dutch naval and marinesabal swords ca. 1800.

The numbers might also indicate an important date in the Dutch history. Haven't had time to research it. It could also be talismanic.

Mark

Last edited by M ELEY : 20th June 2018 at 10:33 AM.
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Old 20th June 2018, 01:56 AM   #7
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Thanks for moving to the correct section. I had no idea where to start.

What is the reference to shaver cool? I'm a novice on this subject, is that code for a replica?

Here are more pictures, it's some sort of bambo or wood made into a rivet inside the dragons mouth.
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Old 20th June 2018, 10:25 AM   #8
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Sorry for not explaining the 'Shaver Cool' reference! It is in the archive. Quite a few years back, we had a post with a sword with VOC markings, brass hilt, and the word 'Shaver Cool' on the blade, believed to be a Dutch ship. The post went on and on without any definite conclusion. I've actually seen a few other swords over the years with the Shaver Cool logo and personally think it might have been a legit ship and history, but the swords all seemed to date to the 30's-40's and tourist. Hilts were often like a dragon, but poorly executed, the VOC markings crude and not very old, etc.

Now yours, on the other hand, is intriguing. The brass is cast and of better quality. It has a real patina, not some touristy 'Made in...' type. The bamboo pin replaces a screw which would have been there originally, common on Dutch swords of this period. The peened tang through the top of the hilt again shows age and well done. In my opinion (and it is ONLY that), this is an old East India Company sword blade with a later (perhaps mid to late 19th c.) hilt similar to a kastane. I don't think it was made for a market sale, but for honest-to-goodness reuse as a weapon. The hilt could have been refitted in a Dutch trading post such as Shri Lanka, the Thai peninsula or perhaps an Indian port. Something about the dragon and the star-like guard makes me think Thai or surrounding area. Now, let me be shot down by others-

Hammondtx, I really like this sword! I know you started out on the Ethnographic Forum and they send you here for the Dutch identification, but I think you still might later repost it there for their opinion of the hilt and where it might have been cast.

Last edited by M ELEY : 20th June 2018 at 10:37 AM.
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Old 20th June 2018, 03:21 PM   #9
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I'm curious about the eight pointed plates that are attached to the cross guard on each side. They do not seem from the pictures to very ergonomic when it comes to actually using this sabre.
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Old 20th June 2018, 05:09 PM   #10
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Yup !!!
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Old 20th June 2018, 11:40 PM   #11
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I got the impression they were langets, based on how the shadowing shows them covering the base of the blade-

Final question for me is, is the hilt hollow or solid cast? Is it tight to the blade or very wiggly?
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Old 21st June 2018, 01:24 AM   #12
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[QUOTE=M ELEY] In my opinion (and it is ONLY that), this is an old East India Company sword blade with a later (perhaps mid to late 19th c.) hilt similar to a kastane. I don't think it was made for a market sale, but for honest-to-goodness reuse as a weapon. The hilt could have been refitted in a Dutch trading post such as Shri Lanka. Now, let me be shot down by others- [QUOTE]

When I look at the hilt I think Ceylon Mark.

It looks like there was a forward quillon, now gone.

But those plates look like they'd hurt the hand if you choked up on the hilt in use.
Possibly the owner could comment on this with it in hand.
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Old 21st June 2018, 02:45 AM   #13
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Thanks all for the information, it's been interesting researching this. I buy, sell and trade antiques, acquired this sword in a trade. The man I got it from said it was his grandfathers but didn't know anything about his grandfathers travels or dealings. He remembered his grandfather showing it to him as a child but knew nothing else about it.

The plates on the sides aren't uncomfortable at all. I hardly notice them when holding it in hand. Here are some close up pictures of the sword in hand. I'm 6'4" and my hand is a tight fit. My thumb and index finger kind of lay flat on the sides of the plates. I don't feel the points at all.

I can't tell if the hilt is hollow or solid, it's very heavy. It does wiggle a bit if I shake it around but I wouldn't say is was really loose, just moves a fraction.

If you look at the first picture I posted there is a triangle shaped wedge cut out of the side of the dragons neck. Does this look like a repair or is that how it was made?
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Old 21st June 2018, 03:30 PM   #14
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Well, it looks like it is a cut made by hand and soldered or brazed.
You can see that the bottom of one seam looks like it's still open.
I can't imagine accidental damage not deforming the metal around the area.

So maybe this is from the remounting (if it's not the original) of this hilt; and maybe in polish it may not show as clearly.
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Old 21st August 2019, 04:01 PM   #15
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Default Sumatran

Hi guys,

I'm a bit late to the party, but the sword is probably from Sumatra. They had a tradition of these lion-headed European style hilts with stirrup type guard. Many VOC blades ended up there in local mounts.

See for another example, with markings to a local Sumatran ruler on the scabbard: https://www.mandarinmansion.com/ite...-sumatran-saber
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Old 21st August 2019, 04:17 PM   #16
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Thanks for the fascinating link, Peter!
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Old 21st August 2019, 08:41 PM   #17
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I agree with Mark, totally fascinating entry on the Sumatran possibility, and the similarity is compelling. What I found most fascinating in the sword of the OP is that curious octagonal escutcheon on the guard. As you note, the tradition of the lionhead seems to have well influenced numbers of hilts throughout the VOC spheres in the East Indies.

While the 'sinha' (=lionhead) of the kastane appears to have either derived from the European lionheads so often on Dutch swords, or evolved indigenously from earlier symbolism of the lion, the parallels are compelling. Whatever the case, the stirrup hilt with lion head hilt in the character of the religious symbolism of these regions is well known as European influence affected the court and status oriented swords of these regions. As noted in the excellent entry in Peter's site on the pedang lurus, these seem to have been nominally influenced by European hunting swords, and the gestalt is remarkably notable.

With the octagonal escutcheon on the guard of this sword, I am inclined to think perhaps it is intended to represent the Ka'bah, which among other things is regarded as the Qu'ranic symbol of paradise. As Sumatra is predominantly Muslim, perhaps this might be the intended representation.

The Ka'bah is apparently often used in Islamic architecture, and of course various material culture. It seems in many elements of arms decoration, architectural features serve as inspiration for their design.

As noted in earlier discussion, this escutcheon does not seem particularly ergonomically friendly, but then neither is the hilt of the kastane. These are intended as court or dress type accoutrements and not as primarily combat weapons.

As far as I have seen, the octagonal escutcheon on this example is the only one I have seen on sword hilts, and it would be interesting to see the use of this symbol on other hilts or decoration.

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Old 22nd August 2019, 02:21 AM   #18
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Very nice find, the date 1776 is attractive to US collectors.
The join in the brass hilt is interesting, any idea why it is there? Possibly a repaired casting flaw? The wear from polishing on the hilt gives it good character.
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Old 22nd August 2019, 01:38 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
With the octagonal escutcheon on the guard of this sword, I am inclined to think perhaps it is intended to represent the Ka'bah, which among other things is regarded as the Qu'ranic symbol of paradise. As Sumatra is predominantly Muslim, perhaps this might be the intended representation.

The Ka'bah is apparently often used in Islamic architecture, and of course various material culture. It seems in many elements of arms decoration, architectural features serve as inspiration for their design.

As noted in earlier discussion, this escutcheon does not seem particularly ergonomically friendly, but then neither is the hilt of the kastane. These are intended as court or dress type accoutrements and not as primarily combat weapons.

As far as I have seen, the octagonal escutcheon on this example is the only one I have seen on sword hilts, and it would be interesting to see the use of this symbol on other hilts or decoration.


You may well be right in its symbolic meaning.

For some reason, the various people of Sumatran came up with a number of weapons -including actual user grade types- that do not seem to be very ergonomic to us. A good example is the sikin panjang with pointy crowns that holds anything but nice, but several survive with fighting damage in the blades. (See: https://www.mandarinmansion.com/ite...e-sikin-panjang)
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Old 22nd August 2019, 06:17 PM   #20
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Thanks very much Peter for bringing up this thread, as well as for the brilliant entries from items on your site. Reading them is always a learning experience.

I agree, these embellished hilts are not typically very ergonomic, but in situations may have been used accordingly. Often weapons which have been 'collected' and held away in the holdings of people have become the unfortunate victims of curious wielders or inappropriate utilitarian use.

I recall one gent who had asked me about a sword he had, which I told him was a unique Caucasian shashka (we were on the phone). I told him it was an extraordinary example and its approximate value....he quickly yelled at his son, in the back yard whacking weeds with it..to bring it in!!!

Obviously that is not always the case, but it does seem to explain some instances, otherwise, in a pinch, any weapon, even embellished court weapons may have seen true action, as seems the case with the examples you have entered.

Will, interesting note on the date/year on these VOC blades. Actually 1776 is an unusual year as far as I have seen, and most of these years range from mid to late 1700s. The configurations are pretty much the same aligned with the VOC. Either above or below are the initials of the kamer (chamber) of the pertinent VOC port....there were 6, the most prevalent being Amsterdam represented by capital A.
The others were Hoorn, Rotterdam, Enkhuizen, Delft, and Middleburg ...which is the case with the sword blade in the OP here.

It seems these VOC blades were produced in Solingen, and sent 'up river' to the ports in Netherlands, where they were either assembled with hilts, or in many cases, shipped out as cargo (and ballast) to East Indies ports where they became available as spare parts or trade items.
The men employed by VOC were required to purchase their own swords so these used by them may have often been freely traded and replaced.

It seems that the Amsterdam VOC blades were most common, followed by Middelburg and Rotterdam. The other chambers are less prevalent, and it seems there was one with a 'Z' (no, not Zorro!) which may have meant Zeeland, which was the province Middelburg was in.
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Old 3rd September 2019, 06:46 PM   #21
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Looks like a Prussian officer's saber.
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Old 3rd September 2019, 09:20 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helleri
Looks like a Prussian officer's saber.



Thank you for posting Helleri. There are far too many readers out there who simply do not wish to post or venture observations or ideas on items being discussed. As you have observed, the lion head was used in Prussia, as well as a number of other nations. It is hard to decide which influenced whom, but whatever the case, the similarities are often profoundly notable.
While this appears to be Dutch, or that is in the realm of the VOC, as has been discussed, your note is well based.
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Old 3rd September 2019, 10:43 PM   #23
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Yeah... Well I mean it really looks like one. The shape of the knuckle guard. Angle of the hilt. The langets. The blade itself. Lion head is a little more stylized and differently portrayed than I'd expect. But aside from that it's a dead ringer. There were also Hessians fighting for the British in the revolutionary war. Alongside that very interesting date. I mean I'm sure you can see where the mind wants to wander off to.
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Old 4th September 2019, 04:16 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Thanks very much Peter for bringing up this thread, as well as for the brilliant entries from items on your site. Reading them is always a learning experience.

I agree, these embellished hilts are not typically very ergonomic, but in situations may have been used accordingly. Often weapons which have been 'collected' and held away in the holdings of people have become the unfortunate victims of curious wielders or inappropriate utilitarian use.

I recall one gent who had asked me about a sword he had, which I told him was a unique Caucasian shashka (we were on the phone). I told him it was an extraordinary example and its approximate value....he quickly yelled at his son, in the back yard whacking weeds with it..to bring it in!!!

Obviously that is not always the case, but it does seem to explain some instances, otherwise, in a pinch, any weapon, even embellished court weapons may have seen true action, as seems the case with the examples you have entered.

Will, interesting note on the date/year on these VOC blades. Actually 1776 is an unusual year as far as I have seen, and most of these years range from mid to late 1700s. The configurations are pretty much the same aligned with the VOC. Either above or below are the initials of the kamer (chamber) of the pertinent VOC port....there were 6, the most prevalent being Amsterdam represented by capital A.
The others were Hoorn, Rotterdam, Enkhuizen, Delft, and Middleburg ...which is the case with the sword blade in the OP here.

It seems these VOC blades were produced in Solingen, and sent 'up river' to the ports in Netherlands, where they were either assembled with hilts, or in many cases, shipped out as cargo (and ballast) to East Indies ports where they became available as spare parts or trade items.
The men employed by VOC were required to purchase their own swords so these used by them may have often been freely traded and replaced.

It seems that the Amsterdam VOC blades were most common, followed by Middelburg and Rotterdam. The other chambers are less prevalent, and it seems there was one with a 'Z' (no, not Zorro!) which may have meant Zeeland, which was the province Middelburg was in.



Hello Jim, Middelburg was indeed an important place .. Wikipedia states Quote" Later, in the 17th century (the Dutch Golden Age), Middelburg became, after Holland's metropolis Amsterdam, the most important center for the East India Company of Republic of the Seven United Netherlands (VOC) or Dutch East India Company.

Middelburg played an important role in the 17th century slave trade".Unquote.
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