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Old 22nd January 2017, 04:23 PM   #1
Ian
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Default Unusual "royal" Maréchausséesabel/Dutch Klewang

This auction finished online recently. It came from an Australian seller and here is the lengthy auction description:
"A DUTCH MADE M. 1898 KLEWANG CUTLASS AND SCABBARD MANUFACTURED BY THE NED. WAPENMAGAZIN IN HAARLEM-DEN HAAG ABOUT 1900 FOR THE FORCES OF THE SULTANATE OF SOERAKARTA AND ETCHED ON THE BLADE AND SCABBARD WITH THE ROYAL CYPHER PBX OF THE SULTAN PAKUBUWONO X.

This Dutch made M.1898 Klewang Sword / Cutlass & Scabbard was one of those scarce examples produced about 1900 by the manufacturer NED. WAPENMAGAZIN in HAARLEM-DEN HAAG, in the Netherlands for the Sultanate of Soerakarta, a Dutch protectorate ruled by Sultan Pakubuwono X in what is now Indonesia. This is evident from the etching on the blade which is still partially readable; KRATON SOERAKARTA on the obverse side of the blade and NED. WAPENMAGAZIN HAARLEM-DEN HAAGon the reverse. Both scabbard and sword are also marked with the Royal Cypher PBX of the Sultan Pakubuwono X.

This cutlass is a very good example of what is commonly known by collectors as the Model M.1898 Klewang. The Klewang is a type of cutlass which originally derived from the weapons traditionally carried by Indonesian natives, and was later adopted by soldiers of the Dutch East India Company (the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie or VOC). By the 1930s, it was carried as a sidearm by native police in the NEI. Some were used in combat against the Japanese, but they were more commonly employed as machetes against jungle foliage. The Japanese are known to have used them after their occupation in 1941 and many were taken as souvenirs by American and Australian servicemen from surrendering Japanese forces in 1945. For reference, a period photograph of 2 US soldiers, one holding a Japanese flag and the other an M.1898 Klewang, is attached.

This example being produced by NED. WAPENMAGAZIN in HAARLEM-DEN HAAG, as evidenced by the trademark on the blade (see picture). The style of the trademark puts the date of manufacture around 1900. This Klewang appears to be a trooper’s model on account of the fact that its fitted with a wooden grip, officer’s grips were ‘shagrin’ covered, although it may be that this example is just missing its original grip finish.

This example is in good original condition and was in use with the Royal Dutch East-Indian Army between 1900 and the end of WW2. What makes this sword particularly special however, is etching on the blade which clearly indicate this sword was issued to troops serving with the forces of the Sultanate of Soerakarta in what is now modern day Indonesia. A similar example is held in the collection of the Australian War Memorial as item RELAWM24941 and can be viewed at: https://www.awm.gov.au/exhibitions/alliesinadversity/japanese/army/ .

These Dutch Model M.1898 Klewang are well made and wereused by the Dutch Army and its Colonial Forces until WW2. This sword is probably a battlefield souvenir from the end of WW2 when Australian Forces were sent to re-occupy the Dutch East-Indies which had fallen to the Japanese in 1942. Swords were highly valued as souvenirs by Allied troops and it is quite possible, if not likely, that this weapon was a wartime memento.

This Dutch Colonial Model M.1898 Klewang is a good example of its type. It is fitted with a steel 3 bar half basket hilt, with a birdshead pommel and steel guard with steel ferrule. All metal furniture is in good condition with a very good patina as is the hardwood grip and silver braid wire. The patinated steel cutlass blade is ‘single-fullered’ and sweeping falchion shaped, is in good condition and etched on both faces (see pictures). The matching leather and brass scabbard, with single hanger-ring is also in similarly good condition, although it is now delicate, partially torn about two thirds of the way down, and has lost rigidity. It is stamped with the Royal Cypher PBX of the Sultan Pakubuwono X.


Maker: NED. WAPENMAGAZIN in HAARLEM-DEN HAAG
Overall Length: 736.5 mm
Blade Length: 622.0 mm
Blade Width (at guard): 32.00 mm
Scabbard: Steel, leather & brass – M.1898
Overall Length of Scabbard: 680.0 mm

The markings on this sword are clearly visible, with on the reverse blade face, the manufacturers trademark NED. WAPENMAGAZIN in HAARLEM-DEN HAAG. The blade is etched KRATON SOERAKARTA on the obverse side. Both scabbard and sword are also marked with the Royal Cypher PBX of the Sultan Pakubuwono X. The back edge of the hilt is stamped with the armoury number 38.

From Australia, this Dutch Colonial Model M.1898 Klewang is in good original condition and is a first class example of its type. What really makes it special though is the link to the Sultanate of Soerakarta, a Dutch protectorate ruled by Sultan Pakubuwono X in what is now Indonesia. It has everything you look for in a collectible sword; condition, patina, and provenance. This is only the second Dutch sword I have ever come across in Australia (I purchased it in Sydney) and it’s a ripper."
As the antique dealers would say, however, "there are some issues with this item." (see Figures 1, 2).

Hilt (Figure 1-A)
  • The basket guard appears to be correct for a M1898. It has the small hole on the lower part for a finger-loop (see arrow Fig. 1-A)--this feature appears only on the M1898 and was removed for the M1905 and subsequent versions.*
  • The backstrap appears correct. There is not, however, any sign of the rivet that should secure the basket guard and backstrap to the end of the tang.
  • The wooden grip with finger contours is correct in shape, but it has been wrapped in silver(?) wire, a feature not found on standard marechaussee sabels or later klewangs of this type, nor on the Dutch cavalry saber hilt on which the marechausseesabel's hilt is based. This is definitely an "add on," but whether it was done at the time of manufacture, or later, is unknown.
Blade:
  • From the dimensions provided, this blade appears to conform overall to the dimensions of a M1898 (or the M1905, M1911, M1940, M1941--they are very similar)
  • There are several inscriptions etched into the blade that are clearly non-standard:
    • "PB" over "X" (the cypher of Sultan Pakubuwono X, ruler of Surakarta from 1893 to 1939) on the obverse side of the blade at forte (see auction pics below)—this marking appears to be upside down.
    • Also on the obverse side is a faint and partially incomplete inscription that the seller states is "NED. WAPENMAGAZIN in HAARLEM-DEN HAAG" (Figure 2)—this marking is upside down when read with the blade edge downwards (a departure from the orientation of maker's or distributor's marks on the obverse side of other Dutch swords).
    • "KRATON SOERAKATA" on the reverse side of the blade at forte (see auction pics below)—this marking is also upside down when read with the blade edge downwards.
Scabbard:
  • This is not a standard M1898 scabbard for the following reasons:
    • The leather sheath shows two parallel lines embossed down its length—a feature inconsistent with museum examples and one not recorded until the M1905 Marechaussee sabel* (Figure 1-B).
    • The chape is non-standard and should be shorter with a single staple showing on the obverse side (missing on this example) and another single staple on the reverse side (Figure 1-C).
    • The brass(?) locket of the scabbard replaces the brass and leather standard fitting, and resembles somewhat the throat found on Dutch cavalry sabers—it bears the cypher "PB" over "X" that is oriented upright (compared with the inverted same inscription on the obverse forte of the blade) (Figure 1-D).
The most disturbing of these irregularities is the faint and barely legible etched mark of the Delft armory, albeit applied in what seems to be an upside down manner. According to Puype and de Stürler Boekwijt,* The Netherlands Ordnance Works had moved completely from Delft to Hem Bridge by 1898, and no marechaussee sabels were ever assembled at Delft. This raises a very large red flag about the authenticity of this sword. It is possible that the Netherlands Government commissioned the old Delft works to assemble a special consignment of swords for the Sultan, but there are other features, such as the reversed mark of the Delft facility that suggest that it was not put together by "NED. WAPENMAGAZIN in HAARLEM-DEN HAAG." Also, the marriage of this sword with what appears to be a M1905 or later scabbard is also disturbing, as well as the atypical furniture applied to it. The inscriptions could have all been done in the Netherland East Indies, but the dubious Delft marking is a hanging question.

For these various reasons, I did not bid on this sword. I hope that the winner is a member here and will provide us with more information about this interesting sword. I have written to J.P. Puype at the Netherlands Army Museum to see if he can shed any light on this sword.

Ian

-----------------
Reference

* Puype, JP & de Stürler Boekwijt, RJ. Klewang. Catalogus van het Legermuseum (Catalogue of the Dutch Army Museum). KNIL, Landmacht, Zeemacht, Marechaussee en Politie. Royal Netherlands Army and Arms Museum: Delft, 2001, pp 344.

------------------------------

Attachments
Figure 1
Figure 2
A picture of Sultan Pakubuwono X
Pictures from the auction


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Last edited by Ian : 23rd January 2017 at 11:17 PM. Reason: Spelling
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Old 22nd January 2017, 07:16 PM   #2
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I don t think it is an real one.

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Old 22nd January 2017, 09:52 PM   #3
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Why Dajak?
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Old 23rd January 2017, 02:37 AM   #4
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Alan, do you happen to know this sword from first hand experience or the seller who is posted as living in Griffith, ACT? Can you comment on the authenticity of the cypher? Knowing your longstanding travels in Indonesia and your involvement with some of the Kraton, what is your thought about the authenticity of this sword?

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Old 23rd January 2017, 04:05 AM   #5
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No Ian, I have never seen this sword, and I did not know that the seller lives only a couple hundred kilometers from me.

I also have next to nil knowledge with this type of Indonesian weapon.

I have no idea at all about the correctness or otherwise of the various details, as you have pointed out in the original post that began the thread.

However, over the years I have seen many similar swords in Solo (ie, Surakarta/Soerakarta), I've seen them in market stalls (warungs), I've seen and handled them in the Kraton Surakarta storerooms, I've seen them in museums, I've seen them worn by Kraton soldiers.

When I say "similar swords", I mean that they are not exactly the same as this one, but all of a similar style and not of a uniform style, many looking like they have been cobbled together from two or more other swords.

The PBX is 100% OK from my perspective, in fact all the blade etchings are OK.

I can appreciate that you, and other people who are expert in the field of Dutch Colonial Model M.1898 Klewangs may look at this sword and compare it with a known genuine model in perfect condition and form the opinion that you are looking at a false Model 1898, but if I look at it and form the opinion that it is genuinely from the Surakarta Kraton, then my parameters of judgement are very different. I only ask:- " does this appear to be a sword that was used in the Kraton?" and my answer to this question must be that yes, it does.

You see, the Kraton makes its own rules. You question the orientation of the blade etching, both the PBX and maker's mark. It is entirely possible that this sword was put together by Kraton craftsmen from a combination of locally made parts and remnants of other swords, if a Dutch maker's mark was required on the finished product, there would be no problem in providing that, the people who did this would not have any idea of what was supposed to be correct in Holland, and what was not correct, and even if they did know, would they care? I strongly doubt it. The sword would have been one of many poorly maintained weapons issued to Kraton abdi dalem (literally "inside servants", but the generic term for all the non noble Kraton employees and volunteers) for use in parades. You could think of it as a theatrical prop.

You have raised the question of the missing riveted tang. In Central Jawa the riveted tang end is not a usual way in which to secure a hilt, hilts are normally secured with either jabung (think "cutler's wax"), or where something is strictly for show, wooden wedges for a flat tang, wound thread for a round tang.

For something like this a factor that would raise my doubts about authenticity would be if somebody such as yourself told me it was perfect example of the type. My reaction would be:- "oh yeah? How did that happen?"

When I use the word "authenticity", the authenticity I am looking for is whether or not this sword was used within the Kraton, I am not the smallest bit interested in whether or not it is a legitimate example of the Dutch type it purports to be.

In the market in which it was originally sold, once it left Kraton hands, the value of this sword would be rooted in the previous Kraton ownership, not at all in whether or not it was a good example of a particular type of sword, its European heritage would be of less than passing interest to a local buyer, and it is usually a local buyer who buys this sort of thing, most especially so in Solo (Surakarta) which has very, very few tourists and is not a particularly tourist friendly place to visit or stay.

In view of the many discrepancies between this sword under discussion, and the genuine Model 1898, I think that what we have here is a locally made copy, put together by Kraton craftsmen, and once again, on the local market, that would raise its authenticity, and its value, for a local buyer.

What I can see in the photos fits perfectly with the many examples of this type of thing I have seen in the past.
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Old 23rd January 2017, 04:44 AM   #6
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Alan, this is exactly the opinion that I was hoping you would provide. I strongly suspected that it was cobbled together from a blade here, a hilt from there and a scabbard from somewhere else, plus some embellishments; but you have explained very well how these items come about, and that it likely is an entirely local concoction for a specific use in the Kraton. Your endorsement of it as coming from the Kraton makes it less likely in my mind that it was a deliberate forgery, which is always a concern. BTW, the Delft mark on the blade was a nice touch, even if it was a mistake--no doubt borrowed from the same mark on Dutch cavalry sabers that preceded the marechaussee sabel.

Thanks for your help and the generous response to my questions.

Ian.

Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
No Ian, I have never seen this sword, and I did not know that the seller lives only a couple hundred kilometers from me.

I also have next to nil knowledge with this type of Indonesian weapon.

I have no idea at all about the correctness or otherwise of the various details, as you have pointed out in the original post that began the thread.

However, over the years I have seen many similar swords in Solo (ie, Surakarta/Soerakarta), I've seen them in market stalls (warungs), I've seen and handled them in the Kraton Surakarta storerooms, I've seen them in museums, I've seen them worn by Kraton soldiers.

When I say "similar swords", I mean that they are not exactly the same as this one, but all of a similar style and not of a uniform style, many looking like they have been cobbled together from two or more other swords.

The PBX is 100% OK from my perspective, in fact all the blade etchings are OK.

I can appreciate that you, and other people who are expert in the field of Dutch Colonial Model M.1898 Klewangs may look at this sword and compare it with a known genuine model in perfect condition and form the opinion that you are looking at a false Model 1898, but if I look at it and form the opinion that it is genuinely from the Surakarta Kraton, then my parameters of judgement are very different. I only ask:- " does this appear to be a sword that was used in the Kraton?" and my answer to this question must be that yes, it does.

You see, the Kraton makes its own rules. You question the orientation of the blade etching, both the PBX and maker's mark. It is entirely possible that this sword was put together by Kraton craftsmen from a combination of locally made parts and remnants of other swords, if a Dutch maker's mark was required on the finished product, there would be no problem in providing that, the people who did this would not have any idea of what was supposed to be correct in Holland, and what was not correct, and even if they did know, would they care? I strongly doubt it. The sword would have been one of many poorly maintained weapons issued to Kraton abdi dalem (literally "inside servants", but the generic term for all the non noble Kraton employees and volunteers) for use in parades. You could think of it as a theatrical prop.

You have raised the question of the missing riveted tang. In Central Jawa the riveted tang end is not a usual way in which to secure a hilt, hilts are normally secured with either jabung (think "cutler's wax"), or where something is strictly for show, wooden wedges for a flat tang, wound thread for a round tang.

For something like this a factor that would raise my doubts about authenticity would be if somebody such as yourself told me it was perfect example of the type. My reaction would be:- "oh yeah? How did that happen?"

When I use the word "authenticity", the authenticity I am looking for is whether or not this sword was used within the Kraton, I am not the smallest bit interested in whether or not it is a legitimate example of the Dutch type it purports to be.

In the market in which it was originally sold, once it left Kraton hands, the value of this sword would be rooted in the previous Kraton ownership, not at all in whether or not it was a good example of a particular type of sword, its European heritage would be of less than passing interest to a local buyer, and it is usually a local buyer who buys this sort of thing, most especially so in Solo (Surakarta) which has very, very few tourists and is not a particularly tourist friendly place to visit or stay.

In view of the many discrepancies between this sword under discussion, and the genuine Model 1898, I think that what we have here is a locally made copy, put together by Kraton craftsmen, and once again, on the local market, that would raise its authenticity, and its value, for a local buyer.

What I can see in the photos fits perfectly with the many examples of this type of thing I have seen in the past.
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Old 26th January 2017, 03:21 PM   #7
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Hi Maisey the sword of this kaliber is to worn of PB X did not fight with his swords.


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Old 26th January 2017, 07:36 PM   #8
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True.
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Old 27th January 2017, 11:21 PM   #9
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Interesting variation on the klewang.

Thank you for posting.
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Old 20th May 2019, 04:53 PM   #10
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Here is another Klewang PB X did order 250 off these klewangs in the Netherlands that what they told me.
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Old 20th May 2019, 09:37 PM   #11
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Looks like real one
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Old 21st May 2019, 09:41 AM   #12
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Thanks Dajak. Good to see another example.
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