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Old 23rd February 2010, 06:32 PM   #1
schmoozer
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Smile First Keris for me

I live in Seattle Washington area, USA. I normally buy and sell straight razors, and sometimes knives as a hobby. I recently bought a group of razors from the previous owner's grandson. He also had a lot of interesting knives that I ended up buying, only recognizing a few, taking a gamble on the remainder.
At first I passed this off as a tourist piece, not knowing anything about the keris. Looking later I found the date of 1848 on the hilt, which pushed me over the edge into researching the keris. I sent pictures to numerous people I found on the Internet and eBay, got back some good responses. A dealer in Indonesia gave me the most detailed opinion, which I will share. (I do not know if he is a member here or not.)
Madurese Donoriko hilt, the date looks authentic.
Blade - Tuban period,
Pamor - Ngulit Semangka
Warngka - Ladrang Jawa Timuran style

The keris is 20" long with a 16" blade.
I have seen many different blade patterns and finishes but few if any similar to mine. Does mine need to be treated somehow to recover the original finish? Or is it the original finish?

He mentioned how the wrangka is replaced when needed, on the Suroan ceremony. The sheath has some missing wood but I would like to keep the hilt. Is there a location in the US where I could get this replaced in a traditional manner?

I have spent many hours poring over this site but my language barrier prevents it from sticking very well..

I appreciate any and all comments,

Regards,
Brad
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Old 23rd February 2010, 08:05 PM   #2
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Made that picture of the crest a bit bigger .
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Old 23rd February 2010, 09:11 PM   #3
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Default more pics of the hilt

My first thought was that the hilt was plastic...
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Old 23rd February 2010, 09:47 PM   #4
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A lovely maduran keris to start with. Congrats on this find. I would leave the dress as it is. If possible the blade could be etched in the traditional way with warangan.
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Old 23rd February 2010, 10:03 PM   #5
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This is respectable old keris, and it would not be out of place in any collection.

You have been given a classification of Tuban.

It is very difficult in most cases to affix a classification to a keris from photographs. This one could possibly be Tuban, most likely Tuban-Mataram, indicated by the way in which the ganja widens as it moves to the thinner side of the blade. (the ganja is the separate, mechanically fixed piece of steel at the base of the blade).

Determination of classification depends upon weight of evidence provided by a number of indicators. One of those indicators which is very important is the shape of the top of the ganja.

Would it be possible to provide a photograph looking straight down onto the base of the blade, as in the example I have posted?

Blade classification , or tangguh, is only an opinion, and it is an opinion that can alter according to the school of study with which one is associated. It can give an indication of blade age, but except in a few very limited contexts, it cannot give a true blade age.

The pattern on the surface of the blade is what we call "pamor".
The pamor in this blade appears to be the most usually encountered one, "wos wutah" (scattered rice grains). It is a random pattern, that is, essentially uncontrolled by the smith, and as such no other will be precisely the same.

To read this pamor well, the blade needs to be stained; much will be found in this site that deals with blade staining.

Regarding the scabbard, or wrongko ( wrangka, warangka).

I would not replace this.

The large chip that is visible in the photos can be easily repaired, and the smaller chips around the edges can be cleaned up a little. If the piece of wood used for the repair were to be carefully chosen so that it had a tight grain and was very dark, perhaps even stained black, when this scabbard was repolished, nothing would look out of place, and the original dress would be retained, which in a case such as this is always a plus.

My approach could vary with a more valuable blade, but with a good, honest utilitarian blade such as this one is, I'd do my best to keep it all original.
Bear this in mind:- the attitude of collectors in the western world varies very considerably to that of collectors within Indonesia. Most Indonesian collectors would regard this wrongko as not much more than junk, and replace it with the finest new one they could afford, however, many western collectors do not like this approach, and prefer to repair, restore and retain an old wrongko, if this is possible. My approach falls between the two. For a fine blade I prefer to replace a damaged wrongko; for an average or middle of the road blade I prefer to repair the old wrongko if this is possible.
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Old 23rd February 2010, 10:21 PM   #6
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In your picture it appears that the hilt has been removed? What is the best way to do that without damaging it?

Is there someone in the Pacific Northwest region who could restore the blade? I have read the process but do not feel comfortable doing it myself just yet.
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Old 24th February 2010, 12:05 AM   #7
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Hello Brad,

Quote:
In your picture it appears that the hilt has been removed?

Yes.

Quote:
What is the best way to do that without damaging it?

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showp...135&postcount=3

Quote:
Is there someone in the Pacific Northwest region who could restore the blade?

Won't be easy to find someone in the US (and elsewhere). Several members are working on blades from their collections.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 24th February 2010, 12:07 AM   #8
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Quote:
I found the date of 1848 on the hilt

Isn't that 1948?

Looks like good quality carving though.
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Old 24th February 2010, 12:14 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kai
Isn't that 1948? Looks like good quality carving though.

It is hard to tell given the angle that the photo was taken, however, i don't believe that the date (if it is a date) can be taken as an actual date of creation in any case.
It is both an unusual and nice carving though.
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Old 24th February 2010, 12:16 AM   #10
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1848, new picture.

OK, so I get it off and take the picture.
How do I reattach it?
Probably won't get to this until the wekend...
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Old 24th February 2010, 12:27 AM   #11
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Very often a hilt is simply a pressure fitting, where the tang is wound with thread, however, sometimes an old hilt can be difficult to remove for one reason or another, so I suggest that if the hilt will not turn off fairly easily, that you don't force it at this stage, just provide a couple of pics where we can see the shape of the gonjo on either side of the hilt. That should be sufficient.

The re-stain process can be a bit difficult, and to do it properly, you need a pretty high committment as well as access to arsenic, however, you may find that if you remove the hilt, give the blade a thorough wash with a toothbrush, hot water and detergent , then soak in ordinary household vinegar for a day or so, that you will be able to see the pamor clearly. It won't be as good as a proper restain, but it could well serve the purpose for you. Make sure to kill the vinegar by painting on a slurry of bicarbonate of soda, rinsing thoroughly and drying thoroughly, then drench with WD40 when you're finished.
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Old 24th February 2010, 12:53 AM   #12
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A very nice well made rather old and unusual handle. Without doubts a very good carver
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Old 24th February 2010, 12:55 AM   #13
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Cool Success

got it off, some old wrapping around the tang.
Once I got it off I noticed there is a definite offset in the axis of the tang and the blade. I read that the blade was supposed to point slightly downward when held level? If that is so, I think maybe my hilt was on 180-degrees off?

That level of cleaning I am up to...
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Old 24th February 2010, 01:48 AM   #14
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Thanks schmoozer.

We really need to look straight down onto the top of the gonjo, because the angled shots do not always give a correct impression of the outline or the proportion.

We need to see the shape of the thick end of the gonjo (the sirah cecak), but we also need to see the outline of the top of the gonjo between the tang and thin end of the gonjo.This is important, because if there is even the slightest inward curve in the line of the gonjo here, it is not Tuban.

Can you confirm that the line along the sides of the top of the gonjo, between the mid-point of the tang, and the thin end of the gonjo does not have any curve in it?
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Old 24th February 2010, 02:15 AM   #15
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new view
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Old 24th February 2010, 03:43 AM   #16
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Anyone care to take a shot at what that silver material on both sides of the top of the gonjo might be? Remnants of some sort of silver "kinatah".
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Old 24th February 2010, 04:56 AM   #17
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Thanks schmoozer, that's great.

This cannot be a Tuban blade.

The length of the gonjo from the pesi (tang) to the buntut urang (narrow end of gonjo) is too great, there appears to be a very slight curve in the side of the gonjo, and the buntut urang itself is the wrong shape for Tuban, additionally, many would not accept the sirah cecak form (wide end of gonjo) as Tuban.

I am not prepared to give a classification on this blade from a photograph.

David, I think that that material may be the remnant of a separate layer that once covered the top of the gonjo; it has eroded and broken away. I've seen this type of construction a number of times, sometimes in a pamor that matches the blade, sometimes in plain iron in order to conceal the pamor.
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Old 25th February 2010, 03:41 AM   #18
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Thanks for all the information. I have the blade soaking in vinegar for the night.

I did ask a question regarding hilt orientation and the position of the blade tip. Should the tip point down when the hilt is held level? I have looked at other pictures in the forum and it seems that my hilt was off 180-degrees?
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Old 25th February 2010, 07:02 AM   #19
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With this type of keris the curl in the pommel of the hilt should be positioned over the thick end of the gonjo (sirah cecak), or angled just slightly towards the ground when the blade is held level.
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Old 25th February 2010, 04:43 PM   #20
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I dug this up talking to Brad in PM about dated hilts. The only other one i have seen was posted on this forum some time ago. Same kind of number orientation with a number both above and below the "year", if it is a year. We didn't really come to much conclusion on that one either.
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ight=date+keris
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Old 26th February 2010, 05:41 AM   #21
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Default Cleaning done with little results

I followed the listed directions, scrubbing it with hot soapy water, then soaking it 24 hours immersed in vinegar. The blade is clean but has the same finish as before. Is there an upper limit of time for soaking in vinegar? The vinegar had little discoloration afterwards.

The blade construction is not near as complex as others I have seen here. It looks to have a core with 3 or 4 flat layers sandwiched on each side? I initially posted a picture that shows this...

regards,

Brad
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Old 26th February 2010, 08:14 AM   #22
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Hello Brad,

Quote:
I followed the listed directions, scrubbing it with hot soapy water, then soaking it 24 hours immersed in vinegar. The blade is clean but has the same finish as before. Is there an upper limit of time for soaking in vinegar? The vinegar had little discoloration afterwards.

Make sure that the metal surface doesn't corrode too much (not very sensitive issue with keris Jawa). Given that, you sure can repeat soap followed by vinegar; a blade can take a while to take an etch, especially if the blade has been polished with a machine.

You'll probably need to work on the tang to loosen up the rust (try a wooden stick or steel wool). The yellowish discoloration is most likely from the rust of the tang.

Quote:
The blade construction is not near as complex as others I have seen here.

Yes, it's an "unplanned" pamor. Can also look neat though.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 26th February 2010, 02:24 PM   #23
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Alan is away and offered this for me to pass on :
" most old blades have residual arsenic in the metal.

a soak in ordinary household vinegar usually reactivates this.

it will probably take longer than a day, I have soaked blades in vinegar with no ill effects for 10 days or more, but it is not as gentle as pineapple juice, so you need to monitor daily to ensure that it is not eating into the metal.

you will eventually get a result, but it may be faint, it depends on how much residual arsenic is in the blade, and on the strength of the vinegar, temperature also plays a role, it works better in warm weather.

that's ordinary old fashioned vinegar, not balsamic or any of the other fancy ones . "
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Old 26th February 2010, 04:39 PM   #24
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Thanks, guys!

Using plain vinegar. Noticed last night that the fishpan I used to soak it in is now a lot cleaner than it was...LOL It is my girlfriends, from an estate auction, and she was having a hard time cleaning it. Guess I need to finish both jobs and soak it longer.

A local forum member contacted me, will be meeting with him to discuss options in the near future.

I hope everyone has an awesome weekend!
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Old 26th February 2010, 04:44 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schmoozer
Thanks, guys!

Using plain vinegar. Noticed last night that the fishpan I used to soak it in is now a lot cleaner than it was...LOL It is my girlfriends, from an estate auction, and she was having a hard time cleaning it. Guess I need to finish both jobs and soak it longer.

A local forum member contacted me, will be meeting with him to discuss options in the near future.

I hope everyone has an awesome weekend!


Just as long as the fish pan is not metal ...
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Old 26th February 2010, 05:59 PM   #26
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So, why am I feeling dumb right now???? Stainless steel pan, didn't think it would react with vinegar.
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Old 26th February 2010, 10:02 PM   #27
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Non ferrous .. always .
No aluminum either .

*Suggest you line the pan with a plastic bag if it's the only thing the keris fits in .
*This from Mr. Maisey .


Glass or plastic is best .
A wallpaper trough from home depot f'rinstance .

Last edited by Rick : 26th February 2010 at 10:17 PM.
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Old 26th February 2010, 11:33 PM   #28
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Smile Before You Try Again ..

"Throw away the vinegar and use new stuff.
Wash the blade clean with powder sink cleaner and 00 steel wool .
Wash blade again with detergent and a toothbrush to make sure there are no residual strands of steel wool ."

A.G.M.
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Old 27th February 2010, 04:32 PM   #29
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So, are we talking "COMET" here and steel wool

As an amateur knife and razor collector, I had nightmares last night about scrubbing down my whole collection with steel wool

How about an SOS pad? would that work?
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Old 27th February 2010, 08:30 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schmoozer
So, are we talking "COMET" here and steel wool

As an amateur knife and razor collector, I had nightmares last night about scrubbing down my whole collection with steel wool

How about an SOS pad? would that work?

Personally when i have to clean my keris i use 0000 steel wool and Bon Ami. I might use 000 in a pinch. But Alan certain knows what he is talking about.
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