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Old 8th June 2012, 03:47 PM   #1
Paul
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Default Iron lance: comments and advice please

Hello Gentlemen,
I recently bought this iron lance on ebay (photos below). I would appreciate any comments on the spear's likely age, its probable origins and how much I should clean it up, if I keep it.

It was advertised as an antique african spear. I thought it was probably a tuareg allarh. When the spear arrived today, I noticed what appears to be a brazed diagonal join in the middle of the spear. This join is the only part of the spear which was not photographed close up when it was advertised. I thought the whole of the spear had been photographed close up but these few inches appear to have been omitted.

I am not knowledgable enough to know if such a join can be antique or if I have bought a more modern artifact, thinking it antique. I do not want to jump to conclusions based on my limited knowledge. Can anyone set me straight on this please?

I have been an appreciative visitor to your forum for some months now. It is a wonderful source of information. I have a few spears I would love to post photos of for comment and advice but the fear of having made a mistake with this one has finally pushed me into action.

If I do keep the spear, is it going to ruin the value if I give it a good rub with wire wool so the iron and the brass shine out?

Many thanks.

Paul
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Old 8th June 2012, 07:30 PM   #2
Kipinga50
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Hi,
Your Spear is an Tuareg "Allarh Gerigueri", Typical of the Kell Gress tribe of Niger.
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Old 9th June 2012, 05:52 AM   #3
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Thanks very much for the info. Could you translate "Gerigueri" for me please. I am not finding it through search engines.

I am also very interested to know what features mark the allarh out as being of the Kel Gres.

Do you have any opinion on the join in the middle that is filled with brass? I have not seen anything like it. Has this join been made by brazing the two iron sections together using an acetylene welding torch (which doesn't sound too traditionally artizanal and would probably make this lance not an antique) or has a poor quality pressure weld had its edges filled out with brass??

Many thanks

Paul
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Old 9th June 2012, 07:29 AM   #4
Iain
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul
Hello Gentlemen,
I recently bought this iron lance on ebay (photos below). I would appreciate any comments on the spear's likely age, its probable origins and how much I should clean it up, if I keep it.

It was advertised as an antique african spear. I thought it was probably a tuareg allarh. When the spear arrived today, I noticed what appears to be a brazed diagonal join in the middle of the spear. This join is the only part of the spear which was not photographed close up when it was advertised. I thought the whole of the spear had been photographed close up but these few inches appear to have been omitted.


From the photo I am not sure if its a brazed join or simply an inlay. I wouldn't worry about it overly - this style of spear is not made in recent years, the ones available for the tourist market for the last few decades are entirely different - flat and made from scrap steel.

It is a Tuareg allarh and a decently old one at that. This style was popular with Tuareg ranging all across the Sahel and is in contrast to the wood shafted lances popular with other groups like the Hausa and Kanuri.

Quote:
I am not knowledgable enough to know if such a join can be antique or if I have bought a more modern artifact, thinking it antique. I do not want to jump to conclusions based on my limited knowledge. Can anyone set me straight on this please?



Tough to say really, a lot of takouba will feature repairs on the pommels and grips as well. Often rather crudely done with solder. Here's an example on a sword with quite a lot of age. Again, I wouldn't worry much about it, its a nice spear regardless.

Quote:
I have been an appreciative visitor to your forum for some months now. It is a wonderful source of information. I have a few spears I would love to post photos of for comment and advice but the fear of having made a mistake with this one has finally pushed me into action.

If I do keep the spear, is it going to ruin the value if I give it a good rub with wire wool so the iron and the brass shine out?

Many thanks.

Paul


We all make mistakes in our collecting, well I certainly have! Please do post the rest of your collection.

A polish to remove any active rust is usually well within even what the least "cleaning proactive" collectors such as myself consider acceptable. Just make sure you are cleaning to remove rust and not to try and make it shiny. Less is always more in these cases and with African arms, unlike some other areas of ethnographic collecting, heavy cleaning is usually not desirable.

All the best,

Iain
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Old 9th June 2012, 08:41 AM   #5
David R
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I was watching the auction of this very piece with some interest, alas I was not able to bid due to the famous "cash flow" problem. It is a nice piece, and I think went for a fair bit less than it could have, so congratulations!
One possibility for the braze is that it was cut for ease of shipping, and reassembled on arrival. The diagonal cut provides a larger area for the braze, therefore stronger, and indicates some forethought.
Re cleaning, fine wire wool with a light oil is what I would use, and as said not overclean. You can always take it a stage further sometime down the line, but it is impossible to take it a stage back.
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Old 9th June 2012, 07:28 PM   #6
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Thank you gentlemen for your very informative replies.

I think David may have solved the riddle of the brazed joint -if it is brazed. I could not easily see how anyone capable of making the lance would need to braze a joint. I thought maybe it was a "cut and shut" of two broken lances but actually it feels like it all originated as a whole, diameters match and the join is at the exact balance point of the lance. Reducing length for shipping is the best answer I can see.

It is very heartening to think that the value may not be unduely spoilt by the join. Thanks.

I am wondering about trying to replace the leather hand grip as this would cover the join. Any thoughts on what sort of leather to use? I expect it will not be anything I have to hand, so it may wait until something out of the ordinary turns up but it would be good to know what sort of hide it should be. Would it be held on with an iron binding?

Regarding cleaning, I might post a spear that I cleaned one side of a bit less than I really liked. Then I went and cleaned the other side a bit more than perhaps I really should have -not much rust left and quite a bit of shine. I ended up not sure whether to clean the first side to match it or not. It would be interesting to know what people thought.

Many thanks,

Paul
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Old 10th June 2012, 08:18 AM   #7
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Given where it originated, your best bet for leather is goat or camel leather. I have had good results from Tandy and from Kieth Lyons, google is your friend here. Alternatively haunt your charity and craft shops untill a tourist souvenier type camel saddle turns up, but beware....they can be stuffed with some very odd stuff!
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Old 10th June 2012, 07:32 PM   #8
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The definition of Allarh Gerigéri is spear of the noble: the Imouhar
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Old 10th June 2012, 07:58 PM   #9
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If you think of brazing the joint around the steel scabbard of a Napoleonic sabre on a bed of coke, then if that is a joint and not inlay, it would be easy. The very early history of gas welding is a bit of a mystery. Gas welding was done before pressurised oxy-acthetaline. I have tried to find unquestionable facts but have not found any so far on the net, which is not highly specialised. If the Victorians could provide gas street lighting then they could gas welding. Like Massai herdsmen with mobile phones you can be sure welding technology spread from its beginings. Like aluminium on weapons it is older than one thinks.
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