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Old 13th September 2013, 12:19 PM   #1
CutlassCollector
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Default Calling all Dutch and Naval Weapon Collectors

I recently acquired this Dutch boarding axe but I am not sure whether it came before the Dutch Navy adopted French weapons, served alongside those or was merely a prototype.
Does anyone else own or has seen one for sale or at auction or can they direct me to any book reference for it?
The axe is unusual in having a Scandinavian flare to the blade, French style square eye and integrated side langets normally associated with British axes. It is 52cm long and blade to spike is 25cm.

Any information would be appreciated.
Regards, CC.
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Old 13th September 2013, 03:38 PM   #2
Marcus den toom
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Well, i am a Dutch collector.. but never seen one of these before, it looks like some kind of firefighter axe??
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Old 13th September 2013, 04:57 PM   #3
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Hi Marcus,

Yes that's always a possibility with boarding axes but this one does match some of the characteristics of the Dutch version of the French boarding axe as in the collection of the Dutch Navy museum. The Dutch version being less common but having the rounded spike with an eight sided finish.
Regards, CC.
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Old 14th September 2013, 03:37 AM   #4
M ELEY
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Very interesting piece, CC! Whereever do you keep finding such things! I'm no scholar of Scandinavian artifacts, but your logic holds true that Dutch pieces imitated the French boarding axes. We've all seen earlier Scand axes/entrebils (spelling?), which this bearded blade resembles. The haft in particular, with its ball-butt seems to indicate that this could be a boarding piece. I have yet to see fireaxes, even old pieces, that kept to the old boarding patterns when it came to the haft. Likewise, bearded axe blades are not typically seen on fire pieces with the exception of some of those fraternal types, of which this axe is not!
Always, the problem with 'later' boarding axes, mid-19th and onwards, in regards to 'private purchase' for merchant/privateer use, is the absolute abandonment of specific patterns. This is why there are so many confusing pieces that might be naval axes, might be fire axes, or very well were both!
I would try and research this piece, perhaps starting from the 'fire axe' opinion first to rule it out. Fire pattern axes would be better documented and cling more to specific patterns (Brit fire axes, for example). If you can rule out fire axe, than only one option remains...

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Old 15th September 2013, 10:59 AM   #5
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Hi Mark,
It's always good to get your input and you make some good points. I'll see what turns up. regards, CC.
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Old 21st September 2013, 11:51 AM   #6
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This boarding axe turned out to have some interesting historical connections. The only other known example (so far) is in the Rijksmuseum, which retains the long handle but is almost identical to the one I have.
https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/collection/NG-MC-734

I have had some correspondence with Mr J P Puype who believes that the axe in the museum was the sole survivor of a small group of axes made for the Amsterdam honour guard for the visit of Napoleon to Holland in 1811 - Holland was (briefly) part of France at the time. The axe is shown in a drawing taken from a book of the event.
Although, the marine curator of the Rijksmuseum agrees this is plausible and indeed the theory was first proposed by a Mr Kist from the museum, now deceased, they have no documentary proof. The navy records were not comprehensive when turned over to the museum in the mid 19th century and this axe was attributed to D. van den Bosch as a failed submission for navy service in 1831. Whether there was a mix up between two axes or this axe was both at the ceremony and submitted in 1831 is a mystery as is who designed the 1811 axe shown in the drawing.

I tend to agree with JP and Mr Kist the drawing of the axe is very similar to the axe in question and its features are markedly different to the French style of axe in service with the navy at the time. What do you think?
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Old 22nd September 2013, 01:40 AM   #7
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Alright, CC! After that amazing bit of detective work, I am now on your Christmas list for anything you wish to cast out of your collection!
It really is amazing to see proof of certain axes we all suspect as being naval to turn out as such. I knew that the squared eye on your piece wasn't typical of ANY fire axe or camp/infantry axe I had ever seen, plus the haft was so typically naval. The bearded blade was also a strong positive towards naval use, especially with the resemblence to entrabils. Great find and a rare piece! Thanks for posting it!
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