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Old 5th September 2014, 09:36 PM   #1
spiral
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Default English made Kacchin Dha...

Just came across this old English catalogue excerpt. & I wonder how many of the "ethnographic" mono or shear steel Kachin Dha blades we see {1621.}, were actualy made in a factory in England?

Other stuff as well.....

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Old 6th September 2014, 12:39 AM   #2
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What a great find J, thanks for posting! Certainly makes for interesting consideration where non hairpin blades are concerned...Is it mentioned anywhere about outfitting Kachin soldiers loyal to the empire?
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Old 6th September 2014, 08:02 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SwordsAntiqueWeapons
What a great find J, thanks for posting! Certainly makes for interesting consideration where non hairpin blades are concerned...Is it mentioned anywhere about outfitting Kachin soldiers loyal to the empire?


Not in the old regimental histories Ive read so far Gav. {Still one relevant one to find.}

But many Kachin were attached to V force behind enemy lines in Burma in ww2 & most of v forces Lee Enfield's & stens were made in Peshawar ,Tribal territory NWF.. due to short supply from the Indian arsenals & sub contractors.

So I always assumed there dha & kukri were local or Indian made but who knows?

spiral

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Old 6th September 2014, 01:59 PM   #4
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Great find, Spiral! Thanks for sharing.

I'm reposting this old thread about a sword I picked up 10 years ago. British markings...

http://www.vikingsword.com/ubb/Forum1/HTML/002441.html
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Old 6th September 2014, 06:36 PM   #5
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Spiral:

That's a very interesting old catalog. The prices for these machete seem quite high for the late 19th and early 20th C (when this company was still operating under the name "William Hunt and Sons, The Brade." Apart from the Kachin dha, the other examples don't really resemble the indigenous forms very closely. The Burmese dha, for example, is a short curved chopper with a three part hilt that sort of resembles a Burmese dha hilt. Whether any of these British made pieces ended up in SE Asia is unknown, but the price of purchase in Britain and then the shipping costs would make these items uncompetitive (on a cost basis) with locally produced swords. So these British-made items would likely have been for local consumption IMO, or perhaps bought by British companies for use elsewhere. They should not be hard to distinguish from the locally made forms.

Andrew:

I think your example is exactly what we have come to see in many former British colonies: locally produced arms but to specs that would have been determined by the British. These local items would have to meet those specs before being stamped with the official government marks. To me your example looks like a typical Shan sword and scabbard, circa 1900, with a sturdier than usual hilt and a scabbard bound with metal strips.

Incidentally, during WWII, many of the Kachin Rangers were outfitted with Shan-style dha as military issue, although some probably brought their own dha with them.



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Old 6th September 2014, 11:19 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Spiral:

That's a very interesting old catalog. The prices for these machete seem quite high for the late 19th and early 20th C (when this company was still operating under the name "William Hunt and Sons, The Brade." Apart from the Kachin dha, the other examples don't really resemble the indigenous forms very closely. The Burmese dha, for example, is a short curved chopper with a three part hilt that sort of resembles a Burmese dha hilt. Whether any of these British made pieces ended up in SE Asia is unknown, but the price of purchase in Britain and then the shipping costs would make these items uncompetitive (on a cost basis) with locally produced swords. So these British-made items would likely have been for local consumption IMO, or perhaps bought by British companies for use elsewhere. They should not be hard to distinguish from the locally made forms.

Andrew:

I think your example is exactly what we have come to see in many former British colonies: locally produced arms but to specs that would have been determined by the British. These local items would have to meet those specs before being stamped with the official government marks. To me your example looks like a typical Shan sword and scabbard, circa 1900, with a sturdier than usual hilt and a scabbard bound with metal strips.

Incidentally, during WWII, many of the Kachin Rangers were outfitted with Shan-style dha as military issue, although some probably brought their own dha with them.



Ian.


hi ian, interesting perspective.. I wonder who you think British companies sold such items to? Id guess catalogue prices were equivalent to todays... recommended retail price? I agree with you we have no evidence they were sold in south east asia ... but we also have no evidrnce they were not.

British made machetes ,cane knives & even kukri were in use around the world, in there usual countries exported by the UK .why do you think they wouldn't be in Burma? Standard colonial pattern while collecting the rubies & teak would be sell the locals the tools they needed as well.

The Burma police mark was BMP because it was the Burma military police about 20% of whom were Kachin.

Here's a photo showing a shan BMP chap with dha.


And also heres a great photo of a chindit with machete in Burma that also surprises many people.

spiral


photos in wrong order... you can work it out though...
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Old 7th September 2014, 08:42 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian

Incidentally, during WWII, many of the Kachin Rangers were outfitted with Shan-style dha as military issue, although some probably brought their own dha with them.



Ian.


Ian, Do you have a reference you can cite for this?

The Kachin have long used Shan type Dah and in some cases learnt how to fight with double swords of the type from Shan states, states that are found to the south of and north west of the Kachin tribes.

I strongly suspect and believe US forces did not out fit these people with Shan type Dah and that the type was already in use when recruited.
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Old 7th September 2014, 09:51 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SwordsAntiqueWeapons
Ian, Do you have a reference you can cite for this?

The Kachin have long used Shan type Dah and in some cases learnt how to fight with double swords of the type from Shan states, states that are found to the south of and north west of the Kachin tribes.

I strongly suspect and believe US forces did not out fit these people with Shan type Dah and that the type was already in use when recruited.



I think you may be correct there Gav, although not a great photo in detail when blown up x4 every single dha or dah seems a radically different design, when it comes to individual features.

A couple of different style as issue would be quite usual to my mind, every one being different implies private & personal pieces to my way of thinking.

But any evidence either way would be great...

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Old 8th September 2014, 02:32 PM   #9
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British Kachin troops 1920s with dah or dha!

The chap with a shotgun is a policeman.

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Old 8th September 2014, 04:02 PM   #10
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Kachin Dha leather scabbards were sold as surplus, back in the 1980s. Open along the back edge, with English maker marks, broad arrows, and WWII dates.
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Old 8th September 2014, 04:49 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trenchwarfare
Kachin Dha leather scabbards were sold as surplus, back in the 1980s. Open along the back edge, with English maker marks, broad arrows, and WWII dates.



Yes the standard Indan army pattern "dha" or "chindit " dha scabbards they were, probably not realy Kachin in style? Ive had a few of them & the dha over the year.

Here a scan from Flooks that shows the commonest patterns.{the ones on the left.}

The nore unusul one on the far right is the type still carried as a sidearm by the Assam regiment today.


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Old 8th September 2014, 06:24 PM   #12
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Gavin:

You are absolutely right. The Kachin have used Shan style dha for a long time. That the British had Burmese/Kachin troops wearing Shan style dha is well documented in the photographs provided by Spiral, and there are many 19th C pictures that confirm the civilian use of Shan dha by the Kachin.

Spiral's photographs of British uniformed troops with Shan type dha indicate that the British military in charge supported the use of such dha, and may have provided the dha or at least given the men an allowance to purchase a dha locally.

The picture of Kachin Rangers shows men wearing several Shan dha, the one on the left having a "parade style" silver-hlted version, and the others wearing the working man's dha with a wooden hilt covered by thin rattan strips. From the appearance of the hilt and scabbards on some of these, they appear to be fairly new.

With respect to the items in the catalog of William Hunt & Sons, I have done some online research on this company. The company did have a branch in Kenya and there is reference to a catalog for sales in Nairobi, but I have not found a copy of it. There is an online version of their 1941 catalog that shows the various die marks the company has used over the years--you can view the file here. I have never seen any of these marks on items coming from SE Asia or Southern Asia. Unfortunately, I was not able to copy the page with trademarks because of copy-protection on the PDF file. However, you can see by scrolling down a couple of pages into the file.

As far as the question regarding documentation of the US or British military supplying dha to the Kachin Rangers, I don't recall where I read that. Possibly in Carter Rila's article, or it may have been in one of my books about the Chindits. I last researched the topic when putting together the article on Contemporary Thai Swords on the old forum. In any case, I will try to find the reference for you.

Lastly, the 1940s-era machetes that you show are, as you say, commonly referred to as "Chindit machetes." I have only heard of them used in relation to the Chindit forces under Wingate. I've attached a picture of one of mine, not sure if this is a MkII or a MkIII with a MkII hilt.

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Last edited by Ian : 9th September 2014 at 02:51 AM. Reason: Spelling of Carter Rila's name
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Old 8th September 2014, 08:20 PM   #13
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Spiral:

I'm pretty sure that there would not have been a whole lot of these dha sold in Burma. Consider the following economics.

The cost of the Kachin dha was 47s 6d per dozen, or roughly 4s each, in about 1900 (assuming that is the approximate date for the catalog shown above). The cost of a Burmese dha (high quality) was 67s per dozen or roughly 5s 6d each.

One pound in 1900 would be worth roughly 94 pounds per day. So converting the 1900 prices to today's equivalent would mean that a Hunt and Sons' Kachin dha cost 18 pounds 16s 0d in equivalent money today (or USD 30.33). According to the 1940 catalog, foreign shipments cost another 25% on top of the purchase price, so that would make a 1900 Kachin dha equivalent to 23 pounds 10s (or USD 37.90) today. The price for a Burmese dha plus shipping in today's currency would be roughly 32 pounds 16s (or USD52.90).

Recent economic data indicate that the average daily wage in Burma is USD 1.68-2.02, and average monthly wage is USD 50.51-50.61. And Burma has undergone economic growth since 1900, so that comparative wages should be better now than a century ago. Even so, it is apparent that the cost of William Hunt & Sons' products would have been outside the range affordable for the average Burmese/Kachin consumer in 1900 or today.

So who would have bought these expensive quality items in the colonies? Perhaps expatriots for employees on their plantations. Perhaps wealthy locals who had the money to buy them. But I doubt many would have found their way to the hill country where the largely untamed Kachin lived. Given the considerable savings in cost without any loss of quality from locally made dha, I doubt the foreign imports were very successful.

It is perhaps noteworthy that these machetes had disappeared from the catalog by 1940.

Ian.

Last edited by Ian : 9th September 2014 at 02:55 AM. Reason: Edit some of the economic figures
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Old 9th September 2014, 02:33 AM   #14
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Weren't the British WWII Kachin forces called the Kachin Levies? The Kachin Rangers were the OSS organized forces.
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Old 9th September 2014, 02:49 AM   #15
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Someone else has heard of the British using native dha to arm their troops during WWII. See comments by Berkeley on this thread on the IKRHS site.
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Old 9th September 2014, 03:02 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spiral
I think you may be correct there Gav, although not a great photo in detail when blown up x4 every single dha or dah seems a radically different design, when it comes to individual features.
Spiral:

I see only two styles. The man at far left has a more expensive silver hilted dha but the others have similar swords: round straight hilts wrapped with rattan strips, in wooden scabbards wrapped with rattan strips. Standard Shan style working dha. These are the same two styles as shown in your other pictures. I just don't see anything radically different in any of these photographs. In fact, they appear remarkably consistent to me.

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Old 9th September 2014, 09:31 AM   #17
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Yes I see your point re. the economics for individual tribespeople.

The purchase for the tea plantations, Opium plantations, timber companies, mining companies etc. Does seem highly likely, I would surmise some would then filter down to the villages.

Id say your double edged DKW is a mark 2 myself. But that's just an opinion, Ive never found the paper work for their design.

Heres some pictures of plainer DKW one.

Is the bevel angle different on the spine to the front edge on yours?

The with the perception of radically different to me was compared to identical factory made issue products. To me they look different.

The Kachin levies were one of the Kachin units used by V force in ww2.

Units like the Burma military police, the Assam regiment, the Burma rifles, The Assam rifles & Some gurkha regiments also enlisted some in varying proportions as I recall. {My library is not to hand at moment.}

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Old 9th September 2014, 01:02 PM   #18
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Thanks for mentioning the levies Aiontay! Just found this short video Of the Burma rifles in ww2, using many different types of Dah to make punji sticks.

Well worth watching.

Spiral

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Old 9th September 2014, 05:00 PM   #19
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Interestingly Ian in the PDF you link to page 37 is missing... that's the one with the Dha on it!

Fascinating how many different marks they used though!

Not many Brit soldiers would want to collect the clearly British ones I doubt?

I wonder if there any sales records left? If the made dha for 50 odd years, they must have been selling a fair few!

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Old 9th September 2014, 10:01 PM   #20
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It seems the national archives have many records of Brades etc. apparently.

The 1878 & 1951 catalogue do not included the so called Kachin dha or dah.

In your experience Ian what percentage of pre.1950 dha are monosteel or shear steel, compared to the laminated & hairpin patterns?

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Old 10th September 2014, 02:40 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Someone else has heard of the British using native dha to arm their troops during WWII. See comments by Berkeley on this thread on the IKRHS site.


Actualy there not Berks comments, they are screen capture of an article you co-wrote along with others.

http://www.ikrhs.com/forums/downloa...518960983ea5632

Actualy from here originally...

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Old 10th September 2014, 05:36 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spiral
In your experience Ian what percentage of pre.1950 dha are monosteel or shear steel, compared to the laminated & hairpin patterns?

spiral
Spiral:

I have not etched all of my dha, and many more that I have handled have not been etched either, so it's really hard to say how many are laminated.

The older ones (pre 1900) that I etched were laminated, but not particularly bold patterns, sometimes best seen on the spine of the blade. As you know, hardened edges are found on some of the old dha.

First half of the 20th C dha I have seen very few examples of monosteel among those I have etched--perhaps 5-10%--but that is an educated guess and not based on a sample of any great number because I have not looked specifically for lamination on many of them.

I have most of my dha collection packed away at the moment because we are moving house in the next few months, so can't really be any more specific.

I did etch a number of recently made dha (made in the last 40 years) about 10 years ago and found them all to be unlaminated, but those were all of low quality blades and obviously made for the tourist trade/returning servicemen/etc.

Ian.
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Old 10th September 2014, 05:46 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spiral
Actually they're not Berks comments, they are screen capture of an article you co-wrote along with others.

http://www.ikrhs.com/forums/downloa...518960983ea5632

Actually from here originally...

linky

A complete circle!

spiral
Aaah! Interesting. No wonder Berk's comment seemed so familiar...

That particular section was written by Andrew, if I recall correctly, so perhaps that is what I was remembering. In any case, I believe there is an original source for that comment and I will continue looking for it.

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Old 10th September 2014, 05:52 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spiral
Id say your double edged DKW is a mark 2 myself. But that's just an opinion, Ive never found the paper work for their design.

Here's some pictures of plainer DKW one.

Is the bevel angle different on the spine to the front edge on yours?

spiral
Spiral:

From memory, the bevel angle was a little flatter on the cutting edge versus the back edge, but I don't have that one with me at the moment.

Ian
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Old 10th September 2014, 06:50 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Aaah! Interesting. No wonder Berk's comment seemed so familiar...

That particular section was written by Andrew, if I recall correctly, so perhaps that is what I was remembering. In any case, I believe there is an original source for that comment and I will continue looking for it.

Ian


I did, indeed, write that. I was referring to the very weapons that started this thread.

Unfortunately, it appears I did not discuss the photo of my sword with the "B P" and broad-arrow marks and, instead only supplied that horrible auction photo.

In my defense, I can only offer that I recall we were on a tight deadline and I had intended to both discuss that marked example and provide a better photo (i.e. the exhibition's catalog photo, below), but did not get to it before the catalog went to print.
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Old 10th September 2014, 07:06 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spiral
It seems the national archives have many records of Brades etc. apparently.

The 1878 & 1951 catalogue do not included the so called Kachin dha or dah.

In your experience Ian what percentage of pre.1950 dha are monosteel or shear steel, compared to the laminated & hairpin patterns?

spiral


Spiral, the Kachin "sword-dao" with the flared pommel and flared, flat tips are often laminated steel.

Of the swords we collectively refer to as "dah", "dha", or "daab", I have only seen a handful with obvious laminate construction prior to etching. One such is pictured below, with the Burmese date of 1242 Chulasakarat (1880 C.E.) inlaid at the forte in gold (previously believed to be brass). The blade is extremely thin, for this type of weapon, light, flexible and razor-sharp. One of the finest Continental SEA sword blades I have ever seen. It also appears in an early W.D. Oldman catalog.

Many (even most) have differentially-hardened edges. Some have inserted edges similar to Chinese san-mei, and I have one very fine example that exhibits a crystalline structure when etched/polished I would like to believe is crucible-steel (but more likely shear ).
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Old 11th September 2014, 06:11 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Spiral:

I have not etched all of my dha, and many more that I have handled have not been etched either, so it's really hard to say how many are laminated.

The older ones (pre 1900) that I etched were laminated, but not particularly bold patterns, sometimes best seen on the spine of the blade. As you know, hardened edges are found on some of the old dha.

First half of the 20th C dha I have seen very few examples of monosteel among those I have etched--perhaps 5-10%--but that is an educated guess and not based on a sample of any great number because I have not looked specifically for lamination on many of them.

I have most of my dha collection packed away at the moment because we are moving house in the next few months, so can't really be any more specific.

I did etch a number of recently made dha (made in the last 40 years) about 10 years ago and found them all to be unlaminated, but those were all of low quality blades and obviously made for the tourist trade/returning servicemen/etc.

Ian.



Thanks Ian, I ve had very similar experiences with kukri.

By WW2 most mono steel, before & early WW1 mostly shear or blister or laminated in some way.

Some very high quality mono steel kukris in the 1920s though.

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Old 11th September 2014, 06:14 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Aaah! Interesting. No wonder Berk's comment seemed so familiar...

That particular section was written by Andrew, if I recall correctly, so perhaps that is what I was remembering. In any case, I believe there is an original source for that comment and I will continue looking for it.

Ian


Ahh yes , Ive read important historical quotes on forums about kukri, & after a little research it turns out I was the source!

Just without the "possibly ,probably or I think" statements, that I had originally made!

Thank you.

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Old 11th September 2014, 06:16 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Spiral:

From memory, the bevel angle was a little flatter on the cutting edge versus the back edge, but I don't have that one with me at the moment.

Ian


mmm fascinating Ian, I wonder if primary edge was for butchery {As in weapon use.} & vines & back edge for bamboo timber cutting splitting etc.?

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Old 11th September 2014, 06:17 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew
I did, indeed, write that. I was referring to the very weapons that started this thread.

Unfortunately, it appears I did not discuss the photo of my sword with the "B P" and broad-arrow marks and, instead only supplied that horrible auction photo.

In my defense, I can only offer that I recall we were on a tight deadline and I had intended to both discuss that marked example and provide a better photo (i.e. the exhibition's catalog photo, below), but did not get to it before the catalog went to print.


No defence needed Andrew, time is often to short in life....

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