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Old 5th September 2017, 06:37 PM   #1
Roland_M
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Default Pattern Welded Curved British(?) Dagger

Hi all,
here is an unusual pattern welded curved dagger of european origin. According to the description the dagger was made in Sheffield. Length is 33 cm (13"), blade only 17,5 cm (7"). No markings at all, except the initials "DK". The massive silver pommel is a good counterweight to the heavy blade. The handle looks strange curved but lies very good in hand.

One picture shows some remains of black laquer, which indicates some decades of age. I think the dagger was made before WW1, around 100 years ago or more.

I hope, someone can say more. The only thing I could found is a similar hilt from Sheffield and late 19th ct..

Hope you enjoy the pictures.


Best wishes,
Roland
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Old 5th September 2017, 07:22 PM   #2
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I would be very surprised if this blade / handle combination had been made in Sheffield in times past . It would be very surprising if a Sheffield maker of a knife blade of this quality did not put both their name and Sheffield address on it . Additionally it is most unusual for English knives of the 19th century to be curved . There is also no crossguard , something which would never be the case in an English dagger , but would be typical in a domestic table cutlery carving knife . The marked curve of the handle is typical English carving knives of the late 19th century , affording a very postive forward grip required for carving a joint of meat at the table. This may be a European knife , I dont know, I have no expertise in non-British European knives of this period , but to me it looks as though it could be a relatively modern blade that has been married to a good quality Sheffield 19th Century carving knife handle ..... along the lines of the handle of the one in the photograph below ....
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Old 5th September 2017, 08:09 PM   #3
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here is another example of a Victorian Sheffield carving knife which has been badly recently remodelled as a 'bowie' knife with the intent to deceive .
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Old 5th September 2017, 11:57 PM   #4
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Acknowledging that my two cents are not worth a hay-penny, the Damascus looks very modern to me. I'm curious if others can offer insights into how valid my gut feeling is, and why or why not.

Still a handsome kit, even if reconstituted from spare bits, as thinread suggests.
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Old 6th September 2017, 12:27 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shayde78
Acknowledging that my two cents are not worth a hay-penny, the Damascus looks very modern to me. I'm curious if others can offer insights into how valid my gut feeling is, and why or why not.


Looks like a modern Pakistani or Indian damascus blade to me. If it was old, I'd expect the stain (used to enhance the contrast) to have been polished off.
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Old 6th September 2017, 01:46 AM   #6
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I agree the blade looks modern, the handle most likely taken from a carving set either the steel, fork or carving knife.
Looks like an interesting mating of handle and blade.
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Old 6th September 2017, 07:36 AM   #7
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I am relieved that there is agreement with my opinion that this is most likely to be a marriage of a modern blade and an old handle from a cutlery set . These modern blades are appearing at all the arms fairs in the UK and I have seen many examples offered for sale as 'Victorian' daggers once completed with older grips from cutlery.
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Old 7th September 2017, 03:54 PM   #8
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thinredline, i think your deceptive bowie was made like that in sheffield as part of a high end carving set, possibly a hunting trousse, similar to the other boxed set. just because it has a guard doesn't make it a fighting knife. it should not be sold as a combat 'tactical' 'bowie' knife tho, even tho it would serve in a pinch. it's cutlery. the original bowie knife was of course, also cutlery, and likely a guardless chef's knife with a partially sharpened spine. a victorian carving set with short guards on knife, and the fork & sharpener steel )or is it a spike) is below. you can buy a very similar knife/fork carving set now, sadly in stainless.

the knife in post one looks new however, may be a new blade in an old handle, that doesn't mean it's bad tho, just not old. the chemical staining as noted would have worn off if it were used and cleaned often.compare the blade/guard join to the others posted, also. the original posted one, the join is gappy and should have been fitted better and gapless or silver soldered closed.

pattern welded steel was also produced in the heyday of sheffield knife making even as the transitions to stronger and better hardened mono steels, and after for presentation pieces.

just because it's pattern welded doesn't mean it's from pakistan and bad. even a great deal of the pakistani damascus is of decent quality. a lot of good modern knife smiths make their own 'damascus' from modern mono steels, high and low carbon alloys. it's just not as good as well made modern mono steels. even real wootz is not as good for a tool/weapon your life depends on. prettier tho, and the best they had then...
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Old 7th September 2017, 05:07 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
thinredline, i think your deceptive bowie was made like that in sheffield as part of a high end carving set, possibly a hunting trousse, similar to the other boxed set. just because it has a guard doesn't make it a fighting knife. it should not be sold as a combat 'tactical' 'bowie' knife tho, even tho it would serve in a pinch. it's cutlery. the original bowie knife was of course, also cutlery, and likely a guardless chef's knife with a partially sharpened spine. a victorian carving set with short guards on knife, and the fork & sharpener steel )or is it a spike) is below. you can buy a very similar knife/fork carving set now, sadly in stainless.

the knife in post one looks new however, may be a new blade in an old handle, that doesn't mean it's bad tho, just not old. the chemical staining as noted would have worn off if it were used and cleaned often.compare the blade/guard join to the others posted, also. the original posted one, the join is gappy and should have been fitted better and gapless or silver soldered closed.

pattern welded steel was also produced in the heyday of sheffield knife making even as the transitions to stronger and better hardened mono steels, and after for presentation pieces.

just because it's pattern welded doesn't mean it's from pakistan and bad. even a great deal of the pakistani damascus is of decent quality. a lot of good modern knife smiths make their own 'damascus' from modern mono steels, high and low carbon alloys. it's just not as good as well made modern mono steels. even real wootz is not as good for a tool/weapon your life depends on. prettier tho, and the best they had then...


All really good points , but as I said , lots of these pattern welded blades are coming into the UK at the moment from Pakistan . You can buy at most UK Arms Fairs PW blades from Pakistan to fit anything from penknives to Viking swords ! And it is no coincidence that lots of these 'old / new hybrids' are also appearing just now . No problem with them as knives per se , but it bothers me when they are represented or implied as being something historic . This knife posted by Roland is an example of that as it was represented as being 'made in Sheffield ' .... I can believe the handle and fittings were , but not the blade .
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Old 7th September 2017, 05:15 PM   #10
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yup, you can change the dress, but it's the blade that counts most. bit like a keris... a US/PK or even a modern GB damascus blade just doesn't fit the stag & silver grip. i do like your 'bowie' carver tho.
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Old 7th September 2017, 08:55 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
yup, you can change the dress, but it's the blade that counts most. bit like a keris... a US/PK or even a modern GB damascus blade just doesn't fit the stag & silver grip. i do like your 'bowie' carver tho.


true enough .... yes the carving knife I found at a show in Belgium ... I had to buy it as it has a Liverpool address ! There is an English guy who is very skilled at reshaping and ageing Victorian carving knives into classic bowie shapes.... they often have good Sheffield names with Victorian cyphers and crowns. He then re mounts them( often with old horsehead cutlery hilts and makes a suitable cross guard . He is well known as an accomplished forger ... many of his efforts he claims are in Manions and illustrated in Abels books . He has been inside for his efforts more than once .
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Old 11th September 2017, 08:59 AM   #12
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Thanks for all opinions, I appreciate them very much.

The blade could be Asian origin, I dont know.

All I can say is that the blade is not just intended as a wallhanger, because it shows traces of wear and was resharpened at least one time. I think it might be a skinning knife.

The pommel is neither screwed nor glued to the hilt, it is riveted and covered with silver.

Maybe the seller made a mistake in the description. I bought two daggers from an inheritance from him. He sold me this dagger as a Sheffield dagger and a true marked wonderful Sheffield Bestsilversteel-dagger as American dagger.

Thats all I know.


Regards,
Roland
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Old 14th September 2017, 02:40 PM   #13
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I have asked the seller and he says probably English hilt and blade from India or Pakistan.
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Old 24th September 2017, 06:11 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thinreadline
true enough .... yes the carving knife I found at a show in Belgium ... I had to buy it as it has a Liverpool address ! There is an English guy who is very skilled at reshaping and ageing Victorian carving knives into classic bowie shapes.... they often have good Sheffield names with Victorian cyphers and crowns. He then re mounts them( often with old horsehead cutlery hilts and makes a suitable cross guard . He is well known as an accomplished forger ... many of his efforts he claims are in Manions and illustrated in Abels books . He has been inside for his efforts more than once .

Considering how thin carving knives are especially from that era of cutlery manufacture it seems difficult to make a convincing Bowie hunting knife from one just by changing the profile. Spending time inside for such efforts sounds like something out of a Lovejoy mystery novel. Did not think such things actually happen
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Old 25th September 2017, 06:11 PM   #15
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While spectacular in appearance almost all pattern welded blades coming from India or Pakistan have extremely poor mechanical properties making them rather unsuitable for cutting anything but... butter. But this is based on my observations, so I would like to hear othe oppinions as well.
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Old 25th September 2017, 07:04 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
While spectacular in appearance almost all pattern welded blades coming from India or Pakistan have extremely poor mechanical properties making them rather unsuitable for cutting anything but... butter. But this is based on my observations, so I would like to hear othe oppinions as well.


modern monosteels are better mechanically. pattern welded blades were obsolete militarily soon after. they were in their day, the best way to make blades from variable steels. modern paki/imdian versions were not the best examples in the beginning, as the old skills had been lost, many are now a lot better than a few years back and do not deserve opprobrium without evidence. still, monosteels are and will be better preforming. a lot depends on design, and what you intend do do with the pattern welded objects and how severely you treat them. as in many things you get what you pay for. bad execution in 'damascus' is just as bad as in mono steels. caveat emptor, but there are still some decent makers there. just be cautious.
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Old 25th September 2017, 07:30 PM   #17
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I do agree that the performance characteristics of some pattern welded steel are very inferior to those of good quality, properly forged and heat treated monosteel.

However, pattern welded steel that has been made by a competent smith, using good quality materials, and properly heat treated, can perform as well as modern monosteel in some applications, and in other applications can outperform modern monosteel.

For example, if we use 01 (oil hardening steel #1) and either good quality wrought iron or a modern low carbon steel, say less than 0.05% carbon, as the foundation materials, the resultant mechanical damascus/pattern welded product will display superior cutting characteristics to the cutting characteristics of 01 used by itself for the same type of blade. Additionally, the 01+low carbon mechanical damascus will resist breakage better, can be straightened without reheating, and will be easier to resharpen than 01 used by itself.

The characteristics of good quality mechanical damascus are most definitely not universally poor. Consider the past applications of mechanical damascus, for instance, gun barrels.

Good quality mechanical damascus can be a thing of beauty, as well as a thing of very superior performance characteristics. It all depends on the material used and the skill of the craftsman who made it.
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Old 25th September 2017, 08:38 PM   #18
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I was referring strictly to the majority of pattern welded blades that come from India and Pakistan. And that is not necessarily because of the makers' poor skill, but because of the poor quality of the steels they use in the billet. Good steel doesn't come cheap and if they were to use good quality steels for their blades, they won't be able to keep the price that low.

I have seen superb quality pattern welded blades made in Japan, Sweden and many other countries. However, almost all pattern welded Indian /Pakistani blades on sale on eBay are crap.... from the mechanical point of view, but they look good and are dirt cheap. And buyer won't discover the mechanical properies of the blade until much later, after the buying process has been concluded.

PS: Some Japanese pattern welded chef's knives are considered to be among the best in the world... but they cost a fortune. And in the case of a chef's knife the pattern weld serves to more than simple decoy as it prevents the cleaved food to stick to the blade.

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Old 26th September 2017, 11:39 AM   #19
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I did not understand that previous comments on mechanical damascus referred solely to material of Indian & Pakistani origin, I cannot comment specifically on this material because I have never subjected any of it to performance tests. However, in respect of modern mechanical damascus there are a few more things that I would like to comment on.

A lot of the more spectacular pattern welded blades that have been made in the modern era have been made purely as objects of art. They have not been heat treated. Complex welds can come apart if subjected to the stresses of heat treatment, and a lot of makers will not risk the investment of time that they already have in a piece of work to heat treat it. The buyers of these items are usually well educated in the applicable standards and are aware of what they are buying.

Very skillful pattern welding is currently coming out of China as well as India & Pakistan. I recently bought a replica Italian folding knife that has been made in China, the bench-work is excellent, the blade is skillfully pattern welded, but I'll put money on it that it is not heat treated. To me, the fact that this blade will very likely not hold a working edge is totally unimportant:- I do not expect it to. It is not a tool, it will never be used as a weapon, it is simply something nice to look at:- art.

It is possible to make extremely good mechanical damascus from material that does not cost an arm and a leg. I have only ever used two types of high carbon steel in mechanical damascus:- 01, and motor vehicle spring steel. 01 is not expensive, it is a very simple steel and ideally suited to old time forge methods; motor vehicle spring steel varies a lot in its analysis, and it usually takes a bit of experimentation to get the welds right, but once you understand the weld window, it is no more difficult to work with than anything else.

I think that the carbon content of most motor vehicle spring steels probably varies between about .06 and 1% carbon, so the edge holding ability also varies, thus if you decide to use spring steel in a piece of damascus it is best to make a blade and carry out performance tests on it first, before investing labour and fuel in a piece of mechanical damascus. The big cost in producing mechanical damascus is labour and fuel, and this can also vary depending where you are working. For example, if you are working in Asia and using teak charcoal, the cost of fuel can be extreme, if you are working in USA or some other western country and using gas, the cost of labour is the killer, along with capital outlay.The cost of the steel used is minor in both cases.

A smith working in the west usually needs a pretty heavy capital investment, not many use hand hammers, it is usually a big power hammer, or at least a mechanical hammer, something an like oliver for instance. The paraphernalia needed by a western smith costs a lot of money.

In Asia the capital investment is less, because labour is cheap, and labour can substitute for the need to outlay capital.

In respect of Japanese kitchen knives, in fact any Japanese bladed tool that has been properly made ( many are not) will really be a very, very good blade, whether mechanical damascus or unpatterned steel.

The very best knife I have ever used is Japanese. It is one of my kitchen knives, it gets used every day for all sorts of food preparation, blade about 4" long X 1mm. thick at its thickest point, san mai construction, I bought it +30 years ago in a Japanese supermarket in Sydney, it cost $12. This wonder-knife has been on a stone no more than 3 or 4 times in +30 years, the last time was more than 5 years ago. It gets touched up a couple of times a week on a Dick butchers steel, a few passes on the steel and it presents a shaving edge.

Any hand made tool depends on the maker's skill, the material, and the objectives.

I would most gently suggest that if some current era mechanical damascus has poor performance characteristics it is because the maker's objectives did not include the requirement for it to have high performance characteristics. If we are dealing with complex manipulated pattern welded blades, it is probable that some of those blades will fail under heat treatment, a blade that fails cannot be sold, and any smith with self respect will not sell a failed blade, but the cost of making that failed blade must be recouped, so if we are going to heat treat, then the price for the perfect blades that we sell must be sufficiently high to cover the cost of the failed blades. Thus, if one of our objectives is to keep price low, we do not risk heat treatment on blades intended purely as art works.


EDIT

Image of the best knife I have ever used
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Last edited by A. G. Maisey : 26th September 2017 at 10:12 PM.
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Old 26th September 2017, 01:12 PM   #20
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Very interesting explanation. Thank you Alan!

About your best knife... not very collectable...

The good part is that it seems to have a meaty blade that can take many more sharpenings.

Last edited by mariusgmioc : 27th September 2017 at 12:54 PM.
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