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Old 12th December 2016, 05:12 PM   #1
GePi
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Question shamshir w. scabbard restoration/conservation advice

Hello,

I have made a new aquisition and I am in need of advice again. I bought another beat up shamshir, this one with its original scabbard.

The grip is in fine condition except for the pommel cap, which is loose and only held in place by its pin. There actually is stille quite a bit of the adhesive present inside the cap and I'm wondering if I could utilize that to refasten the cap. If it was a tulwar hilt I would try heating it up with a blow torch, but in this case I'm rather worried about damaging the grip scales.

The blade is horribly scratched up with coarse sandpaper, but otherwise in nice condition. I polished and etched a small window and got a nice pattern, would this classify as a kind of sham wootz?

The scabbard is a typical persian leather over wood type.
Some of the leather is lost, but overall it looks quite decent I think, and I would like it to remain as such. Does anyone here have experience with preserving antique leather of this kind? I guess some kind of treatment should be applied to stop further degredation, could I just use normal leather products? Should I clean the leather beforehand?
The same question applies to the exposed wood surfaces, should they be treated with some kind of oil to prevent further drying out?
Also in what condition should the scabbard be stored. After some bad experiences with rust I have my other (all metal) swords in closed display cases with very low air humidity, but I have read that leather should not be stored in too dry of an environment.

All right that's all I can think of at the moment, as always I appreciate any insight you can offer.


Gernot
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Old 12th December 2016, 05:56 PM   #2
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Hello and congratulations for your aquisition!

1. The blade needs a good polish and etching (please check out my thread entitled "Restauration of antique oriental Damascus").

2. For the leather scabbards I generally use Renaissance Wax, but if it is particularly dry and cracked you may want to try the Pecard wax for restauration of antique leather.

Regards,

Marius
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Old 12th December 2016, 07:44 PM   #3
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I use for leather simple boot polish in the correct colour, it works very good and give the leather a good colour again. Look here for example: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...&highlight=bolo

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 13th December 2016, 02:52 PM   #4
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Hello Gernot,

a few months ago I gave you an addresse in East-Germany or at least I think so.

He is the right choice for your scabbard. He restored a Tulwar-Scabbard with ~30% missing leather for me and the result ist outstanding.


Roland
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Old 13th December 2016, 03:41 PM   #5
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Thanks for the suggestions Marius and Detlef, I'll give those a try.

Hello Roland,
Steffen actually still has the other shamshir at his workshop. I wanted to call him anyway to ask him if he has gotten around to starting the repair of the hilt. And I have not forgotten your offer, if it still stands.

Actually I'm not yet really sure if I want this scabbard restored, I think in this case conservation would be enough for me.

Another question, how can you differentiate different hilt materials, i.e. ivory, walrus ivory or bone. Are there any reliable defining features, and can it be done from pictures alone?

Regards,

Gernot
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Old 13th December 2016, 07:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GePi
Another question, how can you differentiate different hilt materials, i.e. ivory, walrus ivory or bone. Are there any reliable defining features, and can it be done from pictures alone?


Hello Gernot,

for the first question have a look to old threads. Second question: Many times yes, but not always.
Can you show the other side also?

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 14th December 2016, 10:02 AM   #7
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Regarding the diferentiation between Ivory, bone and other similar materials

I fully agree with what Detlef said but I would like to go into further detail. There are several details that allow a knowledgeable eye to diferentiate between these materials, but most of them are minute details that in most cases are not visible in a photo.

For example elephant, and to a lesser degree mammouth ivory display a very fine criss-cross texture called Schreger Lines that is visible only under certain lighting conditions and only for finely polished surfaces (so very dificult to capture in photos). However, this texture is not present in the other types of ivory (walrus, hippopotamus, marine, etc.).

Walrus ivory on the other hand, tends to display a characteristic marbled/checkered texture. This texture however, is displayed only in parts, so there can be whole parts without any single sign of this characteristic.

Hippopotamus ivory doesn't display neither the Schreger Lines, nor the marble texture, but may display some diferently coloured veins lengthwise and concentric circles (like the rings of a tree) in cross-section.

Marine (whale tooth) ivory is similar to the walrus ivory but without the marbled texture. Some say that it can occasionaly display the marbled texture but I personally haven't seen this.

Then there are synthetic resins that immitate almost perfectly ivory and make visual distinction almost impossible (yet, sinthetic resins do not immitate the Schreger lines).

Bone on the other hand, displays a significantly coarser texture than any type of ivory, having fine fibres and spots visible with naked eye or moderate magnification.

While in theory it may sound quite easy to identify ivory, in practice it can be very dificult even for most experienced and discerning eyes, especially for older pieces (with strong yellow patination and cracks, like the scales of your Shamshir are).

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Old 14th December 2016, 12:54 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GePi
Thanks for the suggestions Marius and Detlef, I'll give those a try.

Hello Roland,
Steffen actually still has the other shamshir at his workshop. I wanted to call him anyway to ask him if he has gotten around to starting the repair of the hilt. And I have not forgotten your offer, if it still stands.

Actually I'm not yet really sure if I want this scabbard restored, I think in this case conservation would be enough for me.

Another question, how can you differentiate different hilt materials, i.e. ivory, walrus ivory or bone. Are there any reliable defining features, and can it be done from pictures alone?

Regards,

Gernot


Hello Gernot,

I can tell you basic things about material identification, please send me a personal message and we can talk in our language. Judged from the pictures your hilt is made from elephant ivory.

I have not forgotten your saber. Me was just thinking, that my explanation about the sharpness of the edge was too stupid.

I can send pictures of my restored scabbard to you. I was also thinking a long time, whether restoring or not. Steffen restored my scabbard and I'm very satisfied with the result. Even under a magnifier one cannot see the difference between old and restored leather, he did an absolutely perfect job. He has very old leather which is ideal for the task.


Kind regards,
Roland
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Old 15th December 2016, 09:32 AM   #9
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I like the scabbard in its current condition (which is reasonably good in my oppinion) and I would not have it restored, but keep it as it is.

But this is my personal prefference, of course.

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Old 15th December 2016, 11:17 AM   #10
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Marius, I tend to agree in this case. The vast majority of the leather is still present and the missing pieces don't detract from the overall look too much in my opinion.

Roland, when I dropped off the other shamshir at Steffen's, we also talked about the possibility to build a new scabbard for it from scratch, so I will probably still benefit from his skills in that regard.

As requested by Detlef, I added another picture of the grip scales from the other side of the grip.

As for the pommel cap, has anybody had any experience in refixing something like this. Could dunking the cap in boiling water be enough to melt the resin?

Regards

Gernot
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Old 15th December 2016, 11:40 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GePi
As requested by Detlef, I added another picture of the grip scales from the other side of the grip.


Hello Gernot,

agree with Roland, the material look indeed like elephant ivory.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 15th December 2016, 01:03 PM   #12
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Just goes to show! because I would have said this was marine\walrus ivory.
Regards
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Old 15th December 2016, 05:17 PM   #13
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I don't have much experience with removing old resin, but I would definitely NOT use any hot water.

I would try with a hot ait blower.
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Old 18th December 2016, 03:01 AM   #14
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Gernot: Your handle is made of walrus ivory. On the end i can see the distinctive pattern that elephant ivory does not have..........Dave.
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Old 18th December 2016, 03:13 PM   #15
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I would like to get in and support this thread since digging around in my store the other day I found one ...Armed with camera and notebook I intend to show the weapon here in a day or two but initially here is what the Shamshiir is described as on Wikepedia;

Quote" A shamshir, shamsher, shamsheer or chimchir (from Persian: شمشیر‎‎ shamshir) is a type of sabre with a curve that is considered radical for a sword: 5 to 15 degrees from tip to tip. The name is derived from Persian: شمشیر‎‎ shamshīr, which means "sword" (in general). The radically curved sword family includes the shamshir, scimitar, Talwar, kilij, Pulwar and the sabre.

A Shamshir Shekargar (Persian: شَمشیر شکارگَر‎‎ shamshir-e shekârgar; literally, "hunters' sword" or "hunting sword") is the same as a shamshir, except the blade is engraved and decorated, usually with hunting scenes".Unquote.

For some fine work on the Shamshir subject please see; http://www.vikingsword.com/ethsword/shamshir/index.html
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Old 21st December 2016, 10:33 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GePi
Hello,

I have made a new aquisition and I am in need of advice again. I bought another beat up shamshir, this one with its original scabbard.

The grip is in fine condition except for the pommel cap, which is loose and only held in place by its pin. There actually is stille quite a bit of the adhesive present inside the cap and I'm wondering if I could utilize that to refasten the cap. If it was a tulwar hilt I would try heating it up with a blow torch, but in this case I'm rather worried about damaging the grip scales.

The blade is horribly scratched up with coarse sandpaper, but otherwise in nice condition. I polished and etched a small window and got a nice pattern, would this classify as a kind of sham wootz?

The scabbard is a typical persian leather over wood type.
Some of the leather is lost, but overall it looks quite decent I think, and I would like it to remain as such. Does anyone here have experience with preserving antique leather of this kind? I guess some kind of treatment should be applied to stop further degredation, could I just use normal leather products? Should I clean the leather beforehand?
The same question applies to the exposed wood surfaces, should they be treated with some kind of oil to prevent further drying out?
Also in what condition should the scabbard be stored. After some bad experiences with rust I have my other (all metal) swords in closed display cases with very low air humidity, but I have read that leather should not be stored in too dry of an environment.

All right that's all I can think of at the moment, as always I appreciate any insight you can offer.


Gernot


Just to place a Shamshir I dug out of my store the other day which I think is Syrian but procured in a big antiques sale in Saudia...It weighs 1100 grams. Sadly it has lost its scabbard.
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Old 8th July 2018, 09:53 AM   #17
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Hello,

time to dig up one of my old threads again to show how my efforts turned out. It has actually been quite some time since I had the pommel cap reaffixed and since I had repolished the blade of my shamshir. But I ran into trouble getting a consistent etch on the blade with some areas not taking the etch, usually near the edge (see attached picture). This is probably due to some mistake in my pre-etch cleaning.

I have recently posted a thread with my latest restoration effort of a Persian khanjar and I did try something different there which kind of worked out. Since I got an unexpected free weekend, I wanted to try if I could transfer this method to a longer blade. This did not work as planned unfortunately and I got an inconstistent etch again. In a bout of frustration I tried something different, this time repolishing the blade with the etchant still on it, kind of using it as a lubricant, and to my surprise I got an almost perfect etch with the exception of a small area under the languets which I could not reach at the time. Not something I would want to repeat, but the result is almost perfect, so I will let it be for now.

The pattern is rather unusual. It starts out with long stripes like a sham pattern at the base at the blade, then starts to fade out at about the middle, becomes first light, then dark and then towards the tip turns into a tight pattern, somewhat like Indian crystalline wootz, with areas of different colouring all along. Either the swordsmith did not know what he was doing or was not interested in making a consistent pattern in the first place.
It is not what I was expecting when purchasing the sword, but it is rather interesting and growing on me. I will probably still try to selectively etch the areas of the blade under the languets to give a bit more of a constistent look, but then leave it as it is.

Has anyone who does restoration work himself run into the same etching problem as me? I must make some really basic mistake, since I have read all I could find about the process and it seems I am the only one who produces this particular flaw.


Cheers

Gernot
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