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Old 25th November 2017, 02:20 PM   #1
RobertGuy
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Default Indo Persian Shamshir

Another addition to my collection. This one purchased at auction. It was described as a scimitar, I hope I am right to call it a shamshir.

Catalogue description:
Early 19th c Indo Persian Scimitar, 31 inch single edged, curved, watered Damascus steel blade. Steel disk ended cross-guard with double langets. Polished wooden grips with inlaid star and stud decoration. Silvered disk decorated slab overlays leading to the silvered floral decorated cap pommel. Base of grip with twist silvered wire binding.

My Stats:
Weight, sword: 1lb 10.5oz (0.75kg)
Length overall: 36'' (91.5cm) Blade: 31'' (79cm) measured across the arc of the blade.
POB: 8'' (20cm) from middle of cross-guard
Profile taper: 1.23'' (31.4mm) at ricasso, 1.08'' (27.4mm)at mid blade, 0.58'' (14.7mm) 2 inches from tip.
Distal taper 0.21'' 5.3mm) at ricasso, 0.15'' (4mm)at mid blade,. 0.09'' (2.2mm) 2 inches from tip.

Hilt missing some of the stud and star decorative inlays and two of the silver rosettes. Metal appears to be silver or an alloy thereof, not silver plate.
I think the description "watered Damascus steel" is a bit poetic. I wouldn't know wootz if it bit me but I feel fairly confident to describe this as mechanical damascus or pattern welded steel. I have used a weak solution of ferric chloride to bring out the pattern. The early 19th-century date may also be a bit optimistic, I would think late 19th, early 20th century.
Anyway please feel free to chime in, I welcome any and all suggestions/comments, particularly as regards terminology, origin and date.
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Old 28th November 2017, 07:59 PM   #2
estcrh
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The hilt could be Sryian or of Arab / Bedouin origin. The blade appears to be a ribbon type mechanical pattern welded steel and not watered / damascus steel.
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Old 28th November 2017, 08:25 PM   #3
mariusgmioc
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Quote:
Originally Posted by estcrh
The blade appears to be a ribbon type mechanical pattern welded steel and not watered / damascus steel.


Or even simulated pattern welded as I have seen this on a few other examples.
Hard to say from the photos.
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Old 28th November 2017, 08:26 PM   #4
kronckew
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Quote:
Originally Posted by estcrh
The hilt could be Sryian or of Arab / Bedouin origin. The blade appears to be a ribbon type mechanical pattern welded steel and not watered / damascus steel.


The term 'Damascus' steel has been corrupted to cover the pattern welded steel made by mechanically welding layers of different carbon content steels and twisting and folding them into eye catching patterns. the swords that come out of syria now are pattern welded. sometimes they even cheat and put an acid etched 'pattern' on a cheap mono steel blade.

the old proper watered steel is wootz, a crucible steel, the pattern is inherent in the steel itself and take skill to forge it as slightly too hot and you lose the pattern, too cold and you can't work it. new real wootz is essentially unavailable, the art of making and working it lost as well. damascus stopped using it a very long time ago. modern monosteels are better for weapons in either case, but they don't look so good. search on wootz for more info (try also bulat as that's a russian version of wootz...)
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Old 29th November 2017, 06:58 AM   #5
Tatyana Dianova
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From the photos the blade looks like unproperly etched Wootz...
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Old 29th November 2017, 07:16 AM   #6
estcrh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
The term 'Damascus' steel has been corrupted to cover the pattern welded steel made by mechanically welding layers of different carbon content steels and twisting and folding them into eye catching patterns.

I totally agree, the term "damascus" should only be applied to authentic wootz / watered crucible steel.....any pattern welded steel should not be described as "damascus", this tends to confuse people....either true damascus or pattern welded. For example....Turkish ribbon of often described as being "damascus" when in fact it is a type of pattern welded steel.
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Old 29th November 2017, 09:50 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by estcrh
I totally agree, the term "damascus" should only be applied to authentic wootz / watered crucible steel.....any pattern welded steel should not be described as "damascus", this tends to confuse people....either true damascus or pattern welded. For example....Turkish ribbon of often described as being "damascus" when in fact it is a type of pattern welded steel.



One explanation for "damascus steel" is that this famous steel has been traded in Damascus.
If this is true, "damasucs" probably means both, laminated and crucible steel.

Next point, if someone claims, that wootz is better material for blades than laminated steel, thats simply wrong! The major advantage of wootz is imho his higher resistance against corrosion.

We simply do not know what "damasucs" truly means.

One of the oldest detailed source of damascus steel ist Lord Egerton of Tatton with his very important book (end of 19. ct.), he lived centurys after damascus steel was produced.

Another point is, that the old boys had a tendency to make a huge secret of their ways of making blades.

At least until the beginnig of the 19th ct. Europeans were unable to see the difference between laminated and Indian/Oriental crucible steel (Antonio Crivelli). This is imho the reason, why "watered steel" means both, wootz and folded steel.


Roland

Last edited by Roland_M : 29th November 2017 at 10:46 AM.
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Old 29th November 2017, 12:14 PM   #8
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Thank you all for the comments. I was sure that this was not wootz but I do have some experience of pattern welded blades and I think this is one. I do not think it is simply a decorative pattern on mono steel as my applying an etchant would have destroyed that rather than enhancing the pattern as it did. I take the point about the misuse of the term Damascus but in my defense it does seem to be in common use these days and I did try to indicate a difference by calling it "mechanical Damascus"

There is a current thread

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=23381,

which shows a vastly superior true wootz blade which makes me very envious . (only green icon I could find ) It did cause me to look again at the hilts which appear very similar. Does this give any indication of age? Or have these hilts been fairly standard for a long period of time? What I am really asking is would it be correct to label my sword as a Syrian shamshir dating to early 18th century or is it likely to be later?
I have included some more photos which may help including on of the hilt before a spot of light cleaning.
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Old 29th November 2017, 08:33 PM   #9
Bryce
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G'day Robert,

Attached are a couple of photos of the hilt of my sword. They are almost identical in style. I think the brass rosettes on my sword must be later replacements. I don't know if my hilt is original to the blade or it has been remounted at some stage?

Cheers,
Bryce
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