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Old 14th January 2018, 11:56 PM   #1
Robert
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Default Luzon Camp Knife ?

As I have not posted anything new in quite a while now and because I have never seen another knife quite like this before I thought that it would be something interesting for discussion. Listed as being brought back from the Spanish American War Philippines the only way I could think to describe it would be as a camp knife from Luzon. It is a fairly heavily made piece measuring 12-1/2 inches in total length with a blade length of 7-1/4 inches, 5/16 of an inch think at the hilt and 2-1/4 inch at its widest point. The blade is still almost razor sharp and the knife retains its original embossed leather scabbard. The hilt which was covered in a layer of varnish when it arrived is made of sections of lighter and darker water buffalo horn separated by brass plates. The butt plate is unusual in that is made of darker horn instead of brass as one would expect and is topped with the double flattened brass beads. There is still some varnish evident on the blade that I missed until after I had taken these photos. As always any and all information or comments anyone would care to offer on this piece would be greatly appreciated.

Best,
Robert
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Old 15th January 2018, 08:02 AM   #2
Sajen
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Hello Robert,

what a beautiful and unusual knife, great score! And it's good to have the scabbard with it. Like you I never have seen something similar before and I am curious if someone will be able to tell you more as I am.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 15th January 2018, 04:10 PM   #3
Rafngard
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Wonderful knife!

I recently picked up a knife with a very similar constructed handle. No scabbard sadly. It was sold with a plain, but well made, much more typical (black horn hilt, brass fittings, initials stamped on the blade) luzon bolo. The seller thought they were WWII bring backs.

Thanks,
Leif
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Old 15th January 2018, 04:28 PM   #4
Ian
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Hi Robert:

Nice knife!

There are a few of these short, fat-bellied Luzon knives around, although they are certainly uncommon. I'm fairly sure this one is of Ilokano manufacture. The brass ferrules are fairly typical Ilokano work and the leather sheath, although non-specific in origin, is a common feature for Ilokano knives. Added to this is the sharply clipped blade, another common feature on Ilokano knives. The use of horn for a butt plate is not something you see very often on any Filipino knives.

This one looks to me that it is from the mid-20th C, plus or minus. The presence of varnish on the blade suggests it was a G.I. bring back. If so, it was probably made in the general area of Pangasinan down to Pampanga, targeting U.S. servicemen stationed in that area. Might have been a custom-made piece judging from the finish on it.

Ian.

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Old 20th January 2018, 01:22 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian

This one looks to me that it is from the mid-20th C, plus or minus.
Hi Ian,

I kindly disagree. The bolster construction and also the horn butt plate let me think that it is indeed from the Spanish American War. But like always I could be wrong.

Best regards,
Detlef

Last edited by Ian : 20th January 2018 at 02:26 PM.
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Old 20th January 2018, 02:49 PM   #6
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Hi Detlef:

The knife shown by Robert has a brass ferrule and guard that are separate from the blade, so no bolster present. Bolsters on Filipino knives are uncommon, and mostly on high end pieces IMHO.

The manner of construction of Robert's knife was certainly used during the Philippines Revolutionary War--in fact two iron ferrules around a horn grip (with or without a guard) was commonly seen then. However, the use of brass ferrules and guard, and particularly a multi-media grip, was seen more commonly later on Ilokano knives, and particularly post WWII when there was a lot of brass around from spent ammunition. Incidentally, the grip on Robert's knife has darker horn spacers surrounded by thin brass or aluminum (?) disks--if these are indeed aluminum, then that would also point to WWII or later manufacture because aluminum on Filipino knives came largely from downed airplanes until aluminum cans came along in the late 1950s. Prior to these sources, aluminum was scarce--essentially a precious metal in 1900.

Everything about Robert's knife says 1940s to 1960s to me. I like the well made hilt and the unusual blade. I do think it was a custom-made piece, especially with the horn inserts on the hilt. and the nice rounded cap to the end of the hilt. Often these were threaded and screwed over the end of the tang. Again, that feature was seen more commonly post-WWII.

Leif's knife is of similar age IMHO. The nut on the end of his hilt is the more familiar form of securing the grip to a threaded tang. It also has two brass ferrules and a multi-media grip, with a ring of red material that could be red corral but more likely plastic. Leif's seller may well be corect that his knife was a WWII bring back.

Ian.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sajen
Hi Ian,

I kindly disagree. The bolster construction and also the horn butt plate let me think that it is indeed from the Spanish American War. But like always I could be wrong.

Best regards,
Detlef

Last edited by Ian : 20th January 2018 at 03:05 PM.
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Old 20th January 2018, 04:08 PM   #7
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Hi Ian,

I have expressed myself maybe a little bit unclear, I've meant the small integral bolster with the guard, something I think to have seen by older pieces before. I think the plates between the horn sections are from brass as well like Robert stated in his description. I agree with your age guess by the dagger from Leif, I have a similar one, see picture.

Best regards,
Detlef
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Old 20th January 2018, 06:28 PM   #8
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Hi Detlef,

Yep, another nice example from the same period as Leif's knife. These knives are well made and the fitting of the components is often first class: blade to guard, brass ferrules to horn grip, etc. I think these are very collectable knives and it's not surprising that U.S. servicemen brought them home from the Philippines.

Ian
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Old 20th January 2018, 08:17 PM   #9
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My thanks to everyone who have commented and given information and their opinions on this rather unusual knife. In my original description I did state that the spacer plates between the horn sections of the hilt were made of brass I should also have mentioned that this piece does indeed have an integral brass bolster and guard. The use of multi sectional hilts was a common Spanish style at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries and can seen on many knives, swords and daggers made both before during and after that period. When searching for information on the subject I was been able to find that brass was in good supply in the Philippines both before and after the Spanish American War. It was acquired through trade with other countries as well as from the Spanish themselves. This supply grew even larger during WWII and also supplied the locals (even though small amounts were available in the early 1900's) quite a large amount of aluminum as well. I like Ian believe that is a custom made prestige piece and was most likely commissioned by someone of means who would have used it as a dress piece to communicate the owners status in the local community. I used the term "camp knife" to describe this piece because the blade style reminded me of other knives I had seen with similar deep bellied blades described as such. I am now starting to wonder if this is indeed an Ilokano piece though as I have been reminded by Lorenz that Ilocano knives, swords and bolos are distinguished by have a 'hump' somewhere along the blades spine usually towards the center and this piece is missing that particular trait. That is unless the hump where the clipped point starts could be counted as one. Putting together everything about this knife with its overall styling and craftsmanship I still tend to believe that it is of an earlier age and would date to the late 19th or early 20th century as the original owner stated in their description. This of course is JMHO and it would not be the first time I was incorrect in dating an item. The knife shown by Leif does incorporate a similar multi material hilt, but again this is an old style seen not only on many earlier pieces (some that I have seen dated to the mid 19th century), but on later pieces such as the one Leif has shown as well. The reddish colored spacer seen in Leif's photo of the hilt is most likely made of micarta which has been used in electrical applications sense the early 1900's and would have been readily available from some of the military equipment of WWII. I also agree with the age stated in his description. Again, my thanks to everyone that have made comments and supplied information and opinions on this knife so far and I look forward to hearing more on this interesting piece the coming days.

Best,
Robert

Last edited by Robert : 20th January 2018 at 08:41 PM.
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Old 22nd January 2018, 08:22 AM   #10
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Quote:
Everything about Robert's knife says 1940s to 1960s to me. I like the well made hilt and the unusual blade. I do think it was a custom-made piece, especially with the horn inserts on the hilt. and the nice rounded cap to the end of the hilt. Often these were threaded and screwed over the end of the tang. Again, that feature was seen more commonly post-WWII.


This was one final point I meant, but forgot to address in my last reply. The brass finial at the end of the tang is not threaded nor does it screw onto the tang, but is fitted over what I believe to be a tapered square tang and peened into position securing the hilt firmly to the blade. Having had to remove the hilts from multiple Philippine transitional knives and daggers to repair damage usually caused by either age shrinkage or rust build-up on the tangs themselves, all so far have had square tangs. As I mentioned above the guard/bolster is not separate, but integral to the blade. I now realize that all information concerning the overall construction and fitment of the hilt should have been addressed in my original description instead of only describing the materials used in its make-up. My apologies for any difficulties this error has caused to those whos help and advice was offered on this knife.

Best,
Robert
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Old 22nd January 2018, 06:05 PM   #11
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Hi Robert,

Lots of things to discuss about this unusual knife. Unfortunately, I'm pressed for time today and will have to get back to you later. Thanks for taking the time to reply to my comments in such detail.

There is another current thread about minerals in the Philippines that relates to this one also, and I will try to post something there as well.

Ian.
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