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Old 21st January 2018, 01:57 PM   #1
fernando
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Default Some 'aggressive' tool for ID

I have this compulsive habit in that, when visiting local flea markets (and not only) i find nothing that fits my hobby, i open an exception for alliens to fit in. I don't even know where i am going to store this one.
I bet some of you guys have already seen this or similar things out there, while for me this is the first time i saw one.
Certainly not a scythe; its working approach is completey different. It has no angle or length to function at ground level and its design calls for a different movement; instead of swinging it suggests a push & pull (saw) action, to operate at a standing up level.
Wuih 100 cms total length, a thickness of over 6 mm. and a 1600 grams weight, it has a flat cross section, with a sharp edge along its teeth and a back edge in its last 20 mm, forming a sword like point. So it doesn't only 'saw', but also 'perforates'.
It should have some age, with worm holes in both handles; i would die in despair if otherwise
The seller said he brings all his stuff from Switzerland, but it doesn't mean this device is Swiss ... most certainly not; its paraphernalia included a Columbia horse saddle.
Anyone care to enlighten me on this one ... please ?


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Old 21st January 2018, 02:19 PM   #2
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Old 21st January 2018, 05:28 PM   #3
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Yep.
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Old 22nd January 2018, 02:38 AM   #4
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Yes, hayknife. V good steel in them usually!
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Old 22nd January 2018, 12:56 PM   #5
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Thank you so much, Gentlemen.
Rick, you took 22 minutes to empty my dream in that this device had a more thrilling purpose ... serrated edge, spear point and all .
So' hay knife' were the key words; i went browsing with them and found tons of information on these things ... as if they were not an American invention, despite some misinformed sources pretending that they have a British origin.
I take it that this specific specimen also came from America. So far and after an exhaustive search i didn't even know how to translate their name to my lingo, let alone their apparent no use in my neck of the woods.
However among the various variants published out there this very (hopefuly old) one has a particular difference ... or two: The front grip stem does not result from a bifurcation split from the blade main arm but is cut in sharp angles. Also and more atypical is that such front grip arm bends towards the opposite direction from all the ones i have seen so far; could it be that this is a left hander option ?.
Don't you guys pay much attention, i am just letting go my disillusion steam.


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Old 22nd January 2018, 01:13 PM   #6
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Fernando,

In England we used a "Hay Spade" rather than a hay -knife.
A hay -spade had a more or less spade shaped working end, (the shape of a spade in cards (ace of Spades)) with a shaft off-set so one didn't cut off ones feet in use. It had a long "t" shaped handle on the top.
I used one quite a lot back home, but not for cutting hay-stacks!
Cutting packed manure in calf sheds, to cutting through the thick beds of reed roots growing in water courses, then dragging them to shore with a cromb, or bent -tined fork. all fun and tiring!
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Old 22nd January 2018, 02:35 PM   #7
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Thank you Richard,
I am not a member of the farming species, but i can imagine your fun in performing such exercises. Still in this case i ignore if there are equivalent tools over here.
But, speaking of (translating) names, i find the term 'spade' (pá) closer to the implement you describe, whereas calling 'knife' (faca) a three feet long thing ... go figure .
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Old 22nd January 2018, 09:54 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Thank you so much, Gentlemen.
Rick, you took 22 minutes to empty my dream in that this device had a more thrilling purpose ... serrated edge, spear point and all .
So' hay knife' were the key words; i went browsing with them and found tons of information on these things ... as if they were not an American invention, despite some misinformed sources pretending that they have a British origin.


Yankee Ingenuity Fernando.
I grew up on a farm that dated back to 1690.
There were lots of strange implements.
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Old 23rd January 2018, 09:50 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
... I grew up on a farm that dated back to 1690...

Surely a place with a significant history .
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Old 23rd January 2018, 03:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Surely a place with a significant history .


A little snip of history:

On April 19, 1775, 66 Dover Minutemen marched to fight along Battle Road under the command of Captain Ebenezer Battelle.

Elias Haven had been at work harrowing a field on the Chickering farm (still operating at 56 Haven Street) that morning. According to tradition he left his harrow in the field to answer the call to arms, and "was [later] shot down while standing beside his brother-in-law,
Aaron Whiting, at a corner of the Arlington meeting-house and is buried near the spot."

He was the only Dedham man killed that day. The harrow he abandoned is now in the Fisher Barn.
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Old 23rd January 2018, 05:48 PM   #11
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Musta been a harrowing experience for Elias...
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Old 24th January 2018, 10:31 AM   #12
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I wonder whether they keep hay knives at Fisher Barn, or only earlier tools.
During Elias Haven days such implement was yet to be invented.
However the local minutemen training camp still existed in 1910.


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Old 24th January 2018, 10:55 AM   #13
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For completeness, Not Dover, De, NH, Pa, NJ, Or Dover, UK but
Dover, MA, USA - barn was re-erected & tools moved back to it.
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Old 24th January 2018, 06:50 PM   #14
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“He that would make a pun would pick a pocket.”

Stephen Maturin
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Old 24th January 2018, 07:56 PM   #15
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peter piper picked a peck of pickled pockets, how many pickled pockets did peter piper pick? I suspect he used a hay saw.
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Old 24th January 2018, 08:05 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
“He that would make a pun would pick a pocket.”

Stephen Maturin


Look the French version ...

" Qui vole un oeuf vole un boeuf "
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Old 25th January 2018, 03:20 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
I wonder whether they keep hay knives at Fisher Barn, or only earlier tools.
During Elias Haven days such implement was yet to be invented.
However the local minutemen training camp still existed in 1910.


I have two immense hand turned wood cider press screws from the mill at Chickering Farm in my basement here on the Cape. There was a harrow at the farm made entirely of wood, teeth and all.
The place was a time capsule.

I never visited the Fisher Barn.
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Old 25th January 2018, 08:31 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Look the French version ...

" Qui vole un oeuf vole un boeuf "


Hang the thief! Obviously a vicious sociopath! next thing he will be asking for more porridge!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbdNgbCOq_s
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Old 25th January 2018, 10:43 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
I have two immense hand turned wood cider press screws from the mill at Chickering Farm in my basement here on the Cape...

Most interesting; and eventually the kind of things you can't collect and keep in a 1st floor apartment ...
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Old 25th January 2018, 02:58 PM   #20
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I was hoping to use them as an interior feature in one of the houses I have built here, but I just couldn't find a way to do that, so they rest in the cellar.
Maybe my boy can find a use for them.
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Old 26th January 2018, 03:54 PM   #21
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My neighborhood fellow collector has one of these things, but sturdier and with a wider thread pitch; for wine or olive oil, i don't remember ... but certainly not for cider. He decided to transform his large house basement divisions and removed the screw from its original old press apparatus. I don't know what will happen to it.
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Old 14th February 2018, 01:51 AM   #22
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I don't know if it can help, Fernando, but in French hay knives are called "coupe-foin", hay-cutters. And the one you have there is refered to in catalogs as "coupe-foin américain", as there were traditional patterns that looked like spades. I've posted pictures of scans of toolmakers catalogs from around the 20's, showing both the "coupe-foin américain", other traditionnal French patterns of coupe-foins, and various other tools, including "coupe-marc" and "taille-pré" that are sometimes sold as medieval halberds or vouges for many hundreds of dollars/euros. Though it's still relatively rare, you can buy them in flee markets and garage sells for 40-120€
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Old 14th February 2018, 05:56 AM   #23
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Those coup-foin have quite a few variants that look like, with long handles, would make nasty weapons for peasant infantry levies. much like the english bill was used by the english infantry. I seem to recall one of the No. 1883 ones being sold as a heart shaped 'Halberd' on a well known auction site.
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Old 14th February 2018, 09:38 AM   #24
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Yes, it's relatively frequent to see agricultural or woodworking tools sold as weapons on auction sites, but also in legitimate auctions, and even displayed as such in museums. Not only is there a deep ignorance about tools, but there even is a will not to know anymore. Most often, the tools sold/displayed have typical 19th century features like maker stamps and such, which would immediately give them away to any even mildly experienced tool collector enthusiast.

Now about the fact that some tools could be used as weapon: sure! But as I just wrote, many of these tools are from the 19th century, or even early 20th, so these specific ones have a near zero chance to have ever been used in a military context. In some local riots, to let your neighbour know that he had his cattle grazing into your meadow one time too many, or to teach a lesson to that guy who kissed your girlfriend at patron saint ball, yes, surely.

But as the "peasants" using them did not really care about them that much (they wouldn't have wanted to lose it or have it stolen, but if it broke or they knew they wouldn't have any more use of it, they could have it recycled in a hammer, a plowshare, whatever), and because historians, archeologists and curators almost don't care about tools, and their collecting value is much lower than that of weapons (while they need as much maintenance and care), there really is a difficulty to try to reconstruct the evolution of some specific kind of tools. The coupe-foin, coupe-marc and taille-pré are among those tools we have no clue if they even existed in the 18th century, for example, or what shape they were, etc... There may be some surviving specimens somewhere, in some private collection, or hung to a wall. The trouble is the scarcity of the data, how few people are interested in collecting it, and how scattered the knowledge is. Peasant life left very very few traces in iconography and literature.

Recently, I was thrilled because I have found a picture of a very well preserved 11th century capital, showing two peasants fighting each other with a billhook, for a period we have near zero iconography, and which specimens are completely overlooked by archeological research. We know relatively well what Roman era billhooks looked like, simply because the period raises much interest and despite the archeologists' lack of interest for tools, they still include them in their reports among the various metallic (s)crap they find. We of course have catalogs from the early 20th century, and many surviving examples from the 19th century, some of the 18th and 17th, but very few data in between (except when it comes to vine cultivation, as it was seen as something of interest by the ruling/educated class). So this capital was rather exceptional, especially in this mind-boggling state of preservation (it had been re-used in the building of a wall, sculpted face facing inward, and this is what preserved it).

Also, a picture of the only coupe-marc I have. Overall head length 55cm, blade lenght 41cm, blade width 11.5cm, and average blade thickness varies along the lenght, but starts at around 5mm if you exclude the transitional zone with the socket, and the weight of the head is a tad under 2kg. I would say it's a bit too heavy to make a good poleweapon, and it lacks a thrusting point, but if nothing else was available, it surely would be more than enough to split someone's head to the teeth without even forcing. Oh, just to make it clear: the edge is on the convex side of the blade, the concave side is the spine.
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Old 14th February 2018, 11:25 AM   #25
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Merci Geoffroy, for the complementary info, the catalogue pages ... and the picture of that magnificent capital. If you were to make a joke about tools serving as weapons, or vice versa, you would say that those two guys are about to trim eachothers beards .
Now, coupe-foin sounds more like it in my idiom; it would translate as corta-feno, although i find no tool with such name over here. Amazing that although my example looks fully American, the first time i see one with the center handle towards the right, like mine, is French nº 364 in F. BRET catalogue.
Gathering things like this hay knife is result of giving full attention to unusual old tools in flea markets, in order not to let go specimens that have eventually served as weapons, under this or that circumstance. I too had an interesting coupe-marc discussed HERE, which i ended up passing it over to a friend who also likes to gather interesting tools, even knowing they are not weapons. Perhaps the tool i currently have more close to being a weapon is THIS ONE
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Old 14th February 2018, 12:06 PM   #26
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I have two or three coupe-foins américains, I'll check in what side is the front handle. I don't think it's very significant though, as precisely the coupe-foin américain should be held with the rear handle in the right hand, while the coupe-foin du Centre, for the exact same function, should be held rear handle in the left hand, even in its standard pattern, always designed for right-handed people. Maybe the one you have was made for a left-handed user, but maybe not. It's hard to tell...

But the "Lightning" hay knife can be dated quite precisely, as it's an actual invention and not a traditional pattern, and was patented by George Weymouth of Dresden (somewhere in the USA I guess, not the real Dresden) in 1871. So there is no chance that any of these was ever used for combat.

But that socketed thing you have seems quite interesting. It could have been designed as a weapon, but could also have been a tool. I know of no similar tool in France, but there are sometimes very specialised tools we rarely come across. Anyway, it's always a good thing to grab unusual old tools, when they're cheap. So many probably ends up scrapped.
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Old 14th February 2018, 01:08 PM   #27
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The type of hay -knife I used as a lad, looked closest to N0 1883. (Heart shaped, ) These would be about 16 " wide at the top of the 'heart'. (40 CM)

One point if I may;
Some working tools will show up with (for example) British War Department broad arrows on them.
Some may take this as evidence that they were used as weapons.
No, this is a false conclusion usually.
What it usually means, is that the tool, (a billhook for instance) was part of the kit for most infantry or gun sections, for cutting brush and/for camouflage work.
I still have a1916 WD Billhook that grandfather probably purchased as Army Surplus between the wars. Still use it a lot as well! It Would make a rather devastating weapon, but such was not its intended use.

We also have a 1917 dated draw-knife , broad arrow marked.
(This is my 'new' one. :-) My old one that has lived with our family for generations, was made between 1790 and 1811 if I remember correctly.
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Old 14th February 2018, 05:32 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Madnumforce
I have two or three coupe-foins américains, I'll check in what side is the front handle.... Maybe the one you have was made for a left-handed user, but maybe not. It's hard to tell...

Just considering that left handed implements tend to be rare, specially early ones, as being off standard they had to be ordered, making them unique. I am glad i have a XVI century left handed sword.
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Old 14th February 2018, 05:38 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pukka Bundook
... We also have a 1917 dated draw-knife , broad arrow marked.... (This is my 'new' one. :-) My old one that has lived with our family for generations, was made between 1790 and 1811 if I remember correctly...

Interesting to realize that, in line with the dual use of tools, you might as well "draw" someone's neck with such device; you just have to aproach him by the back .
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Old 14th February 2018, 07:08 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Interesting to realize that, in line with the dual use of tools, you might as well "draw" someone's neck with such device; you just have to aproach him by the back .



Talking about inside curve weapons, I've always wanted one of these: Fairbairn's 'Cobra'
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