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Old 19th July 2016, 03:45 PM   #1
GePi
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Default strange shamshir for comment and advice on restoration

Hello all,
I recently impulse-bought this shamshir on Ebay for probably too much money, and now I don't quite know what to make of it.

The seller classified it as Afghan, due to the thick blade, multi-fullering and the punched out circles at the forte, some of which have residual inlays of yellow metal. The blade shows a stripey wootz pattern in some areas. At the base of the spine there seems to be a repaired delamination crack.

Now the hilt is where it gets weird.

The handguard is glued solidly to the tang without any movement. On one side the guard seems to have been repaired. I think the guard is actually made of a very fine grained crystalline wootz, but I don't know if that comes out in the photos.

There are 2 handle scales on each side, the upper ones look like walrus ivory I think. The lower ones are not symmetrical. One could be black horn I think, the other rather looks like wood and has a wide crack filled with adhesive, which covers the upper languet (?).

I knew that the handle scales and pommel cap were loose, when I bid on the sword, planning to have it professionally restored. What I didn't realize is that more than half of the tangband is broken off, and the handle scales are not
glued to the tang at all, so you can actually look inside the hilt.

It seems the tang was broken off at one point and a thinner tang was welded laterally to the original one. This secondary tang is bent to one side, so that one of the handle scales sticks out at an angle, the lower rivet on this scale is of course cut off, the lower rivet on the other side is lost.
The last strange thing is that the welded on tang is actually too long, because the pommel cap, which is riveted to it, doesn't actually cover the upper part of the handle scales at all.

So I'm at a loss as to what I actually have before me now. Some hack repair attempt gone awry? A composite? The way it is barely holding together now, even with the second tang unbent, would still not be a functional assembly as I see it.

Secondly is there any hope of fixing this, and if so, can you recommend an experienced restorer, whom I could approach for this task?


I eagerly await any insights and advice you can offer


Kind regards

Gernot
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Old 19th July 2016, 04:20 PM   #2
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This project looks like a real basket case to me!

I do not think it's possible to execute a sympathetic restoration. Your time involvement will build incrementally to the point where you'll have more "sweat equity" invested in it than it may be worth.

I would carefully disassemble it completely. Study each piece carefully and decide whether it can be fixed or discarded and replaced.

Once all of the small bits have been organized and planned, I would tackle the tang first. Without it being properly repaired, it would be difficult to proceed any further.

Refit the bits to the tang but do your best to maintain patina.

Good luck.
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Old 19th July 2016, 04:28 PM   #3
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Hello,

The blade might be wootz but the delamination and the pattern in your photo seems to indicate more towards pattern welded.

I think the original scales were walrus ivory, but then when the tang broke, the scales broke off as well and only some parts were recovered, while the lost parts were crudely replaced with horn or whatever it is. But this is only my opinion.

Now if I were you, I would try to have it restored and have some new bone scales installed. But should check the material of the blade first, to make sure it is worth it.

You should be able to tell whether the blade is of wootz or it is pattern welded by examinng it with a magnifying glass or trying some local polishing and etching.

Regards,

Marius

PS: I wouldn't try this myself and let a somebody skilled to do the restauration. Unfortunately, the only person I know doing this kind of work is based in the UK and you don't want to add shipping and taxation to what you may have to pay for the repairs.

Last edited by mariusgmioc : 19th July 2016 at 04:59 PM.
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Old 19th July 2016, 04:51 PM   #4
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As always hard to judge from photos, but what you have looks like a beat up but fairly standard shamshir. Riveting a stub tang to a flat plate with the profile of the hilt is the normal construction for these. Two piece grip scales are not unknown either. It all depends on what you paid for it.
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Old 19th July 2016, 06:00 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shakethetrees
This project looks like a real basket case to me!


I agree, and I don't really plan to do any work on this myself, both because I lack the skills but also because I think there is some potential in this piece.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
Hello,

The blade might be wootz but the delamination and the pattern in your photo seems to indicate more towards pattern welded.

I think the original scales were walrus ivory, but then when the tang broke, the scales broke off as well and only some parts were recovered, while the lost parts were crudely replaced with horn or whatever it is. But this is only my opinion.

Now if I were you, I would try to have it restored and have some new bone scales installed. But should check the material of the blade first, to make sure it is worth it.

You should be able to tell whether the blade is of wootz or it is pattern welded by examinng it with a magnifying glass or trying some local polishing and etching.


The pattern is actually quite tricky to photograph, I tried to take better pictures. I think it rather looks like a wootz pattern, but I am not 100% sure. The blade is actually etched, it is just a rather low contrast pattern that is wiped off in most areas.

Quote:
Originally Posted by David R
Riveting a stub tang to a flat plate with the profile of the hilt is the normal construction for these.


That's really interesting. I have only seen one dehilted shamshir blade in M. Khorasani's book and I was sure the tang was a solid piece, but I looked it up just now and you cannot really tell, because there is no close up.
Also browsing through the catalogue there were many shamshir handles on which the pommel caps didn't cover the handle scales, but there is a noticeable gap filled up with adhesive. So this could be the original hilt assembly after all.
This begs the question of why is there no trace of adhesive above the guard?
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Old 19th July 2016, 08:01 PM   #6
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While this may indeed be a 'basket case', as more historian than 'collector' or connoisseur, I always admire these battered old cases as old warriors who are in my opinion well worthy of restorative attention .

In my view, items should be 'stabilized' with as much use or repair of existing components as feasible. The damage and age found in these kinds of weapons to me stand as 'history' and literally untouched much in the sense of archaeologic discoveries. Perhaps a 'romantic' view admittedly, but I think profoundly valid.

This appears to me to potentially a Persian shamshir which found use in the volatile frontiers of Afghanistan and India's northwest frontiers in the latter 19th century. The unusual lanyard ring on the pommel as well as the four dot devices emplaced in the blade are what suggests this to me.

Not only worthy of necessary restoration, but continued research, as well exemplified by one of our long esteemed members who made a long running thread very much a group effort as he restored a 'basket case tulwar' from these regions.

I always think of Philip Tom for the restoration and authentic stabilization of these kinds of weapons.

There is history here, and that is not measured monetarily.
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Old 19th July 2016, 09:00 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
While this may indeed be a 'basket case', as more historian than 'collector' or connoisseur, I always admire these battered old cases as old warriors who are in my opinion well worthy of restorative attention .

In my view, items should be 'stabilized' with as much use or repair of existing components as feasible. The damage and age found in these kinds of weapons to me stand as 'history' and literally untouched much in the sense of archaeologic discoveries. Perhaps a 'romantic' view admittedly, but I think profoundly valid.

This appears to me to potentially a Persian shamshir which found use in the volatile frontiers of Afghanistan and India's northwest frontiers in the latter 19th century. The unusual lanyard ring on the pommel as well as the four dot devices emplaced in the blade are what suggests this to me.

Not only worthy of necessary restoration, but continued research, as well exemplified by one of our long esteemed members who made a long running thread very much a group effort as he restored a 'basket case tulwar' from these regions.

I always think of Philip Tom for the restoration and authentic stabilization of these kinds of weapons.

There is history here, and that is not measured monetarily.


Hi Jim, your comments are like a breath of fresh air which I would entirely endorse, well said.
Regards
Miguel
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Old 19th July 2016, 09:19 PM   #8
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After seeing the last photos, I am more convinced it is pattern welded, but very fine structure, somehow similar to the Hada on Japanese swords.

A very good blade!

Last edited by mariusgmioc : 19th July 2016 at 09:51 PM.
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Old 19th July 2016, 09:52 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miguel
Hi Jim, your comments are like a breath of fresh air which I would entirely endorse, well said.
Regards
Miguel


Thank you very much Miguel!

Mariusgmioc, it is a very good blade, which is why I suggested Philip, who is a master with these kinds of blades and refinishing, and well known in our community.
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Old 20th July 2016, 05:02 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Thank you very much Miguel!

Mariusgmioc, it is a very good blade, which is why I suggested Philip, who is a master with these kinds of blades and refinishing, and well known in our community.



Thanks for you comment Jim, you captured my feelings on this issue really well. This sword somehow really speaks to me, and though I wouldn't say cost is no issue at all, I do not see this as a financial investment.

I'd love to ask peter, since I've seen some examples of of his work. But this issue http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=21422 makes me a little hesitant to ship to the US. I've received some other suggestions per private message, which I think I will try first.
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Old 20th July 2016, 09:56 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GePi
Thanks for you comment Jim, you captured my feelings on this issue really well. This sword somehow really speaks to me, and though I wouldn't say cost is no issue at all, I do not see this as a financial investment.

I'd love to ask peter, since I've seen some examples of of his work. But this issue http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=21422 makes me a little hesitant to ship to the US. I've received some other suggestions per private message, which I think I will try first.


The hilt seems made partially from rhinohorn and maybe walrus, so you should make the restoration in Germany!

I have made very well experiences with a professional restorer in Olbernhau (not me!). He restored my Yatagan perfectly.


Roland
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Old 20th July 2016, 01:03 PM   #12
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Just a suggestion, but could it be a blade from a tulwar modified with a shamshir style hilt to make it saleable in the Arab market?
Regards
Richard
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Old 20th July 2016, 01:27 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard G
Just a suggestion, but could it be a blade from a tulwar modified with a shamshir style hilt to make it saleable in the Arab market?
Regards
Richard



A good idea.
I think this blade is from early to mid 19th century. Persian blades of this period were normally more massive. More like a Kilij or the british 1796 light cavalry pattern than this blade.
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Old 20th July 2016, 02:00 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard G
Just a suggestion, but could it be a blade from a tulwar modified with a shamshir style hilt to make it saleable in the Arab market?
Regards
Richard


I might be wrong but to me this blade IS clearly a shamshir with a shamshir hilt. So it is a shamshir both, bladewise and hiltwise.

In my view, the characteristic Tulwar blade has less curvature and is wider than the shamshir blade.
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Old 20th July 2016, 02:10 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
I might be wrong but to me this blade IS clearly a shamshir with a shamshir hilt. So it is a shamshir both, bladewise and hiltwise.

In my view, the characteristic Tulwar blade has less curvature and is wider than the shamshir blade.


Agree. Looks like a 'north' Indian made shamshir blade. Yes these can be found on Arab swords but this one does not have Arab dress.
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Old 20th July 2016, 04:19 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland_M
The hilt seems made partially from rhinohorn and maybe walrus, so you should make the restoration in Germany!

I have made very well experiences with a professional restorer in Olbernhau (not me!). He restored my Yatagan perfectly.


Roland


Thanks for the reply, I sent you a PM.

As for the tulwar vs. shamshir debate, that may well be, I've seen lots of shamshir blades mounted on tulwar hilts, but the tang on this sword is actually still pretty long, the exposed part is already close to 8 cm, and the tangs of tulwar blades I have seen so far have been a lot shorter.

Intestingly the sword feels quite hefty in the hand. The balance point is down about a third of the length of the blade and the spine is quite thick with about 6 mm until very close to the tip. So I was quite suprised when it weighed in at only 750 grams.
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Old 20th July 2016, 04:24 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland_M
The hilt seems made partially from rhinohorn and maybe walrus, so you should make the restoration in Germany!

I have made very well experiences with a professional restorer in Olbernhau (not me!). He restored my Yatagan perfectly.


Hello GePi,

the upper scales are for sure walrus ivory, what are used by the lower parts I can't say from your pictures. The restoration will be a challenge but is possible and IMHO worth the effort. Maybe contact Roland, I've seen the yat restoration, very good. An other option will be a restorer you can find here: http://www.bfn.de/0305_sachverstaen...oller%5D=Expert

Best regards,
Detlef
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Old 20th July 2016, 07:41 PM   #18
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The ring on the side of the pommel cap reminds me of something. I think if you search the forum you will find it diagnostic of it's origin.
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Old 21st July 2016, 01:47 AM   #19
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You mean the Baloch or Sindhi ones we have discussed recently?
That was exactly what I thought the moment I saw the very first pic:-)))))
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Old 21st July 2016, 05:00 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
You mean the Baloch or Sindhi ones we have discussed recently?
That was exactly what I thought the moment I saw the very first pic:-)))))


Interesting, though the rings of these hilts are attached differently, they are all pierced completely through the pommel cap, while the ring on my sword is laterally hinged to a rivet through the cap. I've done a cursory google search and I did not find a similar example so far.
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