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cornelistromp 23rd January 2017 05:55 PM

VOC Hanger 1761 Amsterdam
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This voc cutlass was in my collection nevertheless I sold it.
at that time I drew a clear boundary at 1600.

for rare weapons I'd like to make an exception.

Now happy it found its way back to my collection :)

I'm looking for images of original voc cutlasses, so no reproduction pictures.

are there members who have some and can post it here ?

thanks + regards

Jim McDougall 24th January 2017 04:36 AM

A great topic Jasper!
These VOC markings have always intrigued me, and finding these hangers/cutlasses intact seems a challenge as so many of these blades found their way into all manner of ethnographic weapons in the 'East Indies'.
This sword you have is one of the 'classic' examples I have only seen photos of, WOW!
I am curious on the year marking invariably placed on these blades below the VOC and chamber (there were 6) letter mark. As with yours the 'A' is of course for Amsterdam, with others being Middelburg; Hoorn; Enkhuizen; Delft and Rotterdam (the R below the VOC rather than above).

I am wondering just when the VOC started this convention of year marking and why. Also, is it true that these blades were almost invariably produced in Solingen and assembled in Koln for the VOC?
Rather than being issued to sailors and troops, I have understood these were made available for purchase.
I have seen one identical to yours with blade date 1794, the latest date I have seen...the company technically dissolved 1799 I believe.

Just reviewing notes and would be grateful for your insight re: these swords.
I join you in hoping others out there will share their VOC swords and perhaps the various remountings of these blades.

Thanks very much,

cornelistromp 24th January 2017 07:39 AM

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Hi Jim,

yes a lot of questions not only by you :)

a few things we know ;

I have four statements that may be considered personal assumption.

statement 1:
these type of hanger is used by sailors and troops and were no gifts or processional weapons !
see picture from Blanke wapens /Puype, a sailor of the regiment Fourgeaud 1772-79 in Suriname wearing a hanger of this type. btw I'm ashamed of the dutch colonial past.

JP puype held a lecture in the 70ties on the topic "From boating and fight -. Tactics and weapons in the sea battle during the third quarter of the 17th century. "
The bladed weapons are of interest to our argument, since around the middle of the 17th century, first types were developed and intended specifically for the sea service. Those were enteric cutters, which in large quantities were ordered by the admiralties. A "houwer" was a sword with a short, relatively heavy blade designed to cut and less for stabbing. Often the hand guard was bulky and could e.g. consist of a large, convex plate.

statement 2:
this type of seaservice hanger is a development of the dussage and has been used over a long period of time. 1600-1800

statement 3:
the blades were imported from Solingen and other production cities and assembled in the Netherlands.

statement 4:
loose blades were carried as cargo on the ships and were used in the colonies as spare parts, where they occasionally were given a local hilt.


Jim McDougall 24th January 2017 05:12 PM

Thank you so much for these answers Jasper.
BTW, no need for concerns over the often unfortunate circumstances that actually seem typical in virtually all colonial or other conquering situations throughout history. Such things are an inherently ugly business, but it is best to remain objective as we examine weapons and material matters,

The idea that individuals 'purchased' their own weapons was read somewhere passim, and it is maddening when I don't record the source in my notes! Perhaps it is that the VOC was of course a private concern, and possibly such equipment was deducted from pay.

I had read that the blades were Solingen products, and it makes sense that they were assembled at their respective chambers. That would account for the supply of blades which were carried aboard ships, for trade as well as probably repair purposes.
* but why the year? was this administrative? certainly not commemorative as these run from 1740s into 90s.

The dusagge was certainly a versatile weapon and served well on vessels as well as a hanger for infantry forces. Those well shell guard were of course well known in pirate lore, and often colloquially termed 'shells' in that case.

cornelistromp 24th January 2017 05:46 PM

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Amsterdam VOC 1685 and two ex Visser collection

Jim McDougall 24th January 2017 07:10 PM

Thanks Jasper,
The 1685 is by far the earliest year I have seen on these.
It seems the most predominant is the majuscule A with the drop down V center bar, and it seems the most structured letter. The character and strength of the VOC seems to vary from thinly scribed to heavy with sometimes somewhat irregular lines. .
Naturally this is Amsterdam, by far the major center and chamber, and I always wonder why the usual city stamp marks used on other blades does not occur. Is this because the company was outside the auspices of the usual guild or local controls ?

Also,the other chamber letters seem typically irregular, and not with the structured character of the Amsterdam A. I have understood the R for Rotterdam is situated below the VOC device rather than over as in the other letter markings.

I had heard also of a 'Z' marking for Zeeland, anything to that?

Great examples!!! Thank you, I am very envious of these amazing examples!

cornelistromp 25th January 2017 05:56 PM

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Hi Jim,

Middelburg is a town in the province zeeland.
the VOC chamber was Zeeland not Middelburg, that was a VOC city.


Maurice 25th January 2017 08:46 PM


Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
I am curious on the year marking invariably placed on these blades below the VOC and chamber (there were 6) letter mark. As with yours the 'A' is of course for Amsterdam, with others being Middelburg; Hoorn; Enkhuizen; Delft and Rotterdam (the R below the VOC rather than above).

Hello Jim,

most of the time the letter of the chamber was stamped above the VOC stamp, but sometimes below the VOC stamp. Not specificly the "R". I have seen blades with the "R" above the VOC mark, and also with the "E" below the VOC mark.
Alas, indeed I have seen also a VOC blade with the "R" below the VOC mark.
But in general most of the time they are depicted above.

Kind regards,

cornelistromp 26th January 2017 09:04 AM

2 Attachment(s)
Dutch naval cutlasses in my collection.

1. Admiralty of Amsterdam
2. VOC Hoorn dated 1731
3. VOC Amsterdam dated 1761 post #1

I will later post some more pictures


Maurice 26th January 2017 09:35 AM


Originally Posted by cornelistromp
Dutch naval cutlasses in my collection.

1. Admiralty of Amsterdam
2. VOC Hoorn dated 1731
3. VOC Amsterdam dated 1761 post #1

I will later post some more pictures


Hello Jasper,

those cutlasses are really great!
Looking forward to see some additional pics of the stamps in the blade.

Thank you for sharing,
Vriendelijke groeten,

Jim McDougall 26th January 2017 04:24 PM

Maurice, thank you so much for your well explained answers! It is good to be learning more on the very esoteric details of these fascinating swords. I very much appreciate this added detail, and am grateful for Jasper posting this topic and sharing his examples.

I know the guys on ethnographic have posted many examples over the years of these blades in many unusual mounts, and it is great to see these in their original settings!

cornelistromp 28th January 2017 08:22 AM

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national military museum # 019069 , a houwer dated 1788 Amsterdam same hilt type as the AA one, depicted above .

cornelistromp 29th January 2017 04:49 PM

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some more pictures

Jim McDougall 29th January 2017 07:47 PM

Superb examples Jasper!! Thank you!

On the one shellguard hanger, there are a number of chop marks on the back of the blade near the hilt. It seems this type line chops occur on a number of ethnographic sword blades in the same manner (it seems dha in SE Asia and others). Have you come across any notations on this feature?

Also, it is interesting to see the variation of application of the dates and devices used, some in script, some stamped. The astral man in the moon aligns with of course these devices used on Solingen blades with talismanic/magic symbolism.

cornelistromp 29th January 2017 08:21 PM

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Hi Jim,

yes I noticed the lines on the back of the hilt, I have no idea why this is done.There are on this blade remains of crossed anchors with a double A
of the admiralty of Amsterdam.
Below a date, unfortunately only the one and the six are legible.see picture , for another AA example of the a similar etching.

it looks as though the date is engraved on early houwers before +-1740 and stamped on the later examples.


Terry K 30th January 2017 04:17 PM

Those are some great looking swords for their age and use. Great info too

cornelistromp 21st January 2021 03:08 PM

Dutch East India Trading Company (VOC) cutlass dated 1790
12 Attachment(s)
this voc cutlass was once shortly in my collection approx 20 years ago,
an rare original piece but unfortunately in a highly excevated condition.
The blade is dated 1790 and marked with an R for the VOC chamber of the city Rotterdam, The VOC Chamber of Rotterdam was one of the six Chambers of the Dutch East India Company.

The cutlass is recently auctioned in 2018 at Bellmanns for 400GBP.
After offered to me with forged provenance!?! probably to boost or justify the new price of 6 times the auction value.
When I carefully informed the person the real provenance, in this particular case known to me, he felt caught and not amused.


M ELEY 22nd January 2021 05:29 AM

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Wow, Jasper! I had forgotten about all of your truly remarkable hangers/cutlasses! Would absolutely love to have one of these types someday. Here is a hanger you helped me identify a number of years ago. Although not provenanced to VOC specifically, you did indicate that it was probably affiliated due to the hilt being the standing lion and the cruciform marking on the blade being found on Dutch coins of the era.

M ELEY 22nd January 2021 05:32 AM

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Last two...always wondered what the carved symbol on the hilt represented (S-shaped backing each other with wings?). If this hanger distracts from the topic at hand, let me know and I'll remove it!

Jim McDougall 24th January 2021 12:25 AM

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Capn, I recall this amazing sword from our discussions here in 2010, and while we did not resolve any definite explanations, there were some great possibilities.
What we know is that the designs and theme are sort of an amalgam of Sinhalese style, the Hindu goddess Lakshmi and themes with hunting dogs. Swords with these style hilts were known in Dutch context mid 17th c. in what was known as the 'leeuwengevesten' (=lionhead) theme. Similar style hilts seen in painting by Rotius (in "Some Facts Concerning Sword Hilts at Hoorn Around the Year 1650", van der Sloot and Kist, c. 1970).

It is thought this type hilt was perhaps crafted by an artisan in one of the Dutch ports in colonial regions of the Dutch East Indies. This may have been in response to the carved ivory hilts made by Ceylonese craftsmen for Dutch merchants and officials in the 17th c.

The blade is most interesting and distinctly a cutlass type blade, in the genre of the hangers we know so well. Most interesting is the 'four dot' device. While I have searched many years for a defined answer to the significance of this, it may well simply have a sort of talismanic meaning of good luck, as with the four leaf clover.
I have thought of possibility with the quatrefoil, often seen in Christian architecture etc. and while the cross comes to mind, the Four Gospels also are noted.

It is interesting that these four dots occur regularly on the quillon terminal disc of Dutch walloons. As we found, they are seen in the 'dump' (small change) coins of Ceylon and other colonial contexts.

In reading (passim) it seems there was mention that Johannes Kirschbaum of Solingen bought the 'kleebat' mark 20 Oct 1660. But this was a three petal cloverleaf apparently, and not this 'four'. But, who did he buy it from, and did not find a cloverleaf mark in his markings.

M ELEY 24th January 2021 02:38 AM

Thanks, Jim, for commenting on my hanger. I don't want to call attention away from Jasper's magnificent VOC swords, so I won't comment further. I'm very happy with the piece and think it belongs in the quasi-family of Dutch East India items and (theoretically) maritime use- :)

AHorsa 3rd February 2021 12:25 PM


Originally Posted by cornelistromp
Dutch naval cutlasses in my collection.

1. Admiralty of Amsterdam
2. VOC Hoorn dated 1731
3. VOC Amsterdam dated 1761 post #1

I will later post some more pictures


Quite similar pieces are dated to the early 17th century (e.g. see #8)

Was this style / model in use for such a long time?

Best regards

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