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Old 20th September 2021, 04:49 PM   #1
drac2k
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Default Unknown Sword??

I just acquired this sword in a lot purchase, and my first inclination was that it wasn't worth mentioning, but after actually having the item in my hands, it looks like some skill was employed in its making. It is all steel & 28" long x 2.25" wide with a slight medial ridge tapering off to two very sharp edges.
I don't think that it was made for the current Medieval Jousters as it is too sharp and seems to exhibit some age. It could be a Lodge Sword for such a group as the Odd Fellows which were prevalent during the turn of the century, however, most of the groups were smart enough to have blunt & dull swords; maybe large groups of guys in a meeting and drinking wasn't conducive to having sharp swords around. Another thought came to mind about it being a reliquary sword; it seems a bit too short unless it was cut down. I wondered if it could be a WW1 Trench Weapon, however, I decided against that since it is too heavy and the design is archaic.
In conclusion, unless anyone can tell me differently, I guess this sword is someone's metal shop project; I hope that he got a good grade.
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Old 20th September 2021, 05:38 PM   #2
Jim McDougall
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Drac, all of the suggestions you have made are perfectly well placed, and exactly the circumstances I would have thought. The problem of theatrical weapons has always presented a complete conundrum in identifying these anomalies, and more often than not, this category turns out correct.

As you note, the fraternal groups knew better than to carry sharpened weapons, these guys especially in earlier times were inclined to get feisty (just as you noted) and 'demon' rum was not a good idea with sharp items.
(As always I recall my 'tulwar' incident, a few nightcaps and taking a swing with this playfully, forgetting about my ceiling fan).

If this was intended as a utility item (i.e.machete or like tool) it would not have a cross guard. This suggests it was intended to appear to be an old sword.
My guess would be an amateur production of theatrical character, and at some point later, someone sharpened it for some actual use.

It definitely has age, and in times of strife, ersatz weapons were of virtually any character imaginable. Most interesting item.
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Old 20th September 2021, 07:43 PM   #3
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I'm in agreement with you both. The problem with these one-off creations is, unless you have a history, a smith's name or some sort of provenance, it will always be a mystery sword. Jim's excellent point of having a crossguard excludes a tool (tobacco knife, fascine knife, etc), not to mention the crossguard is rather involved, folded over and welded metal. The aging/patina on the piece could make it pre-1900 perhaps, so hard to tell. Other crazy possibilities? Confederate side knife? Caribbean side knife, etc, etc. Well made 'mystery' sword-
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Old 20th September 2021, 08:27 PM   #4
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Thank you, Gentlemen, for your very insightful observations. What is a further mystery is that all of the brass embellishments are actually rivets that appear to go all the way through the guard and the handle which looks to be solid steel, or they could be just inlays.
As much as I would love this to be a Confederate weapon, the handle is too small to actively use as a fighting weapon, unless it was wrapped. Maybe a poor man's village "Sword of Justice;" I certainly think it could easily sever a person's hand or arm.
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Old 20th September 2021, 10:33 PM   #5
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The only reason I mentioned a 'Confederate' possibility is the use of those brass 'studs. Brass and copper lugs became popular in the U.S. mid-1850's and you do see a lot of side knives, primitive bowies and other arms made in this way. That alone, of course, doesn't give us an answer, but I wouldn't place this weapon any earlier than mid 19th, nor later than, say, 1920's? based just on patina and general appearance. Just a guessing game, I'm afraid. Where did you find it? The reason I'm asking is I guess we can't rule out an ethnographic possibility. It has the generalized pattern of a kascara, which imitated the cruciform hilts all the way up to the 20th c. They likewise had some very rustic ptterns of swords, straight, double edged as yours and, yes, they used brass for decor if I'm not mistaken.
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Old 21st September 2021, 05:02 AM   #6
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I found the swords at an auction. There were 6 pcs.:3 antique Philippine swords, an African one, this one which was heavily rusted and a European swept hilted sword which I'm sure is a copy even though I think that it is a decent one; I'll know more when I clean it up. It was a very random group and all of them were in an abused condition.
I like your thoughts on a Confederate short sword and if it had an old wooden handle, I'd be singing "Dixie."It could be some village blacksmith's creation on what he thought would be a good weapon; it has good balance, only the handle is too small to grip it firmly. The handle is long enough and quite heavy,but too thin to easily hold steady in a prolonged fight.
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Old 21st September 2021, 07:54 AM   #7
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Every time that I come across an item like this, I wish it could talk. It certainly interesting. To me this was a child’s sword. Perhaps made by a parent during the height of the swashbuckler film era for a kid who was into classic tales of chivalry. Given that it is coming up for auction now, might mean that “kid” had just passed. Which might have made him a young teen during the 40s or 50s.

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Old 21st September 2021, 10:44 AM   #8
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Maybe(I wish that my parents had given me one), but I don't believe so as it is much too heavy(the guard and the handle are solid steel and the weight of the blade is considerable), for a child not to mention that it is extremely sharp. I think the aforementioned characteristics would also make it impractical for a stage prop.
Perhaps it is possible that it was used as an advertising sign for a knifemaker or knife sharping service.
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Old 21st September 2021, 11:02 AM   #9
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An interesting item, from the old rust patina it seems to have some fair age to it. Another possibility to add to the mix as to its origin ... is that of a piece made on board a sailing ship for trade or presentation to native peoples. In the 18th & 19th century ships on long voyages would often have on board a blacksmith with his apparatus. Voyages could be for ... exploration, surveying, trading, slaving or whaling purposes. There are documented accounts of such blacksmiths making up weapons and tools for trade or presentation purposes. Scrap iron would be taken along and brass was used in marine environments. The natives of West Africa in particular were fond of weapons imitating European examples.
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Old 21st September 2021, 12:51 PM   #10
Richard G
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Considering the shape of the blade, do you think there is any possibility it might be a repurposed spear head?
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Old 21st September 2021, 01:21 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard G View Post
Considering the shape of the blade, do you think there is any possibility it might be a repurposed spear head?
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Good observation Richard, its a possibility...
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Old 21st September 2021, 03:19 PM   #12
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Colin, that is an interesting theory and as good as any that I have proposed.

Richard, the blade is almost 20" long, and rather than it being a cut-down spearhead, the likelihood is greater that it was a cutdown sword.
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Old 25th September 2021, 02:59 PM   #13
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Hey drac!

Now I know who bids against me on that site! I had been intrigued by this lot, too, as the items were so disparate in origin and seemingly came from an estate with some high-end eclectic items. I always hope that another forum member wins and posts items I don't win but would still like to learn more about.

This sword struck me as having an African aesthetic, but based solely on my unrefined gut. Still, seems like something that would have served as tribal regalia.

If this indeed came from the lot I saw, I agree the swept hilt number is a 20th century repro. The Philippine blade looks very nice. I am very intrigued by the 4th item. It looks like the hilt/blade from a sword cane. However, the hilt looks a lot like a keris hilt decorated with nailheads. It made me wonder if the blade could be from a keris, but reprofiled to a uniform slender shape. Regardless, I was intrigued. Maybe you'll post and we can get some insights from the fine folks here
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Old 25th September 2021, 03:45 PM   #14
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Aha, my Arch Nemesis, LOL; I used to be able to get a deal there before I bumped into you. I think you are correct on all counts. The idea of it being a sword cane and African made sense, however for that to be true, I think it would have to be of recent manufacture as I am not familiar with Africans traditionally using these and this item seems to be well made and of some age.
In conclusion, It could be African, I think that it is a sword cane because it has a tapered but not a sharp edge; I don't think that it would be of much interest to others, but if you send me an email, I'll send you some pictures.
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Old 25th September 2021, 04:36 PM   #15
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It slightly reminds me of the French 1832 artillery short sword "cabbage cutter", the inspiration perhaps ??
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Old 25th September 2021, 07:32 PM   #16
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Very possible.
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