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Old 25th May 2023, 02:10 PM   #1
10thRoyal
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Default "Nimcha blades" on European swords

I have absolutely no clue what forum category to put this in since it seems to fit both European and Ethnographic equally. I've seen many references to nimcha from the 18th to 19th century having so called "trade blades" mounted that are of German or Italian origin. Some of these are fairly teaceable with distinct markings pointing to one location and time period of manufacture. Others less so.

Many of the blades(later ones?) seem to have similar construction with a gently curving blade, slight clip point, and three fuller.
I.e. http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=25325



If all of these blades are in fact imported as has been suggested many time, are there any similar blades y'all have seen that are clearly European in origin? I have seen earlier nimcha which have what look nearly identical to blades from dussacks or stortas but I'm talking about the stereotypical three fuller nimcha like the one shown above. Are there any Scandanavian dussacks with identical blades mounted or German hunting swords, etc. I feel like if these blades were trade goods, at least some would wind up on the European market. I would love to hear y'all's thoughts.

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Michael
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Old 25th May 2023, 02:36 PM   #2
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I don't have any examples myself and am certainly no expert, but I've seen very similar blades (though perhaps somewhat more curved) on some Polish or Hungarian sabers. I've seen at least one exact match but that one looked a little suspect to me at the time (but what do I know?). Unfortunately I am not a well organized person and I seem to have lost the picture of it.

The picture below is not an exact match but the closest I could find with a quick google search and has the subscript: "Sabers of Hungarian-Polish style, about 1600. (National Museum, Cracow)".
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Old 25th May 2023, 07:45 PM   #3
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Nevermind

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Old 25th May 2023, 10:20 PM   #4
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Linked below is an example of a Backsword blade mounted as a Nimcha.

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showth...ghlight=nimcha
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Old 26th May 2023, 08:45 PM   #5
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This is interesting as one of the very reasons the European Armoury was created here was that the crossover with European weapon blades were so often used in ethnographic forms. One of the great references we have on European blade markings is "European Blades in Tuareg Swords and Daggers" (L.C.Briggs, 1965) as an ironic analogy.

With these Moroccan sa'if (often colloquially called 'nimcha' in collectors parlance) these were used throughout the Maghreb, thus from Morocco into Algeria (Briggs was in Algeria, and shows blade markings on one of these).

These swords were invariably mounted with trade blades from Arab entrepots, which might include a range of blades from various centers, but of course mostly German. The term backsword typically refers to a straight blade cavalry sword, often 18th century (broadsword typically means double edged).

These slightly curved saber blades as shown with East European provenance were typically Styrian and Austrian blades were often coming into North Africa in the mid 19th century and probably earlier. As well known, the straight broadsword blades were favored in the Sahara with Tuaregs and of course Sudan with the kaskara.

However in the Sahara there were cases of saber blades in Tuareg takoubas which might have come from numerous sources, often French or German.
These blades ended up in the regions were the Moroccan sa'if was typically in use, so any number of blades turn up in them.
The markings are not always attributable to particular European makers, and often interpretations of commonly known European marks are added.
i have seen examples of these 'nimchas' with Andrea Ferara as well as 'Spanish motto' blades.
It should be noted that both of these types of blades are Solingen products and were straight blades. So either curved or straight might occur on these nimchas.

Blades of the type known on Hungarian sabers were much favored in Arabia, and these often made it into circulation in North Africa. These blade forms remained in use for many years.
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Old 30th May 2023, 02:01 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
The markings are not always attributable to particular European makers, and often interpretations of commonly known European marks are added.
i have seen examples of these 'nimchas' with Andrea Ferara as well as 'Spanish motto' blades.
Funnily enough my question came from finding a three examples at an auction the other week which I wouldn't be surprised if they wound up on the forum soon. One had markings identical to the first image I posted and the other two were smithed by none other than the legendary "Andre Ferrrrara himself(or some other hilarious bastardization of that name to feign legitimacy on what was clearly an already nice blade). It was interesting to me that all three were high quality, of a time period with one another (whatever that means for these blades), and seemed to be of a similar pattern. Yet none of the blades seemed to be attributable to any location in particular.

Which as I slowly gain more knowledge about arms and arm, I've learned that this set of qualities seems to be the summation of what a "nimcha" is.
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Old 30th May 2023, 06:51 PM   #7
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There is a lot of lore and myth associated with the questions here. Actually the term 'nimcha' is a misnomer as applied to most of these swords, though it has become a popularly used classification for this spectrum of sabers from the Maghreb (Morocco and Algeria). The term loosely translates to short sword in Arabian, which as can be seen, these swords typically are not.

These are typically called sa'if in Arabic and local parlances, but collectors sometimes regard these as Moroccan sa'if, though they were of course widely used in Algeria as well. Through the trade networks and entrepots in these areas, many blades came in, mostly German of course. There were cases for some French and Italian on incidental basis, and as I have noted, also seen on occasion are the "Spanish motto" types (draw me not without reason etc). What is most odd is that these are double edged and straight, hardly the ideal 'saber' blade for the type of use in most Arabian contexts.

These are typically regarded as Solingen made for the Spanish colonies in New Spain (now Mexico) however many were made in Toledo after 1770s.
The ANDREA FERARA blades are typically Solingen made for Scotland in the 17th-early 18th c. but these often made it into England as well. There was notable trade between England and Morocco/Algeria in the 17th century and there are instances of English merchants wearing these 'nimchas'.

The Andrea Ferara thing regards an actual swordsmith from Belluno in Italy of the 16th century, who seems to have become a virtual legend mostly from the romanticism of Sir Walter Scott, but the blades were indeed favored by the Scots before that. The term ferrara is of course Latin for iron, and the Andrea, Italian for Andrew, the Patron Saint of Scotland, with the name or term meaning true or good, thus a high quality blade. Obviously conveniently construed, as a colorful Scottish trait.

Many European marks were imitated in degree in native contexts, and were seen in league with symbols or having meanings aligned with the superstitions, traditions and folk religion of the regions. In many cases these were seen as talismanic, or imbuements of power and strength.

The import of trade blades into North Africa has been noted into the early 19th century, however this is hardly that recent a phenomenon, and likely blades came in to some degree centuries before. There were once blades from as early as the Crusades circulating through Saharan trade routes, one in particular I recall from 16th c. but these have long since been collected away. As I mentioned earlier, the landmark article by Dr. Briggs in 1965 has been a cornerstone for the daunting study of European blade marks and served well as a benchmark for these studies since.

Your questions are well placed, and while I have been at this 'a minute or two' and like most of us, am very much still learning, which for me is a happy thing!
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Old 31st May 2023, 06:29 AM   #8
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The question of where European blades came to Morocco is hard to answer in a succinct manner, because there is a great variety of blades with Moroccan hilts.

Here is one with what looks like a European cavalry blade from the second half of the 19th century. Such patterns seem to have been quite popular in Morocco in the late 19th, early 20th century. But pinpointing a specific European model is hard, and one may not even exist, with this blade simply made in a certain style and meant to be exported to North Africa:
Name:  Nimcha 01a.jpg
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Then here is another one, with what looks like a blade taken from an 18th century British hanger, with the running fox mark associated with bladesmiths working in Birmingham:
Name:  Nimcha 03c.jpg
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Name:  Nimcha 03d.jpg
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Finally, here is one with a shortened backsword blade with astral marking, associated with 18th century Solingen production. I have seen similar markings on Austrian hussar sabers, but being focused on African Islamic arms and not on European ones I would actually struggle to come up with an image of a European backsword with these markings:
Name:  Nimcha 02a.jpg
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Name:  Nimcha 02d.jpg
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It seems that there was a market in Morocco for all kinds of blades that had become obsolete or surplus in Europe, some of which continued further on trade routes to the Sahel, while others were kept and mounted locally.
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Old 1st June 2023, 12:01 AM   #9
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Whelp, it took me far too long but I think I found at least one match. I found matching blades on a nimcha and on shell guard hanger sword from an auction at Cohen's a while back. After finding this find I took a look at Newmuen's "tSwords & blades of the American Revolution" and was pleasantly surprised to see a ton of three fuller blades that would not at all look out of place on a later nimcha.

So here is what I found:
This nimcha's blade:

Seems to be a dead ringer for this hanger blade:
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Last edited by fernando; 1st June 2023 at 09:28 AM. Reason: Pictures source edited; now uploaded with forum attachment features. Ephemeral host links not allowed, as per rules.
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Old 1st June 2023, 12:58 PM   #10
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Default Nimcha

Here is mine with markings with 3 crowns and LONDON stamped under. 4 fullers too with a nice hilt with silver decoration. Any thoughts on this including origin and age?
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Old 1st June 2023, 05:11 PM   #11
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Quote:
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Here is mine with markings with 3 crowns and LONDON stamped under. 4 fullers too with a nice hilt with silver decoration. Any thoughts on this including origin and age?
This is a most unusual blade, and certainly appears German of 18th century, probably latter. The marking is one of the most curious anomalies I have seen and would appear to be a native application imitating it would appear markings perhaps on British gun locks.
The crown of course was placed singly on inspection stamps, never in three, and the placement of this device is in the manner seen on blades of the nimchas in Algerian context. Briggs was in Algeria and this seems like the illustration in his 1965 article as far as position, but more to the forte on the cutting side of blade.

As England did not export blades in these times, the LONDON would be an oddity especially with the crowns. This is mindful of the placement of the bushy tail fox on blades however, but again, no such British mark exists as far as I have known. Fascinating!!!
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Old 1st June 2023, 07:02 PM   #12
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Thanks Jeff
Are the 4 fullers German too or added on later in Algeria? The London font seems european in style and looks stamped in. It might have been how the algerians did it, but I have no idea. Its a solid sword for sure.
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Old 1st June 2023, 07:03 PM   #13
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Sorry Jim
I really need glasses...
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Old 1st June 2023, 07:59 PM   #14
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No problem Sidj,
The fullers are not something that can be added in, and four is an unusual number, usually three in multifullers.
The font with serifs is indeed European, but as I say, it is entirely atypical to have LONDON stamped alone and in this manner on the blade.

The long enduring situation with blades coming into the ports along the North African littoral would bring them from numbers of sources, but German, as invariably the case, predominated the markets. Ironically, British blades were not in especially high esteem, so this seems odd. The only exception was with of course ANDREA FERARA, which was associated with the Scots, but with these blades in their own league as far as quality perception.

It would be hard to say, but safely we can presume your nimcha was hilted in 19th century possibly mid or earlier, but with these produced holding to the traditional form for virtually centuries who knows? These blades were in circulation for as many years in many cases, and swords remounted many times through generations.
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Old 2nd June 2023, 12:55 AM   #15
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My Nimcha with a trade blade having 3 fullers...
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