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Old 16th April 2009, 01:14 PM   #1
M ELEY
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Default A question about boarding pikes

I recently acquired what I hope to be a boarding pike. Yes, it was an ebay buy from several months ago and billed as an English pike. It has a nice wormy ash haft shaved smooth, which I understand was a common practice (the other being the black primer/coating). The head on it doesn't have langets as some did, but because I think this piece is either early American or Colonial Spanish, this lack of langet is typical. The head is diamond-shaped dark iron with a short neck marked with a spiral pattern and some "X's" to the base of the collar. Old museum number to haft. Here is my question and paranoid worry... This piece sort of reminds me of some African spears I have seen, especially with the X markings. There are certainly cononial decorations with this pattern as well, of course, but it did bother me to see the similarities. The problem is, once again as with many of these weapon patterns, pikes came in all manner of shapes, sizes. There are very primitive pieces and obviously nicer styles, sooooo...
How might one determine if this truly is a boarding pike? Does anyone have any examples of pikes from the Spanish colonies? Do African spears use wormy ash for hafts?? (I wouldn't think so). Mine measures approx 68-70". Is this the common length for any spears, Spanish lances or other weapons that could be construed as a pike? Just curious- thanks!
Mark
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Old 16th April 2009, 08:54 PM   #2
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Hi Mark,
No chance you show us pictures of your pike?
I wouldn't know about Spanish colonial versions (or any other ), but i can see that 'homeland' versions had langets, if you mean by langets the side straps that fix the socket to the haft.
Here you have the Spanish boarding pike (chuzo) model from circa 1820, with description and measurements of blade but no mention to the haft, and a later model (1870's), followed by two other variations residing at the Naval museum of Madrid, being one with two heads. Haft lengths on the classic versions are 1,76 mt. and 1,96 mt. The double headed one is exceptionaly short, with 1 metre. no mention to what type of wood was used in any of them.
I hope this is usefull ... at all
Fernando

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Old 16th April 2009, 08:56 PM   #3
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Model 1820 is posted in a bizarre attachment; i hope you can open it. Otherwise, just tell.
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Old 17th April 2009, 04:16 AM   #4
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Thanks, Fernando, for posting these important pics. Material on boarding pikes, much like other naval weapons, is hard to find. My piece is much more primitive, not like those made for the Sapnish naval vessels, but more like what you might see on a privateer or merchant ship in the New World. It's blade is more leaf-shaped, placing it in the pre-1800 time frame. I will attempt to post a pic soon, as I do wish to get others input on it. Thanks again for posting those pics. I've heard of, but never seen the double-headed pikes (chuzo). You'd have to be pretty daring to have to face one of them while clambering over the rail of a ship!!
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Old 17th April 2009, 05:18 AM   #5
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Chuzos are simply metal spikes attached to poles, not necessarily a double headed lance. Often times, a bayonet attached to a pole would be called a chuzo.

They made poor weapon choices against a bayonetted musket, and were mostly used by irregulars guarding supply depots, or within cities and towns by "Urban Guards"...

Best


M


Quote:
Originally Posted by M ELEY
Thanks, Fernando, for posting these important pics. Material on boarding pikes, much like other naval weapons, is hard to find. My piece is much more primitive, not like those made for the Sapnish naval vessels, but more like what you might see on a privateer or merchant ship in the New World. It's blade is more leaf-shaped, placing it in the pre-1800 time frame. I will attempt to post a pic soon, as I do wish to get others input on it. Thanks again for posting those pics. I've heard of, but never seen the double-headed pikes (chuzo). You'd have to be pretty daring to have to face one of them while clambering over the rail of a ship!!
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Old 17th April 2009, 05:32 AM   #6
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Thanks for coming in on this, Celtan. I was wondering if these were more in the pike or lance catagory. I know both existed in New Spain. The point with the 4 sided head second down on Fernando's posted thread looks like the detached head of another piece that I have (not the discussed pike I started with) sans the straps. Were these points universally used on both pikes and lances by the Spanish, or were there any differences?
Will try and post pics of the pike soon...

Last edited by M ELEY : 17th April 2009 at 05:40 AM. Reason: addition
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Old 17th April 2009, 02:08 PM   #7
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You are most welcome, we are here to learn what we can from each other.

: )

Please notice the "chuzo" presented here is of 19th C make, and measures almost seven feet, which is too short for a "true" pike, like those used by the Tercios. OTOH, just like pikes, chuzos were not designed to be thrown, like a true lance or Roman pilum would.

Then, many "lances" were never meant to be thrown, like the ones used in jousting.

This type of weapon is designed to be held, and for stabbing, like a japanese yari.

In Spain, often times the terms pikes and lances are used interchangeably, although if it has a hatchet or hook at its end, it's invariably called a "Pica"(Pike).

I'd like to point out that "chuzo" is a word with negative connotations in regards to quality, sugesting something cheaply made. I fact, any piece of wood may be called a chuzo...

Best

Manuel Luis




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Originally Posted by M ELEY
Thanks for coming in on this, Celtan. I was wondering if these were more in the pike or lance catagory. I know both existed in New Spain. The point with the 4 sided head second down on Fernando's posted thread looks like the detached head of another piece that I have (not the discussed pike I started with) sans the straps. Were these points universally used on both pikes and lances by the Spanish, or were there any differences?
Will try and post pics of the pike soon...
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Old 17th April 2009, 05:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by celtan
Chuzos are simply metal spikes attached to poles, not necessarily a double headed lance. Often times, a bayonet attached to a pole would be called a chuzo...

Furthermore, in a vulgarized sense, anything spiky may be called a chuço (portuguese for chuzo). Even (closed) umbrellas are often called chuços by local country people. And so are called determined agricultural implements. After all, the first pole arms that arose from and with the farmers that were mobilized to go into war, in the middle ages, were the chuços, derived from the scythe family tools.


Quote:
Originally Posted by M ELEY
The point with the 4 sided head second down on Fernando's posted thread looks like the detached head of another piece that I have (not the discussed pike I started with) sans the straps. Were these points universally used on both pikes and lances by the Spanish, or were there any differences?

For the little i have seen, i am convinced that all round, three sided and four sided variations, with and without side straps, were used in pikes and lances by many a nation. Experts may confirm.
One thing i have difficulty in distinguishing is the difference between pikes (or chuços) and lances (or spears). For a start, we don't have a translation for the term 'spear' in portuguese ... and neither have the Spaniards, i think. Would it sometimes the difference be the length of the haft, considering that the earliest pikes had imense lengths? Or does the difference (also) reside the blade shape ?


Quote:
Originally Posted by M ELEY
Will try and post pics of the pike soon...

Forgive me for the impertinence, Mark; if by any chance the issue is any conflict with attaching pictures in the Forum, i am at your disposal to post them, once you email them to me:
fernandoviana@netcabo.pt
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Old 17th April 2009, 05:22 PM   #9
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Hi Nando!

In Spanish, a throwing spear would be a jabalina, or javelin in French.

Saludos

Manolo


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Originally Posted by fernando
One thing i have difficulty in distinguishing is the difference between pikes (or chuços) and lances (or spears). For a start, we don't have a translation for the term 'spear' in portuguese ... and neither have the Spaniards, i think. Would it sometimes the difference be the length of the haft, considering that the earliest pikes had imense lengths? Or does the difference (also) reside the blade shape ?
fernandoviana@netcabo.pt
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Old 19th April 2009, 05:18 AM   #10
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Thank you gentlemen, for your input. I am very thankful for your information and I hope for my part that I didn't offend with a vulgar word!
Actually, Fernando, it's just about me finding the time. I might take you up on that offer if I find that I can't post. Perhaps my daughter might have to help me! She's good at that sort of thing!
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Old 26th April 2009, 07:33 AM   #11
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Although I agree in general terms with the definitions of ‘pica’ and ‘chuzo’, I don’t agree in restricting the meaning of ‘lanza’ to a weapon not used to throw. I think the word ‘lance’ comes from the french languaje and it can have other meaning than the seemingly apparent word in spanish. At first, I feel some restraint in answering to this point, as the word ‘lanza’ in spanish has the same meaning than the word ‘spear’, but including also the meaning on ‘lance’. In other words, Fernando is right in the sense that we don’t have an exclusive generic word to designate only the very long shafted weapon used by cavalry mounted soldiers or knights, but we do have an equivalent word for ‘spear’, and this is the word ‘venablo’, that is, a shorter thrusting and throwing weapon. The word ‘lanza’ in spanish also designates a thrusting and throwing weapon, and its main difference with the venablo seems to be the lenght of the shaft, even though I have never found the respective measures to have a clear understanding of this limits.

According with the Royal Dictionary of the Academy of Spanish Language, the higher authority in this matter, the word ‘lanza’ is not defined in relation with being a thrusting or a throwing weapon, but by its general physical characteristics. I also checked the Salvat Encyclopedia in 12 volumes, because as I always understood, the lanza was indistinctly a thrusting or/and a throwing weapon, and I wanted to be quite sure. I also did not find this differentiating characteristic. Furthermore, the spanish literature and history is full of references in this same direction. Not to be far apart of our subject, we find references to another type of weapon taken by the spaniards from Africa: the lanza gineta or lanza jineta. You can find some references here:

http://xenophongroup.com/EMW/article001.htm

I think it is a shorter shafted weapon compared to the used previously by the cavalry iberic soldier, more longer and less appropriated to the more lightning attacks ‘a la gineta’, that is, to the style of cavalry fight introduced by the berbers into what now is Spain. This older versions, for reasons related with the length of the shaft, were not apt as a throwing weapons. There is even a treatise about fighting ‘a la gineta’, written by a knigh who was member of one of the military spanish cavalry orders, which I previously noted in another thread related with the jineta sword.

I also don’t agree that the word ‘jabalina’ would be more appropriated to designate a war weapon used to throw. This last weapon was used mainly as a hunting weapon and latter as a sport weapon, like the used on the olympic games (javelin). Sometimes is used meaning the weapon the romans called ‘pilium’. With this meaning, jabalina could designate a war weapon, but with some special characteristics, mainly a long narrow point and a short shaft. But there are also a bit longer weapons with wide points, sometimes lanceolated, used as thrusting or/and throwing weapon. It must be pointed out that the word ‘lanza’ in spanish also means ‘throw’, and to throw a stone would be said ‘lanzar una piedra’, thus the word used to name this weapon. In spanish we also have another word taken form the berbers: ‘azagaya’, which is used to designate a short war weapon, equivalent to the jabalina.

The weapon with long shaft ended in a pike and with an axe at its side, specially in the form of a half moon, is called in spanish ‘alabarda’, a halberd.

You can consult online the Royal Dictionary of the Academy of Spanish Language, and another dicionaries in spanish, and translate them using also online instruments, as Babel Fish and the one provided by Google:

http://www.rae.es/rae.html

Regards

Gonzalo
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Old 26th April 2009, 02:14 PM   #12
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Absolutely excellent post Gonzalo!!! Well worded and thought out with greatly supported data and observations........textbook my friend!

From what little I know of the history of lances as spears, it is great to read through the great discussion here.

From earlier discussions on the lance in the frontier regions of Mexico and early American southwest, these were often the weapon of choice as ammunition was typically scarce. These were shorter stabbing type lances from my understanding, and it seems that the American Indian tribes may have adopted the weapon style and techniques in use from the Spanish.

Manolo and Fernando thank you for the great discourse on the linguistics concerning these weapons. I think terminology and the semantics in describing weaponry often presents considerably interesting challenges.

All the best,
Jim
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Old 26th April 2009, 09:12 PM   #13
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While ammunition certainly was scarce in New Mexico during the Spanish colonial era, I'm not sure that is the only reason lances were favored. I remember watching an episode of "Gangland" on the History Channel recently where they described an incident where several members of a gang attacked a party held by a rival gang with automatic rifles and pistols. Even though they were shooting (on foot) into a crowd of people, they completely missed the people they were trying to kill. The only person killed was the pregnant wife of one of the rival gang, and she was killed by a stray bullet.

Now imagine trying to shoot accurately from a galloping horse at another person on a galloping horse while riding across broken terrain with a muzzle loading carbine or pistol, or a single action cap and ball revolver for that matter. I think your accuracy would suffer quite a bit. For that matter, during the Revoluntionary War there were several occasssions, for example the capture by the Americans of a British redoubt at Yorktown, where commander explicitly ordered their men to rely solely on bayonets, ot loaded guns. Even in situations where men were on foot in massed formations, as opposed to the loose, small groups on horseback common on Spanish frontier, "spears" were the prefered weapon in some situations because they were more reliable.

Also, at least in New Mexico there were the cibolaros (sp?), the Hsipanic buffalo hunters who went on extended buffalo hunts using bows and arrows and lances. Maybe the use of bows and lances was due to lack of ammunition, but it may have been because of the ineffectiveness of gun fire on horseback. As Joseph Jablow notes in his book "The Cheyenne in Plains Indian Trade Relations" several tribes banned the use of guns in buffalo hunts due to misfires and stray bullets. Now I realize hunts and battles are not the same, but I would point out that Plains battle tactics, like Mongol tactics, derived in part from group hunting tactics. I suspect that many of these ideas were adopted by the Spanish settlers.
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Old 27th April 2009, 05:47 AM   #14
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Thank you very much, Jim. As ever, you are very indulgent and motivating with the modest participations of other forumites. I feel that the spear also have many advantages over the saber, and when you spent your only shooth from a gun difficult to reload during a cavalry charge, it is the better option. Mainly if your enemy does not have guns, or have them in small quantities.

Aiontay, before the use of the modern cartridge, the one shot cavalry carabines or similar weapons were not accurate. I agree with you about the use of hunting practices in the battlefield. The sniper and its camouflage is one of this derivations.
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Old 30th September 2009, 04:58 AM   #15
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Finally...
Not the greatest pics, but...
My question is, is this a colonial Spanish lance, a Rev War spear or a small boarding pike sans langets (I'm not too concerned with this, as many of the American pikes didn't have side straps). The head is classic diamond shaped, the wood wormy ash (used for lances and pikes) shaved down to bare wood, the neck around this piece has the traditional spiraling pattern and the small "X's" decorations associated with colonial Span pieces. Old museum numbers in white paint. The butt of the shaft is flat, no metal cap. Head is 9", total with shaft 65". I'm told that boarding pike hafts were either painted black/brown or "shaved" down to bare wood as this piece is.
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Old 30th September 2009, 05:34 AM   #16
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Try again...
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Old 1st October 2009, 04:35 AM   #17
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Any takers?
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Old 1st October 2009, 05:22 AM   #18
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You are very young!
Not spanish colonial, I think, but it does seems a boarding spear. Well, it COULD be spanish navy, but not specifically colonial. There are many colonial spears and lances, made in Spain or in America and used by the colonial army and auxiliaries, but they are more longer, heavy and with the shafts more thick. Sorry if I am not more useful. There are others in the forum with more knowledge about this kind of weapons.
Regards

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Old 1st October 2009, 08:44 AM   #19
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Gonzalo, you are my new favorite forumite-
Actually, I just celebrated my 42nd birthday, so not so young as I used to be.

Thank you so much for responding to this grey area of collecting. I found several listings of Spanish spear, pike and lance heads, but none with the shaft (which would have helped narrow mine down). Likewise, even these seem to contradict their classifications. I'm hoping to find out if the wormy ash wood was used strictly for pikes and not on spears/lances, as mine is complete with the tiny bore holes. When I purchased this piece, I was told it was a British boarding pike, but the X designs made me think of those markings I've seen on Span lance heads and on my Brazilian espada/cutlass.

Here is one similar listed as a pike head (6 down)
http://www.autrynationalcenter.org/...sh_colonial.php

Here is a spear head, similar, but not as diamond-shaped as mine
http://www.worthpoint.com/worthoped...800-lance-spear
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Old 1st October 2009, 09:59 AM   #20
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So no one thinks I'm crazy about the "X" decorations-

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ghlight=spanish

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ghlight=spanish

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ghlight=spanish

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ghlight=spanish

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ghlight=spanish

The one above worries me. African X designs on weapons? Could my piece be an African spear (not my area, but I've never seen one with diamond blade or wormy ash shaft, so???)


Here's a similar pattern on cutlass-
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...azilian+cutlass
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Old 1st October 2009, 04:43 PM   #21
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Just for interest, HMS Warrior, a rebuilt 1860's warship, is moored in Portsmouth near HMS Victory. when i saw the initial comment on the british boarding pike, i remembered that the Warrior had racks of them, some around the base of the masts.

i seem to recall they were about 6 ft. long, possibly 7, and had a triangular pike point with langets, and a tail piece.

the ship also had racks and racks of original colt navy revolvers, rifled muskets, and the std. steel hilted spectacle guard cutlasses. they have a website that will take you on a virtual tour, but the weapons are not shown, darn it.

anyhow, anyone finding themselves in the area, it's well worth seeing both the Victory and the Warrior, as well as the rest of the site. the wreck of the Mary Rose, with it's tudor weaponry is also there - try pulling a 150lb longbow there!
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Old 1st October 2009, 08:56 PM   #22
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I'd love to see that ship, if I ever get a trip over to the homeland (grandfather was from Redruth, Cornwall). The U.S.S. Constitution likewise had boarding pikes stacked around the main mast, so I think this was a common practice. On most ships of the line, the pikes would have been heavy wooden affairs with langets/side straps, but many of the Rev War pikes and certainly the ones made for merchant defence and privateers didn't. Likewise, the Brit pikes for the RN had butt plates, but MOST other navies (American, French, Dutch, etc) didn't , as this metal cap would mar the deck over time. Anyway, still a mystery piece. I think Gonzalo is right, though, to not strictly label this piece as Span colonial-after seeing all of those navaja from Spain with similar decorations. Likewise, many colonial North American pieces had primitive line etching/markings...
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Old 2nd October 2009, 02:49 AM   #23
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I was looking through Neumann's today and found what I was hoping to find; an example with similar designs. It's a colonial American halberd with X's on it like mine. It was found at Washington's camp in New York. Likewise, there were several examples of pikes, all American, that didn't have butt caps and whose length and diameter resembled this one's. I'm going to assume it is an American pike or trench spear until someone disproves it, anyway.
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Old 23rd January 2021, 06:36 AM   #24
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I'm dusting off this old thread because I have better pics of this item and I just discovered the head actually screws off and is tanged, while the ferrule holds it in place! Very interesting construction! I haven't seen anything like this before, which made me a little nervous. Is this tanged head that resembles a tombak really an Indonesian piece? I don't think so, as the haft is wormy ash (a Euro and American favorite wood for spears/pikes from time immortal), nor does it have any of the typical designs/pamor, etc. In all other ways, it fits the bill of a short boarding pike. The diamond-shaped blade would place it Amer Rev War period up to 1800 perhaps. I had also thought of trench spears, which were popular in America at this time for fort defense, but the ferrule, decorative design around the base and quality of the head seems to steer away from the typically much more primitive spears of the era. I'm sticking to my guns that this is a boarding pike, possibly private purchase, but just as likely made during the Revolution, when swords, halberds and pikes were locally constructed by blacksmiths and thus simple in nature-
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Old 23rd January 2021, 02:12 PM   #25
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Looking at the construction, I think you have an 18th-early 19th century infantry officers or sergeants half pike.More of a rank symbol than a weapon, though known to have been used as such.
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Old 24th January 2021, 01:46 AM   #26
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Thank you, David, for coming in on this one. Staff weapons are often non-descript and hard to pin-point. I had considered that possibility (thus, my 'trench spear' mention), but wasn't sure of pike lengths during this era. I'm still happy it is at least of the period and well constructed.
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