Ethnographic Arms & Armour
 

Go Back   Ethnographic Arms & Armour > Discussion Forums > European Armoury
User Name
Password
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 24th July 2020, 06:32 PM   #1
AUhills79
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: North Carolina, USA
Posts: 8
Default My first antique blade, help with ID?

Hi all, I just recently acquired my first real antique blade and am hoping to find out more about it. Actually I don't even know whether to call it a "knife" or a "sword"? It has a 15 inch blade, and is 21 inches total in length. Perhaps a broken sword repurposed into a hunting knife? I've been doing some research myself but haven't come up with much and am admittedly no sword expert. I have been able to translate the Latin text on the blade although the symbols are still unknown. It has the same text and symbols on both sides of the blade except for a makers mark by the hilt on only one side.

On the blade:
"Me fecit Solingen"
"Nec Temere : Nec Timidi"
PLUS UNKNOWN SYMBOLS*
(Timidi should have been Timide in correct grammar)

This translates to:
"I was made in Solingen"
and the phrase,"Neither Rashly, Nor Timidly"
(Seems a more fitting phrase for a blade carried into battle than for a hunting knife.)

I purchased it from an antique dealer in Texas advertised as a 100-150 yr old hunting knife planning to carry with me on pheasant, raccoon, and hog hunts but haven't had a sheath made for it yet. A lot of times I hunt with antique 18-19th century flintlock and percussion sporting guns and wanted a period knife or hunting sword to carry as well. If I find out this is something with any real historic value though I might be hesitant to take it out hunting & camping with me.

I appreciate any input, thanks!
Peter S.
Attached Images
           
AUhills79 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th July 2020, 07:56 PM   #2
shayde78
Member
 
shayde78's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 327
Default

Welcome to the forum, AU!

I really like this blade. I am certain the fullers and markings will allow someone on here to place where it comes from and what it looked like in it's original form. It does indeed look like it is cut down from something larger. I'm not sure it has been mounted on this hilt for very long. The antler near the guard is uniform in color, and from what I've seen on here, one can typically expect that the junction of steel to antler would cause some discoloration in that area over time. Of course, I am notoriously bad at judging things from photos, so wait for the experts!

Still,an handsome piece, and I'll be following the discussion to see what expertise others can lend.
shayde78 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th July 2020, 10:43 PM   #3
Philip
Member
 
Philip's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: California
Posts: 811
Default

deleted: info posted after looking at images but not reading text

Last edited by Philip : 24th July 2020 at 11:21 PM. Reason: duplicate info
Philip is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th July 2020, 10:59 PM   #4
Philip
Member
 
Philip's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: California
Posts: 811
Default

deleted: duplicate info posted after looking at images but not reading text first. Duh!

Last edited by Philip : 24th July 2020 at 11:23 PM. Reason: duplicate info
Philip is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th July 2020, 11:10 PM   #5
Rick
Member
 
Rick's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 5,861
Thumbs up

I expect that blade is substantially older than the Dealer's estimate.
Possibly Spanish Colonial?
I believe the handle and blade have been together for a fairly long time also.
Rick is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th July 2020, 04:09 AM   #6
Will M
Member
 
Will M's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: In the wee woods north of Napanee Ontario
Posts: 244
Default

I would think the handle is as much as 70 years old. There is a modern vise mark on the blade ricasso someone used to assemble the grip to the blade.
The blade is very interesting and am waiting for it to be identified..
Will M is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th July 2020, 05:39 AM   #7
M ELEY
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: NC, U.S.A.
Posts: 1,701
Default

To me, it appears to be what you indicated. A hunting knife made from a cut-down German sword. This was not an uncommon event at all. I have a British naval dirk ca. 1800 with an old sword cut-down blade. The honey yellow antler seems to possess age, as does the guard. "Eye-shaped" or diamond guards like the one on yours seemed to pop up in the second quarter of the 19th century and of course is a pattern still seen today. I would place it pre-1900 based on patina and styling, American side-knife or hunting dagger. Knives like these were seen on the American frontier, carried by Confederate soldiers as side knives (NOT bowie knives!). A general search of the internet will find some close comparisons. I'm not at home right now, but there's a pic of a knife nearly exact to yours in one of my books at home. You have a very interesting piece there!
Mark
M ELEY is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th July 2020, 12:58 PM   #8
AUhills79
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: North Carolina, USA
Posts: 8
Default

Thanks for all the replies, really interesting stuff! This knife would certainly have a story to tell if it could talk and I believe it still has more to say. You can see it has been used quite a bit after it was re-hilted because the stag horn has been worn down and marked up from constant handling. Interested in hearing more opinions on the date of this as it seems everyone I've talked to has a different idea on when this was paired with the blade though it does most closely resemble the confederate side-knifes M ELEY mentioned, especially the guard. Also very much interested on when the original blade was produced, it's original purpose, how it would have looked, and when it was likely broken and salvaged. I'll pull it out again today and get a better close-up of the makers mark too.

Also I've been doing some more research on the symbols and found their origins all the way back in medieval times during the crusades. I've attached a couple images for reference. Surely the blade wouldn't date back to the crusades though, correct?
Attached Images
  
AUhills79 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th July 2020, 02:08 PM   #9
AUhills79
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: North Carolina, USA
Posts: 8
Default

Here are the last three things left to translate.

1: The maker's mark.
2: The diamond shape symbol made with 9 dots.
3: The "xxx" or ">>>" symbol.

If these can be figured out I suspect that will help put an accurate date on the blade. I suspect there is only a limited slot in the timeline where all the symbols on this blade would of been used together.
Attached Images
   
AUhills79 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th July 2020, 03:22 PM   #10
Jim McDougall
Arms Historian
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 7,930
Default

This is a fascinating knife! and as Mark has well noted, the blade is from a cut down repurposed blade which appears to have been a backsword (single edged) type. It is a blade indeed of Solingen manufacture, and I would think of 17th century by the inscriptions. These inscriptions often included patriotic and religious invocations which included traditional ecclesiastical symbols in many cases (similar to the crusades type also noted).

Possibly the blade is from English provenance as Solingen was providing huge numbers of blades to England in the 17th century, and often mounted in cavalry swords. That English blades would end up in the colonies in America would not be at all surprising.

As swords had become of little use as weapons by the 19th century with the advent of firearms, it stands to reason that an 'old sword' might be relieved of its blade for better use as a knife for practical purposes. This was often the case, as in Scotland, when blades were broken or damaged, to be repurposed with cut down blades as 'dirks', much as Mark has described.

Knives such as this were prevalent in the American frontiers, and these 'old blades' so remounted often became the sound sidearms used in these rugged contexts.

Fantastic piece!!! Its intrinsic value historically is most important. Such wonderfully inscribed Solingen blades are seldom seen in such context as far as I have seen, though they do occasionally come up.
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th July 2020, 04:36 PM   #11
colin henshaw
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,276
Default

A good looking knife, congratulations ! I like it, the blade especially...

As already noted, the blade does look very much in profile like some of those cut-down sword blades to be found on 18th century or older Scottish Highland dirks. I have seen very similar in museums.

From the images, I would guess the staghorn hilt does not appear to have been on there for so long, but of course it may seem older when handling.

A great first acquisition...
colin henshaw is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th July 2020, 06:40 PM   #12
Philip
Member
 
Philip's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: California
Posts: 811
Default possible age of blade / recycling

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
I expect that blade is substantially older than the Dealer's estimate.


I agree. Blades marked ME FECIT SOLINGEN were widely produced, often with misspelled Latin inscriptions of a pious or patriotic nature, for export across Europe and even to the East in the 17th to beginning 18th centuries. You find them far and wide in all sorts of blade shapes -- sabers, backswords, riding-swords -- mounted up as Caucasus shashkas, Indian firangis, and so forth. A few were even mounted up by artisans in the Forbidden City of Peking and presented to the emperors of China.

a fascinating example of this:

An article in Vaabenhistoriske Aarboger Vol XVI about a Japanese sword with a European blade makes reference to a dated ME FECIT SOLINGEN 1633 (or 1635, inscription worn) but possibly of Dutch manufacture from the spelling of its other inscription, P....SSS KEJSER, ANNO..... An interesting thing, it is a recycled sword blade remounted as an aikuchi knife in Japan, the blade shortened, tang replaced with one of Japanese shape, and tempered and polished in Japanese manner with remains of the inscriptions visible as above, in a lacquered scabbard bearing the mon of the Matsuda family . (Present location unknown, was exhibited by the UK's T˘ken Kai at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 1968, cat. no. 95).
Philip is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th July 2020, 09:37 PM   #13
AUhills79
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: North Carolina, USA
Posts: 8
Default

Really exciting to find out it's so much older than I thought! Even though it's not in it's original form that's part of it's history and the fact that the blade and inscriptions are probably around 400 years old is fascinating. It only weighs 13 ounces, fits in the right hand perfectly, has a sharp edge, and is super comfortable to handle but it has too much history and too nice of a patina to take it out hunting & camping like I originally planned. I think I will find another antique hunting knife to carry and keep this one preserved as is. Glad I posted on here before I started using it in the woods!

Thanks to your comments I've been googling "Backsword made in Solingen" and found this example with an almost identical double fuller blade. This one was made in the mid 16th century and re-hilted in it's current form in 1620-1640. It's a horseman's backsword with a 38 inch long blade! Mine likely looked very similar originally. (Pictures attached, I think it's ok to post pics and link since it's already been sold)

Source:
https://www.antique-swords.com/H21-...-Backsword.html

Some quick research shows there appears to be little variation in-between the double fullers on backswords made in Solingen during the 16th-17th century's. Maybe the maker's mark on mine will help narrow it down to a more exact date but right now it looks like the earliest it could have been forged is during the mid-16th, latest is mid-late 17th century. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Attached Images
 
AUhills79 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th July 2020, 02:09 AM   #14
Rick
Member
 
Rick's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 5,861
Smile

Peter, is there any chance you could find out from the seller where he sourced it from?
Rick is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27th July 2020, 10:20 PM   #15
AUhills79
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: North Carolina, USA
Posts: 8
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
Peter, is there any chance you could find out from the seller where he sourced it from?


It's an out of town dealer so I sent an e-mail asking, saying I was working on researching the knife and it's provenance but haven't heard back. Not sure if he is going to reply, I negotiated him down to less than half the asking price when I bought it and now I'm getting back to him asking additional questions so probably not his favorite customer. They specialize in sculpture and art this knife was a pretty random item for them to have I think and definitely outside their area of expertise. I would guess most of their inventory comes from local estates and estate auctions there around Austin, Texas though.

Chances are this blade has been here in the States for some time but will probably never know for certain. Now knowing it's age I'd like to imagine it being carried and used by men throughout the whole development of the America from Colonial days to our Declaration of Independence, adventuring into the wild west and all the way through the Civil War until more modern times.

In all actuality though if the blade was commissioned by the English as seems likely it really could have been here since all the way back in colonial days
AUhills79 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29th July 2020, 06:02 PM   #16
Rick
Member
 
Rick's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 5,861
Default

It could possibly date to the era of The Great Migration which occurred fairly shortly after the success of the Plymouth colony. You are a lucky guy.
Rick is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13th August 2020, 06:47 PM   #17
midelburgo
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 99
Default

I think you have two inscriptions from two different times/places.

The one with Me fecit Solingen has "E"s that you often find in XVIIth German exports into Spain, imitating a sort of Spanish XVIth c. script. You find many swords attributed to SEBASTIAN HERNANDEZ, with that sort of "E"s.

On the other hand, NEC TEMERE NEC TIMIDI is not a motto that you find in Spanish swords. Its "E"s are more an Italian (standard) type.

Maybe your knife (and possibly some Scottish backswords) could have started life as a double edge blade.

I put Sebastian Hernandez and sword in google, and I got this officers 1728...
Attached Images
 

Last edited by midelburgo : 14th August 2020 at 12:25 AM.
midelburgo is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



All times are GMT. The time now is 12:01 PM.


Powered by: vBulletin Version 3.0.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Posts are regarded as being copyrighted by their authors and the act of posting material is deemed to be a granting of an irrevocable nonexclusive license for display here.