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Old 28th July 2020, 02:32 AM   #1
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Default Stirling silver or German silver

I have recently been given a number of knives. Some have niello on them, some not. I feel safe to assume that the items with niello are somewhat equivalent to sterling even if they don't have a hallmark or numbers such as 925. However, two of the knives I question. Short of a destructive test I don't know of a technique to discern the difference. Attached are pictures of what I think are a Dha and a Qama. Are these tourist pieces or not? With Regards
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Old 28th July 2020, 04:55 AM   #2
A. G. Maisey
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To test if something is silver or not silver we use a fluid silver test.

It can be bought in very small bottles from a jewelers supply store, it lasts for years, and it is very cheap.

You only use a drop at a time, it will not tell you if something is sterling or not, but it turns the material being tested red if it is silver, and the intensity of colour indicates the purity of the silver.
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Old 28th July 2020, 10:15 AM   #3
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Hello rockelk.

The Burmese dha (top one) is of a style that developed in the late 19th/early 20th C and deteriorated over time up to the mid-20th C. Some people refer to these as "story dha" because of the koftgari work on the blade, which usually relates one of the traditional Burmese tales of heroism.

All of the scabbards and hilts of this style of dha that I have seen were made of repoussed brass. Yours looks to be brass also. The koftgari work on the blade is usually done with silver wire, often of low purity. Please don't try doing any cutting with one of these as the blades are untempered and very soft. The earliest versions are the best quality and have decent sharp blades with fine koftgari work and high grades of silver--these are hard to find but their quality is readily appreciated next to those made after about 1900–1910. The example you show could be as old as the 1920s/1930s. The scoring for the koftgari on your blade is uneven and more widely spaced compared to higher class examples. The brass fittings on these swords can be well done, although remnants of abrasive polish, such as Brasso® applied by previous owners, are all too common and hard to remove.

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Old 28th July 2020, 10:59 PM   #4
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I can see what you mean Ian. The quality of the repousse on the dha is of very low quality.

You can also go to a jeweler and have them test the metals.
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Old 29th July 2020, 04:13 PM   #5
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What we call " German silver" was massively manufactured in Europe since 18 century. Prior to that, it was made in China for centuries (" paktong") and exported far and wide. It is an alloy of copper and nickel, often containing zinc as well.

German jewelers figured out the formula and started making it on their own.

Battara is correct: any local jeweler will be able to give you 100% correct answer, but just by looking at the Dha I suspect a cheap alloy: paktong.

I am not certain about the kindjal, but it is quite modern.
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Old 29th July 2020, 04:33 PM   #6
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Default Silver test

The lot, (40+ pieces) Varies quite a bit. These two, I put in the category of nice tourist pieces, but not true antiquities. Some of these are old but still tourist, some are nice collectables. I would like to post the four Kris's and seek opinions as I am still learning and have qualms as to what are collectables. Everyone thank you for your time.
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Old 29th July 2020, 04:36 PM   #7
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We call it ALPACA over here; a term of obscure origin.
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