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Old 19th August 2022, 01:04 AM   #1
JoeCanada42
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Default Misecorde, Stiletto, ?

Hi everyone, I would appreciate any help with this,

Just won this last Tuesday and picked it up today.
the local online auction called it, vintage dagger 9.5 inches, based on the auction photos i couldn't tell if it was a letter opener, the brass looked too clean in auction photos, nevertheless a few things drew me to it, I payed for it ,there was another bidder I took it from 20 to almost 100.

I figured it could be a misecorde or stiletto or something along those lines.

it is actually a 9 3/4 blade and 15 inches total length
I liked the fuller and little bit of ricasso, I liked the bone showed age and stain. now that I see it closer in the damaged part you can see the bone has lines like a tree would. the brass looked clean of tarnish because it is gold gilt. but looking close clearly shows age.

the guard appears damaged as if missing finials
the handle is pinned in place, it does not unscrew..
I'm Shure it could cut, but it doesn't appear sharpened.
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Old 19th August 2022, 01:41 AM   #2
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sorry for the blurry photos I will only be able to get better photos next week...
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Old 19th August 2022, 07:20 AM   #3
M ELEY
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Hello. It looks like you have a very distressed naval midshipman's dirk. Based on the smaller size, it would be classified as more of a dress piece versus the typically larger/plainer 'fighting' dirks. These were a symbol of one's rank among the more common seamen on the ship. It showed that you were a young officer (some as young as 10!) and could climb the ranks in the naval hierachy. Yours appears to be of the period ca 1800-20's. Still a nice historical piece...
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Old 19th August 2022, 10:34 AM   #4
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Agreed .
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Old 19th August 2022, 04:43 PM   #5
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awesome thanks for helping me figure out what it is, indeed it is great news
I am researching it and have seen a few similar examples, most times called British but at least once called American.

so what happened to the guard? was it damaged, did someone want it to be easier to conceal? if i had to guess the finials on the guard were cut off. hammered down into disks and used as trade currency.
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Old 19th August 2022, 06:56 PM   #6
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the 1796 pre-victorian standardization of swords bled over into naval Midshipmans dirks slowly, the current eagle pommel pattern is from the mid-19c.


This is an example from around 1810, as officers in training, they were private purchase and varied wildly. This one looks fairly close to the posted one, tho lacking a larger oval disk, at the whim of the maker and purchaser. The cross guard quillions are niot yet broken off. The 'edges' would likely NOT be sharpened as the narrow blade's edge geometry would not allow for a decent cut, even if technically as sharp as a razor. Design is purely for thrusting of course.
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Old 19th August 2022, 09:35 PM   #7
M ELEY
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Very nice example, Wayne. The one you posted is of the fighting type, with a larger, stiletto-type blade and 'propeller' guard. I'd love to add one like this to my collection someday-
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Old 20th August 2022, 12:26 AM   #8
Jim McDougall
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Interesting item, and I agree, this would be an outstanding addition to a naval grouping! I have a hard time figuring pragmatically what the reason for removing the quillon terminals. It does seem they must have been removed in accord as the length of both is similar. Possible one got broken and the other was also removed for symmetry?
I had not ever thought brass was so fragile these elements would be subject to breaking, however I have a briquet of brass whose quillon is also broken (unless purposely removed). Again, cannot fathom (good naval term) what reason.

Comments from P.G.W.Annis (1970)
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Old 20th August 2022, 07:46 AM   #9
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I suspect that the brass quillion may have bent under impact, which may have work-hardened it a bit & it broke when being straightened, possibly then they bent/broke the other to match. a break would show a jagged appearance, which i would have smoothed by sanding & polishing.


From "British Swords and Swordsmanship, pg. 55-59 Dirks, excerpts (my rewordingss):

Midshipmen were not the young boys of fiction. For example, on HMS London, in 1751, the youngest was 17 and the oldest 47. The 1856 pattern dirk was standardized and worn by midshipmen in the latter part of the Victorian period, it is in this period that they established the fiction of the young boys, and only they wore dirks. Before that, on father found that when outfitting his son as a midshipman, expecting to buy him a dirk, was told that midshipmen wore swords. Prior to that, dirks just showed officer status, and even admirals are painted wearing them, as they were more convenient aboard ship. Midshipmen (and warrant officers had black sharkskin sword grips, white was for lieutenants and above.



I am not sure if this was true in the USA. When I was a First class cadet (midshipman), in 1968, I was a cadet officer and carried a std. white grip US naval sword on parade. The non-officers carried 1903A3 Springfield rifles. The Pershing Rifles unit carried M1 Garands & drilled with sword bayonets. (I was also a PR as Ops officer & rarely competed, but had to be able to fill in, so I got qualified in fancy trick drill myself)

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Old 20th August 2022, 08:35 AM   #10
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Here's my British example with ivory fluted grip, pillow pommel and fighting blade 9along with a stiletto for comparison-
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Old 20th August 2022, 08:44 AM   #11
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And here's another example with what I call the 'propeller' pattern crossguard, which I think is an English pattern.
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Old 20th August 2022, 09:29 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M ELEY View Post
And here's another example with what I call the 'propeller' pattern crossguard, which I think is an English pattern.

The book I referenced above "British Swords and Swordsmanship" pg. 56, lists it as 'Propeller pattern circa 1790"
Note the oval disk ref. - and the 'button', I'd guess was added after mfg. by the outfitter or purchaser.
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Old 20th August 2022, 09:31 AM   #13
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Not sure if this counts, but one dealer had the exact match to this described as a naval dirk. I do mean exact as well, so it is an actual pattern whether commercial or military. I am dubious about that identification, I bought mine as a civilian stileto of the early 20th C.
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Old 20th August 2022, 09:33 AM   #14
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Ha! And here I thought I'd come up with that term on my own! Thanks for that reference, Wayne, as well as confirmation of my suspected belief that it was a British pattern.
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Old 20th August 2022, 09:39 AM   #15
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Opps, crossed paths with your post, David. I think you nailed it correctly. This is a civilian 'gambler's boot dagger' type seen in the Old West up to the 20's. Interestingly, many of these were actually made in Sheffield (that pommel cap resembing the English ones so much) and sold to the U.S. market back in the 19th c. The ivory hilts and fitting throw people into thinking naval dirk, but the blade is more like an Arkansas toothpick knife of the Old West. Nice piece!
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Old 20th August 2022, 10:38 AM   #16
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Again, from my ref. book:
Pg.55


"The very small ones were simply cutlery used at the table or as the basic working tools of a seaman. Larger and more ornate dirks could well have served the same purposes but also acted as an indication of officer status".


It goes on to mention a length of 18 in. (457 mm) making them very substantial weapons.


It also mentions a caution that dirks were also worn by Army Officers and even Merchant Marine Officers.


...and possibly short ones as gambler's weapons.
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Old 20th August 2022, 08:30 PM   #17
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In Annis in his descriptions he does apply the caveat that many examples are presumed maritime or naval but falls back from declaring as absolute, probably because of these other areas of use.

Capn.....amazing examples!!! as would be expected in context of your holdings

Wayne, always very much appreciate your great insights which come from a well seasoned naval background. Always great perspective!!!
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Old 21st August 2022, 09:32 AM   #18
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Thanks, Jim for your comments. Of course that does make sense. Smaller dirks could easily have been used as tools aboard ship. Both clasp knives and fixed blade knives of smaller fashion were used to trim lines, cut rope, carve scrimshaw, cut away old sail cloth and could be used like a fid in a pinch.
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Old 21st August 2022, 10:29 AM   #19
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Remember my Brazilian example; surely for a cadet number one uniform.
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Old 21st August 2022, 02:45 PM   #20
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This is British 'pillow pommel' navy dress dirk with broken crossguard.
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Old 21st August 2022, 02:49 PM   #21
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Here is almost identical one that I have.
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Old 21st August 2022, 03:52 PM   #22
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I want to add a British navy dagger ca. 1780 once in my collection
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Old 21st August 2022, 07:13 PM   #23
Jim McDougall
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This discussion is outstanding as the stiletto/misercorde topic has perfectly extended into the fascinating spectrum of dirks, which although typically regarded as naval (with exception of course of the Highland types) seem to have had other areas of use on other cases as well.
The size (of course matters) as far as determining the potential for the probable use of these variations, and while the smaller ones of course may be seen as 'cutlery' they surely had use in close quarters predicaments.

It is really fascinating seeing all of these great examples of 'dirk' which are mostly naval, and that is of course the most exciting area for these.
Many of the remarkable and beautiful examples shown here reflect the practice of using cut down blades in many cases.

In stepping down a bit from the strata of the examples shown so far, my example is a bit more into 'munitions grade' but also illustrates the cutting down of a full size blade into a somewhat smaller fighting knife (dirk?).
This was clearly a hunting hanger of early 18thc blade, what appears to remain of a fleur de lis appears at blade center, in the manner of such blades which are seen in often Jacobite contexts pre-Culloden (probably from the St.Etienne arsenal).

While clearly not of the stature of these naval dirks for officers and midshipmen, there are many possible speculations for this example, which even optimistically could include pirate contexts. We know that piracy was not confined to the sensationalized figures or areas and that ordinary seamen on various types of vessels might have sought such weapons as well.
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Old 24th August 2022, 12:34 AM   #24
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very cool stuff everyone, wish I had the scabbard for mine..,
well here are some better photos finally..

also if anybody gets a chance please check out a knife I posted in miscellaneous
thanks
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