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Old 21st June 2021, 12:53 PM   #1
Redbelly52
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Default Markings on a D-Guard Bowie knife

I am a new member to the forum and glad to be so. I would like to ask the group if anyone has seen markings such as I have found on my knife,(see photos). They were not obvious when I bought the knife, and it takes paint to bring them out, even faintly. I've id'd the crown over V.R. as Victorian era. I'd like to try and pinpoint the date closer,if possible. There appear to be other words below the Crown VR, but I can not make them out. Has anyone seen such a mark? Could you help putting a closer date to the production of the blade? I know blades with the tri-fuller such as these were exported to the US from England from the mid 1800's to early 1900's. Thanks in advance.
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Old 21st June 2021, 03:27 PM   #2
David
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Faint indeed. I can see there are markings, but beyond that i cannot distinguish them.
Fernando, is this something better seen in the Euro section?
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Old 21st June 2021, 04:18 PM   #3
Rick
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How thick is the spine of the blade?
I'm thinking it might be a re-purposed machete.
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Old 21st June 2021, 05:29 PM   #4
fernando
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Quote:
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Faint indeed. I can see there are markings, but beyond that i cannot distinguish them.
Fernando, is this something better seen in the Euro section?
We can try !
Some sort of (shortened) espada ancha ?
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Old 21st June 2021, 08:39 PM   #5
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My thought as well on the espada reworking. I know there were both German and British retaiors selling their wares in the Americas at the turn of the 18th/19th century. This is a curious one, though. Spanish colonial 'bowies' were around, but this blade type more typifies an American pattern. A 'VR' and crown would indicate not only British, but also British military, right? If it was a cut-down blade (very possible as many bowies were made from old swords, files, refurbished utilitarian knives, etc), why does it look so different in it's width. If not for the marking, I'd be inclined to say a bowie-type from Old Spain or American-southwestern. I'm kinda stumped!

I think first we have to rule out that this isn't a 'foreign knife' (meaning no offense, but we know that there are other knives that resemble American bowies). It is definitely not Philippino, as many of the so-called bowies on eBay pretend to be), nor is it a gaucho-type. The broad blade, clipped point and tight line fullers reminds me of Asian blades, but again, that doesn't make sense! The D-guard and grip look right for a classic bowie. Is the VR/crown spurious? I know the GR/crown symbol was 'borrowed' by German sword-makers into the 19th century, so why not this marking? Did Great Britain make a wide machete that could have been this weapon's origin? While Sheffield did inport bowies and blades, the blade on this one looks 'piratey', more Caribbean or Spanish colonial, not the refined work of Sheffield.

I love this piece, but there are still unanswered questions...
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Old 21st June 2021, 09:08 PM   #6
Norman McCormick
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Hi,
I suspect Rick is correct and this is a reworked machete blade. The crowned V.R. could easily be a manufacturers way of giving his goods a stamp of perceived quality rather than a British military marking. Have a look at these matchets/machetes and note the triple fullers. I think the blade in question although substantial looks from the photographs to be too thin to have started life as a large knife.
Regards,
Norman.
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Old 21st June 2021, 09:46 PM   #7
Jim McDougall
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This one is truly an anomaly. All the suggestions here so far are well placed and viable, and I can only add more logs to the fire.

As Fernando suggested, this hilt rings very 'espada ancha' to me, and does not correspond to any D guard Confederate bowie hilts I am familiar with. As Mark suggests, this blade more corresponds to the American style Bowie forms, but here is where the problems take hold.

As Norman has pointed out, the triple fuller pattern is consistent with Solingen made trade blades which included 'cutlass' and 'machete' types.
However, this blade, which as noted, may be reprofiled from a larger blade, the blade back seems to 'peak' away from the fuller pattern to correspond to an equally peaked edge to form a kind of widened 'falchion' type blade.

It would seem difficult to reprofile a blade to have these 'peaks' to achieve the 'Bowie' clipped point effect from a blade of the Solingen forms seen.

As far as I have known, the spurious GR or VR marks were never used by Solingen or any other production locations, quite honestly British blades did not have a particularly good reputation. Sheffield, on the other hand, was a private enterprise which did not furnish blades to the government, so would not have had these arsenal type marks.

As Mark has well noted this blade is hardly the work of Sheffield, and appears to be more 'blacksmith' character.

The Spanish colonial espada ancha, while used into the second quarter of 19th century, had mostly reduced in size to what closely resembled the large Bowie knives that had evolved after the Alamo (1836). They became known colloquially on the frontiers as 'frog stickers', along with the 'Arkansas Toothpick' and Bowies. What was unique about these Spanish colonial (now Mexican) espada/knives was the tip had an 'uptick', not the widened clipped point of Bowies.

So the big question is, why the VR and crown? (are there other markings?)
Could this blade have come from one of the 'pioneer' type blades used mid 19th century in the British army. Is the location of the mark on the blade consistent with that on these types of blades?

These are espada anchas; the one at top, and third from bottom have the mid 18th c. 'dragoon' blades. Note the differences from Bowie blades etc.
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Old 21st June 2021, 10:03 PM   #8
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N/T
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Old 21st June 2021, 10:17 PM   #9
Jim McDougall
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick View Post
N/T
Yee hah!!!!
So WHAT is it?
Any VR on this?
Great catch!!!!!!
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Old 22nd June 2021, 05:52 AM   #10
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It's a Machete that widens toward the end.
Looks like a good candidate for the knife blade in OP's picture.
It's an export with a crude handle wrapped in wire; I've had a lot of these over the years; invariably the hilt would loosen fairly quickly. I would expect they were re-hilted often.
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Old 22nd June 2021, 07:08 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
Yee hah!!!!
So WHAT is it?
Any VR on this?
Great catch!!!!!!
Nope; just an example of a short machete it could be pretty easily ground to a Bowie form.
I'd guess the thickness of the blade will tell all.
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Old 22nd June 2021, 12:40 PM   #12
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Thanks to all for the great input. Yes, I think this could be a repurposed machete blade. The thickness is 1/8" which is a bit thin for a knife of this size(IMHO). The knife measures 19 1/4" long. I have not weighed it on a scale but feels like around a pound or so. It has a very good "feel". Well balanced. Not just thrown together, if that makes any sense... The machete picture in one of the responses looks like a good candidate for my knife blade. Any idea the age of that machete?....From the research that I have done, there were several blade manufacturers that exported blades to the US and other countries, beginning in the early 1800's. Robert Mole exported blades, including machetes, (machets as they were spelled early). I have a photo of a Robert Mole "eighteenth century" "Steamer" machete that has a picture of a steamship on the blade. William Hunt also made and exported blades during the same time frame. His trademark was "The Brades" (early 1900's). Both companies offered machetes with the tri-fuller...As stated before, none of the markings, including the crown VR were visible until I put the paint on. The lettering, possibly two lines, appears to me to show a W and an O. I had assumed this was a blacksmith altered knife, using a blade from a machete. I hope that someone might have seen lettering like this before.
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Old 22nd June 2021, 03:34 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redbelly52 View Post
Thanks to all for the great input. Yes, I think this could be a repurposed machete blade. The thickness is 1/8" which is a bit thin for a knife of this size(IMHO). The knife measures 19 1/4" long. I have not weighed it on a scale but feels like around a pound or so. It has a very good "feel". Well balanced. Not just thrown together, if that makes any sense... The machete picture in one of the responses looks like a good candidate for my knife blade. Any idea the age of that machete?....From the research that I have done, there were several blade manufacturers that exported blades to the US and other countries, beginning in the early 1800's. Robert Mole exported blades, including machetes, (machets as they were spelled early). I have a photo of a Robert Mole "eighteenth century" "Steamer" machete that has a picture of a steamship on the blade. William Hunt also made and exported blades during the same time frame. His trademark was "The Brades" (early 1900's). Both companies offered machetes with the tri-fuller...As stated before, none of the markings, including the crown VR were visible until I put the paint on. The lettering, possibly two lines, appears to me to show a W and an O. I had assumed this was a blacksmith altered knife, using a blade from a machete. I hope that someone might have seen lettering like this before.

The WO on the blade would represent 'war office' , the appellation used for the Board of Ordnance after 1855. With the VR and those initials, it would appear that this blade was from a machete issued to other ranks by the British government, post 1855.
It would seem likely that these machetes were certainly issued for colonial use in highly vegetal regions, so there are a number of possibilities.
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Old 28th June 2021, 11:26 PM   #14
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I am positive that this has been made from a reshaped English export machete blade . I have had over the years several of these machetes with crowned VR and even crowned ( Georgian ) GR on the blade. These markings I recall reading are spurious and were simply added to enhance the perceived quality of the item in the eyes of potential overseas buyers , rather than denoting ex British military service . Because of the high price which attracts to large 'Confederate' bowies these machete blades seem to be the basis of many an unscrupulous forgers fare. Despite the VR on the blade , the makers name and address on one's I have had appear to be in a much more modern font.
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Old 28th June 2021, 11:43 PM   #15
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Here are 2 'royally' marked machetes I used to own , neither of which I believe to be as old as they purport to be .
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Old 29th June 2021, 01:16 PM   #16
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Thanks for your input. I also think this knife began life as a machete.The machetes in your photo do not appear to have other markings. This blade seems to have at least one row of lettering? and perhaps two rows. I have not been able to make out any letters with the exception of an "O" and maybe a "W". Have you seen any machete's of this type with lettering? If needed, I can post other photos, but the lettering is not any clearer in them. Thanks again for your reply.
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