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Old 29th July 2011, 02:01 PM   #1
A.alnakkas
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Default Plastic, Bakerlite and Arabian Arms

Hello All,

Through the time I have spent collecting (not much :P), I have came across various arab arms of different quality that employs plastic or bakerlite hilts. In total, I have atleast seen a couple of swords in Badawi style with plastic hilts, all of those had older blades, one with a very fine european one and one seems locally made but imitating persian style. This btw, are not to be mistaken with modern repros.

I also came across persian swords with plastic (one had a pink plastic hilt!) and a few with bakerlite (similar to the example owned by David, Aka Katana)

So how wide spread the usage of plastic in arabia? and any picture examples perhaps?

Sadly, I do not have any picture of those as they are sold before I could take pictures of them. but I have an example, A jambiya; it has heavy silver fitting, of good quality compared to the modern ones still being made. The blade is old, sharpened and of good quality, but the only let down to me which made me hesitate to buy it ( it was cheap as dirt) was that it had a plastic hilt. There are almost identical examples sold by oriental arms, so that added abit of confidence to me and I took it.

Here are some pictures:
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Old 29th July 2011, 03:19 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by A.alnakkas
So how wide spread the usage of plastic in arabia?
You're referring to usage in 20/21st Century, right?
I also saw plastic/resin hilts, they all are recent repairs/restorations. it's easier and much cheaper to make a plastic hilt then to carve it from horn. the clear acrylic plastic was/is used to imitate rock crystal hilts. some hard plastics, if polished right, look very similar to horn, so it's very economical alternative for savvy sellers who do not follow proper means
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Old 29th July 2011, 03:34 PM   #3
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Hello Alex,

I think they are what you say. But the examples I've seen are really old! I think one of the shamshirs has a wootz blade.

Am not talking about the modern reproduction coming out of yemen/ksa and oman.. am talking about swords made to be used and are rehilted over and over.
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Old 29th July 2011, 04:46 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A.alnakkas
Hello Alex,

I think they are what you say. But the examples I've seen are really old! I think one of the shamshirs has a wootz blade.

Am not talking about the modern reproduction coming out of yemen/ksa and oman.. am talking about swords made to be used and are rehilted over and over.
Salaams, Kind regards in hot weather !! We are having 50 degrees just now.
Interesting about the plastic stuff in the market over the last 20 years or so.. Personally I dont mind as it takes the strain off rare species to some extent I suppose. There are several types of plastic . The first composite is a yellow colour and on Khanjars it makes a reasonable useable and heavy hilt. The second is a dark brown almost black colour which is quite attractive and dense so that it can accept the myriad of small silver pins in the same way horn does. Often that one is called "carbon". They are both plastic of a sort but no seller with half a brain would promote a plastic handle as genuine horn. The other plastic job is white and is the Ivory variant copy. It is very attractive and practical and takes all the adornment like a real one. Again no one should be duped by a plastic handle since they have virtually no patina cracks or wear as in the original and who ?... which tourist is in the market for a real rare species hilt?... not a lot I suspect. Those that know even a little about real horn handles will never be fooled by a composite hilt. We are experimenting with various less expensive, allowable, horn equivalents and have some excellent results. I have one in the workshop now and will publish to Forum on completion. (There is another cheaper variant in the form of a ceramic handle but we gave up on that as it shatters when dropped ! )
Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
p.s. I know of no plastics on Omani Swords.
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Old 29th July 2011, 05:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A.alnakkas
Hello Alex,

I think they are what you say. But the examples I've seen are really old! I think one of the shamshirs has a wootz blade.

Am not talking about the modern reproduction coming out of yemen/ksa and oman.. am talking about swords made to be used and are rehilted over and over.
If we're talking about (chemically produced) plastic, it cannot be older than 100 y.o. If there are any plastic parts on old wootz shamshir I doubt it is authentic and meant to be there.
by the way, some new plastic handle copies will full most collectors, they do have age cracks and coloration of real horn or ivory, and good rezin copies are almost impossible to tell without the needle/burn test.
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Old 29th July 2011, 05:14 PM   #6
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Bakelite is indeed a hundred year old form of plastic.
I would imagine it took a few years to move East .
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakelite

I would think it might have seen use in the East by 1910 or so .
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Old 29th July 2011, 06:32 PM   #7
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Thanks all for the input!

Rick, The date you set is logical considering that swords were still used well into the mid of the 20th century.

Alex, I dont think you understand what am aiming at; I mainly want to know the time in which plastic was used for rehilting and picture examples. About the swords and weither the plastic was ment to be there, well from a collector point of view, it is not ment to be there. But if you are a bedouin, am sure you wouldnt mind plastic! keep in mind that plastic probably have some better qualities compared to traditional materials. By qualities ofc I mean: cheaper, good endurance, easy to use (and more I think)

As for the swords with plastic hilts that I've seen, I atleast saw a solingen sword, a persian sword and atleast 2 with european blades that sport plastic hilts. Other parts such as the cross guard are older then the hilt slabs and so are the pommel caps! I really regret not taking photos

Ibrahim, Thanks alot for the input! I know what you mean about the heat! a few days ago it was 50+ here and I felt my skin crunch under the sun. Btw I would love to visit your workshop some time soon. I have items that needs belts and restoration.

Regards,

Abdullatif
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