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Knives as Weapons

Short edged weapons with a sharp point and usually two cutting edges have existed since time immemorial, but from a practical standpoint the collectable varieties start at the end of the Middle Ages with the ballock-knife, kidney dagger or dudgeon (1300-1700). Many other types of dagger developed in the period down to 1900, the names usually referring to the style and including the ear dagger, quillon dagger, main gauche (left-hand), stiletto and bris-epee or sword-breaker. The Swiss dagger was characterised by a strong hilt, shaped like the letter I, mounted on a short shaped blade. It is prized on account...

Edged Weapons from the Civil War

The American Civil War was not fought by highly trained, professional armies, but by a whole population forced to fight for the family values and ideals they believed in. This made it a unique war in many ways, not least in the types of weapons that were used. The large majority of weapons carried through the conflict were old-fashioned and rudimentary as the tide of the battle seemed to rely more on fighting spirit than superior modern technology. Typical tools were bayonets, sabers, swords, short swords, cutlasses, Bowie knives, pikes and lances which were all produced in profusion during this...

Types of Knives

Strictly speaking, knives fall into the general collecting catchall definition of "edged weapons", along with battle axes, swords, bayonets, daggers, and so on. The most spectacular collectable knife is surely the Bowie knife, named after its populariser and prime exponent, Jim Bowie. Bowie knives had great broad blades - some well over a foot long - with a hooked and sharpened leading edge to the point to enable the fighter to lunge upwards into his opponent in a lethal movement; they could also be thrown to devastating effect. Although Bowies today enjoy a cult status in the United States (along...

The Edged Weapon Factory at Toledo

From the 15th to 17th centuries, the Castillian city of Toledo in central Spain, flourished with an exceptional blade making industry, surpassing other Spanish cities like Valencia, some villages in Basque Country, or even the capital, Madrid. Toledo was considered as the standard of excellence for European blade production, and there were only a few places, like Solingen or Passau in Germany, that surpassed Toledo in terms of production volume. Blade production in Toledo was the responsibility of individual smiths, associated in a guild. It was a rather disperse and personal activity, although the guild was in charge of keeping...

Sword Care and Maintenance

Iron was used shortly after Mankind developed civilized, community dwellings. It followed the Bronze Age and was a vast improvement to the bronze axes from that period. Meteoric iron was sought whenever possible because it typically consisted of alloys that were tougher than the iron mined from earth. The Iron Age spanned the ancient civilizations. Greeks, Romans and Vikings used iron for their weapons. There is mounting evidence that their skills at pattern welding (Damascus steel) allowed them to produce very high quality weapons from this relatively soft metal. If you are lucky enough to have one of these, please...

Knights in History

In medieval history, the knight was an armed and mounted warrior belonging to the nobility. The incessant private warfare that characterized medieval times brought about a permanent military class, and by the 10th cent. the institution of knighthood was well established. The knight was essentially a military officer, although with the growth of feudalism the term tended to denote the holder of not only a position in the ranks of nobility but also in the ranks of landholders. The knight generally held his lands by military tenure; thus knight service was a military service, usually 40 days a year, normally...

Society Swords - Markings & Makers

Society Swords carried by so-called secret societies or fraternal societies were popular in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Society and military associations became very popular after the Civil War and around 1900 there were over seven million members. There were many types of societies that carried swords, including Military, Military Association, Fraternal, Religious, Veteran, Social, Benevolent, Occupational, Political, Patriotic, Mystic, Nationality, and Antinationality.

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History of Bayonets

The bayonet stems directly from the various forms of polearm, it was obviously inappropriate to have a firearm-bearing soldier encumbered by a pike, yet there was need for a polearm to stand off cavalry and for hand-to-hand encounters when ammunition was gone or when there was no time to reload. The original "bayonnette" - the name came from the town of its supposed origin, Bayonne in France - was introduced into the French Army in 1647. It was a plug bayonet, a spear-like blade to which was attached a long conical steel plug inserted directly into the muzzle of the...

The Samurai Warriors

The Samurai rose out of the continuing battles for land among three main clans: the Minamoto, the Fujiwara and the Taira, and was consolidated in the Tokugawa period. Under the Tokugawa shogunate (1603-1867), the samurai were removed from direct control of the villages, moved into the domain castle towns, and given government stipends. They were encouraged to take up bureaucratic posts. As a result, they lost a measure of their earlier martial skill. Dissatisfied samurai from the Choshu and Satsuma domains of W Japan were largely responsible for overthrowing the shogun in 1867. When feudalism was abolished after the Meiji...

Typology of Medieval Swords

This is an attempt to introduce the reader to Oakeshott's sword blade typology. Ewart Oakeshott is perhaps the most noted student of swords. In order to make his research easier, he divided the swords into types. In contrast to other typologies, like Petersen's Viking sword typology that only focuses on the hilt form, Oakeshott's typology concentrates on the blade and its function. His system makes it easier to date the swords, and coupled with his classifying of the hilt parts it become rather easy to tell the approximate age of a certain sword. The typology isn't complete or perfect, but...