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Title Fighting dirk, bone haft, polished iron mounts
Nationality British
Period c 1780-1810

This little weapon is beautifully balanced with a 14cm diamond-section blade. These weapons were often carried by midshipmen in the late 18th century or junior officers as a backup weapon on shore parties. Note the stout parrying guard, which suggests that two-handed fighting was certainly considered practice, with this piece at least.

Although there are no naval motifs to suggest that this is of naval origin, and the mounts are polished iron rather than gilt brass, the robust nature of this weapon strongly implies that its primary purpose was practical, which, in the late 18th century, would normally mean a naval context. There are illustrations from the Nelson period which show the parrying arm with a dirk while the other arm carries a sword, a reversion to Renaissance practice of rapier and left-hand dagger.

Both the blade and the iron mounts have been lacquered to preserve them. The iron mounts appear to retain much of their original factory polish under the lacquer. The scabbard is dark maroon leather and definitely the original one. For two-thirds of the length of the blade, there is a forging flaw/striation down the spine.

If you want to comment on this item—re quality, age, etc—please email me.

[Edged Weapons : Dirks : British : 18th Century]


The bayonet arrived yesterday in good order. Fits my musket perfectly. Quite pleased, and many thanks for a very satisfactory transaction.

L K, USA, 01.06.2016

Many thanks for letting me know, can confirm it arrived this morning, safe and sound.

Marvellous piece, thanks again!

R B, UK, 10.12.2012