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Naval Fighting Dirk ca.1795-1815
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Classic naval fighting dirk ca. 1795-1815. See Gilkerson, Boarders Away, volume 1, for details of this style of dirk. Derived from short swords used on shipboard these typically have long, narrow straight blades for effective use in close quarters fighting.
This one is 20 inches overall with a 15 1/2 inch blade having a narrow ricasso and broad, shallow single fuller. The blade is a mix of brown and gray with good edge and point. There is a partial scabbard with it, no fittings, just the scabbard. This extends from the guard to with 3 1/2 inches from the tip. The tip has obviously been gone a long time. For the first 1 1/2 inches below the scabbard end the blade shows some pitting and a couple of very small edge nicks. The grip is bone, straight reeded, with brass pommel cap with capstan rivet and narrow ferrule at the guard. Tight fit of hilt to blade, slight play in the pommel cap. Stains to the bone. A 1 inch long narrow crack on one side coming up from the ferrule. About 11 1/2 inches of the scabbard remains- just the leather, no fittings.
I show a portion of the Westall 1806 painting showing the fight between the crews of Nelson's barge and a Spaniah launch in the harbor of Cadiz in 1797. The crewman at right rear seesm pretty clearly to be thrusting a fighting dirk.
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