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Simon G.




Location: Lyons, France
Joined: 02 Jun 2008

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PostPosted: Thu 06 Jan, 2011 9:12 pm    Post subject: Saw-bladed dussack/cutlass         Reply with quote

Hello all,

I'm curious about this rather strange dussack/cutlass (feel free to bash me on the head for my loose terminology) with a heavily serrated, saw-like blade :

(Image from myArmoury's image galleries here : http://www.myArmoury.com/albums/photo/1282.html )

I first discovered this weapon through repros, and thought, woah, that's a strange one. I wondered for a time if this was historical or not, set out for a search, and quickly found the above period original right here (this site is really, really wonderful...).

Here it is replicated and on sale on Kult of Athena, by an unidentified maker :
http://kultofathena.com/images%5C8808_4_l.jpg

And another repro, by Czech maker Armory Marek :
http://www.armorymarek.com/public/default/use.../x42sc.jpg

Both are clearly direct reproductions of the one in myArmoury's curved blades gallery... Does anyone here have additional info on this strange weapon? Or thoughts on the reason the blade has that... really unique shape?

I, for one, can't really fathom one... This goes far beyond the "waves" seen on some 16th century two-handers (and even H&Hs), whose utility is already disputed (IIRC). The size and spacing of the saw teeth seem too big to actually perform as a saw. Is it purely decorative then? An experiment gone wrong?...

Cheers,

Simon
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Simon G.




Location: Lyons, France
Joined: 02 Jun 2008

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 238

PostPosted: Fri 07 Jan, 2011 7:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello again,

I dug around a bit more and found this description in an old Wallace Collection catalogue available on Google Books :
Guy Francis Laking, Catalogue of the European Armor and Arms in the Wallace Collection at Hertford House, 1910 wrote:
1268. Sword, the hilt blued. Flattened conical pommel, single quillon, thumb guard, and knuckle guard. Copper-wire bound grip. Dec[orated] with escallop shell flutings, the cutting edge serrated, also serrations partly down the back. 25 3/4" inches long. German, about 1610. From the collection of Sir Samuel Rush Meyrick, F.S.A., of Goodrich Court, and illustrated in The Engravec Illustrations of Ancient Arms and Armour, by Joseph Skelton, F.S.A., Vol. I, plate lxv, fig. 4.

(425)


This sounds very similar to the sword in the above image, with the presence of serrations, a double fuller, and down to the shell decorations... However, the description of the pommel as "flattened conical" doesn't look like quite the same, and the hilt is mentioned as blued, which it is not (unless I'm mistaken) on the original shown here on myArmoury.

Thus, if I'm correct, there would be at least two of these strange swords extant... Alas, I have been unable to find the one described here in the Wallace Collection online catalog. Perhaps it isn't even in the Wallace anymore... The numbers in Laking, "old" or "new", are no longer valid. Could someone having the more recent Mann catalogues, in which there seems to be a correspondence table, post the current number for Laking's "1268" ? Thanks in advance!

Cheers,

Simon
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Fri 07 Jan, 2011 10:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is the one at the Wallace Collection:

Dusägge A714

Is it the same?

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Simon G.




Location: Lyons, France
Joined: 02 Jun 2008

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Posts: 238

PostPosted: Fri 07 Jan, 2011 11:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Nathan,

Chad Arnow, who has the Mann catalogue at hand, was kind enough to inform me that Laking's "1268" was now A714... I guess it eluded me, shame on my weak searching skills! So yes indeed, the dussack/dussäge you linked to is the one described by Laking. It also very much seems that it's the same one as that in myArmoury's gallery.

I note that now the description by the Wallace says that it was "once blued"... Anyway we're back to only one instance of this strange blade and now thanks to you and Chad's kind and efficient diligence we know what it is!

Still curious about this blade. The specs on the Wallace site contain nothing that would clearly suggest it's just a presentation piece, length and weight seem about correct (of course it's very limited as a description of a sword...).

Does anyone has thoughts about the use of these serrations?

Thanks again, Nathan & Chad! myArmoury really has a crack contributing team! Big Grin
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Elling Polden




Location: Bergen, Norway
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PostPosted: Fri 07 Jan, 2011 11:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's for those extra evil pirates...

Alternately it might be a custom pice made for someone with a bright idea, or, as is the excuse for serrations on modern survival knifes, a optimized rope cutter.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Johan Gemvik




Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Joined: 10 Nov 2009

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PostPosted: Fri 07 Jan, 2011 11:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wallace also has a similar bladed Tulwar. Could there be a connection?

Looking at it IRL the cutlass has rather blunt serrations while the Tulwar has very sharp edged teeth.
The serrations might be an attempt by the swordsmiths to make a blada capable of rending maille as it will grab indivitual rings during a slashing cut. If it works like that I have no idea, it's just a theory. But what other use can there be, for just flesh or simple cloth neither blade would need any serration to cut?

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Fri 07 Jan, 2011 12:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

FWIW, Waldman's book on polearms includes artwork depicting a staff weapon with serrated blade. The thematic context is the boarding of a ship, and Waldman reckons the weapon was designed to cut rigging.
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Timo Nieminen




Location: Brisbane, Australia
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PostPosted: Fri 07 Jan, 2011 3:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
FWIW, Waldman's book on polearms includes artwork depicting a staff weapon with serrated blade. The thematic context is the boarding of a ship, and Waldman reckons the weapon was designed to cut rigging.


A more urgent need would be to cut through boarding nets. (They're still in use in modern times, by whalers.)

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Simon G.




Location: Lyons, France
Joined: 02 Jun 2008

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PostPosted: Fri 07 Jan, 2011 3:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm tempted to go with Elling's "commissioned or made by some who [thought he] had a bright idea". If we look at some books on war machines of the 16th century, there are pretty wild things, such as all manners of foldable ladders, or inflatable boots to purportedly walk on water (see attachement, from an edition of Vegetius now in the BSB, ca. 1512). Maybe it was the guy we see happily waltzing on water in that picture who commissioned this cutlass ; apparently he has a sword with a knuckle-guard at the side Big Grin
(There are also pretty wild ideas in military technology far closer to us, too).

I'm a bit doubtful about this "cutting ropes" thing however. As Johan informs us (thanks for that !), the serrations are quite blunt. Plus they look to big and too curvy to me, whereas a far better arrangement to really cut rope would probably be smaller, sharper teeth, as on a real saw...

But perhaps that was the idea, and it was poorly executed...

By the way, even if we admit that the intent of the serrations on the long edge were to act like a saw, I can even less see what use the serrations on the back edge would be...

After all perhaps it was just meant as a decoration piece, or something original that a young yahoo could impress his young noble friends with...



 Attachment: 78.81 KB
BSB boots.jpeg
Boots to walk on water, in a 1512 edition of Vegetius, now in the BSB (digitized by the BSB)
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