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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Turkish/Ottoman saber question Reply to topic
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Tue 31 Mar, 2015 9:05 am    Post subject: Turkish/Ottoman saber question         Reply with quote

I'm currently in Turkey. I came across a saber/shamshir with beautiful Arabic script inlaid in gold into the blade. The seller says it is 17th century Ottoman.

Now, I know not to take the seller's word on faith. I'm educated enough to spot tourist junk and obvious fakes, and I can also identify swords that are questionable enough that I won't take my chances. The problem is that this style of weapon is out of my normal area of expertise, but I am rather enthralled with it. So I have a question that I know I can't get a satisfactory answer for, but I'll ask anyway:

Does anyone know if it is common to see gold inlay in fakes from Turkey? I was not able to get a picture at the time. It was in Istanbul, and I've currently left for the Asian side of Turkey, but will return to Istanbul in a few days. Again, I recognize that I'm not giving you all much to go on in helping decide whether or not to purchase it, but I figured I'd ask.

My default response is not to risk spending money on something that could be fake, but I have to admit that the sword does seem to be real (though possibly 18th century rather than 17th as the seller says).

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Luka Borscak




Location: Croatia
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PostPosted: Tue 31 Mar, 2015 10:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Does it look like it might be wootz? Copies are usually mechanical damascus/pattern welded or modern monosteel. But maybe the biggest difference between copies and originals is blade geometry and feel. See this replica by Empire costume for example, it's probably a good quality sword and it has gold inlay, but the blade is modern mechanical damascus:
http://en.empirecostume.com/sabre-a-l-orienta...-a7275.htm
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Tue 31 Mar, 2015 10:32 am    Post subject: Re: Turkish/Ottoman saber question         Reply with quote

I cannot answer your original question but I can give you some advice. If you decide to buy it haggle, it's the way things work there. Maybe you already knew this in which case good luck and hopefully it's a real one.
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Tue 31 Mar, 2015 11:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Luka Borscak wrote:
Does it look like it might be wootz?


Yes, it does look like wootz... But I hesitate to assume it is real wootz without heavier inspection, as fake wootz is sometimes really convincing.

Quote:
But maybe the biggest difference between copies and originals is blade geometry and feel. See this replica by Empire costume for example, it's probably a good quality sword and it has gold inlay, but the blade is modern mechanical damascus:
http://en.empirecostume.com/sabre-a-l-orienta...-a7275.htm


The blade geometry is quite complex on the sword in question. But I look at the inlays of the sword you linked to, and it makes me wary that such craftsmanship can be done in some countries for such a low price. Hmmm.

Oh, and Pieter, thank you for the advice. I'm quite adept at haggling in foreign countries, particularly in the eastern parts of the world, so I agree with you!

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Eric S




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PostPosted: Tue 31 Mar, 2015 12:22 pm    Post subject: Re: Turkish/Ottoman saber question         Reply with quote

Bill Grandy wrote:
I'm currently in Turkey. I came across a saber/shamshir with beautiful Arabic script inlaid in gold into the blade. The seller says it is 17th century Ottoman. Does anyone know if it is common to see gold inlay in fakes from Turkey?
Yes people still do make swords in Turkey with gold inlays today, some are quite qood. Here is a link were you can see some real examples to compare. If you can post a picture you might get some feed back as well.


https://www.google.com/search?q=ottoman+kilij&es_sm=122&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=3_UaVam3B4PhoASVloLwBw&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAg&biw=1278&bih=635
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Sancar O.





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PostPosted: Tue 31 Mar, 2015 1:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Right now, there are tons and tons of Syrian-made fakes in the Turkish antique market with often real nice koftgari work. Without a picture it is real hard to say anything but those fakes are usually hade wider blades with no fuller, to make a better canvas for the koftgari. Koftgari is usually is in form of inscription, with big Arabic letters, that begins from crossguard and goes all the way to the tip.

Exactly where did you see this saber? An antique shop in Grand Bazaar?
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Thu 02 Apr, 2015 10:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks all for your feedback. Based on this and some further research here in Turkey, I've decided to stick with my default intention to avoid it. There's way too big of a chance that it is fake. Sancar, yes, it was in the old section of the Grand Bazaar, which is one of the reasons why I defaulted to assuming it was fake to begin with. I was just very enamored with this piece, which is why I asked. As a modern replica, it was quite nice.

I am impressed (and frightened) at just how good people keep becoming at creating fakes. It is even more frightening how in certain countries it is actually cost effective enough to make these fakes and still be profitable.

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Sancar O.





Joined: 04 Mar 2014

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PostPosted: Fri 03 Apr, 2015 4:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A wise decision. As a rule, don't buy any antique blades from Grand Bazaar. They are either fake or hugely overpriced, usually both.
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Michael Sandoval





Joined: 21 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Fri 03 Apr, 2015 8:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi, Bill,

Another option to consider: if the sword is of good quality, good balance, and if the inlay is well executed, you may also want to pick it up if it is for a good price! While the seller may be disingenuous, the sword, the modern, may not be . Did you get a chance to handle it and check the build quality? You may be able to pick up a well crafted modern replica at a fraction of the cost.
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Frank Anthony Cannarella




Location: Medford, Oregon
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PostPosted: Sat 04 Apr, 2015 3:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It really depends on where in the grand bazzar. The areas around it are are normally pretty good but you need to know turkish. Good idea not buying it as a lot of arabs are coming over and buying these at high price because of the popular turkish tv shows.
Populus stultus viris indignis honores saepe dat.
-Quintus Horatius Flaccus
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Frank Anthony Cannarella




Location: Medford, Oregon
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PostPosted: Sat 04 Apr, 2015 3:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

BTW haggaling is not considered normal outside of the turist areas
Populus stultus viris indignis honores saepe dat.
-Quintus Horatius Flaccus
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Sa'ar Nudel




Location: Haifa, Israel
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PostPosted: Sat 04 Apr, 2015 3:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Putting aside the question of the sword itself, unless something changed with the law in Turkey, I wouldn't try to take any antique out of that country. It is possible, but for a tourist it is a big headache.
Curator of Beit Ussishkin, regional nature & history museum, Upper Galilee.
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