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Tim Jones




Location: United Kingdom
Joined: 05 Nov 2013

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PostPosted: Mon 06 Apr, 2015 9:14 am    Post subject: Whittle dagger         Reply with quote

"A Shefild thwittle bare he in his hose"

I've got a Heron armoury blunt dagger blade and have been thinking about how to hilt it. One possibility is to hilt it as a Whittle/Thwittle dagger, but I haven't been able to find any images or other information about such daggers other than the above quote from Chaucer, the fact that they have some association with Sheffield and the pictures of the ones Tod sells. It may well be that the blade is too big (35cm, single edged with fuller), but does anyone know anything about them, or has anyone got any pictures? If a Whittle dagger is unsuitable, I'm going to revert to the original plan of a bollock dagger.

Thanks in advance
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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
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PostPosted: Mon 06 Apr, 2015 11:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

35cm is over a foot long, which is fairly long for a whittle-type tang. The bollock dagger or a rondel dagger would be better with a blade that size, although you could also go with a fairly generic cross-hilted dagger.

'Whittle' may have been a generic term for small knives; not sure, but they definitely would not have been much more than an utility size. I'm no expert though.
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Tim Jones




Location: United Kingdom
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Posts: 37

PostPosted: Mon 06 Apr, 2015 12:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I suspected it would be too long. I think the fact that the man described by Chaucer wore it, possibly concealed, in his hose would also suggest that they are rather smaller. It's also a very heavy blade, and unfortunately the tang is a little short, so I'd decided against a Rondel. I'm still trying to figure out what kind of blade it's intended to be. I'll try and get a picture at some point.
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Harry Marinakis




Location: Kingdom of Ęthelmearc
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PostPosted: Mon 06 Apr, 2015 7:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The type of handle that you use is entirely dependent on the blade and period of your dagger.

Whittle tang blades tend to resemble seax blades.

Whittle tangs were replaced by scale tangs in the 13th Century.

Classic double-edged daggers were not mounted with whittle tangs, they were peened or mounted with scale tangs.

References such as this have lots of examples of both thwittles and scale tangs
http://www.amazon.com/Knives-Scabbards-Mediev...1843833530
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Tim Jones




Location: United Kingdom
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PostPosted: Tue 07 Apr, 2015 1:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Is the name just a reference to the construction then, not a specific style of handle?

I am aware of the construction of double-edged daggers and whittle and scale tang knives. My query was over a specific type whittle tang implement. I'm probably going to knock up a Bollock dagger hilt when I find a suitable piece of wood.
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Harry Marinakis




Location: Kingdom of Ęthelmearc
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PostPosted: Tue 07 Apr, 2015 6:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tim Jones wrote:
Is the name just a reference to the construction then, not a specific style of handle?

Correct
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Tue 07 Apr, 2015 7:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tim Jones wrote
Quote:
I've got a Heron armoury blunt dagger blade and have been thinking about how to hilt it. One possibility is to hilt it as a Whittle/Thwittle dagger, but I haven't been able to find any images or other information about such daggers other than the above quote from Chaucer, the fact that they have some association with Sheffield and the pictures of the ones Tod sells. It may well be that the blade is too big (35cm, single edged with fuller), but does anyone know anything about them, or has anyone got any pictures? If a Whittle dagger is unsuitable, I'm going to revert to the original plan of a bollock dagger.


I am not sure that 'whittle dagger' is actually anything stylistically particular. I took my inspiration for the dagger I sell under 'The English Cutler' brand and those I make as custom pieces from 'Knives, Daggers and bayonets'; and my take on the knives are that they are simple 'blacksmith made' pieces. So if you imagine a simple forge in a village, it is the simple kind of dagger that they can produce; not specialist cutlers pieces.

The sketch I took my basis from is a single edged dagger and this fits as a poor piece in that single edged daggers can be used for tasks whereas double sided cannot easily be turned to general work.

The 'rat tail' or 'whittle' or 'peened' construction of knife can lend itself to dagger, eating knife, work knife or sword, basically any kind of knife/sword and the preference for whether a knife/sword is of whittle or scale tang construction changes through time and fashions. Mesopotamian era liked daggers and swords of scale tang and smaller knives of whittle tang, 14thC Europe tended to go the other way round for example.

The term 'whittle' seems to be associated with a poor dagger and so it is not surprising that they have not survived and also that if they are locally made then they are functional items rather then specific styles and so they may not be able to be characterised and categorised. This would be similar to trying to categorise home made go carts from 1950's England and would likely not really be possible.

So what is a 'whittle dagger'. My gut reaction and what I offer as a maker, is a low status object that is suited to stabbing and tasks and made by some local smith. This means that all the flashy elements are left off and the blade would need to lend itself to tasks and so it will be short at sub 8", stout and single edged.

Harry Marinakis wrote
Quote:
The type of handle that you use is entirely dependent on the blade and period of your dagger.

Whittle tang blades tend to resemble seax blades.

Whittle tangs were replaced by scale tangs in the 13th Century.

Classic double-edged daggers were not mounted with whittle tangs, they were peened or mounted with scale tangs.

References such as this have lots of examples of both thwittles and scale tangs
http://www.amazon.com/Knives-Scabbards-Mediev...1843833530


Harry I am certainly aware that you know your stuff in this area, but I have to disagree about you saying that whittle tangs were replaced by scale tangs in the 13thC. This is largely, but not entirely the case with eating and working (task) knives, but not at all true of daggers. Daggers generally have a whittle tang construction so that the tail of the tang goes through the pommel and is peened in place either into a metal pommel or just clenched into the wood.

I would also argue that most double edged daggers are of whittle tang construction from the dawn of the Iron age through to the present day.

Anyway to answer Tim, I would guess that a Heron Armouries blade would be 12-14" long and that stops it being a knife that can be used for tasks and so in my mind I would say that is suited to military or civil defence applications, such as rondel, quillon or bollock dagger unless you reduce its size.

Regards

Tod

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Harry Marinakis




Location: Kingdom of Ęthelmearc
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PostPosted: Tue 07 Apr, 2015 9:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree with you Tod

Perhaps it would be more correct to say that scale tangs appeared in the 13th C but did not necessarily replace whittle tangs entirely?

Also I guess that I differentiate between peened and whittle tangs, which, it seems, may or may not be a true distrinction.

Thank you.
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