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Daggers are increasingly becoming a favorite amongst collectors. Their origins are steeped in history and can be traced back to some of the earliest knives known.Daggers
Daggers are increasingly becoming a favorite amongst collectors. Their origins are steeped in history and can be traced back to some of the earliest knives known.
Their are several versions of what delineates a dagger from a "knife". Merriam-Webster describes the term "dagger" as being Middle English and originating in the 14th century. Their definition is short an concise: "a sharp pointed knife for stabbing".
Certainly a dagger has always been and was developed as a weapon. It was an offshoot of the sword and was developed for close quarters battle. Many daggers would be made from the tip of a sword that had been broken in battle. A dagger would have been advantageous in many circumstances due to it's inconspicuous nature and ease of use.
Many daggers were developed for very specific purposes. As early as the 16th century a dagger was developed for use in the left hand by fencing opponents giving those who used this type of knife a definite advantage. This was appropriately called a "left hand" dagger (or MAIN GUACHE) or parrying dagger.
There are so many types of daggers from all over the world it would be impossible to list them all, but following are a few of the most popular styles.
Some of the earliest examples of daggers come from SCOTTLAND and WESTERN EUROPE. Scottish dagger types include the:
DIRK: Usually having a single edge, no guard and wood, metal or horn handles.
SGIAN DUBH: (black knife) Small, single edged dagger worn in the stocking as part of Highland dress.
SKAIN: A large, early double edged bronze dagger.
MATTUCASHLASS: Small, double edged dagger of worn under the armpit.
A predecessor to the Scottish Dirk was a dagger from WESTERN EUROPE called a BOLLOCK or KIDNEY DAGGER. These were generally about 12" in length and can be traced to the 14th century.
Western Europe saw the development for a large number of daggers including:
QUILLION: A simple dagger with forward projecting guard. 13th-16th century.
RONDEL: A narrow, straight bladed dagger with a cylindrical handle and disc shaped guard and pommel. 14th-16th century.
BASELARD: Originated in Basel, Switzerland. Popular in the middle ages. Double edged, about 15" in length. Revived by the Nazi's in 1930's. Recognizable as the Third Reich or SS style dagger.
PARRYING: Used in conjunction with a sword, often with sword like guard. Slender spike blade. Some versions were 3 bladed.
SAX or SCRAMASAX: Primitive, single edged, no guard, flat pommel, popular with germanic tribes of the darg ages and Vikings.
CINQUEDEA: Broad heavy triangular blade, about 18" overall. 15th-16th century.
STILETTO: Italian in origin. 10"-12", slender blade, fancy handle and guard, often all steel. 17th-20th century.
Daggers have always been an integral tool for the military. Even contemporary military forces from all over the world all carry some form of dagger. It is interesting to see that many of the contemporary examples of military daggers (the British military SYKES--FAIRBAIRN is a good example) are very similar to daggers developed 500 years ago.
There are several companies that currently produce some excellent daggers both modern and reproductions of antique daggers.
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