sgianendubhsiast

When Were The First Damascus Sgian Dubhs Made?

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I am considering buying a damascus blade for a handle I made. I just wanted to know when they were first made. (I know when damascus itself was first made but not a damascus sgian dubh)

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making different blades of "damascas steel" became popular in the mid to late 80s as far as I can tell. I don't recall seeing many knives marketed that way until around that time. There were damascas bowies and "rambo knives" at first, then the craze started.

So, sometime since then I'd say.

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I will try to get what I know in perspective here. Pattern welded steel, what we incorrectly call Damascus, There are pieces dating back to Norse Migration era that I know of that have survived until today. It was commonly used during wars for gun parts and other items during material shortages and I have seen old shotgun barrels with it.

The use as a decorative item was done by the Norse but as far as I know it died out. The first person to really market it was Bill Moran. He is often called the father of modern damascus. Most previous damascus pieces were not done to be decorative.

Damascus steel is actually a crucible steel made from wootz steel believed to be from India. It has a pattern but is fairly different pattern then the pattern welded steels of even the older pieces.

From lessons those of us have gotten on the knife making forum by a gentleman who has spent a bit of his time studying such things the first evedence of the sgain dubhs is an Englishman's painting. The story goes he was standing for a painting and he had a scar or birthmark (don't remember which) and he grabbed a knife off the table and placed it in his hose to cover the mark. Not sure why as not like you need PhotoShop to remove something from a painting. This would place it during the Scottish revival. There might have been a knife carried in the hose previously but no real historical evidence of it.

So to answer I would have to say that a decorative sgain in damascus would be a fairly recent item. I will try to find the research that Chuck had referenced. If people have more info please bring it forward as the history of knives is only a side line for me and I can easily misremember.

Jim

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Thanks.

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There's really not much evidence for the wearing of sgian dubhs themselves prior to the early 1800s.

The oft-repeated story about Highlanders placing their sgian achlass in their hose top out of courtesy when in the company of others they were visiting seems to be a bit of imaginative invention; but by the Victorian era sgian dubhs were an accepted part of the "Scotch costume" a trend that may have been set by Colonel Alexander Ranaldson MacDonell of Glengarry (1771 - 1828) who was said to have taken to wearing an ornate dagger tucked into the top of his hose to hide a scar on his right leg. Col. Alastair Macdonnell of Glengarry was certainly quite a flamboyant character, He was a member of the Highland Society and the Celtic Society of Edinburgh, and in June 1815 formed his own Society of True Highlanders, subsequently leaving the Celtic Society and complaining that "their general appearance is assumed and fictitious, and they have no right to burlesque the national character or dress of the Highlands". His mortification at the acceptance of Lowlanders became a bitter complaint about the prominent role the Celtic Society had in the 1822 visit of King George IV to Scotland, and he made several unauthorised and flamboyant appearances during the visit, to the annoyance of his friend Sir Walter Scott and the other organizers, but causing no more than mild amusement to the King.

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