Author Topic: Neat little hatchet. Should I turn it into a reproduction?  (Read 503 times)

Offline Rado

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Neat little hatchet. Should I turn it into a reproduction?
« on: February 10, 2024, 11:49:46 PM »
Thanks to a hint from rich pierce (Thank You, Sir!) I bought this nice looking little piece.

Its from Portugal, a steel/iron sandwich, probably not more than 70 years old and most likely the result of a difficult economical and industrial situation back then.
It doesnt have a makers mark. Only an "L.", "Guimaraes" which is the location and a big "1" are stamped on the blade.
All within a 13mm circle.
Since Im looking for a good tomahawk reproduction and a custom order for a steel/iron laminated blade like this one would probably cost me 300$ or more,
Im tinkering with the idea of covering/removing the unauthentic looking stamps with a silver inlay, like in the example from Beaver Bill in the last picture.
(Or more precisely: I will look for someone who has done this before...)

What holds me back is that this piece might not be antique now, it will be some day. And just because it doesnt have much value to me as that what it is, it doesnt mean that it doesnt have personal value to someone who collects Portuguese axes...
What do you guys think? I will remove the short wooden handle anyway and turn it into something like a tomahawk. But would YOU change the appearance of the blade permanently in order to turn an uninteresting original into a first class repro or would you leave it as it is?

Thank you for your thoughts,
Cheers












« Last Edit: February 11, 2024, 01:01:09 AM by Rado »
Born in Poland, living in Germany. Just a guy who loves history, ideas of freedom and handicrafts.

Offline jbigley

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Re: Neat little hatchet. Should I turn it into a reproduction?
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2024, 03:52:50 AM »
That's a nice little hatchet, Rado. My opinion is to leave it the way it is. Especially if it's going to be a "user." -- JB

Offline Elnathan

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Re: Neat little hatchet. Should I turn it into a reproduction?
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2024, 04:15:37 AM »
1) Original hatchets of the Biscay pattern were often marked, IIRC, so the fact that it is marked is not in and of itself such a big deal. Admittedly they were different kinds of stamps, but still...

2) Leaving the stamp helps keep it from being mistaken for a much older axe a generation or so from now.

3) A silver inlay would be very out of place on a simple round-poll axe such as this - inlays seem to be the preserve of very high-end pipe and hammer-pole tomahawks serving status symbols and weapons, not tools.

Ergo, I vote to leave it as is. If you have to get rid of the markings, I'd just carefully file or grind them off rather then try to cover them up.

A man can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition -  Rudyard Kipling

Offline P.W.Berkuta

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Re: Neat little hatchet. Should I turn it into a reproduction?
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2024, 04:44:01 AM »
I'd leave the head alone and put a different handle on it.
"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it." - Chinese proverb

Offline TDM

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Re: Neat little hatchet. Should I turn it into a reproduction?
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2024, 05:42:09 PM »
I too say leave it as is. Just use and enjoy.

Offline Dave Marsh

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Re: Neat little hatchet. Should I turn it into a reproduction?
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2024, 05:44:27 PM »
I'm with the others to leave it alone.  A new handle would look a bit better.  Just my opinion.
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Offline Rado

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Re: Neat little hatchet. Should I turn it into a reproduction?
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2024, 06:00:28 PM »
Ok guys, Im convinced. The fine piece will live on unchanged.
 Especially the point: "A silver inlay would be very out of place on a simple round-poll axe such as this - inlays seem to be the preserve of very high-end pipe and hammer-pole tomahawks serving status symbols and weapons, not tools." So, I would have just turned an "uninteresting original" into a farby piece of kitsch. Im glad that I asked instead of just doing it.

And yes, the handle is way too short for what ever use. It has the lenght of a light hammer handle and you risk to bruise your fingers when using it with that stump.

Thank you all for your guidance.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2024, 06:17:06 PM by Rado »
Born in Poland, living in Germany. Just a guy who loves history, ideas of freedom and handicrafts.

Offline Rado

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Re: Neat little hatchet. Should I turn it into a reproduction?
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2024, 11:59:47 PM »
PS:
And did I read between the lines correctly: This is rather a candidate for a belt axe and would be an ´emergency Tomahawk´ at best or not even that? (its weight is 17 oz)
This would help me to design a properly shaped handle. Because my desire for a Tomahawk might lead me on to wrong paths.  ;D
« Last Edit: February 13, 2024, 12:04:28 AM by Rado »
Born in Poland, living in Germany. Just a guy who loves history, ideas of freedom and handicrafts.

Offline Elnathan

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Re: Neat little hatchet. Should I turn it into a reproduction?
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2024, 03:14:00 AM »
PS:
And did I read between the lines correctly: This is rather a candidate for a belt axe and would be an ´emergency Tomahawk´ at best or not even that? (its weight is 17 oz)
This would help me to design a properly shaped handle. Because my desire for a Tomahawk might lead me on to wrong paths.  ;D

"Tomahawk" is a rather elastic word, both then and now, I think - it originally meant a war club, and the word was stretched to include small trade hatchets of various types. There really isn't a good dividing line between a "belt axe" and a "tomahawk," and folks generally refer to any small axe that isn't an "American pattern" (the rectangular design that became the standard for modern axes) and can be traced to the Indians or the frontier as a "tomahawk. If you are thinking of a belt axe as a tool and a tomahawk as a weapon, it is likely that small axes of that size often served as either as the need arose.

Apart from the wedged eye (and I don't actually know for certain how the original eyes were shaped), your axe most closely resembles a 17th or early 18th century style hatchet/tomahawk, in both profile and cross-section. There aren't many repros out there with that wedged shape. It would be quite appropriate for the Beaver Wars, King Phillip's War, King William's War, and maybe Queen Ann's War. It would be somewhat less appropriate for the longrifle period, but I'm not sure how long that style continued to be made. I believe those were used as both tools and weapons, as far as anyone knows. There are very few replicas of that design being made today, BTW.

By the mid-18th century there are more varieties to choose from - the American Pattern felling axe probably originates around that time, and hatchet-sized variants start showing up by the 1770s, I think. Those are primarily tools, though they were sometimes used as weapons (see Bob Benge' hatchet I posted in the Antique Accouterments for one that was used as a weapon). On the other side of the spectrum, you have spike, pipe, spontoon, and pipe-spontoon tomahawks hawks which are primarily weapons and secondarily tools (notably, the spontoon variants have no utility as tools at all). I think round-poll tomahawks continued to be used into the 19th century, though the design changed to have more concavity between the cheek and the eye.

Axes in the 18th century, regardless of size or design, almost invariably had straight handles - the single exception I know of has a handle with a simple curve away from the bit, quite unlike a modern handle. Not much difference between a tool and a weapon except for maybe a few inches of length.

Weight-wise fits right in the middle of the pack - there are a lot of much lighter examples, mostly of the spike and pipe tomahawk variety, illustrated in Neumann, but there are examples are notably heavier, even of the pipe tomahawk variety. As for classifying it as an "emergency" only weapon, well, for a dedicated fighting axe I personally probably would prefer a lighter head. However, a one-pound head isn't notably overweight, and in practice I suspect that it wouldn't make that much of a difference under the conditions it would realistically be employed. Ergo, I think that it would make a perfectly acceptable weapon if you needed one, certainly much better than a felling axe.
A man can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition -  Rudyard Kipling

Offline Rado

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Re: Neat little hatchet. Should I turn it into a reproduction?
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2024, 08:37:15 PM »
Thank you! This was very enlightening. All the wars you mentioned are 100-50 years before the time frame of my (current) interest. Oh deer...
Although, older equipment in a later period is still less out of place than the other way round. But 50 years if we consider the Queen Ann´s War...woof.

I found an interesting blog where some roughly similar shaped belt axes are shown
https://tatcalite.tripod.com/id8.htm


Not quite it but close.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2024, 10:47:00 PM by Rado »
Born in Poland, living in Germany. Just a guy who loves history, ideas of freedom and handicrafts.