Cover Image

Reclaiming History

 October 9, 2023    African Arms

I will never claim to be much of a restorer, but occasionally I happen along a piece in need of rescuing. Something that many would pass over due to condition, but that has value because of its features regardless. One such piece came up on auction in December of last year. I was fortunate enough to secure the lot and by February it was in my hands.

The condition was extremely poor, covered in active rust and dirt which if left untouched would do long term damage to the sword. The pommel in fact was already in danger of collapsing due to neglect while the markings on the European blade were so obscured that some acquaintances did not think I would be able to restore it.

However I like a challenge and besides the blade the sword had the type of pommel and even more importantly, the type of guard and grip I am studying at the moment. In other words, despite the condition, the sword was valuable to me.

The image above shows the state the sword was in, deep pitting, horrible rusting and generally a bit of a wreck. I don't want to delve into the details of what methods I use when dealing with this type of corrosion, but suffice to say it's nothing special, mainly time and elbow grease. In any case after a number of sessions the sword has reached this state, not entirely finished, but most of the way there.

The blade is a single fuller pattern from Europe with a large ricasso block. it is rather small compared to most takouba, with a length of 75cm and a width of 3.75cm.

The engraving was largely recovered as well which I was quite pleased about. The blade features astral symbols, popular in Europe for quite a period of time.

These include the crescent moon, stars and the sun.

The sword is missing the original brass guard plates which would have given a bit more contrast and flair to the piece, but even the guard itself is an interesting and useful example. It has the box like construction I associate with the oldest pieces we know. It even has some interesting geometric line decoration. 

The entire hilt is brazed together in the usual fashion with brass and copper.

The point I'm making here is that even a sword in poor condition, with obvious flaws and no hope to ever be a pristine collectible, is still a valuable piece of history. I think this last image, showing it to scale with two of the other older takouba I own will help put that in perspective. I don't believe in ignoring swords that need a little help, every example has value to truly understanding their fascinating past.