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Thread: American Navy Cutlass Collection Completed - THANK YOU!

  1. #1

    American Navy Cutlass Collection Completed - THANK YOU!

    Hi All,
    First I would like to wish one and all a great holiday season, peaceful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

    Secondly, I would like to take this time to thank all of you for all of the help given over the past few years as I was in the process of starting a naval cutlass, boarding ax and boarding pike collection. My main objective was to find and obtain an authentic example of every regulation cutlass in both the British and certainly American Navies from the 18th century to the last authorized models found in the very early 20th century. This objective has now been completed, and without your help and guidance it would have been a much more costly endeavor, and perhaps an impossible one!

    I meeting this objective I now have in my collection at least one each properly marked and stamped Nathan Starr M1808, M1816, and M1826 contract cutlasses. Ames M1841 and M1860, the US Navy M1917 and the ubiquitous M1941. I also have what appears to be an American M1797 cutlass with a British blade and American made double disk figure 8 hilt.

    I also have at least one of the following properly stamped and marked British pre-1804 cutlass, P1804, and the relatively easy obtainable mid to late 19th century model cutlasses.

    While meeting the main objective my collection in general now consists of a fair amount of maker marked arsenal stamped naval cutlasses from the French, Dutch, and Swedish navies. Various early 18th century documented cutlasses from the Passau region, 1730-1750s British or Colonial American made cutlasses used during the French-Indian Wars, unique cutlasses such as a "captured" P1804 which was put into the American inventory with a stimpled rack number on the lower disk.

    Additionally I was able to obtain 2 19th century and 1 18th century British naval boarding axes properly marked. French AN IX and M1833 boarding axes also properly marked. And a Scandinavian boarding ax, possibly swedish with markings. Am still looking for that rare American Type I, II or III boarding ax!

    My boarding pike collection consists of full size American Type I and 3 Type III's, and full size very early 1800 British 4 sided spike pikes and 2 later 19th century 3 sided spike pikes.

    Plus tons n tons of reference books and material. Overall I would say that "Boarders Away" by Gilkerson has been invaluable and I have not seen him wrong so far; also my "Swords for Sea Service" Vols I and II by May and Annis were very helpful (hard to find and expensive).

    During this time I also started and completed my collection of 19th/20th century "British Royal Navy Rum/Grog" copper measures (all 8), lipped measures, wicker encased demijohns or breakers, mess pails or rum fannies as the Brits call them, a fully working Spirit or Rum Pump as it was delivered refurbished from the MOD, and lastly that hard to find, authentic 32"x30" 90lb oak mixing tub with the salute "The Queen, God Bless Her" on one side and on the other side showing past screw holes of "The Queen, God Bless Her" and also "The King, God Bless Him" were affixed!

    Anyhow, just wanted to update one and all on my cutlass and edged weapon collection in the closing days of 2012.

    (after some requests am going to attempt to add some photos of my collection)

    Oh, almost forgot! I was also blessed to find that "Baltimore Cutlass" with ribbed iron grip as well as a Confederate States Navy Cutlass made by "Mole" and imported by Courtney & Tennant of Charleston SC - both hard to find...

    Kind Regards,


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    Last edited by Michael_N; 12-29-2012 at 02:02 PM. Reason: add photos and information
    "home is the sailor, home from the sea.
    And the hunter, home from the hill"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    North East USA
    Blog Entries
    Congratulations, Michael! That's an impressive spread! I'm liking the selection of boarding axes especially...

    ~ Hostem Hastarum Cuspidibus Salutemus ~

    "Those who beat their swords into plowshares usually end up plowing for those who don't."
    Benjamin Franklin

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    An excellent collection there Michael!! Really like the oak mixing barrel; it has been a long time since I have seen one of these, nevermind actually 'spliced the mainbrace'.. Like it..

  4. #4
    A really outstanding collection Mike! A lot of great history there. I'm working towards the same goal with cavalry weaponry, but I'm afraid that I started a bit late in life.

    Well done!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Kansas City Metro (USA)
    Simply outstanding!

    I am certain that you now have a sense of real accomplishment and that is evident in your display. What else is there to say? Now you need to go off on a slight tangent and collect Naval uniforms or accouterments or something to occupy your time and talents.

    "You can't please everyone, so you have to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Michigan, USA
    Michael. Wonderful collection. You mentioned a M1941 (US I presume) but I cannot find a reference to it. Could you point out which it is if it is shown in your photos?
    "Ancora imparo - Michelangelo Buonarotti"

  7. #7
    Thank you gentlemen for the kind compliments, but without the help from various members of this forum it would have been a much more expensive and frustrating venture to say the least. It was about 4 years ago that I set my mind on and established the objective of collecting authentic regulation naval cutlass, boarding axes and boarding pikes, and now I can slowly add onto the collection when the mood strikes me - or the price!

    To answer a query: The "M1941" was not really a regulation US Navy cutlass, but it was designated that by the collecting marketplace to differentiate it from the earlier US Navy regulation M1917 cutlass as they are very similar in design and both patterned after the Netherlands M1898 Klewang used primarily in the Dutch East Indies (DEI) prior to WWII from the late 1890s thru post-WWII until the de-colonization.

    In fact the "M1941" was US-made with a black plastic grip just prior to WWII for the Dutch government before that country fell to Germany, many of these cutlasses made their way into the DEI to support the Dutch troops. After the Japanese occupied the DEI they took many of the captured "M1941" and cut off the slotted cup and re-issued it to their occupation forces and these particular ones were locally called the "Heiho".

    After the fall the US company had all of these completed cutlasses and blades (like 50,000 of them) which it made but obviously could not get paid, so the US government bought all of the inventory and after the war sold these as government surplus. Many of these found their way back to the DEI after the war when the Netherlands was trying to re-colonize which ultimately failed. So since the US government bought and then sold these cutlasses they were generally designated the M1941 for the lack of anything else.

    Anyhow, that's the abridged short story on the M1941.

    Happy New Year..

    "home is the sailor, home from the sea.
    And the hunter, home from the hill"

  8. #8
    Hello Mike,

    I will confess this is outside of my area of expertise but I can certainly spot a lovely collection and that one is stunning, very well done indeed Mike and many thanks for sharing it here with us. I can't imagine how long and how much effort this took but then again if it's worth doing well....

    Best wishes,

    Interested in all things Wilkinson: knives, guns, swords, typewriters! yes just about anything Wilkinson interests me.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    North of Reno NV
    I will ditto what Roy S. has posted above. I especially love the M1860 US Navy Cutlass.
    I hope you can add to it as time goes by.
    Roy in NV

  10. #10
    Hi Mike,

    That is an impressive collective. I started to collect cutlasses and other naval weapons about a year ago and I found your website a valuable source of information and of great help to a beginner.
    So this is also a 'Thank You'.
    Best Wishes,


  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Michigan, USA
    Michael. My brother-in-law has two of the 1917 variants (according to Peterson) that he purchased while in the Army Air Corp during WWII, probably at a PX. They both have rounded tips as if they were intended for training... is this common?
    "Ancora imparo - Michelangelo Buonarotti"

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    boston usa
    Congratulations on the assembly of such a wonderful group of naval edged weapons.
    And in a relatively short time! I also have been a collector and researcher of these historical artifacts for many years and I can appreciate the difficulty of assembling this group. These weapons were never made in large quantities and often saw hard use and poor storage conditions. Thanks for sharing them!

  13. #13
    Thanks guys, it was alot of fun collecting them and a thankful sense of accomplishment when I met my objectives of having an authentic example of every authorized regulation cutlass. I liked searching for them hard to find full-size regulation boarding axes and pikes as well, but am still searching for my first American regulation boarding ax.

    To answer a query. There are no M1917 variants so-to-speak. The ubiquitous "m1941" is sometimes referred to as a variant, but it's not. Sometimes the tips of the M1860 and M1917 were found to be slightly blunted when they were used in Naval Basic Training. I myself remember that all Recruit Petty Officers In Charge as having been issued an old "cutlass" to show authority over the company, this was in the early 70s but I remember that the points were not blunted. The rest of us were issued old non-working Springfield 1903/04? bolt action rifles for drill practice.

    I put felt covered cork pads that I made and glued on all of the displays where either tip or blade touched the display. I also regularly put a fine film of Hoppes gun oil on the blades (and hilt/grips where appropriate) as I think it is the best penetrating with minimal to no "acids" and works well with "old" iron and steel.

    I am now in the process of trying to find some "upscale" cutlass displays without further breaking the bank or pissing off the wife too much! LOL

    I also collect antique and vintage naval dinnerware plates, platters, cups, bowls, etc etc (1830s to 1960s) from all the navies of the world used in either officers or enlisted mess. - some very plain and many very beautiful in a handsome masculine sort of way ofcourse!
    "home is the sailor, home from the sea.
    And the hunter, home from the hill"

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