The above examples only point out that daggers have been with us since time immemorial. But what is a dagger and what is its place in our history?
Copper and Bronze Age Daggers
The early copper and bronze daggers of this period were used as backups to the longer maces, axes, and javelins. Such secondary role in warfare is necessitated by two reasons: smiths found out that the longer the blades were, the weaker they became; and ancient daggers lack in length, reach, and force.
Iron Age Daggers
The discovery of steel further improved the metalworking of the period and the quality of daggers. The Iron Age marks the beginning of a whole new warfare with the introduction of swords, which were practically recognized as oversized daggers. Swords replaced the functions of the maces and axes.
Medieval Age Daggers
When the knight sword and knight Templar swords came into vogue in 13th century, the knights copied the Romans; they carried sidearms like long daggers called arming sword at their side. Samurai warlords and soldiers were also doing the same thing. They were considered naked if they appeared in public without a Japanese katana sword and a dagger (called tanto) slinging from their belts.
Early Renaissance Daggers
The Renaissance sword, knives, and daggers were considered to be the most elegant. They bear the traces of artistic movements that swept the Western World at that time. For example, decorative hilts guards called quillons evolved into intricate basket hilts. The daggers were decorated with rococo (18th century art period in France characterized by ornate decorations) and baroque (17th century art movement characterized by awe-inspiring oppulence) designs.
Late Renaissance Daggers
World War I daggers
• Trench knives and daggers were originally made from cut-down bayonets. Later on, American, British, and German factories supplied the army with standard double-edged, full tang daggers, long “ice-pick” daggers, and knives to be used for small scale, close quarters fighting.
• Push daggers were issued at the height of the war because of their rugged, unique design. The hand does not grasp the handle but the pommel, which is made up of a metal or wooden bar. The blade of the dagger forms a letter “T” to the hand, and the pommel is situated between the middle and index fingers.
• Bowie knife, daggers, and other combat shortswords were used for such mundane tasks like cooking, first aid, and combat. The Bowie knife and daggers are famous for their sharpness, rigidity, and reliability; they were strong enough to cut through Plexiglas and were therefore used for body and supply retrievals from downed aircrafts.
World War II daggers
Aside from purely decorative purpose of the Second World War daggers, they were also shortswords and long daggers that were employed for utilitarian use. Most of them were employed for covert – that is secret – operations such as surveillance, sabotage, and subversion.
• Stilleto daggers were very effective for stabbing for its long, narrow blade ending in a very sharp and defined point. First used in ancient times for assassination, it helped stave off the attacks of knight swords and penetrate the hard armors of knights in the Middle Ages. They began to be popular in Second World War when the American armed forces issued them to combatants. Examples of stilleto daggers are Marine Raider Stilleto and V-42 Stilleto.
• Switchblade daggers were a type of dagger that springs outward or forward from a grip through a spring mechanism. Because of their reducible size, they were a standard shortsword in any infantrymen essentials.
• Fairbairn-Sykes fighting daggers were double-edged daggers issued by the British government to its foot soldiers. It was first produced in 1941 and continued to be manufactured to this very day. Such enduring popularity owes so much from its sleek design: ring grip, lacquered leather wound around the handle, and an absent ricasso.
• Sleeve daggers were special and limited type of daggers exclusively used for undercover agents, international spies, and covert operations officers. They were made of a long, slender, oftentimes round, blade bolted snugly on a leather strap, which would then be wrapped around on an arm or below the knee like a wristwatch or an anklet.
• Lapel daggers were Second World War daggers used by special operatives of British intelligence agency. They have grooved centerline on a flat blade that extends fully to the tang. The tang has a hole for a knotted cord, which was used to access the dagger when needed. Lapel daggers were sewn on the suits of the agents just above the chest, like the way lapels are worn.
• Thumb or Button daggers were another variation to the lapel daggers. The difference was that the thumb daggers do not have a hole in their tang for the cord. They were also smaller in terms of blade and tang size. They could be hidden behind and drawn from the belts.
To get you started on collecting daggers, here is a 5-step tip that would come in handy:
1) Dagger collection is a very particular field. This means you would have less information to get you by. Instead of looking at this as a problem, you can use this to your advantage. It is a great opportunity to meet people of the same interest; buy daggers that are neglected and underappreciated but have promising value; and train yourself to be an expert in this challenging hobby.
2) Dagger collecting is fulfilling not only in terms of experience, but also of money. Take advantage of the prevailing trend of the antique market by buying ancient, rare daggers.
3) Dagger collecting is riskier than sword collecting. This is because there are many unscrupulous dealers ready to cheat you if you are not careful. Mind your every purchase, research thoroughly, and limit the price tag of potential daggers when you buy them. Do not ever be tempted to put your guards down. You can never be too careful.
4) Be able to appraise daggers by yourself before resorting to professional help. In this way, you can avoid colluding dealers and experts from deceiving you. This is also one of the joys of dagger collecting: by knowing how to evaluate daggers, you become attached to them and learn to value them highly.
5) It is wise to reward yourself once in a while. Therefore, do not be afraid of selling some of your collected daggers if you are preparing a purchase of a more expensive dagger, or if you want to cash in early on.
Articles related to daggers:
Fantasy dagger – If you fancy fictitious worlds, superheroes, and mythical journeys, this article is perfect for you. Here, you will come across some of the precious daggers famous for their role in fiction, movies, and interactive games.