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Navy Imperial Dagger

(Damascus Blade & Ivory Grip)


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Dagger Gallery

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Navy Imperial Obverse.jpg (154183 bytes)


Imperial Reverse.jpg (143294 bytes)


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Full Glory

Navy Imperial  Portapee.jpg (66945 bytes)


Organization Information - Imperial Navy

By the beginning of the 20th century, the old rivalry between Britain and France had been replaced by a new threat from the newly united states of Imperial Germany. Under the Kaiser, Germany had grown in its status and wealth and was looking to challenge the British empire and its colonies.

The rapid industrialization of German had lead to a trading rivalry between Germany and Great Britain. With the German economy outstripping that of Great Britain, Imperial Germany had the potential to eventually equal or be greater than, the maritime power of Great Britain.

In 1897, Admiral Alfred von Turpitz had put forward a memorandum entitled "General Considerations on the Constitution of our Fleet According to Ship Classes and Design". In this document he recommended that the German Navy be increased in size to challenge its main sea rival, Great Britain. Turpitz considered Britain to be its greatest rival, not France, and he considered the growth of a navy the equal of Great Britain's a matter of political necessity. By challenging Great Britain, Turpitz felt that no other nation (France, Russia) would have the capability to challenge Germany on the high seas or hinder its expansionist goals.

This challenge to the British sea power was not left unchallenged as Great Britain also expanded its sea power. By the start of World War I, Great Britain and Germany had a powerful surface and submarine fleet which was destined for conflict.

In general terms, the British had an older fleet, greater in numbers, whilst the German fleet was more modern with some technological advantages. At the outbreak of World War I each nation had the fleet dispositions shown below

Battle of Jutland

The only major battle between the Naval forces of Germany and Great Britain during WW1 was the battle of Jutland. After the battle, Germany claimed a victory after sinking more ships than the British and killing over 6000 British men. Over 2000 German men were killed in the action.

The British also claimed victory as the German Navy never sought active battle after Jutland as the damage to the German fleet weakened their resolve for major sea battles with Great Britain.

Size of German & British Fleets at outbreak of WWI

Ship British German
Pre dreadnought 40 22
Light Cruisers 22 16
Scout Cruisers 15 NA
Armed Cruisers 34 7
Protected Cruisers 52 17
Destroyers 221  90
Torpedo Boats 109 115
Submarines 73 31
Coast Defense Ships NA 8


Dagger Information – Navy Imperial

Imperial Navy dagger 1890-1918:

These daggers looked much like the 1948 style and other that the 1890 long style. The 1890 style came stock with a carved Ivory grip and out of the over 100 I have handled over the years all have been named on the upper reverse scabbard.

The blades were a stiletto style with Crown, anchor & oars etched within the vines. These daggers are 48-55 Cm long. It’s not unusual to find these cut down to the size of the 1902 style or shorter. The pommel is closed and the cross top is missing on most, it’s very rare to find these with the cross intact.

Crossguard is like the 1902 style with the large square center block and a lock button on the backside. The 1890 is the first style to have the under ring under the crossguard.

Ivory grips have no wire wrap, but its not beyond reason to find one that has been period altered by the owner and will have single or twin wire configurations on them.

Scabbards are steel based in most cases and have a heavy gold plated finish. The bands are very unique on these and help to determine if it’s an 1890, or a 1902 etc. The bands are ropes in a donut round format and there are two to three per side. This depends on the maker.

These also stand out when shortened by the ring and band configuration, as the bands look oddly spaced; this is due to the fact that at one point the dagger was twice as long and needed the balance space between the bands. These generally show a wield point at the tip of the scabbard from this process. Many times the scabbard has been buffed down and had new designs applied like a hammered surface, if viewed closely one can see remnants of the previous etch.

Portepee is unknown,

Hangers are the standard pattern used with brass base and gold finish on the dark blue silk faces and velvet backs.

The 1902 style has a very well defined open crown pommel and almost all of this style will have ivory grips, the reason why all these early Navy daggers have Ivory grips is very simple, Ivory was the plastic of the time.

The 1902 style was more in line in size with the Standard Third Reich Navy dagger and this is also when the twin fuller blade first saw its appearance on German Navy daggers. The blade ran in size from 23-26cm long. It’s not unusual to find this style dagger with a Damast blade and ivory grip combination as a matter of fact it’s more the rule than the exception. Let alone a chased scabbard, named or monogrammed etc.

Note: that like the British Upper class being in the Navy the Germans followed suit, so therefore Officers of nobility had more money to embellish there daggers, one of the reasons this style dagger can be found with so many embellishments.

This is one of the most elegant daggers of the 20th century in my humble opinion.

Crossguard is very much like the 1890 style with the thick square center area. The lock button was set into the center of the backside of the crossguard. This style dagger also came with the under ring. Base metal is most always brass and the detail is crisp.

The base metal on the hilt and scabbards of all Imperial Navy dagger I have ever seen produced pre 1918 is brass, with a thick gold plated finish perhaps 4-5 microns. I have never seen one with a clear lacquer coating so I don’t know if it was applied or not.

As to the inside markings most every Imperial Navy dagger has had matching numbers stamped into the surfaces of every part. These daggers also exhibit extreme quality in the way they were assembled and materials. Quality far exceeds the daggers of the Third Reich.

Scabbards can be found in so many variations that it defies the ability to explain them all. The standard was the lightning bolt and hammers style these are very common with rope bands in many different configurations. From small rope knots to large rope knots. Its also the very first time the bands come flat with oak leaves on them similar to the 1929 style.

These daggers were worn with hanger that looks like the Third Rich daggers used but of a better quality in all respect. All fittings are brass based, and not Aluminium.

Portepee is made of silver bullion with small red and black fleck in the cord and stem area. It’s 43 CM long the ball is the same size as a Navy dagger from the Nazi era.

These came to and end in 1921 when the style we know as the black scabbard black griped came into production; Know as the 1921 model. This 1921 style was the first time that the cresting wave and reed pommel was used. These are pined on the tang by way of a hidden brass pin that runs through the pommels throat area and tang. This holds dagger together. This is the only way I have ever seen these. I am sure that other variations exist.

Edited by Bruce Petrin