Marks and Stamps

See also: Special Interest Features

The marking of tools began with early pre-historic humans. Extremely stylized and geometric depictions of animals were often featured, with a meaning we can only guess at today. In the more recent historic period of Biblical history, arrowheads have been found with marks said to identify the owner. The marks allowed the owner to “claim” the victim as a personal victory.

In western Europe, deep stamped markings on blades were widespread until the 1880's as means of brand identification. Before about 1814, the stamping dies were handcut. This resulted in markings that appear rough and simple. After 1814, English law repealed the limitation on stamping which permited only registered guilds to stamp. The introuction of certain mechanical tools allowed the creation of stamping dies that were both precise and complex and the number and variety of stamps increased thereafter.

Sword blade "blanks" may originate in many countries and were desireable trade goods. Marks added to such blades do not necessarily indicate the forge, armory or original swordsmith.  Rather, they may be added locally as markers of quality or "power" of the blade. For example, the "eyelash" or "sickle" marks of Genoa and elsewhere are well known and often imitated, that is, added to blades originating in German or the Caucausus. The Mazir-i-Sharif stamp was added to edged weapons and coins in Kabul, Afghanistan. Locally-added marks may vary significantly from the original marks, and this sometimes provides additional clues for identification of a blade.

Sword-maker markings (cartouche), coats of arms, country marks, inspector and acceptance marks for different countries, translation of words commonly found on swords:



Many people find this page when they are trying to identify an old sword or knife. For additional help in sword identification, also see these pages elsewhere in this site:  

And these external sites provide excellent information and help expertise for identification:

Ethnographic Arms & Armour