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Naval Officers 5-Ball Dirk


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This Officers 5-Ball Dirk, so named for the guard, has a blade of unsharpened high carbon steel. The guard and pommel are of brass and the grip is of faux ivory. It comes with a scabbard of black leather with brass accents and hanging rings. A handsome Dirk such as this would not only be a fighting tool for the British or American Officer, but a eye-catching part of his uniformed regalia when ashore.

Although ships in the heydey of the Age of Sail had more than enough firepower to subdue and sink one another from afar, boarding actions were still common for there was great money to be made by a Captain and crew who took an enemy ship as a prize. Although substantially more risky to a crew than thudding the guns from afar, the prize money was sufficient enough that all involved could be awarded great sums in return for a few hours of hard fighting.

Crews brought their vessel alongside their target, boarding the deck of the foe en masse with cutlass armed sailors. Uniformed marines sniped with flintlock rifles from the fighting tops and along the rails. Decks were cleared with swivel cannons belching grapeshot, which kept the heads of the defenders down whilst the boarders clambered over the sides – good use of the swivel guns was necessary to hamper the defenders from using their boarding pikes to stave off the boarders effectively.

Midshipmen and Officers were expected to lead and take part in the action, and they fought alongside their cutlass-swinging comrades with finely crafted Officers swords. The Officers of the British, American and French navies all favored the straight Spadroon swords in the years spanning the American Revolution up through the Napoleonic Wars. Many would carry a matching dirk as a secondary weapon in the case that a cutlass snapped or knocked aside their spadroon, or for fighting in close quarters belowdecks where there was little room for the effective use of longer blades. Flintlock weapons often misfired at sea, and many boarding actions were decided in brutal close combat with swords, dirks, pikes and axes – all on a cluttered, pitching deck.

Although boarding actions were dangerous, the Navy encouraged the taking of ships, for they would be purchased from the crew who took them, repaired and then sent back into service, though flying the new flag of its captors – much more economical than building entirely new ships! Many British captains dreamed of commanding a captured French vessel, for the French built better handling ships in the Napoleonic Era.

The prize money would be divided into eighths. Two shares went to the Captain and one share to the Admiral who signed the Captains orders. Two eighths were divided among the higher ranking officers and specialists and another went to the lower ranking officers and attendants. The final two-eights went to the crew.

When the two Spanish Frigates Thetis and Santa Brigada were captured by a collective effort from four British frigates in 1799, the total prize money amounted to 652,000 pounds. Each Captain made his gains with 40,730 and the sailors each received 182 – which was the equivalent of ten years of pay for an ordinary sailor! Captains could become fabulously wealthy in even a single action, buying land and estates and paving their path into the aristocracy. Seamen would have pockets stuffed with coin ashore and could live like traveling kings in the portside taverns and bawdy houses of ill-repute. Clearly the glitter of gold ensured that many Officers kept their swords and dirks sharpened and their ship armories ready for action.

Overall Length19 3/4''
Blade Length14 3/4''
Width21.6 mm
Thickness5.1 mm - 4.3 mm
P.O.B.2 3/8''
Grip Length4''
Blade [EN9 High Carbon Steel]
TypeNaval Dirk
ClassBattle Ready
ManufacturerUniversal Swords
Country of OriginIndia


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