Category: dirks


British Naval Dirk, c.1800

Napoleonic period naval officers dirk, Read, Portsmouth, the ivory handle above the named and engraved scabbard, steel blade.  


British Naval Dirk, c.1790-1800

Georgian naval officer’s Dirk in its associated brass mounted leather scabbard. Curved 27.5 cm blade with traces of blue and gilt etching. Chequered bone grip and brass guard. Scabbard locket marked ‘Bennet, Sword Cutler to the Prince of Wales, 67 Royal Exchange’. Probably John Bennet Jr. 1773-1802.

British Highland Officer’s Silver-Mounted Dress Dirk of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, Edinburgh, 1885 

With tapering blade formed with a notched back-edge, etched with scrollwork, the regimental device and signed by the retailer ‘Johns and Pegg, Clifford Street, London’, carved rootwood grip decorated with basket-weave designs enriched with silver nails, pommel inset with a large citrine, in its original scabbard with chased silver mounts decorated with interlaced monsters and the regimental device and with its extra pieces en suite (the knife incomplete). 29.5 cm; 11 5/8 in blade.   

British Midshipman’s Dirk, 1897

A fine presentation quality Royal Navy midshipman’s dirk, by Edward Thurkle of London, featuring an unusual and luxury blued and gilt blade (46cm). Presentation script etched on the blade reads “CHIEF CAPTAIN’S PRIZE AWARDED TO MR. W. W. SILLEM – H.M.S. BRITANNIA, AUGUST 1897”. The gilt brass hilt fittings, with lion’s head pommel and fouled anchor langet, with acorn terminals to s-quillons. White shagreen grip with most of the grip wire in place. Leather sheath with brass mounts.



For period correctness…

British Dirk for a Member of the Egyptian Club, of Senior Naval Officer’s Type, c.1798

With curved blade double-edged towards the point, etched and gilt with flowers and foliage on a blued panel over half its length, gilt brass hilt comprising small outer-guard pierced and chiselled with a crocodile, knuckle chain, faceted back strap rising to form a lion’s head pommel, ribbed ivory grip bound with plaited copper wire. 43.2cm long; 1ft. 5in.

Two days after the battle of the Nile, on the night of 3rd August 1798, the Captains of the fleet met on board the Orion, and inaugurated the ‘Egyptian Club’. A document was then drawn up, and signed by all present, inviting Sir Horatio Nelson to accept the gift of a sword and to have his portrait painted for the club.  Nelson’s gold sword was ordered through Rundell & Bridge. Little more is known of the ‘Egyptian Club’ who never seem to have met.   The promised portrait was never completed although there was a story that a Neapolitan artist was invited to breakfast with the Captains but felt unworthy of the commission.

Nelson’s own sword was distinguished by an enamel plaque let into each side of the grip, one showing Lord Nelson’s arms and that on the reverse allegorical figures representing Brittania and Africa.   On the guard was an enamel plaque representing the Battle of the Nile and a list of the captains that served:  Captain Sir F.Berry, Vanguard; Captain T.Trowbridge, Cullodon; Captain R.W.Miller, Theseus; Captain A.J Ball, Alexander; Captain Thomas Lewis, Minotaur; Captain Sir T.B. Thompson; Leander; Captain B.Hallowel, Swiftsure; Captain Davidge Gould, Audacious; Captain John Peyton, Defence; Captain S. Hood, Zealous; Captain James Saumarez, Orion; Captain Thomas Foley, Goliath; Captain G. B. Westcott, Majestic; Captain H.D.E Darby, Bellerophon, Captain S. M. Hardy, Mutine.  Captain Westcott had been killed at the action.

The present dirk forms part of a very small group of dirks that were almost certainly made for members of the Egyptian Club.

British HIghland Officer’s Dirk, 19th Century

72nd (Duke of Albany’s Own Highlanders) Officer’s Dirk c. 1855-81, the 30 cm bright etched blade with standard toothed back edge and part single fuller shows the crown ‘72nd’ the VR cypher and scrolls of thistles and bluebells, the hand grip of bog oak with brass pin decoration, the rounded plain pommel set with a coloured stone, the knife and fork again with bog oak and pin hand grips, similar plain gilt pommles and coloured stones, the black leather scabbard with gilt brass chapes and mounts features ‘72’ and thistle spray decoration, short leather loop with press stud fastener for attachment to the waist belt, the bog oak hand grips on the small knife and fork.

British Masonic Dirk, 19th Century

With tapering blade notched along the back and double-edged at the point, one side etched with thistles and maker’s details ‘Rob. Mole & Sons Makers, Birmingham’, hilt comprising turned baluster ivory grip (old splits), silver basal mount with prominent foliate border, and domed silver pommel-cap set with cast foliage surmounted by a human skull in the round, London silver hallmarks. 30.6 cm blade.

A Victorian Officer’s Dirk for the Highland Light Infantry by Henry Wilkinson

The 11 ½ inch single edged blade with notched spine and etched overall, one side with nine battle honors, the Royal crown and the regimental title, the reverse with 20 battle honors, Corunna through Egypt 1882/Tel-el-Kebir above the maker’s signature. Ebonized wooden grip carved with interlace and set with brass studs, the ferrule and pommel molded with thistles, the pommel mounted with a clear foil-backed stone. Black leather scabbard retaining the original knife and fork, the brass mounts with molded thistle decoration and retaining traces of silver-plated finish; throat applied with brass and silver regimental badge. Belt loop retaining original leather hanger, the front with regimental lace.

Note: The Highland Light Infantry were formed in 1881 from an amalgamation of the 71st and 74th Highland regiments, whose pre-1881 battle honors are found on the blade of this example, as well as the honors from the Egyptian Campaign of 1882.





An odd naval Dirk with a shell guard and what looks like a triangular blade, British or American, ca. 1800-1820, from the Curator’s Eye Antiques.

I again invoke the knowledge of @victoriansword.

British naval dirks were not regulated until the Victorian period. In the 18th century and early 19th century pretty much anything was an option. There was a great diversity in designs for naval dirks; broad and double-edged, thin and double-edged, curved with one edge, and blades with thrust-oriented cross-sections such as diamond, lenticular/oval, square, rectangular, and less commonly, triangular cross-sections. They also varied in length. Dirks had various grips including ivory, ebony, shagreen, and brass. There were various pommel designs, and quite a few guard types, as well. Guards might be simple quillons, a disk, and knuckbow, quillons with a decorative chain attached to the pommel…. Anything goes when it comes to naval dirks of the Georgian period.

Above: A variety of British naval dirks with straight double edged blades. (source)

Above: A curved and single-edged British naval dirk and a small double-edged naval dirk. (source)

Above: Three British dirks of diverse form. (source)

Above: Here is a British dirk with a wide lenticular cross-section, and it looks similar to a ballock dagger. (source)

Slightly later in the 19th century, in 1833, the French Navy adopted a dirk/dagger with a short blade of triangular cross-section.

Above: French M1833 boarding dagger/dirk (source)

So, yeah, British (and American) naval dirks were pretty diverse in just about every aspect of design.

Check out the online collections of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich to see their large collection of naval dirks.

Note that these last ones were issued to French troops in WW1 around 1915 when trench warfare was being developed but before they pulled cutlers from the frontline.

@carminegalleon dirks are basically just regular daggers but For Sailors

And Scots.