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Login Name Post: "neck" knives        (Topic#308292)
Wick Ellerbe 
75 Cal.
Posts: 5678
Wick Ellerbe
09-19-18 09:13 AM - Post#1703223    

    In response to Spence10

It has been my understanding that neck knives may have been somewhat popular with the French boatmen and trappers. I have read where some of the NDNs would only use their neck knives for war, and not for everyday use. I really don't know, but Ken Hamilton could probably give you the best info on the trade scalpers, which were the common neck knife.

 
NWTF Longhunter 
50 Cal.
Posts: 1298
NWTF Longhunter
09-19-18 10:45 AM - Post#1703240    

    In response to Wick Ellerbe

I won't argue whether neck knives were used back when or not. I figure men back then were as practical as men are today so they probably used neck knives.

Some day I'm gonna count how many times I use a knife during the day and my neck knife is the handiest and most accessible.

 
BrownBear 
Cannon
Posts: 14382
BrownBear
09-19-18 10:55 AM - Post#1703244    

    In response to NWTF Longhunter

Hang one on your belt at the same time and see which one you reach for most often.

That's the real test. And that's why all my neck knives have migrated to a drawer.
"Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
Merle Haggard


 
Black Hand 
Cannon
Posts: 7768
Black Hand
09-19-18 10:58 AM - Post#1703245    

    In response to NWTF Longhunter

  • NWTF Longhunter Said:
I won't argue whether neck knives were used back when or not. I figure men back then were as practical as men are today so they probably used neck knives.


And yet, that is exactly what you have done by making this post.

Regardless of what WE in the modern world find practical, we should try to emulate what WAS done rather than what we think may have been done based upon our modern mentality and preconceptions...

 
NWTF Longhunter 
50 Cal.
Posts: 1298
NWTF Longhunter
09-19-18 11:47 AM - Post#1703249    

    In response to Black Hand

  • Quote:
Regardless of what WE in the modern world find practical, we should try to emulate what WAS done rather than what we think may have been done based upon our modern mentality and preconceptions...





People don't change, from the time an ancient practical mind figured out how a lever would throw a spear farther and how bending a limb and tying a gut on each end would throw a smaller spear even farther, men have progressed to space travel.

Don't try and convince me that neck knives weren't used, I have too much faith in my forefathers intelligence.

And Brown bear, I DO wear a belt knife AND a folding knife but a neck knife is more easily accessible. Mine are NOT in a drawer. My favorite NK is one by Wick Ellerbe



 
Rifleman1776 
Cannon
Posts: 14827
Rifleman1776
09-19-18 11:48 AM - Post#1703250    

    In response to Spence10

  • Spence10 Said:
I'm still not clear, were neck knives worn by whites? I've see a lot of re-enactors of the fur trade era with them, but is that correct?

Spence



I'm one that believes folks, white, red, whatever, over the years were innovative and made or did things that made life easier. It is incomprehensible to me that, somewhere along the line, a real mountain man or Indian never rigged up a neck knife for themselves. As for the painters, some historians put great value on what they depicted. I don't as I see in many of those paintings like horses taller than teepees, three pole teepees, etc. Not accurate historical depictions, IMHO.

 
Black Hand 
Cannon
Posts: 7768
Black Hand
09-19-18 12:31 PM - Post#1703262    

    In response to Rifleman1776

  • Rifleman1776 Said:
  • Spence10 Said:
I'm still not clear, were neck knives worn by whites? I've see a lot of re-enactors of the fur trade era with them, but is that correct?

Spence



I'm one that believes folks, white, red, whatever, over the years were innovative and made or did things that made life easier. It is incomprehensible to me that, somewhere along the line, a real mountain man or Indian never rigged up a neck knife for themselves. As for the painters, some historians put great value on what they depicted. I don't as I see in many of those paintings like horses taller than teepees, three pole teepees, etc. Not accurate historical depictions, IMHO.


By this logic, they should have had AR-15's in the 19th century and steam locomotives during the time of the Greeks. After all, they were innovative, had the technology and manufacturing knowledge and it would have made their lives easier.

Modern thinking and knowledge applied retrospectively makes certain people believe that ALL things were possible in the past. Historical facts have shown us this IS NOT the case.

BTW - we know they had horses and Tipis. Why? Because historians have collected the facts - the same facts so casually dismissed unless they support a person's personal bias. One can't just cherry-pick what they like and dismiss what doesn't agree with their preconceptions...

 
Spence10 
Cannon
Posts: 7001
09-19-18 01:15 PM - Post#1703271    

    In response to Black Hand

You really need to broaden your base of references, Black Hand. If you look in the right place, documentation for most anything is possible. In this instance I recommend Terry Johnston's 9-book series on the Rocky Mountain fur trade. I'll betcha old Titus "Scratch" Bass wore a neck knife.

For the naive and humorless among us, the above is my feeble attempt at irony. I sincerely hope no feelings were hurt by this post. Sort of.

Spence

 
Kansas Jake 
54 Cal.
Posts: 1531
09-19-18 01:19 PM - Post#1703272    

    In response to Black Hand

In these discussions I will have to agree with Black Hand. We really need some evidence of trappers and non NDNs using them. We talk about innovating, but from experience, many times it is hard to get people to adopt innovation. The fact that most of us here use things that are long out of common usage is an argument against innovation. Think about how many industries or processes continue to be done in a certain way because "We've always done it that way."



 
Loyalist Dave 
Cannon
Posts: 6922
Loyalist Dave
09-20-18 05:51 AM - Post#1703361    

    In response to NWTF Longhunter

  • Quote:
People don't change, from the time an ancient practical mind figured out how a lever would throw a spear farther and how bending a limb and tying a gut on each end would throw a smaller spear even farther, men have progressed to space travel.



AH BUT..., development is NOT universal, even when all of the resources and abilities to invent or adopt a technology exist.

For example in Australia and in New Zealand, the bow and arrow were not used by the indigenous peoples. Now the Polynesians were sea faring, and did come into contact with cultures with bows, but they did not adopt the bow, nor develop them independent of contact. Cherokees made use of the blowgun..., so do South American paleo peoples today, but it didn't become a universal tool to the Eastern Woodland cultures, even with those that traded with the Cherokee, and knew of its use.

Steel skillets, cooking oil, charcoal, all were known to Europeans and those on the British Isles. YET..., stir-fry in a wok didn't develop, and even after contact was made by sea with China, the wok didn't spread into anglo society until after WWII. By your argument, since all of the needed ingredients and tech were known to be present, some white person must have used a wok in the 18th century, so then Moo Gu Gai Pan might be served at a North American historic home site as an "authentic" colonial dinner dish.

The debate isn't that whites "never" used neck knives, or that "only Indians used them"..., it's simply that we find no evidence of white, English speakers, using neck knives. SOME use this as the basis for their abstinence on neck knives, and SOME like me use the neck knife and admit it may not have been common, or might be wrong, and SOME don't care...

LD

 
crockett 
Cannon
Posts: 6351
09-21-18 12:44 PM - Post#1703603    

    In response to Loyalist Dave

Well whites in Scandinavia used/carry neck knives- the Lapps. As I understand it, in the winter they find it more convenient than having a knife on a belt that may get buried in bulky clothes/parkas, etc.
What's even more interesting is the similarity of the sheath, with a center seam.

 
Black Hand 
Cannon
Posts: 7768
Black Hand
09-21-18 04:28 PM - Post#1703624    

    In response to crockett

True - but from what I remember, the Scandanavians did not come to this continent in any number until the 19th century...

 
Loyalist Dave 
Cannon
Posts: 6922
Loyalist Dave
09-22-18 07:10 AM - Post#1703675    

    In response to Black Hand

I'm not sure Crockett was intending on offering that as a point in favor for 18th, or 19th century use of neck knives in North America by immigrants.

I took that as an example of people not going to war, and fully capable of wearing the same knives on a belt, wearing and using the knives as "neck knives" in a purely utilitarian application. The observation about the sheaths seems to point to independent but paralel developement.

LD

 
Elnathan 
50 Cal.
Posts: 1298
09-22-18 07:32 AM - Post#1703677    

    In response to Black Hand

  • Black Hand Said:
True - but from what I remember, the Scandanavians did not come to this continent in any number until the 19th century...



I don't know of any evidence for the use of the neck knife among whites, either.

However, it might not be wise to dismiss the possibility of Scandinavian cultural influence too quickly. The settlers of New Sweden were small in number but they did manage to introduce the log cabin, an architectural form common in Scandinavia but unknown in the New World prior to their arrival here. That is a pretty outsized influence on frontier culture for a small group.

The Swedes (or, more probably, Finns) may have really had quite an influence on white frontier culture - in Faragher's biography of Daniel Boone he suggests that the descendants of the New Sweden settlers were still an ethnically distinct group with a particular affinity for woodsrunning well into the 18th century, and that Boone's early training as a woodsman came from these men. Unfortunately he only mentions this in passing and doesn't provide a note on his sources, so I've never been able to track down anything more about more about the descendants of New Sweden.

 
Elnathan 
50 Cal.
Posts: 1298
09-22-18 08:20 AM - Post#1703678    

    In response to Elnathan

A couple of more general points:

1) I'm not convinced that even the Indians used neck knives in the way folks here are assuming that they used them. There are certainly a large number of decorated sheathes in existence, but the knives that go into them are often either highly decorated in a manner inconsistent with everyday use (quilled handles) or of a design ill-suited for use as a tool (most notable, a push-dagger with a handle made from the head an unborn colt illustrated in one of the Books of Buckskinning).

In other words, neck knives among the Indians may not have been the tools that folks are assuming, but something more along the lines of a sword in Western culture - a weapon, a bit of male jewellery, a symbol of ritual or even religious significance, and often a mix of all three depending on the context in which it is worn. It is even possible that neck knives may have not have been worn on an everyday basis and reserved for warfare or formal occasions.

If it was more of a symbolic item of dress than a everyday tool, I think that makes it a lot less likely that the whites would imitate the practice - it wouldn't have the same meaning for them.

2) How much evidence do we have for belt knives among white frontiersmen? Probably sounds like a stupid question, but it would be interesting to see how much period evidence there is for knives being worn on the belt, which is (quite justifiably, I think) widely assumed to have been quite common among frontiersmen. If there are a lot of period descriptions of frontiersmen wearing knives on their belts, then the total lack of any sources for neck knives is pretty good evidence that neck knives weren't used. If, on the other hand, there just isn't much evidence regarding sheaths of any kind, then the silence of the sources on neck knives isn't as significant.

I'm not suggesting that belt knives weren't actually used, I'm wondering about how much evidence, written or otherwise, is available for something we know must have been used a lot, and how it compares to the lack of evidence of the same sort for an item that we don't know much about.

 
Black Hand 
Cannon
Posts: 7768
Black Hand
09-22-18 08:45 AM - Post#1703681    

    In response to Elnathan

https://www.google.com/search?tbs=cdr%3A1%2Ccd_min%3A1700%2C...

Captain Cook describing Neck Knives only being used as weapons, but the location is difficult to discern - likely the South Pacific:
https://books.google.com/books?id=lZtgAAAAcAAJ&pg=PA441&...

One must recognize the evidence for knives & other cutting implements being worn in or suspended from a belt throughout history is undeniable. Otzi comes to mind as the first example. We also know that knives were worn about the neck by certain peoples. Context is important - even if done in one location by a certain group in no way suggests it was done that same way by another group in another location....

 
Black Hand 
Cannon
Posts: 7768
Black Hand
09-22-18 09:11 AM - Post#1703685    

    In response to Black Hand

"A tomahawk and scalping-knife, of English manufacture, were in his girdle..."
James Fenimore Cooper, 1831

"They now proceed to arm, suspending the bow and quiver, or, more frequently, the musket, from the shoulder, the hatchet or tomahawk from the hand, while the scalping-knife is stuck in the girdle. A portion of parched corn or sagamity..."
Hugh Murray, 1840

"The scalping-knife in a beautiful scabbard, which is carried under the belt, is the form of knife most generally used in all..."
George Catlin, 1842

"Their arms are a fusil, or rifle, a powder horn, a shot-pouch, a tomahawk, and a scalping-knife hanging to their neck."
The Gentleman's Magazine, and Historical Chronicle, Volume 36, E. Cave, 1766


 
Elnathan 
50 Cal.
Posts: 1298
09-22-18 10:19 AM - Post#1703696    

    In response to Black Hand

  • Black Hand Said:
https://www.google.com/search?tbs=cdr%3A1%2Ccd_min%3A1700%2C...

Captain Cook describing Neck Knives only being used as weapons, but the location is difficult to discern - likely the South Pacific:
https://books.google.com/books?id=lZtgAAAAcAAJ&pg=PA441&...

One must recognize the evidence for knives & other cutting implements being worn in or suspended from a belt throughout history is undeniable. Otzi comes to mind as the first example. We also know that knives were worn about the neck by certain peoples. Context is important - even if done in one location by a certain group in no way suggests it was done that same way by another group in another location....




Sorry, I must not have been as clear as I thought I was being. My point was that the lack of documentation for an item is is significant in proportion to how much information we can reasonably expect to find for it if it was present.

Ergo, if we want a thorough answer, part of examining the evidence for neck knife use among white frontiersmen and trappers really ought to include an examination of descriptions of belt knives among white white frontiersmen and trappers as well - if the sources routinely refer to wearing knives on the belt, than the absence of references to neck knives is pretty strong evidence that they weren't used, the dog that doesn't bark so to speak, whereas of mention of sheath or carry locations are rare in general, the absence of references to knives carried on the neck is carries less weight.

In pseudo-scientific terms, I'm suggesting using the database of belt-knife references as a control group to judge the significance of lack of references to neck knives among the same population group.

I guess I should make clear that I am not asking for an answer here and now, but making a suggestion how anyone interested in pursuing the subject further. I don't think that it is possible to do the research in the time-frame that these threads usually last.

Personally, I think neck knives were probably rare to nonexistent among whites, and that we would probably learn more by discussing why they weren't used more widely rather than arguing about if it is OK to wear one, a question that tends to devolved down to reenactors' convention rather than history per se. I'm not a reenactor, though, so my priorities tend to be a bit different than most on this site.

 
Rifleman1776 
Cannon
Posts: 14827
Rifleman1776
09-22-18 10:23 AM - Post#1703698    

    In response to Black Hand

  • Black Hand Said:
True - but from what I remember, the Scandanavians did not come to this continent in any number until the 19th century...



That is one of the most mysterious issues that arises in early American history. The 'white' indians. Complete with Christian symbols and beliefs.
https://mysteriousuniverse.org/2017/10/the-mysterious-tribe-...

 
Snapper 
32 Cal.
Posts: 41
09-27-18 01:16 PM - Post#1704355    

    In response to Rifleman1776

I'm a bit late to this party but if my memory serves me correctly, in Steve Delisle's book on the French milice he specifies that each man was required to have 3 knives; a neck knife, one held on by their sash and another attached to their leg. I'm not sure where he was able to research this information but I know this book is considered the one to read if you're researching French milice.

That's all for now. Take care and until next time....be well.

snapper

 
Cruzatte 
50 Cal.
Posts: 1134
Cruzatte
09-28-18 11:06 AM - Post#1704470    

    In response to Snapper

The DeLisle book quotes two French Canadian sources: Bouganville, aide de camp to General Montcalm; and Bourlamaque, colonel and third in charge of French regular troops.

 
50cal.cliff 
58 Cal.
Posts: 2342
50cal.cliff
09-28-18 05:03 PM - Post#1704512    

    In response to Rifleman1776

Rifleman, just read what you posted.

https://mysteriousuniverse.org/2017/10/the-mysterious-tribe-...

When I finished I realized I was sitting here with my mouth hanging open.
Never heard of this. Very interesting read!!

Edited by 50cal.cliff on 09-28-18 05:04 PM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
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