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Joined: Jan 2011
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Gentlemen:

Please allow me to respond to the current thread on the GermanDaggers.com forum concerning an Imperial Navy dagger manufactured by the E. & F. Hörster firm appearing on our JRB&M website.

I purposely never joined the two popular U.S. militaria forums for two reasons:

1) A total lack of time. Emails, letters, faxes, & phone calls roll into my company by many dozens every day of the year.

2) My second reason for avoiding the forums was the obvious overt agenda of several of the members who seem to be convinced that every militaria dealer and every militaria auction house is crooked and that they exist to trick collectors into purchasing reproductions from them.

I suspect that several of the other true experts in our mutual field of interest avoid the forums for the same two reasons. Think for a moment what a heavy loss this is to the forums, and how much better your forum would be with the likes of myself, Tom Wittmann, Helmut Weitze, Jack Angolia, Andreas Thies, Joe Pankowski, Wolfgang Hermann, and Jason Burmeister participating. Think of the personal collections and access to, literally, thousands of German daggers they could post for your benefit. These long-time dealers and collectors (most are both) have the answers to your questions but have, unfortunately, no interest in participating due to the unwarranted accusations directed at dealers and seen in print on your forums.

What some forum members do not want to accept is the fact that two very knowledgeable collectors or dealers can disagree on the authenticity of a certain dagger or sword and neither party is necessarily correct and attempting to fool anyone. My MAX partner and I have written more on the subject of German edged weapons than any two people on the planet, and even we don’t always agree. Does that mean that one of us is wrong? Not at all, it just simply means that we agree to disagree. As I point out in all of the many Letters of Authenticity that I am asked to write, determining authenticity of a German dagger is not an exact science.

I have personally sold through my company not hundreds, but literally, thousands of German edged weapons and can count on one hand the number of returns for a disagreement on the authenticity of an item. I will stack that statistic up against anyone in this business.

I can tell you that, without qualification, that there are collectors and, yes, dealers who are as honest as anyone whom you know, and I place myself in that category. I collected for many years before I sold my first dagger, and I was absolutely cheated by an early militaria dealer. I made the decision at that time that if I entered militaria as a business that I would be 100% honest with each and every person with whom I dealt. That policy has served me well. I can frankly tell you that no one has ever lost a single penny dealing with myself or my company nor will they.

The Imperial dagger in question was, indeed, recently returned to us. Does that make it a reproduction? Obviously not and obviously I believed the dagger to be original when I placed it on our website, and I still believe the dagger is original today and, thus, replaced it on our next update.

Before I discuss the individual dagger in question, allow me to stress a couple of points and tell anyone interested exactly what I bring to the table when the authenticity of a German dagger is being discussed or debated.

1. I have been an ardent collector and student of German Imperial and Third Reich daggers for over five decades.
2. I have personally made over 100 different trips to the city of Solingen with the express purpose to study the edged weapon industry and pass the information gleaned on to the collecting community. Have the persons who are entering this thread with advice even been to Germany, much less Solingen?
3. I have known over the past many years a minimum of 45 to 50 individuals who worked in the actual Solingen and Steinbach (East Germany at the time) edged weapon factories during the Third Reich era.
4. I have made personal friends with not only owners of some of the SolingenWaffenfabriken (Arms Factories), but also with a good number of the polishers, grinders, and common laborers in the factories.
5. Lastly, I have personally authored 33 reference books on the subject of German daggers and World War II war booty.

Am I suggesting that I know more than the collector who returned the dagger? Not at all! Believe me, no one person knows everything about this hobby, including myself. However, I do think that the above facts do place me in a very good position to offer an educated opinion on authenticity.

Reproduced below are a few comments to the person who returned the dagger that I believe are pertinent to this discussion on the forum.

“I want to stress to you that just because a collector or dealer has not seen something in the past does not make it ‘wrong’! I want to mail to you under separate cover some documents that will refute a lot of what you pointed out as being wrong with this dagger in your letter.

You will find in this incoming envelope photocopies of the covers of the two E. & F. Hörster factory catalogs that we have in our JRB&M archives. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t know of anyone who has these same catalogs available. I had a third E. & F. Hörster catalog that I sold, which pictured a lot of their Third Reich production and most likely their 1929 Navy dagger. Unfortunately, advanced collector Dr. J. M. Milestone from California made me an offer that could not be refused for this catalog some 20 to 25 years ago. At the time, an offer of several hundred dollars for a single Solingen factory catalog was unheard of. However, in retrospect, I most likely should not have sold it, because I have never seen another. Another thing that we “bring to the table” that I failed to mention is a Third Reich edged weapon archive that is “second to none”. We even have a minimum of seven or eight different Carl Eickhorn factory catalogs, a few of which I have never seen elsewhere. I only know of one better archive which is in the possession of a life-long factory owner in Solingen.

I don’t think that you can make definitive statements such as, “Hörster never used the ‘sailing ship’ etch in combination with this trademark”. How do you know that? With all my years involved in this hobby, I don’t know that, and I doubt that anyone else does. People make bold statements in this hobby but can they prove their statements?

Lastly, I wanted you to see a photocopy of the standard 2nd Model Navy dagger that I personally purchased from a local Fredericksburg WWII veteran complete with RLB black leather hangers attached. When asked about the hangers, the veteran admitted that the dagger came out of a pile of weapons that had to be turned in by the Germans at the end of the war, and the hangers were not attached but in the same pile. Please note that this 2nd Model Navy dress dagger scabbard also does not have the two side mounted screws.

Furthermore, Tom Wittmann in his excellent Naval reference on page 260 states that the throat of the scabbard being retained by one center place headless screw on the reverse is not normally seen on Kriegsmarine production Dirks. Note, he does not say never, he is saying “seldom seen”. He also points out that he has never seen a factory catalog from the E. & F. Hörster firm. As mentioned above, I have not one, but two different original Solingen F. W. Hörster factory catalogs. A Navy dagger scabbard model 1320 is shown in their late 1920’s catalog (will send you a photocopy). Their model # 1320 shows a Navy scabbard with lightning bolt motif with no side mounted screws.

You also state that in your own studies a white buffer pad is a “big red flag”. Incidentally, I can claim credit for your terminology, as I was the first dealer/collector to ever classify problems with edged weapons as being “red flags”. You state “a white buffer pad was never used on any Navy German dagger”. Once again, how do you know that? I don’t. We have a large supply of left-over factory original felt buffer pads here at JRB&M, and the box does include white felt pads. Also, the white buffer pad that is on the Navy dagger that you returned might well have been added by someone in my office because, if a dagger comes in missing a buffer pad, we will often add an original pad to compete the piece.

You state that a 1929 Navy Dagger by Hörster is a “red flag” in itself. Once again, I ask, how do you know that? If Hörster manufactured many Imperial German Navy daggers and many Third Reich Navy daggers, it is only common sense that they also made the 1929 model Navy dagger. They were in operation at the time, and there was no patent on the Navy dagger sidearms, and Navy daggers were manufactured by several of the Solingen edged weapon companies.

Lastly, you state, ‘Hörster was the only company that was still producing the Navy daggers after the war’. I can tell you that is absolutely and totally false. My first trips to Solingen were made in 1960, and I bought many post-war assembled Navy daggers from more than one firm, but especially from the F. W. Höller firm.

Along with the materials that I will be mailing you, I will even point out a mistake in the previously referenced reference book. Tom Wittmann makes the statement, “Avoid blades, however, with a large etched “H” trademark sans the oval border”. In the materials you will be receiving, you will see photocopies that I have made from some early 1930’s literature from the Hörster firm that show numerous Hörster blades with the large “H” trademark sans oval border. In the same paragraph that appears on page 260 of the Wittmann reference, he is absolutely correct about “Another post-war Hörster characteristic is the presence of small wooden pegs used to retain the grip wire ends”. The dagger that was returned, has no wooden pegs (and has, obviously, never had any wooden pegs) retaining the grip wire.

Also included in the paperwork that I am sending, you will find a photocopy of a photograph that I made in an obscure forgotten-about room in the attic of the E. & F. Hörster firm several years ago. I can direct your attention to Volume IV of my German Daggers of WWII Schiffer series, as it shows a series of pictures of myself in this long forgotten factory storeroom. You will note in the photocopy I am sending you that among the many dies remaining in the factory are Hörster dies for 2nd Model Navy parts, pommels, and crossguards. The Hörster firm made many Naval daggers whether you or the other members of the forum have seen any or not.

Also included is a page out of one of our two remaining Hörster catalogs. You will note that their Navy Imperial dagger Model 1320 shows no side mounted screws. Note also on the same exact page the sword scabbards that do have side mounted screws, the screws are shown in the drawings, which tend to be extremely accurate. Although we don’t see the reverse side of a Model 1320 scabbard, the scabbard throat had to be held in place, and most likely was held by a rear mounted screw.

One of your forum members stated that his First Model Navy dagger had a different trademark, indicating that the TM on the dagger on our website is therefore wrong. I made the effort in the early 1970’s to become very friendly with the previous 1930’s/1940’s Carl Eickhorn production manager. I delivered a copy of the just-released (1971) Jack Angolia reference book on Third Reich daggers. On my next trip to Solingen, he advised that while the Angolia book was excellent that Jack had made a serious error on page 314 where he attempted to date the various Eickhorn trademarks used during the Third Reich era. He stated that listing the company’s trademark by dates was foolishness and that the production manager would select which company TM to use with each blade production run and there was no predetermined sequence. I still have my notes from the early meetings in Solingen. As I have stated many times, the Solingen edged weapon companies were producing high quantities of daggers to fill orders and not to appease collectors decades later. The fact that a trademark does not match the trademark of the same model dagger in your collection, in my view, means absolutely nothing as the large manufacturers used multiple trademarks.

I can tell you, indeed, are a student of this hobby, but I think after reviewing the materials that I send you, you will have to agree that the facts are in my corner.

I would agree that your suggestion that we share a beer at the SOS or the next MAX Show is an excellent one, and I would relish the opportunity.”

Here is a recent classic example of how some of the “let me set the record straight” members of the forums get crossed up. For, literally, years I heard that the Göring Industrial Dagger which I selected to picture on the dust jacket of my Volume I of Collecting the Edged Weapons of the Third Reich was a fake and, definitely a fantasy dagger created by Jim Atwood. When I even showed a picture of the Industrial dagger on an Alcoso paper calendar on the wall of an Eickhorn factory break room in a 1930’s Eickhorn company file photograph, one of the forum members with an agenda of condemning every dealer, cried “the photo has probably been photo shopped!” Right! Lo and behold, our JRB&M General Manager located in Germany last year a 1930’s Alcoso glass calendar picturing none other than the Goring Industrial Dagger! I was pleased to show this indisputable evidence that the original dagger did exist at last year’s MAX Show. Where are the naysayers now?

Gentlemen, having spent a career studying the German edged weapon industry and trying my very best to assist collectors in helping them determine how to distinguish original from reproduction German daggers, I consider accusing my company of trying to pass off a reproduction dagger an insult not taken lightly. Yes, the dagger in question was removed from our JRB&M website but only for one reason – to allow me to prepare a reply. You should, in my opinion, expel a few trouble makers from your forum.

LTC (Ret) Thomas M. Johnson
President
Johnson Reference Books & Militaria

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I thought the dagger being discussed here is the Imperial with the back to back squirrels.

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You are right! I hope mr. Johnson will reply on that one as well.

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Hmm, interesting read, shame it does not mention the Eickhorn dagger we were discussing, as I said in my first post of the Eickhorn navy thread, I have had no problems at all with TJ, nice guy who has sold me thousands of dollars worth of daggers over the years, I do believe though that it is right and proper to bring the dagger to the attention of other collectors, some of which may have been interested in it, I also believe the thread has been a constructive one where no mud has been slung and people have learnt why some of us think the dagger to be of post war manufacture.

Gary

Joined: Oct 2001
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My hat's off to Tom, many would never answer publicly. Tom's books have been an immense help to many of us finding our way in the hobby. As well Tom has been there at shows to answer questions from many inquiring collectors. I've never heard of anyone having a problem with a return either.
Is he perfect? no, but who is?
As a founding father of the hobby he certainly deserves respect.
smile

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I doubt Mr. Johnson lists items on the site or maintains it personally. At least the apparent confusion leads me to that assumption. I would also doubt that anyone with a modicum of respect or decency would level accusations of dishonesty at him given his long standing reputation and contributions to the collecting community. I have never bought anything from JRBM and I do not know Mr. Johnson personally so I have no angle on this. My observations over the years have led me to conclude that Mr. Johnson and Ron Weinand - from whom I have bought a dagger some years ago - are completely honest. There are very many more of whom I would not say the same.

When a business is built on personal reputation delegating responsibility for whatever reason can no doubt be problematic.

As interesting and informative as the posting is I am rather sorry that Mr. Johnson has felt obliged to defend himself publicly on this forum for what are very possibly not his own actions?

Ps, I hope Ron does not mind me mentioning him here but I do so as being a close colleague of Mr. Johnson and the other dealer who's integrity I would count on.

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I do know Tom Johnson and have done business with him since I started seriously collecting over 16 years ago. I can tell you that honesty, integrity and professionalism are core values of he and his staff. To think that he would legitimately attempt to deceive is ludicrous and irresponsible at best.

I find it particularly distasteful that there are members of this forum that appear to relish the opportunity to criticize and accuse others whom they have never met, of misconduct from behind the safety of their computing screen in BFE. These are usually the same people regardless of the topic. The classy thing to do is pick up the phone and discuss concerns in private. This hobby is not an exact science and frankly spirited debate is very useful and one of the reasons to participate in this forum. To agree to disagree is perfectly acceptable. However, to bring someones's reputation into question in a public forum is tacky and spiteful. What is it about people that would love to see the mighty stumble? It is usually a reflection of their own miserable existence.


Wanted: German Naval Edged Weapons and Related Accouterments
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Stratocaster

Who is saying that he is deliberately attempting to deceive, also can you name the members of this forum who have criticised him?.

I thought that the thread generally was OK and didn't sling any mud in his direction, I thought that was the idea of this forum to discuss edged weapons.

Gary

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Originally Posted By: Baz69
Stratocaster

Who is saying that he is deliberately attempting to deceive, also can you name the members of this forum who have criticised him?.

I thought that the thread generally was OK and didn't sling any mud in his direction, I thought that was the idea of this forum to discuss edged weapons.

Gary


Gary, Correct and on point.
Everyone is aware of Tom Johnson's vast contribution to the hobby.
However, the differences of opinions where about the Eickhorn Imperial Navy dagger that is now deleted from Tom Johnson's site.

Let's see that again, and we can discuss the pro's and con's of that dagger, as we normally do here.
If I made a error on calling it a repro, I will admit it, and correct my opinion if the evidence shows otherwise.

Serge

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To clarify, my reading of Gary's thread about the back to back Eick dagger was that it questioned the dagger's authenticity without casting blame on Tom or his staff.

There is a distinct difference between someone making a mistake (which is what the situation appeared to be) & someone intentionally trying to deceive a buyer. There are members who are generally critical of dealers, & in some circumstances that criticism may be well founded. In this case though, I don't see any justification to throw Tom under the bus for what is, in all likelihood, a mistake.


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