Damascus steel was very uncommon, and very rare in the Americas before the 1970's revival. Yes, 1970's. It is not a good or proper choice for serious re-enactors. It was not even commonly used in Europe much after the 17th c. Less rare than over here, but still not common. The term Damascus is used for two different types of steel. The true Damascus was a crucible cast steel, first appearing in ancient India, as far as we know, then spreading to the middle east where it became famous for it's beauty and strength. The exact method of it's manufacture is still debated today. What is commonly called Damascus today is most often a laminated construction of two or more different steels, hammer and forge welded into a billet. However, depending on how one wishes to define laminated steels, shear steel is made much the same from layered blister steel, just not folded and welded to produce a pattern, and using layers of similar steel. Shear steel was a common blade steel of the late 18th and 19th c. and even used into the 20th c. The Bessemer process developed in the 1850's was just a much more efficient and cheaper method of producing crucible cast steel in large quantities. Cast steel was a crucible steel, developed, or more accurately, re-developed in the 1750's offering a superior steel with a more controlled content of carbon, which made a more dependable spring steel, and superior cutting tools, than did blister or shear steel. However, cast steel was still an expensive steel until Bessemer's process of producing it.
Posts: 556 | Location: geneva,fl | Registered: 29 March 2005
Totally agree. I've never personally never found any references to damascus knives in the west during our time period. The common knife of the western fur trade was just your basic old cheap Wilson or other imported butcher or scalper.