" Which would your men rather be, tired or dead "   Erwin Rommel

HOME DAGGERS       BAYONETS       SWORDS       KNIVES       HELMETS       MISC / CONSIGN       GALLERY         - This page explains many of the terms or phrases used on this website and resources Worldwide regarding German Heer or Army Daggers. The parts or makeup of most German daggers changed in 1936 when select manufacturers where granted Official Production Contracts. The focus switched from using the highest quality materials, base metals and labour intensive hand enhancing to a more streamlined cost effective German dagger design. If you study the comparison pictures shown below you should clearly see the savings in materials and manpower that could ultimately be used in higher priority production.
Please note that variations will be found from the examples shown below, this page is intended as a guide and not as a definitive resource.
German Army Officers Dagger Grips
The grip's on Period German Army Officer's daggers have proved to be quite a contentious issue over the years, with the collecting community divided. It was suggested a few years back that the majority of dagger grips fitted with the standard Trolon grip material started off white and given time, changed colour depending on exposure to light. I do not intend to stir up a hornets nest going into the rights and wrongs of this theory here and ultimately each collector should draw his own conclusions, I will however state that from a personal perspective, I am a true believer.
The majority of German Army Officers dagger's in collections today will be fitted with a Trolon grip, however several variants where also produced as an extra cost option or some as cheaper alternatives. Not all are shown above ( I was too lazy ! ).
1)  The red grip on the far left is what is often referred to as a 'slant' or slanted grip, the name is basically taken from the steep angle of the swirls compared to the later style grips. The Type A or slant grip is normally  only found on early manufactured German daggers ( with the exception of Christianswerk ) prior to 1936 and matched in most cases to a tapered tang blade.
 2) The second grip with the widest segments was also used relatively early and throughout the production era, in some cases this style of grip appears to have been used by select manufacturers ( Heller for example ) as an alternative to the slanted variety as early as 1935. This Type B style grip was without a doubt the most prolific.
3) The Type C was a later contribution and is often found on daggers fitted with Generic parts or German Officers daggers featuring later war hilt fittings, the segments are slimmer than the earlier type B.
4) Often termed 'glass' or 'amber' the fourth grip pictured above is one of my personal favourites, as the name suggests they were made from a glass type material which often included metallic flakes added to the mix. This combination resulted in a translucent orange juice effect which is very appealing, the only downside to this material was the fragile similarity  to glass, it is extremely difficult today to find an un-chipped or un-damaged example. Nearly always matched with Generic fittings or mid to later war configurations.
5) Probably the most desirable and sought after grip types available, the Ivory handled German Army Officers dagger was an extra cost option available to the purchaser at double the going rate of a standard dagger. This often meant that its use was reserved for Presentation daggers or purchased by Officers from a Noble or priveleged background. It is also safe to say that a larger proportion of daggers founds with Ivory grips are often accompanied by other higher cost options such as Damascus blades or highly engraved family motifs or cartouches. On a side note, if anybody has one they do not want, I will happily pay the postage and guarantee it will be looked after :).


GALALITH - Or milk-stone grips was a cheaper alternative used later in the period and were derived from casein ( milk protein ) and immersion in formaldehyde. White in colour, the material is relatively easy to spot today, the porous surface of these grips often looks crazed or chalky in appearance with fine lines or scratches as if somebody has sanded the grip with a fine paper. The material did not change colour, so all examples found today will be white or cream in colour.

CELLULOID - The cheapest to produce featured a plaster or wood cored grip that was coated with a celluloid or plastic layer. Both the wood cored and plaster filled grip will often show a seam running up one side,  I suspect this process would have been achieved by heat application and is often cleverly disguised. The plaster filled celluloid grips would have been formed by applying heat to the celluloid layer over a mould, possibly wood and then cooled. The grips where then injected with a plaster filler and while wet, assembled over the blade tang and left to set in place ensuring a solid and tight fit to hilt assembly. This fact that the wood cored grips are rarely encountered may be because they were never intentionally meant to be production, instead and possibly because of a short life span as a mould they were simply covered and shipped as production and the mould replaced. I do not think they would have used metal as a mould for the celluloid layers as it would have expanded, wood makes far more sense to me.....................just a theory!.

PAINTED - Occasionally white painted German Army dagger grips surface over a wood core, whether these were intended as production or simply a case of using up excess or redundant moulds for the plaster filled grips is speculation on my part. They are however quite scarce, especially ones with the paint intact. Another anomaly that surfaces from time to time is the use of the black funeral or railway dagger grip, painted white. This paint was prone to chipping and in the course of 60+ years, most cases it is eventually fully removed revealing an army dagger with a black grip. These daggers are virtually always by the manufacturer Klaas.

WIRE-WRAPPED -  This featured a grip of any type ( exception of glass ) having a double twist wire wrap that ran the length of the dagger using the spiral twist. Possible legitimate examples will have a small bore hole at either end of the grip and in a certain fashion, located under the ferrule and again under the pommel to secure and hide the ends of the wire. This practice in my opinion was only used by certain manufacturers and in a way that can be used in most cases to determine authenticity. I have never seen conclusive proof that this type of enhancement was offered as a period private purchase option and no period photographs of such a dagger in wear has yet surfaced as far as I am aware, I am therefore split when it comes to authenticity. The only possible dagger I would accept personally would be manufactured by Klaas.
German Army Dagger Blade Tangs 
Prior to 1936/7 the blades on German Army daggers featured the forged tapered tang (upper) which was filed and hammered to ensure a tight custom fit to both the individual cross-guard and the grip. This task was undertaken by skilled factory workers based in Solingen factories, many of whom had been involved with steel working for decades prior to the Nazi Regime. This tapered style blade was normally solid and heavy in comparison to the later shouldered variety (lower) which was introduced in 1936/7. Hand finishing each individual German dagger was very labour intensive and once the firms had achieved a manufacturing contract they quickly adopted the later standard cast blades which reduced the amount of steel required and also resulted in limited finishing. Many tangs will also feature the casters mark, most of which are unknown, the upper blade tang for example is off an early Wingen German Army Officers Dagger and bears a cast 'W' onto the reverse, this could mean the twin circles shown above is a Wingen trait. Pure speculation on my part.
Another unique attribute sometimes observed on nickel plated blade tangs especially by the manufacturer Klaas was a circular hole in the centre of the tang. This was used to suspend the blade in the nickel dipping process and is a tell tale sign that the blade should and would have been plated.
Note: The 'cross in the square' caster marks shown on the lower blade tang is by far the most common and is often found on Generic style daggers dating to later in the period. The caster is unknown. Also notice the clamp billet marks or seam still intact and visible. This seam is a result of the blade forging techniques and is often not visible on the earlier tapered tang blades due to the filing and grinding involved in the fitting process.
Early Hand Enhanced Crossguard Courtesy of the Janos Collection  Late Generic Crossguard 
EARLY - The cross-guards found on German Heer daggers are in most cases unique to each manufacturer ( See cross-guard Reference ). I do not intend to delve into the intricacies of each pattern here as that information is readily available on other pages of The above two pictures instead are aimed to show the difference between early 1935/6 production ( left ) and post 1936/7 production ( right ). It should be apparent from studying both cross-guards why advanced German Army dagger collectors Worldwide prefer the earlier hand chiselled daggers. Using quality brass base metals which are sometimes found with an overlayed copper layer to allow the thick silver plate to adhere without lifting, the quality was second to none. Many will feature some form of hand finishing or chasing to enhance certain areas of the cross-guard and this can vary between manufacturers.

MID - Most German Army Officers daggers manufactured after 1936/7 and into the mid-period become standardized, with firms choosing to opt for cheaper streamlined moulds and casts that required limited hand finishing and yet retained a crisp and detailed cross-guard. It should also be noted that several of the larger manufacturers continued to use quality materials even though much of the supply was being earmarked for higher priority war effort production. Hand finishing on these mid-late period cross-guards in most general cases was curtailed although several firms continued to add personalisation to certain cross-guard patterns purchased from rival firms. We also see the introduction of the two Generic pattern cross-guards, these basically were manufactured in large quantities and made available mainly to the smaller firms who did not produce their own. Known today as the Generic Type A ( Shown above right ) and the Generic Type B, they were based on previous earlier cross-guard patterns by WKC and Wingen. Several minor adjustments where made to the mould and in particular the head area's of both eagles which allows a collector today to differentiate between them. Both designs proved extremely popular and by far outweighs the production of any other cross-guard design from any maker of the mid-late period.

LATE - As the War progressed ( 1940-42 ) demands on materials severely impacted the largely cosmetic German dagger production with firms having to source cheaper and more readily available alternatives to stay in business. A select few of the larger firms who probably held a large inventory of stock were able to continue to produce or assemble a relatively high quality product but even several of the biggest companies are known to have switched to the Generic cross-guard designs at some point due to lack of resources ( manpower or materials ). Silver wash instead of silver plate became commonplace and pot metal and inferior base metals where the only option for many companies. Hand enhancing was a luxury long since dispensed.


EISENKOPF - Is a collectors term to describe a particular cross-guard pattern used by Alcoso that trialled the use of iron as a base metal quite early in the period. These cross-guards will feel extremely heavy in hand and react strongly to a magnet.

SWIRLS - Refers to the circular scrolls on either quillion.

HI-LIFT - The last ( 4th ) cross-guard design from Alcoso that featured an eagle with an almost 3D appearance, raising it from the base cross-guard giving it an outward facing profile.


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