Selling junk to tourists is an ancient profession

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Jun 2, 2020
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When you think of tourist junk, or wall hangers made from butter knife steel. You don't normally think of antiques.

So upon opening and looking at my lovely new antique Yemeni Jambiya. I thought hey this looks half decent.
Then I picked it up, and thought it felt a little light.

Jambiya
Then I inspected the blade steel, and I realized that in my hand was a masterpiece, a magnificent piece of tourist junk. Dating back to the early 1900s.


Here is a piece of history. A history of how the tourist is parted from his coin.

So does anybody else have some nice old tourist junk? Or traditional junk to share with us.
 
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They still make jambiyas. Most of the money and attention is spent on embellishment. People who own them are proud to show off the silver on the sheath, or brag how the handle is made of ivory or whatever. But not much attention is paid to the blade from what I've seen.

That might be par for the course with genuine jambiyas.
 

not2sharp

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Correct me if I am wrong; but the Jambiya is often used as a wedding accutrements. I am sure many of the knives made to fulfill that role need not not carry premium blades.

Anyway, yes, junk has always been made to help part tourist, greenhorns, troops and others from their money. Many of the classic English Bowie’s were like that as were a lot of khukuris in India and Nepal. Decorative wall hangers have always been in demand.

n2s
 
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Correct me if I am wrong; but the Jambiya is often used as a wedding accutrements. I am sure many of the knives made to fulfill that role need not not carry premium blades.

Anyway, yes, junk has always been made to help part tourist, greenhorns, troops and others from their money. Many of the classic English Bowie’s were like that as were a lot of khukuris in India and Nepal. Decorative wall hangers have always been in demand.

n2s
I think that's the idea here, it was made to look like a functional Jambiya, and is for social dress, or as to be sold for display and not for use.
The Jambiya is now a dress knife in Yemen, if you are a Yemeni male you wear a Jambiya, it's the social norm. So there would be lots with lower class of blades, even some with nicer looking hilts.
The Jambiya is rarely ever drawn anymore, it stays in it's sheath unless used in dance. So it's not a surprise to find many with non functional blades, you can get good ones though which do have good high carbon steel blades, there's a traditional way to test the Jambiya blade, by tapping it with your fingernail and licking it.
 
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Do you lick your fingernail or the blade? I assume the blade.

If that's the case, is there a specific area you have to lick? The spine, the flat, the edge?
 
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Do you lick your fingernail or the blade? I assume the blade.

If that's the case, is there a specific area you have to lick? The spine, the flat, the edge?

I believe they lick part of the blade before buying the knife, and then tap the blade to test its type of quality.
 

Jolipapa

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Jun 4, 2015
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Souvenir of Southern Morocco; 1965.Plase don't ask to show the blade...
Fantasia.jpg

Slightly different scope, the Vendetta was invented toward the mid- XIXth century by Thiers cutlers, following the romantic Corsican trend intiated by Mérimée's Colomba. It still sells a lot (not only in Corsica) and has become a stalwart of many manufacturers. Quality varies from high end handmades to cheap Pakistanese and Spanish knock-offs. 😉
095222-5ea851bacd147-5ea8505e7fe01-p1050912.jpg

(not my picture)
 

mrknife

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May 9, 2010
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see the thing about traveling and buying knives is the flight back. I generally dont check luggage in so if I buy anything its gotta be shipped before the airport. Its like the little opinel keychains i got in Paris. Shipped them in Amsterdarm and was curious if they'd make it back to the USA. This is because I think I paid maybe 6-8 Euros and change for postage. Sure enough, a few weeks after my return, they arrived. That balisong in japan tho... :eek:
 
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see the thing about traveling and buying knives is the flight back. I generally dont check luggage in so if I buy anything its gotta be shipped before the airport. Its like the little opinel keychains i got in Paris. Shipped them in Amsterdarm and was curious if they'd make it back to the USA. This is because I think I paid maybe 6-8 Euros and change for postage. Sure enough, a few weeks after my return, they arrived. That balisong in japan tho... :eek:
But why not check luggage? I've shipped all manner of blades from around the world home that way. The only problem I've had was when they made me recheck my luggage in Shanghai. If its going to be a problem if they recheck your luggage NEVER fly through Shanghai. There is a lot more to that story but the police did release me eventually.
 
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