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DateOriginal Topic
6th July 2003Original Isandhlwana assegai?
By Nathan
I was recently musing over some antigue militaria in an obscure market and was quite excited by a Zulu assegai I came across. Apparently it derived from a house clearance and the proprietor's note that accompanied it duplicated some black ink scribe on the shaft of the assegai which was rather faded. I forget exactly what was written but they included the words '24th', '1879', 'Isandhlwana' and the name of a private. What is the chance of this being a genuine artefact - and does anyone know how I might get it verified? The gamble is do I pay the 250 that was being asked for it...
6th July 2003Joseph
No its obviously a FAKE stay away from it. Oh, by the way email me and tell me where this market is please!!! I have to purchase some OTHER item...

Just kidding mate! If its real with provenance I'd pay to own it, so If you can verify its authenticity its up to you. Perhaps some others here who are more knowledgeable can help you figure out HOW to know if its authentic.
6th July 2003Nathan
Joseph - thanks for your reply.

I'd appreciate any further advice on the matter. I don't profess to have any great undertstanding of artefacts of this nature - I just have a passionate interest (as I suspect everyone does on here) in the events of that time and would love to own a piece of it, preferably narrowing down the risk of being ripped off as much as possible!

One other point of note is that the assegai is snapped at the end - only a couple of inches have been lost I think as they weren't a long weapon. The dealer seems to suggest that it been planted in the ground to mark a burial site of a Zulu warrior - or perhaps where he had fallen in battle. Would this story be in keeping with the battlefield customs of the time or is more likely that the damage had been inflicted at a much later date, perhaps when in transit?
6th July 2003Ian Essex
I have no idea whether what you have seen is real or fake, so good luck! would the dealer know the exact history of damage to the item when they were hand made in the thousands. It may be that it's real but he's adding a bit of romance to it...who decide.
6th July 2003John Young

It is a fake! I've seen it so I know that the obscure market is Camden Passage, Islington, N1.

It bears apparently bears the name of a Private of the 80th, rather than the 24th. Only problem is no-one by that name existed in the 80th!

Secondl pointer - the blade is not Zulu, I had two Zulu princes look at it to confirm my own belief, they declared it not to be Zulu in origin.

If you'd like to pay 250 for a fake carry on, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Don't let the cheats prosper!

John Y.
6th July 2003Nathan

Thanks very much - just to confirm my own belief and my extremely poor knowledge of the 24th!

Just wonder if any action can be taken against such con-artists thriving on the infamy of such outstanding actions such as that at 'Isandhlwana'.

Out of interest, does anyone know of any similarly genuine artefacts on the market and the amount they might fetch?
6th July 2003James Garland
I paid 95 for my Zulu stabbing spear from an antique fair in Peterborough. The dealer made no claims about Zulu War origins but had provenance that it was brought back to England in 1900 so it was a later spear. I've held a lot of Zulu spears in my hands over the past 20 years and I can tell you that the older they are the better the quality and balance of the spear. The stabbing spear should be sturdy and capable of standing up to a fight.
There is no hard and fast rule about spotting the genuine article but if you look at a lot of spears you will know a genuine one when you see it from the quality and balance.
Strangely genuine ones are nearly always cheaper than the fakes. I guess if someone is going to be greedy enough to fake one they will be greedy enough to get as much as they can for it. A sure sign that you are being conned is when the provenance and stories that go with the piece are just too good to be true.