A mint condition initial production 1936 Model SS Officer Dagger. A complete early M1936 with unmarked blade, only the Model 1933 daggers were marked. Model 1936 daggers can be found with marked blade as when SS members were promoted to officer levels a 1936 scabbard with chain could be purchased for use with the existing model 1933 dagger.
So onto the dagger above. The component materials and the quality of finish tell us this piece is no doubt an intial production piece. The blade is unmarked as is correct, all hilt fittings and the grip eagle are nickel silver. All scabbard fittings including the chain are also nickel silver. The chain is a type ‘II’ chain to use dagger collector terminology, the ‘typing’ of the chain bears no relationship to vintage. Type ‘II’ chains are the intial production pieces. The scabbard is painted, which is also correct for the early production.
The chain was designed by Professor Karl Diebitsch (January 3, 1899 – August 1985) an artist who studied at the Design School of the Academy of Plastic and Graphic Arts in Munich, himself an SS member from 1933. The earliest chains (Type II) are normally in nickel silver with dark patinated backgrounds, in contrast to the later (Type I) chains which are normally plated steel with no dark patinated background. The early chain mount also had a nicer look to it, compare an early 1936 to a later and you will see a cleaner sharper edge to the center mount. Looking at the chains on an early piece you can see the
links are all hand made. The chain links are also nickel silver and thinnner than the links on the later steel chains. The wear and stress on the early chains often caused some of the silver soldered seams to come apart on some pieces that were worn. The contributing factors being, softer metal and thinner metal. in my opinion these early production daggers are the most desirable, as time went on the materials and the quality reduced but improvements in the chain links were made with much more substantial, stronger links links introduced.
Scabbard paint: original painted scabbards have some characteristics that should be noted if you are starting to collect daggers. A term often used by collectors is paint ‘spidering’, a term to describe the thin irregular lines which can be see on the scabbard, this is actually desirable attribute to see, a good indicator of original paint. This particular dagger shown has minor spidering to the paint. Later SS Officer daggers can also have an oxide treatment with lacquer coating instead of paint.
Early daggers show a superb level of craftsmanship in the parts and the fit, the central chain mount with stylised swastika design fits perfectly to the scabbard, no gaps as does the top chain mount. Both mounts have crisp edges and the top mount I think is more attractive in it’s shape, it does not such flared edges of later styles.
Although this particular dagger can be described as in mint condition, there is also evidence to glean from the reverse of the scabbard, the paint shows small areas of wear, consistent with it being worn, this being the side that would contact the tunic and naturally wear.
The only visible markings to these daggers is the stamped intertwined sigrunes, the kulturzeichen. Also below, the mint condition grip eagle, also in nickel silver, note the small amount of naturally occurring green verdigris. All nickel silver fittings will take on a yellow patina and dependent to some degree on storage conditions can develop this verdigris. I have found that is needed to keep this at bay is is a gentle wipe over with a soft cotton cloth once a year. I don’t polish. polish means wear, for the last 12 years all this dagger has had is the gentle wipe over one a year.
A couple more shots to some detail on the paint. Here you can see the minor amount ‘spidering’, note also the paint finish is not a super smooth finish, you should see texture in the paint upon very close inspection.