Thursday, October 22, 2015

Austro-Hungarian WW1 Trench Spade, Model 1910, Austria - Hungary

As promised, the shovel and spade thread continues!  Up today is a recent addition to the collection that arrived in a very unexpected way.  It is a WW1 vintage, Austro - Hungarian Trench Spade.

A while back, I purchased a post-war, Model 1950, Hungarian entrenching spade from one of my favorite surplus sources.  Unfortunately they did not include the canvas shovel cover.  I have have been looking for an original, correct, Hungarian cover to go with it ever since.  Apparently they are tougher to find than I thought!
Then I caught a lucky break in the search.  The same company was selling them again, only this time, they included the original canvas covers.  The price was right, so I went ahead and ordered a second one, just to get the cover (and you can never have too many shovels!).

When the package arrived, I eagerly tore into it and pulled out a "ratty and beat" shovel in a mint condition cover.  Not exactly what I was expecting.  The shovel cover was everything I was hoping for.  It was a mint condition and completely intact, post-war, Model 1950 Hungarian cover.  Poking out of the cover was a very beat up shovel handle.  I immediately noticed that the handle did not look at all "quite right".  The wooden handle was too thin and too long for a Model 1950 shovel.  It was also in noticeably rough shape.  I pulled out the shovel and discovered that it was in fact, a pre-WW1 Austro - Hungarian Trench Spade!  Technically it was Hungarian, but definitely NOT a post-war spade (as in post-WW2)!  I unexpectedly had landed an unbelievable shovel score!

The spade is not in anywhere close to perfect condition, but it has that amazing patina that only 100 years and two wars worth of use can impart.  The metal was "hot dipped" in a tar paint that had hardened and petrified, and the handle had been whittled, and carved with graffiti by previous owners.  

I would imagine that this spade had been in use through WW1, then WW2, and then for some time after WW2, until the Model 1950 spades were issued out.  Then the old shovels were discarded or placed into long-term storage by hot dipping in the tar paint and adding a new canvas cover.  I just happened to be one of the lucky buyers who received one of the odd , old spades, in the surplus bin!

I could see a bit of some stampings under the tar paint.

A half an hour's worth of scrubbing with a green scouring pad and mineral spirits, and the tar paint was removed, leaving the original metal and finish intact.  It appears that the blade had been used as a "frying pan" over an open fire for quite some time, leaving the metal with an interesting "Damascus" finish. The stamping marks came out clear as well, however, I still have not identified them.

The handle had been carved with two flats on the top and bottom so that it would grip correctly to use as a trench fighting "axe".  At least one previous owner had carved his initials into the wood, with a few additional "decorations" as well.

All in all, this is an amazing example of a "real trench spade" from WW1.  Beautiful in all of its imperfections!

Before we look at the album, here are a couple of photos comparing the Model 1950, post war spade, with the Model 1910, WW1 spade I received. The Model 1910 is on the top.

Here is the album, enjoy!


After Cleaning:

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