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Damascus Steel ? / History / Fake Damascus

Fake Damascus

Published in 1895 the following text was written to defend the true Pattern Welded Steel again fake Damascus.

This text was issued by " The Union of the gunbarrel manufacturers of the Valley of the Vesdre - Province of Liege, Belgium "

Updated October, 28th 2001

Fake damask Liege

( G.E. note : I tried to keep the 1895 spelling and typography )




If there be an industry of which there be generally little known by the consumer, it is the manufacture of the genuine damask gunbarrel.

Competition has benefited by this ignorance to work easily a counterfeit and substitute by an ingenious proceeding an imitation or false damask to the genuine one.

It is in order to caution the public against this trickery that the " Union of gunbarrel manufacturers " take the liberty of sending you the following notice together with a textuel copy of a request submitted to Government for repressive measures.


Notice on the manufacture of

Genuine damask


False damask and steelbarrels.


The high favour in which damask barrels for sportingguns have been for so many years, procured them lately the honour of another attack by the manufacturers of steelbarrels. Several international exhibitions and quite recently that of Antwerp, proclaimed the unquestionable superiority of the damask barrel.

Nevertheless the Union of gunbarrel manufacturers of the Valley of the Vesdre beg leave to enumerate the causes of this superiority, which are so numerous and convincing, that whatever may be the perfection, they pretend, the steelbarrel to have attained, it can never be expected to compete successfully with the damask barrel.

The raw material, iron and steel, used in the manufacture of the damask barrels is always of good quality. This material, methodically mixed, is formed into lumps mesuring at their sections 14 to 16 square centimeters, and after having passed a first time through the rolling mill come out welded to 40 square m/m.

The bar thus obtained is then cut into bandes of a certain length, which are put again into the furnace and afterwards pass through the rolling mill and mesure then 6 to 7 square m/m.These rods are subsequently heated to incandescence, twisted, assembled and soldered by the hammer in bundels of 2 - 3 - 4 - 6 rods, according to the quality of damask to be obtained; they are hammered until they form a band of a section 14 X 4, which is then spirally twisted round a mandrel. Thence it is brought to the forge where the workman solders upall the joints of the spiral, one to another giving three glowings to each joint. Only after this work we have got the rough outline of a barrel.

In order to obtain this result the material has twice gone through the rollingmill and twice it has been hammered. We do not need to remark, that after such work this material has got an elasticity, a tenacity and compactedness never before obtained.

The material of the genuine damask barrel thus wrought is not only of an excellent quality, but it is disposed of in a way to obtain the greatest resistance. Indeed in gunbarrel the transverse section has most to sustain and in the damask barrel as a result of the spiral rolling the section of the barrel corresponds, or at least nearly does, to the section of the band, e. i. the most strained section is at the same time the most resisting.

Each gunbarrel being tried with a shot double of that contained in the cartridge generally used by the hunter, it must be considered impossible to meet with an accident; however it sometimes happens that a barrel bursts in the hand of the hunter. This accident does not occur with the true damask barrel, for by reason of the tenacity and, elasticity we have spoken of here above, it can sustain the vibrations of an unlimited number of shots, while the steelbarrel, the material of which has not undergone the same operations, does not offer the same resistance and gives way after a certain number of shots; its transverse section perpendicular to the rollingcurve breaks like glass; this kind of accidents mostly occur in winter.

We willingly admit the steelbarrel to be suitable for warguns which require more thickness of the metal but it never can be a substitute for the true damask barrel with sportingguns.

In deed an essential condition with the barrel of the latter is little weight united to resistance and elasticity.

These qualities are the result of the combination of the different iron and steelparts, so carefully arranged and wrought as to show distinctly the deficiency of the workman or the defect of the material used in the design in which the damask consists. Can it therefore be astonishing to find the damask barrel unrivaled in the principal markets of the old and the new world. Is it to be wondered that Liege remains the principal purveyor of guns and fine gunbarrels for France notwithstanding St-Etienne, for Germany and England in spite of London and Birmingham ?

The foreign firearms manufacturers have tried in vain to make the damask barrel but the result they obtained has only more strikingly shown the real superiority of our products. The unsuccessfulness of the several trials made in foreign countries can easily be explained if we consider the complexity of the manufacture of the damask barrel and the importance of the skill of the workman which for that kind of barrel hardly can be found outside of the province of liege.

Being only manual, this manufacture has hitherto not found an application for mechanical motors.

As a consequence of the inability to take the monopoly of this manufacture from Belgium, it is quite natural that in other countries they were looking for a substitute for the damask barrel and it is necessary to caution the hunter against these imitations. There is nothing to show better the superiority of the damask barrel than the way in which certain fire arms manufacturers, by a disloyal and deceptory competition sell their goods under the appearance of an imitation damask, consisting in a coat of varnish given to an ordinary iron or steelbarrel, imitating the genuine damask by a cleverly combined design.

Other competitors try in a more loyal and honest manner to supplant the damask barrel by the steelbarrel.

Considering the high favour in which steel stands in the iron industry they advertise pompously in favour of the, new barrel.

After what has been said here before we can not hesitate to believe this trial as vain as the others have been and that it will serve only to assert more strongly the quality and value of our products.

The official approval our gunbarrels receive after a severe trial exacted at the Government trial of firearm highly confirm our assertion; No wonder therefore that guns with genuine damask barrels so very seldom meet with accidents.

With reference to the Government trialstation for firearms we feel obliged to add a few words about this national institution, the high management of which is entrusted by the Government to a man of exceptional competence in this matter, Mr Jules Polain, Engeneer and Doctor juris.

By his extensive knowledge and untiring devotion he has made out of this institution an establishment unique of its kind which contributes highly to the universal fame of Belgian fire arms.

Into this establishment there come dayly thousands of damask and steelbarrels and it is astonishing how little the waste is with the former.

Let us, to finish with, call attention to another quality of the damask barrel e. i. that always before bursting the genuine damask barrel calls attention to the danger by a certain, swelling, while steelbarrels burst suddenly, and often cause very severe accidents.

(S.) The Union of gunbarrel manufacturers of the Valley of the Vesdre Province of Liege (Belgium).



To the President and Membres of the House

of representatives at Brussels.

Gentlemen :

The board of the "Union of gunbarrel manufacturers of the Valley of the Vesdre" take the respectful liberty to draw your kind attention to the actual situation of the industry of the fire arms manufacture. The crisis of which it is suffering is growing every day. At Liege, the principal place for fire arms and its environs, work is continually diminishing and wages are depreciated to the last degree.

What are the causes of this general uneasiners? There are several and we take leave to mention to you the most recent :

1. Protectionisme grown to excess in all the neighbouring countries as well as in the United States dreaded to shut to us all outlets of any importance.

In order to meet this eventuality the fire arms manufacturers of Liege have made the most straining efforts to produce fire arms at extremely low prices. To reach this result it was not only necessary to lower the earnings of all those interested in the manufacturers but even the quality of the goods. So it came that the steelbarrel was in very numerous cases substituted to the damask barrel. It would be tedious to show the superioty of the damask barrel with the steelbarrel, which latter may be convenient for warguns on account of the thickness of its barrel, it is dangerous for the sporting gun, the lesser weight of which is an indispensable quality; but this lightness, renders the steelbarrel unfit to resist to the vibrations of repeated shooting, on account of the want of elasticity in the used material.

This superiority is too highly apreciated by connoisseurs as that we could be much frightened by the competition of the steelbarrel.

But, Gentlemen, we should not have asked for your high protection, if there were not a second cause of ruin to our industry.

2. In order to hide from the inexperienced buyer the substitution on of the steelbarrel to the damaskbarrel they have made it a custom in the Liege fire arms manufactories to give to the steelbarrel a varnish coating and by a clever proceeding they make a design imitating perfectly that of the genuine, damaskbarrel and go even so far as to put on the band the names of our choicest damasks such as: "Bernard Damask", "Turkish Damask", "Damask Crollé", etc.

It is necessary to mention here that with the damaskbarrel, in consequence of the intelligent mixing of the different parts of iron and steel and the elever working of the same, there appears, under the action of sulfuric acide, a fine design pierces through aud through the barrel aud is not ouly a mere changeable varnish like that covering the steelbarrel.

This imitation has not only as a consequence to diminish the manufacturing of the genuine damask the price of which is higher, but also to charge the damaskbarrel with the responsibility for the numerous accidents which occur with the steelbarrel. There is for the industry of the gunbarrel manufacture of the valley of the Vesdre a cause to prejudice growing more considerable every day. On one part the ignorant buyer is deceived an account of the quality of the goods, on the other part this imitation is very hurtful to the trade of the genuine damaskbarrel.

Under these circumstances the situation of the manufacturers as well as the workmen of the Valley of the Vesdre is a very critical one.

Gentlemen, the Union of the gunbarrel manufacturers is of opinion that nothing better could be done than to beg you to forbid by an efficient law a disloyal competition.

It is necessary by all means that strangers know what they are buying and that imitation damaskbarrels be sold as such and that they be at once decerned from the genuine ones.

Indeed nothing would be easier: In the same way as by the law an falsification of eatables, the butterdealer is obliged to render it possible by a label to distinguish butter from margarine, the Union of gunbarrel manufacturers beg you to make a law obliging the firearms manufacturers of Liege henceforward to grave on the barrel with imitation damask the notice ? "False Damask" or the translation of it in the language of the country for whichit is manufactured.

Gentlemen, we dare to hope that Parliament as far as possible, will contribute to the maintaining of the secular and so essentially Belgian industry of the damaskbarrel manufacture.

We beg, Gentlemen, to agree the homage of our respectful consideration.


The Union of the gunbarrel manufacturers of the Valley
of the Vesdre (province of Liege, Belgium).

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