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A nice British Naval Boarding Pike of 1888 type (possibly earlier). Whilst boarding pikes of this design were made in their many thousands at the time of production today they are quite rare. This pike is unusual because it retains its full length of just over 7 feet and 8 inches (239 cm) and is in original condition. Slightly shorter than a cavalry lance the boarding pike was usually between 7 and 8 feet long.
The boarding pike was primarily a defensive weapon used by sailors in tight formation to fend off enemy sailors attempting to board their ship by swinging into rigging, rope ladders or even directly onto the deck. The heads were small and the hafts smooth to enhance the effectiveness of a thrust and a quick withdrawal without entanglement in ropes and rigging. The onset of rapid firing small arms suitable for use on deck led to the decline of the boarding pike.
Typically this pike has a small triangular leaf-shaped head 5 inches (13 cm) long. This is supported by a solid neck from which langets, one each side, extend down the haft sunk flush with the curved haft surface and secured with three screws each side. The overall length of the head is just under 15 inches (37.5 cm). The base of the haft is mounted with a shoe of smaller proportions than the langets but formed in similar manner with curved ends and curved spaces between. The shoe is secured with one screw either side and tapers to its terminal through which the wooden base of the haft protrudes.
One side of the triangular head is stamped with a worn British Ordnance Mark of a crown with a broad arrow beneath. Near the shoe a letter “P” with the number “12” beneath is stamped twice into the wooden haft. A few inches further along the batch number “16413” appears with a number “1” beneath.
For further reference reading see William Gilkerson, “Boarders Away”, Andrew Mowbray Publishing, 1993. This book is still the “go to” reference book for naval edged weapons and polearms.