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  • Aaron Carruth

The Net, With That Girl From The Bus

Updated: Jul 30

My father got straight to the point. [1]


“I like your bayonet. You’ve got something special there.”


He knew it was a bayonet and not a little sword. Good start. He also called it special. That's new. Just breathe. We might have a winner.

[1] Terrible dad jokes about bayonets count: 1.


I paused for a moment and tried to act cool. “Really? What do you think it’s worth?”


“Have you done any research on it?” he asked.


“No.”


“You should do some research.”


What I didn’t say: No, you should tell me what it’s worth. You’re the antique dealer. Also, you should tell me how great I am. I kinda need this. Validate me, father.

What I did say: “But that’s why I called you.” I was careful to speak in an even tone, masking my irritation. In retrospect, I sounded a bit childish. It’s just that I thought I was on the verge of a sea of compliments, along with a complete guide to grading military collectibles. Instead, I was being asked to do it myself. That's not quite as fun.


He corrected my assertion that the bayonet was made in 1907. The 11 and the 15 engravings on the blade were the manufacturer’s date; November, 1915. So, I knew it was from WWI (grade ten Canadian history coming in clutch). 1907 was a maker’s mark. I asked him where I might find some answers and he told me to look on the net.


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My father always calls the internet “the net”. I think he picked it up from the 1995 movie of the same name. Sandra Bullock plays a computer analyst who stumbles upon a series of hacking cover-ups and conspiracies. The film’s use of technology hasn’t aged well, but it makes for a lot of unintentionally humorous computer scenes.

I’ve re-watched it recently and I’m convinced my father has based much of his understanding of the internet, and all things technical, on it – especially when it comes to privacy invasion. His borderline paranoia was wrong for twenty years, but with security breaches from giants like Facebook, in a weird, winding way, he (and the writers of The Net) might have been right.


A list of words my father uses to describe technology


The net: The internet. The funniest part about this bit is that he is unfamiliar with any other term. The web. Information superhighway (my personal favourite). Cyberspace. These don’t exist.


Gizmo: Usually a phone. The odd time, he simply means any tool that could be used to perform a task.


Thingy: A phone, but only when he can’t remember any words. He often uses thingy along with semi-helpful hand gestures.


That thing: A phone, but this time, he’s saying it with complete disgust. He believes technology is the downfall of all social interaction and that thing is the number one reason.


Google Machine: A phone or a computer. Once he discovered that search engines, in this case, Google, could answer questions, my father immediately forgot that computers could do anything else. Their only purpose was to Google things. Weirdly, he’s not entirely wrong. I don’t know if he’s right, though.


So, I was supposed to look on the net. That was the extent of his expert advice. Forty years in the antique business synthesized into a single sentence.


Super helpful.


I’m sure there was a litany of information on little swords. I pressed for more details one last time. He sighed heavily.


“Do a search on eBay. Whenever I don’t find my thing [not thingy], I know I’m onto something.”


Wait.


I should look on eBay, and if I don’t find my bayonet, then I’m onto something?


Pray tell, what might that something be?


I’ll search the net and when I don’t learn anything about the item in question, I’ll know I’ve done it. What it might mean is irrelevant, here.


Love it.


Great plan.


I get what he’s saying. You want items so rare, that cursory searches of popular auction websites yield zero matches. But, that only works when you know a lot about a given field – when you’re confident (and competent). The “search and hope it doesn’t show on eBay” strategy requires that you know what to search for. Lest we forget, the previous owner of my bayonet is the only reason I even knew what it was. Suppose that conversation didn’t happen. I bet I’d be the only person on the net with a vintage little sword.


--------------------------------


I went home and powered up my Google Machine. A regular search of “1907 Remington Bayonet” sent me to some specialized weapons literature, some of which was helpful. The volume of information was a bit overwhelming, though. Every single blade seemed to have something unique about it. It was also difficult to tell which information was accurate, and which was submitted by pseudo-historians. The best strategy I found was using Google image. Using a similar search string, I found dozens of bayonets and one close to identical to mine. Here’s what I learned.


From 1895-1957, the British Army (and some of the Common Wealth Allies) used Short Magazine Lee Enfields or SMLEs. These were bolt-action, repeating rifles. The bayonet has markings on its ricasso (an unsharpened length of blade above the guard or handle) to indicate its maker. Mine was made by Remington, an American company, in November of 1915.

Due to the War, the British supply had dwindled and so, Remington was contracted to produce 100,000 bayonets. There were other markings that I had missed from my original assessment. These were on the other side of the blade.


The broad arrow was from a British inspector. I can’t be certain, but I think the crowns were meant to indicate further inspection and approval from the monarchy. British bayonets tended to include the initials of the King, however, there is only an X under one of the crowns.


I checked eBay and discovered a similar bayonet listed for just under five hundred dollars (American). The only difference between this bayonet and mine was some of the inspection markings and the month of production. One, almost-identical listing is essentially zero matches. According to my father, this should be reason to celebrate. I can’t say that the bayonet is worth five hundred dollars. Not yet, at least. The truth about Ebay is that it can be very misleading when it comes to appraising an item’s worth. Auctions are difficult to draw relatable data from because of all the variables in play. For example, a milk bottle my father bought at one auction (live) for six dollars, was sold just one week later – at the exact same auction – for two hundred and twenty-five dollars. That kind of range should alarm any dealer. You need the right people to notice the listing at the right time. And it’s got to be people – plural. You need at least two, serious buyers to take a proper run at it. If the auction is live, those two people matter even more, especially if they know each other. Listed prices are essentially meaningless, too. I could list my bayonet for eight thousand dollars. That doesn’t make it worth it.


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I called my father and shared the news. He felt like five hundred was a good starting point, but he, too, was reluctant to project its potential value.


“Put it on the net and let the world decide,” he said.


(Just don’t share any of your personal information, lest the government find you and decide to erase your existence)


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An abridged re-tell of this entry

If you ever get curious whether your little sword is worth anything, check your gizmo and if you can’t find it on the net, put it on. Then put that thing down and go and talk to someone.


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I just thought of something. (Bayo)NET. Coincidence? I doubt it. Big Brother is watching. [2]


[2] Ok. No more dad jokes. Promise.

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