Non UK Handles

Although the caulked handle is not unique to the UK, those from other countries differ in shape. Round handles similarly often differ in profile and length to those from the UK. Other materials than wood are often found, especially on handles of the 'scale' type, where the side pieces of the handle are rivetted to the cheeks of a wide tang.

This Gelders model 'houthiep' from Holland has a 'caulked' handle whose profile is similar to those from the UK, yet subtley different...

These three billhooks also have distinctive caulked handles, the upper two are Dutch, but the lower one, with a decorated blade, is probably French or Italian, or possibly German, fitted with a Dutch pattern handle (bought in Holland in 2015)..

In northern France the caulked handle is replaced by a round handle with a pronounced mushroom shaped end.

The shape of the handle on this small vine pruning billhook instantly identifies it as coming from Alsace on the French/German border.

Another type of handle from the Alsace region.

This 'roncola' from Dresio in Italy has a wooden handle, sawn partially through and rivetted to an extension of the blade, The end protrudes below the handle to form a hand guard, a feature seen on many patterns of Italian billhooks

This billhook from the Venice region of Italy has a handle made of 'rondelles' of leather that are compressed and riveted at the end with a large washer. This type of handle is found in Italy, France, Austria and parts of Germany. It is now common in the UK, mainly on imported billhooks, many of which are cheap copies made in India and Pakistan.

These two 'pennati' from northern Italy have the tang protruding beyond the end of the handle and bent into a ring. This type of fixing often comes loose, and the handle is difficult to replace.

This Italian example from the Turin region has lost its leather handle, and clearly shows the forged hand-guard rivetted to the end of the tang. This also serves as a washer to hold the handle in place.

On this example from Reggio Emilia in Italy the tang was bent sideways to form a hand guard.

On this example is from Viano in Italy, the tang is bent around a caulked wooden handle, and protrudes beyond it to form a hand guard.

Moulded rubber or plastic handles are becoming more common, as on this example from the Rome region of Italy

The Italian maker, Rinaldi, offer thsi model with either a moulded plastic handle, or the traditional leather with a hand guard rivetted to the end...

This billhook or 'coutelle' from the French Pyrenees has a handle made from cow horn rivetted either side of an extension to the blade.

This coutelle by the French maker Talabot has wooden scales rivetted to the tang.

These three French serpes from Provence have rivetted scales of flattened cow horn. Horn can be softened with heat and pressed flat - it can also be delaminated, and thin translucent sheets were used for windows and lamps...

Like the French 'coutelle' above this 'mannaia' or square bladed billhook from Riccione in Italy also has a handle made of cow horn.

This Italian billhook has a handle made from 'scales' of bone riveted to the blade. Note the hook for hanging it from a belt, as well as the hand guard.

This French 'serpe à épointer' used to sharpen vineyard stakes has a rivetted wooden handle.

These two billhooks from the Savoie region of the French Alps have a tubular steel handle, which like those from Italy have a hand guard. This type of handle is found throughout the alpine region, from Italy to Austria, France to Hungary.

These small 'serpettes de vendange' used for the grape harvests in French vineyards have a handles made of steel - a survival from Roman times.

Japanese 'nata' often have a handle made of oak, secured to a shalf length flat tang with two rivets, with the addition of a ferrule to take the stress at the junction with the blade.

This Sardinian roncola has a wooden handle fitted in a similar way to the Japanese nata (above) - this method also allows the blade to be fitted to a long handle...

Although looking like small 'serpettes' the distinctive shape of the handles and the brass ferrules indicate these are French leather workers tools used by 'selliers' (saddle makers) and 'bourelliers' (harness makers).