Do you know roughly how old it is? The wood is very hard. I think the previous owners had the same idea about boiled linseed oil that you do. I had to scrape extensively just to get the dirt off the handle. As I scraped and sanded it appeared to me that the handle had been made from fatwood. Then it dawned on me that 100 years of accumulated linseed oil probably imparts a color and hardness similar to fat wood. There was a crack on the pommel that I filled with epoxy and clamped with a vise. It is extremely head-heavy, and Im deciding if I like that or not. If not, Ill replace it with a handle of original length if I can find out what that is. I really like the old handle so I might repurpose it to a lighter head.