Fine Antique Arms & Armour

Scottish Ribbon Hilt Broadsword of Early Form Circa 1640 to 1660 Ref: 08026



Price: £8,250


Item Description:


A Scottish "West Highland Ribbon Hilt" - sometimes called "Beaked Neb" - broadsword dating to late second quarter, or middle, of the 17th century. These swords are usually associated with Highlanders in the Civil War, Covenanting and early Jacobite periods in Scotland.


The only hitherto known portrait depicting such a sword is that of Lord Mungo Murray by John Michael Wright, circa 1670, and he is shown armed with a contemporary dag, dirk and long gun. His sword hilt is handsomely gilded.


The sword displayed here has the characteristic "beaked neb" hilt formed from wide flat iron bars forged together and decorated with cut grooves and lines. The basket is a particularly hardy example. The arms of the basket are forged into a crescent of iron which fits into a groove extending most of the way around the pommel just below its middle.


The hilt dates to the earlier period of ribbon hilt development. The pommel has an integrally raised button and is of early form - being door knob shape with a distinct neck to its underside. The robust basket is also of early form lacking the secondary rear guard bar - the primary rear guard bar being more massive to compensate for the lack of this later development. The grip is made of wood covered with leather and a pierced leather liner is also present. The underside of the hilt retains a patch of onlaid silver indicating that the sword was once handsomely decorated.


For a further reference work on ribbon hilt evolution see "British Basket-Hilted Swords" by Cyril Mazansky (Boydell Press 2005) pages 69 to 73.


The blade is of high quality, broad, of gently tapering form and of flattened lenticular section for most of its length. A ricasso extends from the hilt for 1.5 inches (4 cm) with five fullers either side. The outermost fullers extend for the length of the ricasso whilst the inner three extend for 6.5 inches (16.5 cm) down the blade. Each side the central fuller is widest and cut with an orb and cross armourers mark, now worn, followed by a cluster of three crescents each side cut beyond the termination of the fullers with faces on the inner concave areas, probably indicating a Solingen maker.


The blade is just over 34 inches long (87 cm). The overall length of the sword is 40.25 inches (102 cm).


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