Fine Antique Arms & Armour

Scottish Basket Hilted Broad Sword Circa 1680 Mounted With Earlier Cut Down Claymore Blade Ref: 045.17


Price: £4,350

Item Description:


A robust and imposing Scottish Basket Hilted Broadsword dating to the late 17th century in original and uncleaned condition. The substantial blade has a short ricasso inside which a deeply incised crescent shaped armourers mark is present on one side. Further down on the same side a 16th century running wolf mark, probably an armourer's mark for Passau, is present inlaid with latten of which some 50% remains. On one side the blade retains the slight remains of two fullers (none present on the other side) indicating that the blade has been formed by the armourer grinding down and modifying a larger blade, once with more clearly defined fullers either side, probably from an outmoded Scottish two-handed sword, or Claymore, to suit the basket hilt. Typically the blade tapers to a rounded cutting point .


The solid iron hilt consists of flat square and rectangular section guard bars with rounded edges decorated in each case on the outside along the middle with a longitudinal incised lines. The main and secondary guard panels are filed with delicate frets and merlons to the edges, incised with lines and pierced with patterns of circles and hearts. The base of the frontal secondary guard panel which sits between the two main guard plates is engraved with a coat of arms inside a shield which consists of two straps formed as a saltire with one passing under the other and with further work to the triangular sections imbetween.


The secondary side guard panels terminate with merlons at the base in each case pierced with bold heart shapes and one incised with the number "14". Underneath the hilt the rear guard bar is decorated with incised lines and crosses at the intersections with the rear, and secondary rear, guard bars of the hilt. The hilt is of early form and not manufactured with a scroll wrist guard as is common on later swords. In this instance the wrist guard is a simple small knop.


The dome shaped pommel is mounted with an integral button and decorated with four sets of triple lines which radiate equidistantly from the button. The central groove in each case is wider than those on the flanks and punched with rows of dots which is an early feature on Scottish basket hilts. Just below its middle the pommel is cut with a pronounced groove with extends around its full circumference into which the upper terminals of the guard bars are fitted.


The grip and liner are all unmistakably original. The spirally grooved wooden grip is covered with shagreen the binding now lost. The liner is of leather. The blade length is just under 33.25 inches (84.5 cm) and overall the sword length is 39 inches (99 cm).


This hilt is very similar to those of two swords housed in Glasgow Kelvingrove Museum which are of a similar date and attributed to the leading Glasgow maker John Simpson (I) due to the initials "IS" struck into the guard bars (for photos see Cyril Mazansky's "British Basket-Hilted Swords", Boydell Press, 2005, page 109). This maker was working from the late 17th century when he was admitted to the Incorporation of Hammermen in 1683 until his death was recorded in 1717.


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