Fine Antique Arms & Armour

English basket hilted cavalry sword of the early 17th century Ref: 040.17


Price: £3,775

Item Description:


A good English basket hilted cavalry sword of the early 17th century. The sword is a rare transitional form in which the earliest basket hilt designs of the later 16th century are recognisable, plus the features which were to further evolve into the fully developed British basket hilted swords of the late 17th century and onwards.


The basket is an attractive, aged, dark russet colour and in original solid condition. It is formed from flattened bars of "ribbon" type. The design consists of a knuckle bow which extends from the front quillon of the cross guard to terminate in an almost 90 degree angle section which is secured to the front of the pommel with a large pierced headed screw. The side guards rise from the sides of the cross guard to touch the pommel sides. Below, the frontal loop guard bars are a continuation of the side guard bars which loop forward to join the base of the knuckle bow at the front quillon terminal.


To the front, in the spaces between the knuckle bow and side guard bars, two saltire bars have been attached with small rounded guard plates in the middle, each incised with a floral motif in its centre. To the rear, two secondary guard bars curve upwards from the rear quillon to attach to the side guard bars near the pommel. Between these at the base merlons have been attached to strengthen the structure. The main guard bars swell towards the middle and all are decorated with a continuous series of fine notches at the edges. Similar notches also serve to emphasise the circular shape to the guard roundels at the intersections with the saltire bars.


The large globular pommel, in design terms, as is the knuckle bow terminal screwed to it, is a throw-back to the later 16th century. The pommel has an integral raised cylindrical horizontally grooved button and the remains of a ring of punched crescents extend around the base, now worn. The grip is original, with some of its original leather binding still in place, revealing file marks in the spaces between to the patinated hardwood beneath. The leather grip is a rare survivor which predates the arrival of shagreen at this time for munitions grade hilts.


The long "cavalry" blade is just under 35.5 inches long (90 cm). It has a broad shallow fuller extending from the hilt under the spine to circa 6 inches (15 cm) from the tip after which it is double edged. The blade has a short ricasso and a short distance from the hilt is stamped each side in the fuller with the blade smith's mark of a finely incised running wolf (probably a Solingen mark) with HERMAN, repeated below, on the left side and KEISSER, also repeated below, on the other, the inscription flanked by small floral panels. The tip is of rounded form giving the sword an effective backstroke slashing capability to complement the cutting edges of the blade. The overall length is 41.5 inches (105.5 cm).


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