Fine Antique Arms & Armour

Scottish Basket Hilted Broadsword by John Simpson (II) of Glasgow Ref: 033.17


Price: £10,500

Item Description:


An attractive, well proportioned and finely forged Scottish Basket Hilted Broadsword in the "Glasgow" style dating to circa 1740. The hilt is of high quality workmanship consisting of strong thick flattened structural bars with fluted lines running along the middle of each in the "Glasgow" manner. The primary and secondary guard plates are fretted with merlons and crescents at the edges and pierced with geometric patterns of triangles and circles. Viewed from the front, to the left, an oval ring has been built into the hilt in "horseman" manner. The cross bar is of bold construction and terminates in a sturdy scrolled wrist-guard.


The rear quillon has the two rear guard bars of the hilt forged across it. The two forged pads which form the joins are incised on the outside with the letters "I S" on the upper pad with "G" on the pad below. The letters represent the name of the maker, John Simpson of Glasgow. The style of this hilt indicates that the sword was made in the later second quarter of the 18th century by John Simpson (II), rather than his father of the same name, who was Kings Armourer in Glasgow, and dead by 1717, and being succeeded by Thomas Gemmill to the position of Kings Armourer in Glasgow in 1718.


The dome shaped pommel is mounted with a simple button from which three equally spaced filed grooves radiate towards the pommel edge, each flanked by incised lines either side. Crescents of lines filed in a similar manner fill the spaces between. The guard arms of the hilt tuck securely into a groove cut around the pommel just below its equator. The grip is of spirally grooved hardwood covered with shagreen, bound with silver wire, and mounted with silver ferrules top and bottom decorated with bands of dots and angular shaped edges.


The fine quality double edged blade is 33 inches long and has a ricasso of an inch long extending from the hilt of flattened rectangular profile after which the blade is of lenticular section and tapers to its rounded tip. Two pronounced fullers extend in parallel from the hilt through the ricasso along the middle of the blade to terminate around a third of the way after which a running wolf mark is cut either side inlaid with latten. Inside the fullers, both sides, the name ANDREA is stamped in the top fuller with FERARA beneath flanked with patterns of counter-facing crescent marks and quatrefoils of dots.


In general, the sword is a fine example by a known maker in good clean condition, showing uniform wear overall which is consistent with its age. The initials of the maker are now worn and feint but distinct. The overall proportions, balance and profile of the sword are comparable with other high-quality swords made by John Simpson (II). He was admitted to the Incorporation of Hammermen in Glasgow in 1711 and died in 1749. For similar hilt profiles See Cyril Mazansky's "British Basket-Hilted Swords", Boydell Press, 2005.


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