Fine Antique Arms & Armour

German / Tyrolean Hand And A Half Sword With Inscription Ref: 008.17


Price: 8,950

Item Description:


A handsome and well proportioned German or Tyrolean two handed fighting sword (hand and a half sword) with early guard form dating to the first part of the 16th century. A worn Islamic inscription on both sides of the blade indicates that the sword was once captured as a trophy, most likely in one of the many battles engaged between European and Ottoman forces in the 16th century. The inscription is worn more on one side than the other and probably in a dialect from one of the Islamic Ottoman territories.


The broad double-edged blade gradually tapers towards its point. A central narrow fuller extends from the hilt either side for 10 inches (26 cm) which is flanked by two shorter fullers 7 inches (18 cm) in length. Just after the fullers terminate the inscription is applied slightly to one side of the spine on each face and the blade is of flattened lenticular section for the rest of its length.


The cross is formed as a flat guard bar of rectangular section. The quillons are of rounded section and curve downwards to terminate in grooves and large swollen knops. A sloping round section thumb ring guard bar is present on one side and a more imposing guard ring bar is present on the other strengthened by secondary guard bars which join the sides of the ring with the cross bar. The outer edge of the ring is decorated with knops of similar style to the quillon terminals. The solid pommel is dome shaped on top and vase-like below decorated with fern-like incised designs and mounted with an integral button. The waisted stepped grip is of wood covered with leather over a cord wrap.


These large swords were not just for two-handed use. They were designed to be used equally well with one hand by a trained user. In the 16th century these swords were probably not a rare site on European battlefields, carried by mercenaries and professional soldiers in armies fighting almost permanently during a time of shifting religious, political and dynastic change. As fashions changed towards the beginning of the 17th century they went out of use and today are quite rare compared to the survival rates of two-handed swords which are of the "bearing sword" variety - large, well made, imposing and decorous, but designed mainly to be carried point up in civic procession rather than for use in combat.


Blade length 41.25 inches (105 cm). Length overall 49.5 inches (126 cm).


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