Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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Jim McDougall 2nd October 2019 06:39 PM

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Points noted Jim,
So, between the two 'unlikely' probabilities, the Italian blade mounted in a Spanish plug (hunting) bayonet would be the more likely one.
No such mention in he caption, though :shrug:


Reventlov 8th October 2019 02:05 PM

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Here is an interesting example of the single millrind mark - on the same blade appears the "Passau wolf". The sword is suggested to be Italian, being exceptionally similar to one in a well known painting... So should we suppose this is an example of a contemporary faked Passau mark? Or perhaps the millrind is indeed not a personal maker's mark, as I think was suggested above...

Jim McDougall 8th October 2019 02:42 PM

Excellent example Reventlov! and the sword illustrated is of course compellingly similar to that in the painting.
I do not believe the 'mill rind' stamp is confined to any single maker, or it would appear just as with other marks (as the 'Passau wolf' noted) that it was to a particular center in any of the countries well known for blade and arms making.

I have often wondered if Italy ever used the Passau wolf, and in my perception it seems doubtful, however the use of the mill rind of course did occur in German context. It seems feasible that a German blade could have ended up in Italy as blades were typically sent to hilting locations there, and a blade from Passau may have easily been used just as the blades from Italian makers.

From reading some time ago (I believe in Wagner) it was said that Solingen often produced blades for Passau makers, and applied the wolf in accord with those 'contracts' (?). Such are the conundrums of specific classifications in these clearly diversified circumstances.

AndreaFeraro89 9th January 2020 10:03 PM

Current project about Belunese swordmakers
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Originally Posted by Victrix
Great thread! As far as I’m aware the Venice arsenal marks would be either a C.X. for Consiglio dei Dieci or the Lion of St. Mark. So it seems to me that the twig mark must be an identifier of origin for the purchaser and seller alike. It might also have been something of a quality standard mark that it had passed tests by a guild. Marca a Mosca is probably a descriptive term (like “twig” mark). I think Fernando is onto something when pointing to Boccia & Coelho mentioning the mark as ferri di mulino (iron mill) marks. On German swords carrying the twig marks you might consider the possibility that these were North Italian blades with fake Solingen marks, rather than the other way around.

I wish I could find more to read on this in the English language (like Gotti’s Caino book!). You may find this of interest: It mentions a Beluni knot.

Hi All,
my name is Giovanni Sartori, I live in Northern Italy and my main interest is to recover and to share knowledge about italian arms and armour makers.

I am the author of the article about storta for the exhibition in Minsk and I am the maker of the copy of the Caino storta shown in the article (and the video documentary, sadly avaiable only with catalogue of the exhibition).

By the way, I am here to tell you some things about marks, Andrea Feraro, Belluno and other towns related to swordmaking in Republic of Venice.

There is a lot to tell, I will start with marks but spending some words about the production area.

The "Belluno Flyes" or "Belluno Knots" (I use second term) are marks mainly used in the area that I call swordmakers "triangle".

This area develops around 3 main towns: Belluno, Feltre and Vittorio Veneto (before IWW his divided is Serravalle and Ceneda 2 little villages along the turrent Meschio).
The reasons of such a great development of swordmaking art here are mainly 3:
-the nearness with mines of Fursil and Colle Santa Lucia that provides, since roman times, a superio quality of ore. Manganese rich siderite is a ore relatively poor of iron content (around 40%) but fre from phosphor and sulphur that are the worst elements to have in the steel. On other hand manganese is an element that gives great mechanical propreties to the steel made (we can discuss later about this point)
-the nearness with 2 big rivers (Brenta and Piave), that are crucial to transport goods from production centers to Venice lagoon, where is the bigger market of renaissance Europe. Do you know Stradivari Violins? very good... same rivers where used to bring wood to make that violins from Val di Fiemme forests.
-the presence of the main "driving force" before invention of steam engine: the hydraulic power. This area is full of water and we are in the very first part of dolomitic area (alps) so become easier to use the force of the falling water.

In this area many swordmaking masters has lived and worked. In Belluno for example Andrea Feraro and his brother Zandonà has started to work at the Fisterre workshop owned by Giovanni Barcelloni (do you remember the scorpion mark on hafted weapons? Andrea has countinued to live and work in Belluno until the end of his life (no... he has not moved to Scotland or Brescia or Milan). His brother Zandonà has bought his workshop in Serravalle (Vittorio Veneto) and his descendance has contiunued to produce swords until the end of XVII century.
Another great master is Pietro da Formicano (another story to tell)

To come back to the marks...
This marks seems to appear in the second half of XV century and being used during all XVI and very first part of XVII. The real meaning of them is still unclear, many legends but nothing certain. They are not related to the Venice arsenal because arsenal mark was used in Venice where they not produce, but only store weapons and armours. The classical arsenal mark is a circle with a St.Marc Lion inside (simbol of Venice Republic). Same thing for Doge armoury (CX armoury).

CIVIDAL DE BELUN is for cetainly a rare mark (Cividal is the roman name of city, sometimes used alone to indicate Belluno). And proves in my opionion the production of big stocks of blades made by many swordmakers together.

To conclude, I have studied many years the belunese swordmakers and now I am part of a big project called KLANG.

The aim of this project is to study this lost history of our countries and to promote it. We are planning conferences, exhibitions, new studies and pubblications.

Feel free to ask me everithing you want about the argoument, I will do my best to give you an exhaustive reply

All the best
Giovanni Sartori

fernando 10th January 2020 10:12 AM

Benvenuto nel forum, Giovanni :) .
Great info and revelations you have posted. I am sure the members will love to read all that ... and more to come, if you will :cool:

Jens Nordlunde 10th January 2020 01:12 PM

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Hello Giovanni, and welcome to the forum.
I dont collect European swords and daggers, but I do have a Firangi with a blade from Belluno.

Victrix 10th January 2020 03:03 PM

Hi Vittorio!

Welcome to the Forum and thanks for posting. Your article is excellent and really beautiful sword!

I would love to learn more about Italian swords and local manufacturing centres. It would be great if you could keep us posted on your work. It would also be very welcome if someone could translate some of the books from Italian. There should be a market for this.

Which are the best places in Italy to visit for arms and armour? Do the old manufacturing facilities still exist as museums? When I was in Milano I hoped to travel to Brescia to see the arms collection in the castle but unfortunately ran out of time. I hope to make another trip to see the Venice Arsenal and then take the train to Brescia. Is Brescia and Caino very different from the swordmakers ”triangle” which you mentioned?

All the best and mille grazie,


cornelistromp 10th January 2020 04:33 PM

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italian storta last quarter of of 16thc.

fernando 11th January 2020 08:13 AM

Outstanding example ... of both sword and marks !


AndreaFeraro89 11th January 2020 06:03 PM

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Thank you to all for the warm welcome! @Fernando ;)

Ok a lot to discuss here ;)

@Jens Nordlunde for sure your is such a rare find!
CIVIDAL DE BELUN is a mark that proves the sword has been made in Belluno.
Maybe part of a big stock for foreign countries.
In my personal opinion this mark is indicating the collaboration of many swordmakers to supply to that big require.
We must not forget that Venice for centuries has been the great "Door" for Middle and Far East.
Every type of goods arrive and leave Venice. Included steel and weapons (arms and armour).
As explained before, water has been the key of everithing for centuries, from the rivers, to the lagoon, to the Mediterranean Sea.
The connection with middle east has been so strong for centuries, I have found some Andrea Feraro blades mounted in arab swords.
There is a funny thing to say, and I will explain better this point about Caino swordmakers later.
The Venice Steel, called by Venetians "iron for weapons" (ferro d'arme) was considered for centuries one of the best steel avaiable on the market for his charateristics, not only for the ore from what it has made, but also for the process to make it.
In the first of XVI century, the arab scientist and engineer Taqi al-Din ibn Ma’ruf (Damascus, 1526–Istanbul, 1585), wrote a book about clockmaking.
On this book, The Brightest Stars for the Construction of the Mechanical Clocks, he says that the only steel suitable for clock springs is the Venice one because is very resistant and does not break.
Venice laws about the commerce and production of this steel were very restrictive, it was a sort of government "industrial secret".

-Milan: Poldi Pezzoli Museum (important museum from private collection), Bagatti Valsecchi, Castello Sforzesco
-Turin: Armeria Reale in the Royal Palace of the Savoy family has astonishing pieces included the famous San Maurice sword: a XIII century sword in perfect condition (seems has been made yesterday)
-Brescia: Marzoli Collection (another important museum from a private collection), here is the famous "Brescia spadona" tha Albion take as a model for his copy.
-Venice: Palazzo Ducale Armory (Doge Palace), Correr Collection, Ca' Pesaro (one of the most important collection of Japanese Arms and Armour in Europe)
-Churburg: Castel Coira Armory, a noble family armoury that exhist since XIV century, if you like armours this is the sancta sanctorum.
-Florence: Stibbert Museum (tons of armours and weapons in a neogothic villa made by a English nobleman) for sure one of the most important private collection in the world (second bigger collection in the world of japanese arms and armour), Bargello Museum (a lot of very very interesting pieces, many of them ver rare), Museo Della Caccia Cerreto Guidi (same as Bargello)
-Mantua: Museo Diocesano Francesco Gonzaga, the biggest collection of XV century italian armours in the world.
-Rome: Castel Sant'Angelo Armory (Pope armory), Collezione Odescalchi (there is some interesting swords here, included a Pietro da Formicano spadone)
-Naples: Museo Capo di Monte (original battle of Pavia tapestry, Farnese and Borbonic armory)

And About Caino
Caino is a little village in the Garza Valley, on the Alps section closer to Brescia, this little valley is closer to the bigger Val Trompia valley famous for firearms makers (Beretta the most famous).
From the XV century Brescia has been part of the Venice Republic and with his valleys (Val Camonica and Val Trompia) ha become the bigger siderurgic compartment of Italy.
So the two big centers of steel production in Venice Republic have been two: -Brescia Valleys with theyr big manganese rich siderite mines (same quality as near Belluno)
-Mines of Colle Santa Lucia and Fursil near Belluno, blast furnaces were in Zoldo, where a big community of furnace masters from Brescia has been established to run furnaces and fineries in the "brescian way".
The only difference has been the quantity of ore extracted between the two areas and so the quantity of steel produced. Mines in Brescian area are much more rich and bigger than the Belluno mines.

In the XIII century, in that valleys has been developed a new smelting process, called the "brescian method" that is a way to convert cast iron from blast furnaces to steel or iron with a finery (this is called indirect process).
Probably the earliest blast furnaces has been built here, making possible the production of enormous quantities of iron and steel.
The development of the "indirect process" of steel making has been an enormous technological revolution, to see another siderurgical revolution like this we will must wait for the industrial revolution in XVIII century.
Compared to the "old" technology of bloomery furnace (direct method) the brescian process has imporved not only quantity but also quality of steel produced.
Making possible that great development of arms and armour production in northern Italy from XIV century.

Caino has the great advantage to be into that area, where was possible to find great quantity of hight quality steel to make blades.
The problem is that before XVI century there was no swordsmithing tradition here like in Belluno area, so the owners of the workshops (keep in mind that in medieval time owner of the workshop rarely match with master that work in it) decide to convert theyr production (mainly agricultural tools, and papermaking mills) into swordmaking.
To do this they ask to some Belluno area masters to come in Caino and to start to run activity making swords in theyr workshops.
So Caino, has become a swordmakin center in XVI for the fact that some masters moved there from Feltre, Belluno, Vittorio Veneto and other places closer to the triangle.

@cornelistromp beautiful example of storta! There is a very similar blade in Poldi Pezzoli collection in Milan. I will post the photo later.


AndreaFeraro89 21st January 2020 09:39 PM

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Some Belluno area marks!


fernando 22nd January 2020 10:15 AM

Most interesting info... and useful, Giovani.
Post copied to the EARLY " MAKERS TRADE MARKS" page, situated in the "Classic Threads" front page sticky.

Jens Nordlunde 23rd January 2020 03:41 PM

Thank you Giovani, this is most interesting. I too have a firangi blade with some of these stamps. The problem is, that the Indian smiths were very good at copying both blades and stamps.
Is there any indication of, how far down the blades there stamps would be - was there a standard measure from the hilt?
This could, maybe, help us to point out the copied blades/stamps.

AndreaFeraro89 23rd January 2020 05:25 PM

Sorry to all for my boring talk about swordsmiths!
I want to share my knowledge and I think only knowing the story of a piece we can understand his real value.
Yes, marks are my passion too but it is important too to know who are the artisans that have put their marks on the blade.

Just my tought.


fernando 23rd January 2020 06:44 PM

Your talk is not boring ... at all, Giovani; on the contrary. Just keep on sharing your knowledge, which we will deeply appreciate :cool: .
By the way, marks are also a passion of many of our members ... myself included ;) .

Jens Nordlunde 23rd January 2020 08:44 PM

One problem could be, that when the stamp got worn, the image on the blade would change. Maybe the Indian smiths did not take so much notice as they would in Italy?!!!

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 26th January 2020 03:30 PM

From the superb additions and at #70 on Taqi ad-Din Muhammad ibn Ma'ruf by Andrea Ferraro89

see Taqi al-Din Muhammad ibn Ma'ruf on the web... :shrug:

Taqi ad-Din Muhammad ibn Ma'ruf

Taqi al-Din Muhammad ibn Ma'ruf ash-Shami al-Asadi was an Ottoman polymath active in Cairo and Istanbul. He was the author of more than ninety books on a wide variety of subjects, including astronomy, clocks, engineering, mathematics, mechanics, optics and natural philosophy. In 1574 the Ottoman Sultan Murad III invited Taqī ad-Dīn to build the Constantinople observatory. Using his exceptional knowledge in the mechanical arts, Taqī ad-Dīn constructed instruments like huge armillary and mechanical clocks that he used in his observations of the Great Comet of 1577. He also used European celestial and terrestrial globes that were delivered to Istanbul in gift-exchange. The major work that resulted from his work in the observatory is titled "The tree of ultimate knowledge in the Kingdom of the Revolving Spheres: The astronomical tables of the King of Kings". The work was prepared according to the results of the observations carried out in Egypt and Istanbul in order to correct and complete Ulugh Beg’s Zij as-Sultani. The first 40 pages of the work deal with calculations, followed by discussions of astronomical clocks, heavenly circles, and information about three eclipses which he observed at Cairo and Istanbul. For corroborating data of other observations of eclipses in other locales like Daud ar-Riyyadi, David Ben-Shushan of Salonika.

Jim McDougall 26th January 2020 06:06 PM

Giovanni, please never presume that the kind of detail and material you have so generously placed here is 'boring' or any such nonsense!

While there is certainly a spectrum of readers here whose scope in their degree of interest varies, there are many of us who look to the historical and investigative aspects, and very much appreciate your work.

Others are interested mostly in the collecting aspects of weapons, and look for typology and classification primarily as they assemble their groupings in chosen fields.

Often the study of weapons leads into unexpected related areas, such as the control of steel in the Italian regions you are describing, and surprisingly, and seemingly 'foreign' awareness of it by the Ottoman's as detailed by Ibrahiim.

This reminds us that true investigative study is not confined to the topic at hand rigidly, and often key clues are found in remarkably different contexts. One good analogy toward this is finding hints in analyzing cyphers and marks or inscriptions on blades from period coins of considered regions.

As one here who, as Fernando notes, has been very keen on markings for more years than I can say, this profound attention to the ANDREA FERARA and Belluno conundrums is great!

What Jens notes on the deterioration of marking stamps is very pertinent, and we have seen for example, in Sudan, the twin moon mark on the kaskara and takouba swords in many cases took very different character over years. This was from degeneration, and remade stamps not having the same nuances.

While makers probably faced these dilemmas with stamps, they also fashioned variations as their families entered the craft or other workers joined. To compound this, as always, were the spurious uses of marks.

Evgeny_K 29th January 2020 08:44 AM

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Dear colleagues,
Looking for your help with this mark on the schiavona's blade which looks similar, but not the same.

Evgeny_K 29th January 2020 02:34 PM

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It looks like this one:

fernando 29th January 2020 03:09 PM

... And why not ? :cool: .

Evgeny_K 30th January 2020 03:18 PM

Originally Posted by fernando
... And why not ? :cool: .


AndreaFeraro89 30th January 2020 07:15 PM

@Evgeny_K In my modest opinion seems to be from Belluno area like many others.
I agree with you about this one is particular because presents more edges than classical ones.
The big big problem about Venetian Republic swordsmiths has been that for many century they have been forgotten so you will find many old (and new) books that says Andrea Ferara was German, Scottish, Spanish... and many marks attributed to Solingen production or Toledo.
For example about baskethilts swords, many blades bears the name Andrea Ferara, many of them with incorrect spelling because they are imitating the original blades that comes in Scottish market in XVI century that are genuine Andrea Ferara blades.
So in Scotland they are still persuaded that this blade are made in germany, and they do not know nothing about the real story of the name.
So, about marks, it would be better to take carefully indication about provenance of some blades...

To finish, in my opinion is a Belunese blade (could we take a look to the rest of the sword?) :cool:

@Ibrahiim al Balooshi Thanks for details about his life, he has been a great scientist and engineer for sure!

@Jens Nordlunde. I have a restorer formation before than a blacksmith and I can adfirm that I find pretty hard that the indian smith were able to make an exact copy of a mark. Not only indian but every smith I know armound the world. Take a look to the fake Andrea Ferara blades for Scottish market ;)


Evgeny_K 31st January 2020 05:26 PM

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Originally Posted by AndreaFeraro89
To finish, in my opinion is a Belunese blade (could we take a look to the rest of the sword?) :cool:

Giovanni, thank you for your opinion!
Here is a photo of the whole item. I am not sure whether the blade was replaced or not, because there are signs of disassembling of the sword. It is also likely the blade slightly shortened.


AndreaFeraro89 31st January 2020 05:52 PM

Oh Mamma Mia! (sorry but others Italian sentences I have in my mind are not as kind as this).
I have made a goo choice to ask you photos!

This is an ancestral schiavona type, the blade is still large and the basket is not fully developed, is much more uncommon than later examples.

In my opinion we are around 1570-80 about datation and I am 99% sure is a Belunese model, not for sure German.
The blade belongs with hilt and pommel and the handle seems orginal too.
Beautiful piece, a joy for my soul.
Thank you for sharing



CSinTX 31st January 2020 06:18 PM

Originally Posted by Evgeny_K
Here is a photo of the whole item.

She's a simple beauty! Looks like the hilt is engraved? Maybe start a thread on it with more detailed pictures?

Evgeny_K 2nd February 2020 06:48 PM

Thank you, gents!
I've just started a new thread with some pics of this sword:

stephen wood 29th February 2020 01:10 AM

I found this old post about Fly Markings. I showed the sword to Tony North at an Arms and Armour Society meeting and he said..."Venice".

The proto Kaskara remains an enigma.

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