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LJ 18th July 2014 12:43 PM

Pole Arm
5 Attachment(s)
I would be very grateful for any thoughts on this pole-arm. The head is solidly made but the side straps are broken off, leaving only one rivet hole on one strap [which doesn't have a rivet in it]. The base has a heavy, cylindrical iron tip which is fixed to the shaft with screws. Wooden shaft does not look modern.

Total length 64 " (but query whether it has been longer, and the shaft cut down when the head was damaged). Head 17.5 inches long. Only marks I can see are patterns of three punched dots on front and back of each spike.

Matchlock 18th July 2014 06:13 PM

Hi Li,

The iron head seems to be an early 16th century Italian
(German: Friauler Spieß).

On the basis of just viewing some images, I doubt though whether it is an original, genuine and authentic piece. The iron straps look quite strange, and the wooden haft is a modern and inapt replacement.

In The Michael Trömner Collection, there is a good and all original specimen preserved in virtually 'untouched' condition and heavily patinated all over, retaining its original oaken haft showing considerable traces of worming.

See attachments copyrighted by Michael Trömner.


LJ 18th July 2014 08:29 PM

Many thanks for the comments. As you say, it is always difficult just from images, you really need to handle the object and feel the weight: if you're interested in seeing our few European polearms, just let me know the next time you're coming to the North of England and I'll be glad to arrange a visit.

I think it might be worth saying that I think the iron straps on the head have been damaged and broken off, hence they are much shorter than you would expect.

The object's history can only be traced to a collector who died in the early 1980s and it hasn't been touched since then. He did have a habit of "improving" items, but usually you can tell his broom-handle-spear-shafts very easily. This shaft is heavy wood, and it has a few old graffiti scratched in which suggest to me a late 19th or early 20th date at the latest. But I wouldn't like to stake my reputation on claiming an older date for it.

One question is: does the iron head match with the iron butt. If the head is typically 16th century Italian, and the butt something else, then an old head has been jammed onto a shaft+butt that happened to be available (possibly about 100 years ago?). If the butt is also typically 16th century Italian, then it might be worth looking at the possibility that the head+shaft have been damaged, the shaft cut down and the head jammed back on.

Best wishes

Timo Nieminen 19th July 2014 03:37 AM

The socket is too large for this haft, so the head comes from a different haft. The haft is the right size for the butt, so the head and butt don't match.

Looks like a lance butt.

LJ 19th July 2014 07:20 PM

So, the whole thing looks like a bit of a mongrel !

I'm realising that the butt ends of these things are possibly as interesting as the head ends. I wonder if anybody has written a monograph on them? In this case it is heavy, pulling the centre of gravity a long way back and acting as a counter-weight - so the suggestion of it being a lance butt makes a lot of sense.

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