EAA Research Consultant
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Blades Found in Scottish Basket Hilts
In this particular example, the hilt is in my opinion of the time period estimated 1690-1710, and a magnificent Stirling example. The blade is also of course of German manufacture, and probably indeed of that period. It seems these elliptical central fuller forms are also found in schiavona of this period in a number of cases, and I would note many of these blades also found later use in North Africa in the kaskara.
I would like to point out the inscription 1*5*1*5 , and note that this is of course not a date. These are gemetrically applied number combinations which were used, often with talismanically oriented motif and inscriptions.
It is suggested in Wagner (1967, p76) that these were often used by certain makers in particular, and notes that '1515' is recorded as used by the Solingen smith Mathias Wundes, of that long standing family there.
However, Mathias worked 1750-1784.
From: "Die Klingenmarke 1414(1441) and Related Numerical Signs"
Dr. Walter Rose
Zeitschrifte fur Historiche Waffen und Kostumkunde
Vol.14, XIV, pp.131-133, 1935-36
It seems that this inscription is indeed of the style in which such numbers were applied in this magical or occult sense, as described as well by Blackmore (1971), Aylward (1945) and Mann (1962) . What is curious are the numbers in which the ones are without serif, and the fives are rather in script with scrolled flourish, done in the style of 18th century magical motif of the 18th century.
Since the hilt on this sword is clearly of 1690-1710, and though the blade also seems of this period, would we necessarily adhere to the singularly noted reference to this number used by Mathias Wundes?
The Rose reference (cited by these later writers) is the only one specifying this maker to this number. Aylward (1945, p.104) states these numbers do not appear to have been the monopoly of any one maker.
That I tend to agree with, however, it is clear that the practice of applying these numbers in that magical connotation continued through the 18th century. I would be inclined to think this blade is of the period suggested but address the numbers and their peculiarities simply in exercise here.
I wanted to point out this significance here, and invite other examples and observations to these kinds of inscriptions found on these amazing hilts from Scotland and Great Britain.