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Old 16th December 2020, 10:03 AM   #1
daggpil
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Default Is this a Mortuary Sword?

Hello,

I found this sword in an old collection and it is said to be a British sword of Mortuary type. I also believe that, but what can be said about it? Usual or unusual model? Is it worth something? Best regards/Ulrik (Sweden)
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Old 16th December 2020, 03:58 PM   #2
Jim McDougall
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Originally Posted by daggpil
Hello,

I found this sword in an old collection and it is said to be a British sword of Mortuary type. I also believe that, but what can be said about it? Usual or unusual model? Is it worth something? Best regards/Ulrik (Sweden)


Yes, this is definitely a 'mortuary' sword from c.1640s. The term 'mortuary' is another 'collectors term' which is believed to derive from the face often incorporated into the motif which was suggested to be a death mask of Charles I. However these hilts were around some time before his execution in 1649.

These hilts seem to have been being produced most probably at the well known Hounslow workshops just outside London, or in London at Oxford and in about 1640, perhaps earlier as the Hounslow shops were begun c.1630s. While with Hounslow the objective was to bring in German blade makers to produce there rather than to bring in blades from Germany, it seems there was still a lively importation of German blades, which seems the case on this example.

While the Hounslow shops were taken over by Cromwell in the English Civil wars and the mills converted to powder mills, there was still some limited production of hilts and mounting there.

I am attaching my own example of one of these which is believed c. 1642, and I have believed quite possibly one of these Hounslow products.It is in similar condition and has a blade marked ANDREA FERARA, distinctly a Solingen product.

As an arms historian far more than collector, I deeply admire this rugged, virtually unhampered condition as the patination and often nearly relic state typically shows history itself in situ, and we can better see how these were in thier origiinal unaltered state.

As you can see by comparison with my example, there were degrees of variation in these 'semi-basket' hilts which of course depended on the cutlers making them.
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Old 16th December 2020, 04:50 PM   #3
M ELEY
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Wow, these are two incredible swords of the 'Mortuary' type! I've always wanted one of these! One can definitely see the Hounslow touch on these, just like the later English iron-hilt naval swords post-1680's. Jim, I'm with you on loving those pieces that display both their age and their use in the field. It would seem these swords served as inspirations to the later Walloon patterns, or where they contemporary?
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Old 17th December 2020, 12:27 PM   #4
daggpil
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Thank you very much for your kind replies.

I am picking this sword up on the 27:th of december along with some other items from this old collection. So I have not yet seen it in real life but it will be a nice addition to my collection.

Best regards /Ulrik Sj÷berg
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Old 17th December 2020, 05:29 PM   #5
Jim McDougall
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Originally Posted by M ELEY
Wow, these are two incredible swords of the 'Mortuary' type! I've always wanted one of these! One can definitely see the Hounslow touch on these, just like the later English iron-hilt naval swords post-1680's. Jim, I'm with you on loving those pieces that display both their age and their use in the field. It would seem these swords served as inspirations to the later Walloon patterns, or where they contemporary?


Thank you Capn!
These were somewhat contemporary and may have even begun in England with a simple bilobate guard, with the design transmitting to the Low Countries.
While I am not particularly well versed in the history of these regions, it seems the 'walloon' term derives from a language, people and loosely defined areas of these countries including primarily Belgium, parts of France and Netherlands.

Its was popularized there and I think it was the French who began the term. This type of guard of course influenced the small swords and later hangers as well.
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Old 18th December 2020, 09:00 PM   #6
Bryce
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G'day Ulrik,
That style of blade is commonly found on mortuary hilts. Here is one in my collection which was later mounted with a 1788 pattern heavy cavalry officer's style hilt.
Cheers,
Bryce
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