Ethnographic Arms & Armour
 

Go Back   Ethnographic Arms & Armour > Discussion Forums > European Armoury
User Name
Password
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 18th June 2019, 03:32 PM   #1
BUCC_Guy
Member
 
BUCC_Guy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2019
Location: Tennessee, USA
Posts: 17
Default Identify this polearm? With inscription!

I acquired this some years ago from Fagan Arms, so, needless to say, I overpaid.

Here is the original description from them:

ďRARE ANTIQUE ITALIAN VOLGUE C.1550-1600

Known in Italian as a falcione. The iron axe blade with a Gothic alphabet stamped inscription along the back edge. The heavy forged iron top spike for attacking armor with connecting bar to the blade shows wrought iron lamination and traces of an inscription. The volgue originated in Switzerland and evolved into the halberd as well as evolving in its original form through the 18th century. Town arsenals were stocked with volgues along with other weapons and armor. They armed the populous in the event of attack. This example may be dated to the period of full plate armor by its combination of heavy back spike and sword like cutting blade. Length: 63 1/2".Ē


I donít dispute that it is properly a voulge, as opposed to a bardiche. I think the heavy backspike does imply plate armor days, so Iím thinking pre-1650. The angles of the spike are no good for hooking, it isnít sufficient as a counterweight, and it would be a waste of iron if it wasnít included for the purposes of being used as a spike. It appears to be a purposeful inclusion/design.

Fagan Arms does not supply prior paperwork or details, but I think itís a safe assumption they acquired it with some sort of knowledge it was Italian, whether by the prior owner or if they got it from Italy directly.

Construction-wise, I see no other extant examples that combine these features. Obviously in the world of polearms, we see a lot of variations and hybrids, so sometimes we just have to be satisfied with a mystery.

However, the inscription on it could have some clues. Iím unable to identify the characters, but was wondering if anyone here had some insight.

Photos attached.
Attached Images
    
BUCC_Guy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th June 2019, 05:33 PM   #2
fernando
Lead Moderator European Armoury
 
fernando's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Portugal
Posts: 7,610
Default

As you well note Guy, countless variations and hybrids found out there are some times close from astonishing or, if one prefers, do look unreal.
I would humbly advance that some particulars in this example look made by a handyman, as opposed to a regular regular smith; that back spike, together with fixation to the blade, sure look unorthodox, so to say. On the other hand, it would be a good sign if the inscriptions run symmetrically along the place where they are engraved... if i make myself understood.
I bet you are aware of HAFTED WEAPONS IN MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE EUROPE by John Walman. Could your example belong in the same typology of the attached ?
... Notwithstanding the posture of your piece's main blade indeed reminds the shape of a bardiche
Please take all my words with lots of salt; no expertise here .

.
Attached Images
  
fernando is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th June 2019, 07:33 PM   #3
BUCC_Guy
Member
 
BUCC_Guy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2019
Location: Tennessee, USA
Posts: 17
Default

I hesitate to group mine in with 15th century halberds. On the other hand, very little attention is given to peasant weapons, so examples would be rare.

We do regularly see similar blade shapes show up for sale, but we canít trust their descriptions on EBay or other websites.

I have attached a few examples from the Internet, and one from the Higgins Armory. These types are usually associated with 16th-18th century France, Italy, and Scotland.

Because there is are so many ďpossibleĒ explanations from my item, I think the inscription is the only key to information, and the back spike is just a hint or clue toward age.


Photos: Red: reportedly Scottish 18th c. Black, no info. Group photo: Higgins Armory


The example from Higgins was eventually auctioned off as being 19th century in the style of the 16th century.
Attached Images
   

Last edited by BUCC_Guy : 18th June 2019 at 07:48 PM.
BUCC_Guy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 4th July 2019, 06:44 PM   #4
CSinTX
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 154
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by BUCC_Guy
I acquired this some years ago from Fagan Arms, so, needless to say, I overpaid.

Fagan Arms does not supply prior paperwork or details, but I think itís a safe assumption they acquired it with some sort of knowledge it was Italian, whether by the prior owner or if they got it from Italy directly.


One thing we do know is that faganarms tends to only sell good items. They may be the only seller out there that Ive never seen an obviously bad item or bad description from. I suppose that goes along with their prices.

Concerning the Higgins armory and many others like it, most tend to have some later items mixed in. The "Bavarian Sabre Halberd" seen in your Higgins photo. They are known to be later fantasy produced items that did not exist as a weapon. The point is, just because it is found in a museum does not mean it is a good example.

The fact that your blade is thin goes a long ways in confirming it a wepaon rather than farm tool for chopping brush or wood.

I do wonder if the top spike might have been a later addition as a means to mount it to the current haft? With an item of that age, it could have been added at any point over the centuries. Has anyone else ever seen a similar spike?
CSinTX is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 4th July 2019, 07:40 PM   #5
Victrix
Member
 
Victrix's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Sweden
Posts: 334
Default

It looks like a rather efficient polearm. A volgue is basically a meat cleaver on a pole. I think the hinge contraption aids the cut by sliding the edge slightly. Then like the multi-purpose Swiss army knives, you can turn the polearm around to deal with plate armour by using the thick spike (similar to the early halberds shown by Fernando above) instead.

These kind of Ēpeasant armsĒ tend to have fairly basic decorations at best. They were intended to be cheap and functional. The inscriptions (if thatís what they are) donít look like Gothic letters to me although I canít decipher them. It could well be very faded letters in a Romance (evolved from Vulgar Latin) language like medieval Italian?
Victrix is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



All times are GMT. The time now is 06:48 AM.


Powered by: vBulletin Version 3.0.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Posts are regarded as being copyrighted by their authors and the act of posting material is deemed to be a granting of an irrevocable nonexclusive license for display here.