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Old 8th October 2009, 12:39 PM   #1
Matchlock
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Default An Extremely Rare North Italian Arquebusier's Auxiliary Armament Saber, ca. 1510-15

I posted this as part of my thread on 15th and 16th c. Italian edged weapons but am afraid that it might have been overlooked among the flood of material provided there, so here it is in a thread of its own.

It has been in my collection for seven years. No other similar saber is known in any museum or private collection.


Ca. 1510-15, retaining natural staghorn grips (maybe a working time replacement) fixed by iron tubular rivets and the single edged blade preserved in its original length but reduced somewhat in width by long and heavy use, the tip double edged; the overall length of the saber is 94 cm. This one may well have seen service at the famous Battle of Pavia in 1525.

Note that the rare trefoil pommel is not riveted but copper soldered to the tang which, together with the two piece staghorn grips fixed with tubular rivets, denotes that this light saber is characteristic cutlery work, just like a Grosses Messer or Seitenwehr (Kurzwehr) - does anyone know the English term - Cornelis?

The item is preserved in virtually 'untouched' condition throughout; the blade is partially pitted and jagged, the hilt retains much of its original blackened surface and is pitted. After I applied olive oil to the iron surfaces (the contemporary so-called tree oil used in armories for hundreds of years) the rust turned to a bluey black which, interestingly enough and according to my experience, is absolutely typical of all ironwork surfaces between roughly ca. 1480 and 1540.

This piece goes perfectly together with my four early 16th century Landsknecht matchlock arquebuses to which it also closely corresponds in its overall length of 94 cm.


Best,
Michael
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Old 8th October 2009, 12:40 PM   #2
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The rest of the images.
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Old 10th October 2009, 05:33 PM   #3
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Hi Michael,

Amazing!!!!!!!!
extremely rare and extremely beautiful landsknecht saber
congratulations Michael, this one would also fit perfectly in my collection.

A similar developed basket look-a-like hilt is published in European weapons and Armour by Ewart Oakeshott. see pic.
I also found some pommel similarity in the sketches of R-J Charles taken from paintings of Lucas Cranach 1516-1586.

CF the thumb ring; the first illustration with this type of thumb ring known, published by A.V.B. Norman, is in the portrait of Melchior Hornlocher by Hans Bock I, dated 1577 (Basle oeffentliche Kunstsammlung, inv NR 80).

your saber is definitely earlier,however because of the developed Hilt later then 1530, I assume it can be dated between 1535-1540.

Best regards
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Old 11th October 2009, 12:15 PM   #4
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Hi Cornelis,

Thank you so much for both your contribution and appreciation!

I can, of course, see your point of dating the piece into to 1530's and will try and find some illustrations to exemplify why I thought it might be a bit earlier.

Best wishes,
Michael
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Old 12th October 2009, 02:23 PM   #5
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Absolutely stunning, a true conversation piece!
From a general point of view, it shows great resemblence to the famous Swiss hand and a half saber.
I would call it a hybreed between a messer and a Sinclair saber.
The entire construction, sans the gard, is pure central European messer. This kind of construction prevents the replacing of the guard alone, hence I think is the brazing at the pommel.

Last edited by broadaxe : 12th October 2009 at 02:42 PM.
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Old 12th October 2009, 02:42 PM   #6
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Excellent point, broadaxe, thank you so much!

Best,
Michael
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Old 12th October 2009, 02:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
Excellent point, broadaxe, thank you so much!

Best,
Michael


Thank you, it seems your chest of wanders never runs out of surprizes!

Another thing, the thumb ring was very popular during the 17th century, though is known to be ealier. The guard composition looks of the 16th century fashion. You may have one of the earliest thumb ring weapons in existance.
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Old 13th October 2009, 03:28 PM   #8
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Hi broadaxe,

I think your remark on the thumb guard is just on the point!

Best,
Michael
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Old 13th October 2009, 04:00 PM   #9
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Default Early 16th century Italian trefoliate pommels

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Old 16th October 2009, 11:48 PM   #10
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Nice piece Michael

As has broadaxe cleverly pointed out the hilt and more elaborate guard shows more central european origin than oriental / central asian.
Thus I would kindly disagree (if I may ) on terming the weapon a "sabre". It is true that such pieces are sometimes hard to label by precise definition and often fall into several categories , yet I would like to bring up one point.

The most prominent feature of a "sabre-proper" (for lack of a better term) seems to be its canted hilt (at the very end , usually accompanied by a small pommel) and , not so much the curved blade (overall it gives you a kind of a "S" profile ; mind you there are various breeds of single edged and curved bladed swords , messers and falchions that arent really a product of central asian influences).

For comparison look at the hilt on the original weapon posted by Michael/Matchlock and compare it with these:

sword of sultan mehmed :



Note the canted hilt at the end.. also the curvature on the blade isnt so much dramatic , but the overall "S" profile can be visible

To give some other examples of typical sabre hilts here is a
Classical Hungarian 17th century sabre (again the way how the hilt ends is interesting):



15th century "Schiavonesca" saber :



Note that despite having a sword-like hilt it is indeed canted at the end and again forms a sort of a overall S-profile.


A closeup on the messer that belonged to Kaiser Maximmilian I :



One can spot the "knife like" ending , with the grip being straight, which is different to that of central asian influenced sabres. Going further some messers actually have quite a curve on their blade (albeit without the yelmen , another "saberish" feature which is missing on Michaels piece). Of course there are examples that are a bit of "wild cards" and have both sabre as well as "genuine european messer" features ,but they seem to be quite rare.

For those aforementioned reasons I would somewhat hestiate calling it a sabre. Not here to spark any heated debate , but I am geninuely interested whats your take on the issue.

Regards,
Samuel
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Old 18th October 2009, 07:10 PM   #11
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Hello Samuel and Michael,

interesting discussion

the Sabre (Russian Sabla, polish szabla, Magyar's szablya) probably has been imported from the south of Russia to Europe also parallel there were obviously influences from the orient.(re;Attila's sword 850-950 Weltliche schatzkammer Vienna.)
the definition of the sabre is; a sidearm with a long curved blade and a asymmetric grip often bent towards the forward quillon, which has no pommel as a sword but can have a pommel cap instead. (Heribert Seitz Blankwaffen 1
p 183).

if we use this definition on Michaels sword/sabre, it is not a sabre because of it's straight grip and hilt.
Seitz also mentions that in the 16 Century the sword makers in Graz and Passau hat the expression DEUTSCHGEFASSTE SAEBEL/ GERMAN HILTED SABRE for a type of sword with curved blade and hilts with pommel. Also the swiss Sabre is part of this group.
this statement makes Michaels sword, belonging to this group, a sabre

regards from Holland
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Last edited by cornelistromp : 19th October 2009 at 08:02 AM.
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Old 18th October 2009, 11:06 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cornelistromp

Seits also mentions that in the 16 Century the sword makers in Graz and Passau hat the expression DEUTSCHGEFASSTE SAEBEL/ GERMAN HILTED SABRE for a type of sword with curved blade and hilts with pommel. Also the swiss Sabre is part of this group.
this statement makes Michaels sword, belonging to this group, a sabre

regards from Holland



Thank you very much for the clarification cornelistromp. Guess I have to settle for a sabre then

Cheers,
Samuel
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Old 19th October 2009, 03:31 AM   #13
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Great saber, congratulations!
European weapons are not my area, but I have to dabble in them a little from time to time.
Thus, an amateurish question: would it be correct to make a connection between the "cat's head" pommel on your saber and Venetian schiavona?
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Old 19th October 2009, 05:37 PM   #14
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Hello,
The term you're using - Arquebusier's saber, why do you think this weapon was carried by an arquebusier?

Thanks!
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Old 20th October 2009, 05:41 PM   #15
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Hi Cornelis and Samuel,

Thanks for ensuring me that the thing is definitely a saber.

Ariel, I do consent that what I, for reasons of historical art terminnology, have come to call the late Gothic trefoliate pommel can certainly be seen as a formal predecessor of the 'cat's head' shapes on later schiavonas although we must not forget the vast variety of Late Gothic and Early Renaissance stylistic elements many of which were still 'alive' one or two centuries later, especially in Italy.

To me, the significant square pommels of the ca. 1450 to 1500 Venetian swords seem to be closer relatives to the later schiavona pommels.

Also, as to the discussion of the relatively refined hilt on my saber and its consequent dating I enclose more North Italian, mostly Venetian, sword hilts, all of late 15th to early 16th c. date (the one on b/w ill. 45 with a later ca. 1550 guard but retaining its trefoliate pommel and grip of ca. 1500), two of them featuring a horizontal side ring, all preserved at the Palazzo Ducale, Venice.
So when I sort of open the dating range of my saber to 'ca. 1520-5', do we have a deal then?

Best,
Michael
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Old 20th October 2009, 08:13 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dmitry
Hello,
The term you're using - Arquebusier's saber, why do you think this weapon was carried by an arquebusier?

Thanks!


Hi Dmitry,

I think it was most of all the relatively light workmanship (which is far from the solidity of a Katzbalger) and the missing of a pronounced yelman on the blade that convinced me that this was not an item of primary but rather of auxiliary armament, meaning that the main weapan for this landsknecht to rely on must have been an arquebus.

Please note the small swords resp. sabers of the arquebusiers in Ruprecht Heller's painting The Battle of Pavia, National Museum Stockholm (dated 1529, the battle took place in 1525) with their developed hilts! (s images attached). These hilts are very close to that on my saber while the pommels in this painting are what we would normally assign to the 1550's-60's!

Best,
Michael
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Last edited by Matchlock : 21st October 2009 at 03:40 PM.
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Old 21st October 2009, 08:08 AM   #17
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Hi Michael,

the sword hilts in the painting look a bit like this one.

Best regards
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Last edited by cornelistromp : 21st October 2009 at 08:35 AM.
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Old 21st October 2009, 08:34 AM   #18
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Default late landsknechtswords ancestors of the schiavona?

Ewart Oakeshott states that the early venetian but also the later form of landknechtssword (later forms are developed landsknecht hilts with a half developed basket or a full basket, in the picture H en J) are both ancestors of the Schiavona hilt.

picture 2 quote from Ewart Oakeshott European arms and armour;
"it is generally held that some of the late form of landknecht sword hilts had a lot to do with the development of the schiavona too".regards from Holland
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Old 21st October 2009, 02:03 PM   #19
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Thank you so much, Cornelis,

I am much flattered (and a bit flattened as well ) to hear that Ewart Oakeshott interpreted the stylistic late Gothic and Early Renaissance developments quite the way I have come to do by experience that includes, besides weapons, all kinds of work of art.

How would you date the light Italian sword the hilt of which resembles those illustrated on the Pavia painting?

Best wishes,
Michael
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Old 21st October 2009, 03:16 PM   #20
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How would you date the light Italian sword the hilt of which resembles those illustrated on the Pavia painting?

Hi Michael,

Do you mean the sword in my collection, it is not so light piece

I would date it around 1560-1570, but this one is not so easy
the shell shaped pommel with pierced holes appeared already at the end of the 15thC.
the simple hilt form with ring guard and knuckle guard with disk shape terminals
like this are seen around second quarter of the 16thC on-wards. the Counter guard with this type of "hook" and thumb guard can also be seen on many later 16thC swords (Fe Tussacks) and the same striped decoration can be found on a 1510 sword hilt published by Oakeshott in European A&A.

best regards from Holland

So what do you think Michael

Last edited by cornelistromp : 21st October 2009 at 06:35 PM.
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Old 21st October 2009, 03:37 PM   #21
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More questions than replies, that's the way it's gotta be in schlolarly discussions ...

The 1560's would, in my opinion, mark the upper limit for your item but let me ask a friend of mine who has specialized in this field amost all of his life.

Be patient.

Best regrads as always,
Michael
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Old 21st October 2009, 06:34 PM   #22
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Hi Michael,

Ok, thank you
herewith a sketch of the portrait by Dosso dossi of Alfonse d'este, duke of Ferrara C.1510(Brera gallery Milan). Please have a look at the Pommeltype and hilt decoration.


the pommel is Norman type 12 and is commonly used between 1515-1535.

the tumbring counter guard of the hilt I can not explain but think 1515-1535 is too early.

best regards
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Last edited by cornelistromp : 21st October 2009 at 06:48 PM.
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Old 22nd October 2009, 02:10 PM   #23
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Hi Cornelis,

My friend thinks that your item is a Netherlandish sword (Haudegen) of about 1620, early Thirty Years' War.

I can hardly really differentiate betwen those types, except that the riveted point on the pommel is much larger on later pieces.

best,
Michael
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Old 22nd October 2009, 07:24 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
Hi Cornelis,

My friend thinks that your item is a Netherlandish sword (Haudegen) of about 1620, early Thirty Years' War.

I can hardly really differentiate betwen those types, except that the riveted point on the pommel is much larger on later pieces.

best,
Michael


Hi Michael,

thanks for the reply.

I'm extremely sorry to say but I think your friend is wrong.
there seems to be some similarity (hilt type and pierced pommel) but when you have closer look at both of them.they are totally different swords from different periods and for different fighting techniques.

it is not Netherlandish and also definitely not a Hauwdegen

I had a few Dutch Houwers in my collection. see pic.
A houwdegen was used by foot soldiers who had limited figthing skills
therefor the houwers have very simple, blunt and wide broad blades (without fullers) and were mainly used for striking blows and with blunt points not for stabbing.
The hilt of the houwer is originally Italian design and were exported in large numbers to various countries including the Netherlands.The hilts had pommels of Norman type 46 (1600-1630) and did not have inner guards and/or thumb rings.


my Sword has a 16thC cut and thrusting blade a 16thC pommel type and a
16thC inner guard type.
The Specialists of HermannH dated it end of 16thC and Italian/steyerish .
Personally I think it is a bit earlier but due to the thumb ring around 1560-1570.
(The earliest thumb ring on a painting known is from 1577)

Pommelknob?!?
the type of big round pommelknob was in fashion in Italy mid 16thC.
CF pictures of wallace A537 and wallace A551 both dated 1550.
and of course as on the Pavia painting

best regards from Holland
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Old 25th October 2009, 01:26 AM   #25
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Hi Cornelius,

Thank you so much for your both well documented and balanced arguments.

Still I beg to differ, my friend. I have known my friend's collection and lived to see his prevailing competence in more than two decades of both museum and auction sales room discussions. I also posted parts of his collection here a while ago. My humble number of three edged weapons - ca. 1510, 1520-5 and 1600-10 in my opinion - , plus four fine hallberds dating of ca. 1500, 1530, 1540 and Styrian, ca,. 1580 - all came from his former collection. I acquired them in order to get a few best possible quality contemporary decorative completements corresponding to my firearms and accouterments based collection.

As I have here stated more than once I do no claim any expertise on the field of edges weapons although never ceasing to point out both repeatedly and insistantly from the art historian's point of view that both are based on the same formal and decorative elements - along with all other contemporary arts and crafts alike of course - and are therefore essentially vital in judging all contemporary works of art correctly.

Considering the latter it should be kept in mind as a commonly accepted fact that architecture, paintings and sculpture used to be among the forerunners of a new style while ironworks and - after a considerably long interval - weapons usually were the latest products to adopt the new style and, in consequende, surrender to another afterwards ...

Best regards from Bavaria,
Michael
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Old 4th October 2010, 02:37 PM   #26
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An illustration by Flavius Vegetius Renatus from his famos work 'Vier Bücher der Ritterschaft' (four books on chivalry), published Erfurt, East Germany, in 1511.

The landsknecht bears a short sword with exactly this type of threefold pommel as on my saber, a halberd and a short arquebus, obviously without a lock mechanism.
His companion on the right is equipped with a short sword featuring a pommel of early bird's head shape and lightly curved quillons of earliest Katzbalger type.

Best,
Michael
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Old 6th October 2010, 03:22 PM   #27
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Nicely done research Michael!

As always I am fascinated by your remarkable scholarship and everlasting enthusiasm for the subject . I have noticed that the detail from the Battle of Pavia painting you uploaded seems like a great source of iconograpic evidence for our field of study. As of yet I have only found a low-res image of this marvelous work here http://www.wikigallery.org/wiki/pai...Battle-of-Pavia
I was wondering if you have access to this beauty in its full glory and could perhaps share it with us, or alternatively point us to the right source...

Much obliged,
Samuel
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Old 6th October 2010, 03:50 PM   #28
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Thank you very much, Samuel,

The battle of Pavia took place in 1525, the painting is dated 1529 and signed by the artist Rupprecht Heller, nothing about whom is known further.

Actually I borrowed a professional slide (cost me more than 300 euro ...!!!) of this painting from the Stockholm Museum where it is kept and had scene prints done, plus a huge size poster of the whole painting but I cannot put this on the scanner ...

I attach more details though scanned from a smaller sized scene print of the group of arquebusiers in the foreground.

Best as I could do,
Michael
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Old 6th October 2010, 04:33 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
Actually I borrowed a professional slide (cost me more than 300 euro ...!!!) of this painting from the Stockholm Museum where it is kept and had scene prints done, plus a huge size poster of the whole painting but I cannot put this on the scanner ...

Thats some steep price indeed!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
I attach more details though scanned from a smaller sized scene print of the group of arquebusiers in the foreground.

Best as I could do,
Michael

I had been personally interested in the lancer(s) that are next to the arquebusiers but many thanks nevertheless!

Cheers,
Samuel
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Old 6th October 2010, 05:00 PM   #30
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What I can do is try and take digital pics of the group of lancers (Spießknechte) and post those. The big poster is under glas though ...

m
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