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Old 4th March 2012, 04:58 PM   #1
Matchlock
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Default A Unique South German Late 15th Century Foot Soldier's Axe

This used to be in my collection some 20 years ago.

The head struck with a Gothic maker's mark of characteristic shape, a cross with four pellets, deeply struck three times in the Late Gothic tradition; the hardened blade significanty fire-welded (forge-welded) to the softer iron head. The original unstained ash haft branded with an (arsenal?) mark, N or Z (for Nuremberg or Zurich?).

Heavily patinated overall.

Overall length 119.7 cm, the head 27.4 x 22.0 cm.


Foot soldier's axes of this kind in perfect condition are almost unrecorded. There is an exact illustration of such a fighting axe in Albrecht Altdorfer's painting for the St. Sebastian altar in the monastery of St. Florian near Linz, Austria, 1515-19 (see attachments).

Best,
Michael
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Last edited by Matchlock : 4th March 2012 at 07:30 PM.
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Old 4th March 2012, 09:20 PM   #2
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Nice one! That Germanic type remained in vogue for several centuries, unchanged, up to the 18th century. I have such similar axes in my collection.
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Old 5th March 2012, 07:16 PM   #3
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Can we see them, PLEASE?!

m
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Old 9th March 2012, 04:42 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
Can we see them, PLEASE?!

m


Gladly although after looking at them they only similar, not exactly alike, though clearly of the same 'family'. The oldest one is the three-stamp with the cut out, appr. 1600-1650.
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Old 9th March 2012, 07:13 PM   #5
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Not bad though I feel a bit relieved that none is actually as characteristically Gothic -and of huge dimensions! - as mine was.

m
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Old 9th March 2012, 09:10 PM   #6
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Not those. I do have a gothic axe, circa 1500, but for woodworking.
Very similar to the one on the left here (woodcut by Durer, 1500):
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Old 14th March 2012, 04:36 PM   #7
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Oh yeah, these may be found sometimes.

Original 500-year-old foot combat axes are immeasurably rare. Actually the only I have ever seen in a museum that were preserved in good condition and retaining their original hafts dared from the mid to the late 16th century and used to be on display in the Old Town Armory in the Stadtmuseum Munich (which has been closed down to the public for some 15 years, photos of 1987 attached).

I attach photos and line drawings of them. The ones on the images on the bottom are the latest, dating from the end of the 16th c. - and some close-ups of a parcel-gilt and finely preserved specimen of ca. mid-16th c. date retaining its original red-stained haft; deeply struck maker's marks: a crescent and a pellet (Bavarian private collection - not mine).

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Michael
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Last edited by Matchlock : 14th March 2012 at 07:10 PM.
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Old 19th March 2012, 05:45 PM   #8
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Another foot soldier's axe, the blade ca. 1st half to mid-16th c., sold at auction at Fischer, Lucerne, in September 2007.

Best,
Michael
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Old 20th March 2012, 02:13 PM   #9
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At last I found a piece of period artwork illustrating a Landsknecht with exactly the kind of axe we have been discussing, including the characteristic trefoil piercing in the blade and the long iron haft straps. The artist is Hans Burgkmair the Elder, who among others worked for the Emperor Maximilian (+1519), and this illustration is dated to ca. 1525.

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Michael
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Old 15th April 2012, 07:59 PM   #10
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A foot warrior's axe similar to those posted above is depicted in Jörg Ratgeb's Herrenberg Altarpiece, 1518-19.

m
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