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Old 30th January 2023, 12:26 PM   #1
Victrix
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Default Italian Storta

My Christmas present arrived late this year due to slow post service. Itís an Italian Storta (presumably Venetian Republic) from the end 16thC/beginning 17thC. The wooden grip is bound with rope covered with leather. It has a downward curved cross guard, from which a shell guard protrudes, and a curved knuckle guard. The flat octagonal pommel has a central boss and looks typical Venetian/Hungarian style. The single-edged blade is gently curved with a shallow fuller in its centre on both sides. The blade has three thicknesses with a slight recess after the first quarter and a 19cm false edge toward the tip. The blade is decorated with lines and moons and stars at the top and at the bottom. Thereís a smithís mark stamped on one side within three stars on either side. The overall length is 83.5cm (hilt 13.5cm and blade 70cm) and weight is 0.8Kg. The sword feels very sturdy in hand and handles well. Ideal for use in cramped conditions on a ship or galley.
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Old 30th January 2023, 12:37 PM   #2
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I found a storta with an identical hilt in “Ubojite Ostrice” (Gornja Stubica 2003) by Mario Kovac. This sword is described as an Italian Storta dated to late 16thC. It seems shorter with overall length stated at 76cm.

The author mentions that Stortas are Italian short sabres with wide blades and chunky appearance which were widespread in use 16-17thC in Italy mostly of Venetian provenance. It was a weapon for combat at close range, especially useful during boarding from one ship to another with constrained space. The swords are usually robust and minimum elegance. The swords were probably also used by city guards in areas controlled by the Venetian Republic. Stortas differ from falchions in that the former have a false edge near the tip. (this is based on translation using Google)
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Last edited by Victrix; 30th January 2023 at 12:58 PM.
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Old 30th January 2023, 01:15 PM   #3
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Very nice example. No idea what the name stamped on the blade is ?
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Old 30th January 2023, 01:27 PM   #4
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I scratched my head to understand the meaning of the smith’s mark stamped on one side of the blade. It dawned on me that blade smiths in 16thC often had poor literacy. It seems to me that the letters are in reverse order (read from right to left) and the letter S has mistakenly been confused with the letter G (quite similar but with the lower loop closed). The text between the stars on the smith’s mark then reads G E N D O V A or GENOA in today’s standardised spelling.

In “Fringia Die endlose Geschichte einer Klingeninschrift” by Friedrich Jšger (2013) he mentions multiple Genoa marks spelled as GENOVA, GENEVA, GENEVE, etc.
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Old 30th January 2023, 01:50 PM   #5
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Great .
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Old 30th January 2023, 03:21 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix View Post
The author mentions that Stortas are Italian short sabres with wide blades and chunky appearance which were widespread in use 16-17thC in Italy mostly of Venetian provenance...... Stortas differ from falchions in that the former have a false edge near the tip. (this is based on translation using Google)
My understanding is that falchions are very sharp with a thin cross section at the edge to be able to slice through gaberdine. Is this the case with Stortas as well?
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Old 30th January 2023, 05:31 PM   #7
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I guess Jasper would an ideal person to comment on Victrix's example and stortas in general .
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Old 30th January 2023, 06:01 PM   #8
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Sword #47 in the picture above is a falchion. The author Mario Kovac writes that in German this sword is called malchus. He writes that the purpose of the swords were different so they are built differently. He says the main distinguishing feature of the Storta is that this single bladed sword loses its spine near the tip where it forms a false edge like a sabre. The falchion is also single bladed but has a clipped tip. In ďA Guide to the Arms and Armour Collection in Cesta Castle, San MarinoĒ (1969) G. Giorgetti allegedly claims falchions were typical weapons of the guard of the Holy Inquisition but the author questions this. [I hope I got this right as I used Google Translate]

My sword, which is a Storta, has a fairly thick spine so I think itís meant for some quite heavy cutting in close combat. The blade is wider than my 17-18thC hussar sabres. Whatís interesting with this blade is itís wider near the hilt for strength with a step decrease after a quarter of its length and then the spine disappears in the final 19cm into a false edge like a sabre.
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Old 30th January 2023, 10:28 PM   #9
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Italian arms makers and armourers were known for their innovation and styling, and highly influenced arms not only throughout Europe, but in many cultural spheres through trade. It is interesting to see the guard system on this which corresponds to Arab sabres (known as 'nimchas') as well as vestigially in the Sinhalese kastane.
Also as you note the pommel which remarkably resembles those on schiavona with the central boss.

This is an amazing example of the storta, and as noted, it was meant for heavy blows in close quarters,. the marking on the blade too is remarkable. I have always understood that GENOA was often on blades regardless of what city or center had produced it as this was the port where they departed into trade networks.

Excellent example Victrix! and really exciting to see.

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Old 31st January 2023, 02:04 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
Italian arms makers and armourers were known for their innovation and styling, and highly influenced arms not only throughout Europe, but in many cultural spheres through trade. It is interesting to see the guard system on this which corresponds to Arab sabres (known as 'nimchas') as well as vestigially in the Sinhalese kastane.
Also note the pommel which remarkably resembles those on schiavona with the central boss.

This is an amazing example of the storta, and as noted, it was meant for heavy blows in close quarters,. the marking on the blade too is remarkable. I have always understood that GENOA was often on blades regardless of what city or center had produced it as this was the port where they departed into trade networks.

Excellent example Victrix! and really exciting to see.
Thank you for your kind words, Jim.

Interesting to read about the influence of Italian arms in the Middle East and Ceylon. It seems the influence went both ways. I attach a couple more photos of the top end of the blade near the hilt which is decorated on both sides with lines and [full] moons with stars. There’s also what appears to be a shooting star or perhaps it’s a star with a new moon. This looks oriental to my eyes and Venetians did a lot of trade with the Ottomans and so probably got some cultural influences from there in the process. I think the Ottomans and Persians were also big believers in Astrology. The blade is sharp.
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Old 31st January 2023, 03:47 PM   #11
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There’s also what appears to be a shooting star or perhaps it’s a star with a new moon. This looks oriental to my eyes and Venetians did a lot of trade with the Ottomans and so probably got some cultural influences from there in the process.
The shooting star is, I think, an elaborated variant of the engraved ornament appearing on the ricasso of many type XIX blades. Many of these are Italian (or Italianate), and the ornament first appears in the 14th century. If it was in any way inspired from a non-European style, the transmission occurred very early.

Usually the final detail is simply a point, or small circle, not a star. I can at least share a 16th-century illustration from Spain of buenas espadas antiguas, showing the "shooting star" style.

Thanks for sharing your handsome storta!

Best,

Mark
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Old 31st January 2023, 04:04 PM   #12
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Thank you for adding the additional marking note, which is celestial in nature, a moon and star. These kinds of marking were well known on very early Italian swords, and I believe I recall one on the hilt of an Italian sword of this period.

The use of celestial markings on blades by makers or sometimes perhaps as a form of imbuement goes back well into antiquity, and of course there are distinct associations with astrology. While astrology was indeed popularized in Eastern context, it is not necessarily isolated to their use.

Because of the use of the moon and star(s) by the Ottomans, it is often assumed that these symbols indicate that context is specific to them.
Actually these celestial symbols were well known throughout Europe independent of that influence. For example, the Szekely of early Hungarian ancestry were known to have used the celestial theme in their symbology.

I do not have "Armi Bianchi Italiene" (1975) handy at the moment, but I feel certain similar markings are among the detail on Italian markings.
The moon and stars symbols, became well known in Germany as they adopted many markings and inscriptions etc. for their blades and sometimes makers markings.
This does not apply to this storta as it is clearly Italian, and again, IMO a superb example.

Interestingly, the attribution of moon and star markings as 'Turkish' is an often occurring trope in the west is seen in an article in "Man at Arms" magazine (" Revolutionary War Swords with Crescent and Star Blades"). A number of swords with markings comprised of these symbols are described as 'Turkish', when in fact these are actually German blades, and variations of these celestial elements.
In Kinman (2015, p.133) this exact marking is seen deeply punched on blades of two German broadswords c. 1530, so the early Italian source for the German markings is suggested.

* Mark, just saw your post as I entered this, very well noted! It is worthy of note that Italian observance of celestial phenomenon gave us the Tarot cards with their notable use of these kinds of depictions.
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Old 31st January 2023, 07:45 PM   #13
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That's a great-looking sword Victrix!
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Old 31st January 2023, 09:16 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reventlov View Post
The shooting star is, I think, an elaborated variant of the engraved ornament appearing on the ricasso of many type XIX blades. Many of these are Italian (or Italianate), and the ornament first appears in the 14th century. If it was in any way inspired from a non-European style, the transmission occurred very early.

Usually the final detail is simply a point, or small circle, not a star. I can at least share a 16th-century illustration from Spain of buenas espadas antiguas, showing the "shooting star" style.

Thanks for sharing your handsome storta!

Best,

Mark
Mark, many thanks for sharing that information. I think it puts the decorations on the Storta in context. I assumed the symbols were oriental influence but look to have been used in Italy for centuries before the sword was made.
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Old 31st January 2023, 09:18 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
Thank you for adding the additional marking note, which is celestial in nature, a moon and star. These kinds of marking were well known on very early Italian swords, and I believe I recall one on the hilt of an Italian sword of this period.

The use of celestial markings on blades by makers or sometimes perhaps as a form of imbuement goes back well into antiquity, and of course there are distinct associations with astrology. While astrology was indeed popularized in Eastern context, it is not necessarily isolated to their use.

Because of the use of the moon and star(s) by the Ottomans, it is often assumed that these symbols indicate that context is specific to them.
Actually these celestial symbols were well known throughout Europe independent of that influence. For example, the Szekely of early Hungarian ancestry were known to have used the celestial theme in their symbology.

I do not have "Armi Bianchi Italiene" (1975) handy at the moment, but I feel certain similar markings are among the detail on Italian markings.
The moon and stars symbols, became well known in Germany as they adopted many markings and inscriptions etc. for their blades and sometimes makers markings.
This does not apply to this storta as it is clearly Italian, and again, IMO a superb example.

Interestingly, the attribution of moon and star markings as 'Turkish' is an often occurring trope in the west is seen in an article in "Man at Arms" magazine (" Revolutionary War Swords with Crescent and Star Blades"). A number of swords with markings comprised of these symbols are described as 'Turkish', when in fact these are actually German blades, and variations of these celestial elements.
In Kinman (2015, p.133) this exact marking is seen deeply punched on blades of two German broadswords c. 1530, so the early Italian source for the German markings is suggested.

* Mark, just saw your post as I entered this, very well noted! It is worthy of note that Italian observance of celestial phenomenon gave us the Tarot cards with their notable use of these kinds of depictions.
Yes, point taken Jim! Thank you for sharing your encyclopedic knowledge on swords.
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Old 31st January 2023, 09:21 PM   #16
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That's a great-looking sword Victrix!
Thank you for your kind comment.

I attach a picture again (for all) which shows the spine of the sword and how it disappears into the false edge. As you can see the spine is quite thick. Strong sword. Feels great in hand.
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Old 1st February 2023, 08:24 PM   #17
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What a beautiful and fascinating sword, Victrix! I am green with envy! I know it is a little bit of a stretch to say your sword could also have a maritime connection, but the buccaneers of the 17th century very much favored short hangers, falcions, dussages and Sinclaire sabers. In Exquamillon's book on pirates, there are many contemporary sketches of the sea rovers with similar short, stocky bladed swords with shell guards (see also Gilkerson for shellguard maritime swords). In any case, an amazing sword!
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Old 1st February 2023, 09:27 PM   #18
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What a beautiful and fascinating sword, Victrix! I am green with envy! I know it is a little bit of a stretch to say your sword could also have a maritime connection, but the buccaneers of the 17th century very much favored short hangers, falcions, dussages and Sinclaire sabers. In Exquamillon's book on pirates, there are many contemporary sketches of the sea rovers with similar short, stocky bladed swords with shell guards (see also Gilkerson for shellguard maritime swords). In any case, an amazing sword!
Thank you for your kind words and pictures. Yes I understand Italian Stortas were used onboard ships and galleys. Itís possible that some may have found their way to other continents. There was also piracy in the Mediterranean so pirates may well have used Stortas.
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Old 1st February 2023, 11:54 PM   #19
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Thank you for the kind words Victrix!

As Mark notes, these were closely related to the European dusagge (and variations dubbed 'Sinclair' sabers) and the Italian storta was certainly a key influence. Italian weapons and styles were often notably copied in other European arms making centers.

Italian trade was also prevalent in many primary trade routes and sectors, so the transference of these weapons into other contexts was not only possible,but likely. Many Spanish arms of the 'conquistadors' of this period and later were actually Italian either in make or design. However in their case it was the rapiers, armor and helmets most prevalent.

The extended shell guard on this storta is compelling, and as seen, resembles the type of guard on the sword held in this popular illustration. The 'cutlass' was not necessarily made distinctly as a 'cutlass' but any shorter, stout bladed sword would easily serve in that capacity.

It seems that in some references, I have seen that pirates in some cases may have even referred to their swords colloquially as, 'their shell'.

Piracy was indeed well known in the Mediterranean, and the corsairs ranged in wider scope than often realized.
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Old 2nd February 2023, 11:47 AM   #20
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This sword was found in “The Collection of Arms of the Split City Museum” (Split City Museum, 2012) by Goran Borčić. It’s described as a Venetian navy sword from around 1560 and measures 83cm in total length. The author writes that the armed naval army of the Venetian Republic (Fanti del Mar nella Rep. di Venezia) was established in 1202 by Doge Enrico Pandolo. The plate guard is stamped with the Lion of St.Mark which is a proof mark of the workshops of the Venetian Arsenal. Similar arms are on display in the museum of Palazzo Ducale and Museo Storico Navale. [translated into English using Google Translate]
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Old 2nd February 2023, 06:27 PM   #21
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