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Old 1st July 2021, 12:27 PM   #1
Lee
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Question Katzbalger - request for assistance in identifying blade mark

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This katzbalger is from my Collection.

Does anybody know where the inlaid smith's mark comes from?

On both sides is the Upper Reichsapfel sign that I have seen on different German and Swiss Parts from the time around 1510/20.
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Old 2nd July 2021, 06:08 PM   #2
Jim McDougall
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This is a positively breathtaking sword!
From what I can find, the cross and orb if I recall, was typically regarded as a South German affectation and used in a kind of talismanic sense I believe, acting as a religious invocation.
In "European Blade Makers, Their Marks" by Staffan Kinman , 2015, there is a remarkably similar mark in the configuration of these 'arms', which seems among many of such type in variation. It seems the same type marking was used from early 16th c. on Swiss weapons, but the same type of armed devices found use in Passau as well.

The mark I refer to also notes it is from unknown maker, as most Passau attributed marks are, and c. 1560-80.

It is a salient point to note that it is mentioned these marks were inlaid in brass (latten).
ref" W.M. Schmid, "Passauer Waffenwesen"
'Zeutschrift fur Historische Waffenkunde", 1902-05; 1918-20
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Old 2nd July 2021, 08:32 PM   #3
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Default Katzbalger

Thanks for your informative answer, its a very Interessting Field if we try to Figure out where the Marks came from and who was the marker, many work is there still to do….

Attached nice Example of the Passauer Wolf on a Katzbalger and a Reichsapfelmarke on a Bidenhänder from my collection. I do Realy Prefer swords with Marks on it, Even when they often give me more miracles than answers….
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Old 2nd July 2021, 08:35 PM   #4
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BTW, would you also Date the Katzbalger on around 1520?
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Old 3rd July 2021, 01:11 AM   #5
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I do not feel qualified enough to specify dating that specifically, but I am inclined to regard this as more to mid or slightly later 16th. As I have noted, the specific notation of latten in many of these markings seems to be a characteristic of these Passau weapons of that period. This applied to the famed running wolf as well which was later adopted by Solingen. It is thought however that the 'wolf' was applied to blades destined to Passau armorers as sort of a brand to a contract .

I know I have been fascinated by finding explanations, names etc. on markings for many years, and even after decades feel I have barely scratched the surface.

Markings such as the running wolf, for example, were never to a specific maker, nor was the cross and orb; anchor; or many such marks. While some marks might have been to a certain maker or shop, records of these may be lost, or perhaps never existed. Mostly such marks were popular talismanic or quality associated marks alluding to the power and protective character of a blade.

Passau in these times was a center for assembly of mercenary forces, including Landsknechts, who would go into service as required, and these men were understandably, quite superstitious. The running wolf itself, is believed an example of what was known as 'Passau art', which might have been a marking on a blade or other type of amulet carried by the soldier into battle (see "Cut and Thrust Weapons", Eduard Wagner, Prague, 1967).
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Old 3rd July 2021, 11:54 AM   #6
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Welcome to the forum, df1967.
... And thank you so much bringing to us such splendid Katzbalger.
A slight obstacle could be that the inlaid mark is so fragile that parts (ends) of it might have fallen off, making it harder to identify ... at least for those not so knowledgeable, like me .
I assume that the Bidenhänder you show is already identified; a copper inlaid cross and orb of the same type is seen in a Swiss example dated 1580. (courtesy Scheizerischen Landsmuseum).


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Old 3rd July 2021, 12:28 PM   #7
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That’s a stunning katzbalger sword! Very Germanic looking. No doubt it once belonged to someone of great importance.

The orb is a Globus cruciger, a Christian symbol of authority since the Middle Ages. The double cross is a patriarchal cross (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_cross_variants), also called an Archbishop cross. German Erzstift ruled by elect Prince-Archbishops were: Cologne, Mainz, Trier, Bremen, Magdeburg, and Salzburg.

I found a similar trident mark in Zygmunt S. Lenkiewicz, 1000 Marks of European Blademakers (1991), but his identifications seem a bit hit and miss. The bibliography reference is to Gyngel’s Armourers Marks.

There is a double cross orb symbol ascribed to a Solingen smith in both Kinman and Lenkiewicz above, but the orb looks different.
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Old 3rd July 2021, 05:50 PM   #8
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Thats an excellent catch Victrix!!!
The one character is pretty much a perfect match.
As you well note, Lenciewicz's attributions are sketchy in many cases, and like Gyngell, these are simply compendiums of markings drawn mostly from varied museum examples and often material from private collection items published.

As such, in many, if not most, cases, these attributions are clearly presumed based on context or hopefully some sort of substantiated provenance.

With this instance, as Lenciewicz shows (as from Gyngell), 15th century, Italy.
The circumstances here we can only speculate. As I noted, these types of devices were often the same kinds of sigil like forms which were used widely in Switzerland and S. Germany in the 16th century.
However, given the traffic in arms and blades between these regions and North Italy in these times (as early of course as 15th c) it would be hard to place any one of these marks specifically to region, let alone period and emphatically not to any one maker.
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Old 4th July 2021, 12:40 PM   #9
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Thanks gentleman for your valid answer to my question, highly appreciated! I have not thought to find this smith Mark anywhere as iam looking for it since a long time! Does the book says on which blade this mark was on?
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Old 4th July 2021, 01:54 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by df1967 View Post
Thanks gentleman for your valid answer to my question, highly appreciated! I have not thought to find this smith Mark anywhere as iam looking for it since a long time! Does the book says on which blade this mark was on?
The book just states Italia. So the mark appears on a sword believed to be Italian. Obviously this sword can be fitted with a German blade. I would have thought this katzbalger has a Passau blade, but the double cross on the orb indicates an Archbishopric/diocese. Lenciewicz’s book shows a mark (see below) with a doublecross from Solingen, but the orb looks different from yours, but could still be Solingen. So how common are latten marks on Solingen blades? And are there orbs with a doublecrosses on any Passau blades?
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Old 4th July 2021, 04:20 PM   #11
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These references are simply compendiums of marks drawn from various sources whether museum holdings, private collections or published material including markings seen on the subject weapons.
In most cases, these are presumed from the context in which they are found, which as we know can be notably compromised, such as the case with museums in some circumstances. As always, errors are always possible with anyone, but the possibilities must be recognized.

While in most cases museums strive for accuracy and reliable notations, but no amount of effort can prevent inevitable errors. In many cases weapons that are donated or presented come as part of collected examples which may have been comingled with groups from other sources from those in which they are included.

There was considerable traffic of blades between Italy, Germany and Spain which meant that a blade found on an Italian hilt, might well have been from Germany but its context presumed it to be Italian.

In Wagner ("Cut and Thrust Weapons", 1967) for example, there is a large plate of examples of the 'Passau running wolf' which shows many variations of this stylized mark, each with a date/year.
This illustration suggests some sort of chronological development of the well known marking, which of course is patently incorrect.

These marks were applied on blades as a kind of quality imbuement which evolved from a probably somewhat talismanic representation, and the character of the applications depended on the workmen placing them.

The use of 'latten' (inlaid gold metal usually brass) was notably used by many shops in Solingen just as it had been in other centers such as Passau and others in these early centuries. Inlaid metal markings had been well known since Viking times and much earlier.
Sword blades being exported to England even in the 17th century still used latten 'wolf' marks in many cases.
As always, it was a matter of preference by shops or workers producing the blades rather than consistent practice.

The cross and orb was of course not a makers mark, but a kind of religious device which may have had significance ecclesiastically (as Victrix has noted) or perhaps even the kind of quality suggested by the endorsement of the Church, as had been practiced since medieval times with swords and chivalry. In the case of the example Victrix posted, there have been initials or a mark enclosed in the orb, and these can often indeed be attributed to a particular maker or shop.

I would note that in Spain and later Solingen, the 'anchor' was used as a device in similar manner, typically placed at the terminus of a fuller and part of the phrases etc. placed in the fuller or at blade center. These 'anchors' often had somewhat complex cross bars in varying number, and with serif type additions, which seem as if 'customized' by makers or inscribers using them. With symbolic convention, it is hard to say how much 'meaning' or significance all of this had, but tempting to consider possibilities.

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Old 4th July 2021, 08:11 PM   #12
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The orb with a single cross was also used as a symbol for the Holy Roman Empire, which sometimes was at odds with the Vatican for temporal power. Not sure whether the single cross orbs sometimes seen on Passau swords is a Reichsapple or Bishopric orb. There is a katzbalger with similar shape in the Castel St Angelo in Rome which was excavated from the moat. It was believed to have been used by Imperial troops in a siege, if I remember correctly, but I believe the Vatican also employed Landesknechts as mercenaries. I was struck by the impressive size of this sword (see below).
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Old 4th July 2021, 08:48 PM   #13
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Thanks for this pic, never saw this katzbalger. Typical German shape of around 1520, Schellenberg type as shown in the museum in Vienna. The Swiss katzbalger of the reisläufer had often a more open 8 as the hand protection, as mentioned in a book of edged weapons of the museum in Zürich.

I guess most of the blacksmith marks are not to identify, considering the fact that over centuries every town had the own blacksmith who could at least to basic halberds for example, and as it is today every smith had his own mark. Only the best once we could identify today I believe…
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Old 4th July 2021, 10:54 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix View Post

The orb is a Globus cruciger, a Christian symbol of authority since the Middle Ages. .
Do you mean crucifer instead, from fero/ferre "to carry", so as to mean a cross-bearing globe?
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Old 5th July 2021, 09:36 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip View Post
Do you mean crucifer instead, from fero/ferre "to carry", so as to mean a cross-bearing globe?
http://www.1066.co.nz/Mosaic%20DVD/s...20cruciger.htm
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Old 5th July 2021, 10:38 AM   #16
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Some more marks of my collection
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Old 5th July 2021, 10:39 AM   #17
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Some more marks of my collection
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Old 5th July 2021, 04:41 PM   #18
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One bit of data following up on post #7's theme. The "M" at the bottom of post #10's mark is a religious symbol as well. I read this in one of my grandfather's books on wood carving about 25 year's ago so take this tidbit for what it is worth.

The book (I can't remember the name of the book or the author offhand, but I think I moved the book to my Dad's after my grandfather's death. So there is a chance I will be able to site this source at a later date.) had a section on the Madonna and her representations in folk art styles. This type of "M" was said to stand for Mary but also had a older context in relation to mountains in the pagan sense as objects of veneration in their own right. I believe it was attributed to a Swiss origin (I'm not saying the mark itself is Swiss). I have always been fascinated with the layering of belief systems and artistic allusion's so the chapter made a deep impression on me. Whether the smaller peak could be considered a "child" I have always wondered.
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Old 5th July 2021, 06:38 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Interested Party View Post
One bit of data following up on post #7's theme. The "M" at the bottom of post #10's mark is a religious symbol as well. I read this in one of my grandfather's books on wood carving about 25 year's ago so take this tidbit for what it is worth.

The book (I can't remember the name of the book or the author offhand, but I think I moved the book to my Dad's after my grandfather's death. So there is a chance I will be able to site this source at a later date.) had a section on the Madonna and her representations in folk art styles. This type of "M" was said to stand for Mary but also had a older context in relation to mountains in the pagan sense as objects of veneration in their own right. I believe it was attributed to a Swiss origin (I'm not saying the mark itself is Swiss). I have always been fascinated with the layering of belief systems and artistic allusion's so the chapter made a deep impression on me. Whether the smaller peak could be considered a "child" I have always wondered.
Very interesting observations which seem plausible. I saw it as an upside down W but it makes more sense as a M. This letter must have had some significance since one might otherwise assume that the maker would use his initials B A in the symbol. To use the letter M for Maria in a Roman Catholic ecclesiastical symbol makes sense. I believe these symbols are far from random as people spent a lot of effort to put them there. We just need to re-learn their interpretation.
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Old 5th July 2021, 07:35 PM   #20
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A bit of a silly question, df ...
The way your images were posted, the blade is facing down, so we have to invert the position of the cross and orb engraving to have it in the right position, right ?
What about the inlaid smith's mark; is it in the right position or should also be inverted ?
We would have that either the mark in Victrix's post #7 is more towards your case or perhaps a possible equivalence is seen in a sword illustrated in Armi Bianche Italiane.


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Old 5th July 2021, 08:01 PM   #21
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Wau thanks, this seems to be the mark, in the same position also as on your picture.Do you know what this Italian book is saying over this smith mark? Unbelievable what knowledge is on this website!!!
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Old 5th July 2021, 08:05 PM   #22
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Maybe this pic is better
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Old 6th July 2021, 02:37 PM   #23
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Unfortunately my copy of this book doesn't have the the section with the marks index. It was a fellow forumite that sent me the scan (or photos) of such pages, some of them taken in a poor conditin, like the present one. Perhaps some member with te complete book will scan this page and sow it in a more clear condition ... Philip ? .
I doubt that the text goes into detailed info on the smith or his mark, anyhow; maybe only the name given to this type of symbol.


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Old 6th July 2021, 04:47 PM   #24
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Scan of text from Armi Bianche Italiane, p. 354:
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Old 6th July 2021, 05:16 PM   #25
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Thank you Lee,
As i suspected, there is no mentioning of the smith, or of the symbol, except that the blade is 'marked in the middle' (marcata al medio); my interpretation subject to correction, of course.
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Old 6th July 2021, 06:17 PM   #26
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I’m not an Italian speaker but understand the sword is believed to have belonged to Gian Giacomo Trivulzio (https://military.wikia.org/wiki/Gian_Giacomo_Trivulzio) and here is a photo of the sword in its entirety. Not sure what conclusions we can draw from that concerning the katzbalger under discussion.
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Old 6th July 2021, 06:55 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix View Post
I’m not an Italian speaker but understand the sword is believed to have belonged to Gian Giacomo Trivulzio (https://military.wikia.org/wiki/Gian_Giacomo_Trivulzio) and here is a photo of the sword in its entirety. Not sure what conclusions we can draw from that concerning the katzbalger under discussion.
You are correct; as per post 20# the caption in the book refers that the sword probably (probabilmente) belonged to Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, Marshal of France. It also mentions that the sword was decorated by Ercole dei Fedeli (circa 1499) a famous Italian (Jewish) goldsmith and master sword engraver. I gather that the inlaid mark would be that of the sword smith (forgerer) and not of Fedeli.
... But i would not draw conclusions that such mark ought to be the same as in the katzbalger; as i said, only a possible equivalence ... for what is worth .



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Old 6th July 2021, 07:45 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Interested Party View Post
One bit of data following up on post #7's theme. The "M" at the bottom of post #10's mark is a religious symbol as well. I read this in one of my grandfather's books on wood carving about 25 year's ago so take this tidbit for what it is worth.

The book (I can't remember the name of the book or the author offhand, but I think I moved the book to my Dad's after my grandfather's death. So there is a chance I will be able to site this source at a later date.) had a section on the Madonna and her representations in folk art styles. This type of "M" was said to stand for Mary but also had a older context in relation to mountains in the pagan sense as objects of veneration in their own right. I believe it was attributed to a Swiss origin (I'm not saying the mark itself is Swiss). I have always been fascinated with the layering of belief systems and artistic allusion's so the chapter made a deep impression on me. Whether the smaller peak could be considered a "child" I have always wondered.

This is a wonderful and fascinating entry !!! Thank you!
What you refer to is known as the 'Black Madonna' (due to the blackened figure) and was the object of much venerated following as a relic during these times and these regions. I have a book on this but as you, I need to retrieve it.
The irregular joining of the 'V's to me suggests perhaps depiction of mountains as you mention, and these were figured into much symbolism it seems in varying allegorical sense.
This is an outstanding theme to pursue in learning more on these cross and orb markings.

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Old 6th July 2021, 07:59 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando View Post
You are correct; as per post 20# the caption in the book refers that the sword probably (probabilmente) belonged to Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, Marshal of France. It also mentions that the sword was decorated by Ercole dei Fedeli (circa 1499) a famous Italian (Jewish) goldsmith and master sword engraver. I gather that the inlaid mark would be that of the sword smith (forgerer) and not of Fedeli.
... But i would not draw conclusions that such mark ought to be the same as in the katzbalger; as i said, only a possible equivalence ... for what is worth .



.
This is a most important entry into this discussion, thank you Fernando for the excerpts from "Armi Bianchi Italiene" (Boccia & Coelho, 1980) which clearly depicts the marking on this amazing sword, and thank you Lee for the copy of the page which adds the detail.

It would seem this mark was likely in use before the 1499 date noted by the attribution to this figure in accord. This would suggest that the mark was in use prior to that date, and of course likely remained in use after for some time. I believe that the mark would have been added along with the engraved decoration by the artist, but would be to the forger of the blade.
Blades were typically decorated by artisans who worked for the various masters and shops, which might have had several bladesmiths.

Normally the mark would be to the shop or forge, not necessarily to one maker (the Ferrara's worked at the forge of another master, which was why the paucity of signed examples by them), or at least this has been my understanding.

That blades so marked would be sent to Germany for mounting would not be surprising, just as they were to other centers in the Italian regions where they were forged.
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Old 7th July 2021, 01:42 PM   #30
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There is a cinquedea in the Wallace Collection with a very similar marking. A number of such weapons have also been attributed to Ercole dei Fideli, though not this one in particular.

Cinquedeas are a characteristically Italian style, so everything seems consistent with the mark being the sign of some Italian bladesmith, some of whose products were embellished by other artisans like Fideli, or exported from the country.

https://wallacelive.wallacecollectio...ype=detailView
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