The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Sword
  • Sword
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • c. 1480 - c. 1500 and 19th century (blade)
  • Iron or steel, bronze, gold and copper, gilded
  • Length: 84.5 cm
    Width: 4.3 cm
    Weight: 1 kg
  • Inscription: 'FRIDERICH · HERCZOG · ZV · SACHSEN / ·Х· AET XXXV 1539'
    Maker's mark Inlaid in copper
  • A500
  • European Armoury II
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Arming sword, the modern hilt of gilt bronze composed of a small wheel-pommel, inlaid on both sides with a medal of Frederick, Duke of Saxony, by the Master of Cardinal Albrecht; on the obverse is a bust of the duke, in profile, inscribed:–

    FRIDERICH HERCZOG ZV SACHSEN

    X AET XXXV 1539

    The other side of the pommel bears the reverse of the medal, the nude figure of a man (holding a dagger in the right hand and the sheath in the left) about to strike at himself before an alter bearing a brazier inflamed. The two sides of the pommel are an inch apart, and so two medals must have been used. The medal is reproduced in Georg Habich, Die Deutschen Medailleure des XVI Jahrhunderts, Taf. VI., I, and by Professor Sponsel, Jahrbuch der Preuss. Kunstammlungen, 1925. The grip and circular band of the pommel are decorated with conventional foliage in low relief and gilt; with the exception of the medal, the centre hilt is a restoration. The original double-edged blade is of flattened diamond section, with a maker's mark inlaid in copper on one side; the last eight inches from the point have been narrowed by much resharpening.

    Baron Pierre Francois Percy (1754-1825) was surgeon-general to the Grande Armée, and formed a collection of antique arms and armour during the campaigns of Napoleon I, which was sold in Paris at two sales in 1825 and 1829. One would not expect a Renaissance hilt to be fabricated as early as this. The Imperial Armoury was looted by French troops in 1805, and again in 1809. De Beaumont's reference to a "vente faite à Bruxelles…août 1854," denotes the sale of General Baron Peucker's collection(of Berlin), in which this sword was lot 434. Between 1945 and 1962 it was thought that A500 was not (as had been thought upto 1924) traceable in the vîcomte de Courval's sale, 1860, and it was suggested that the sword was "probably disposed of privately, (cf. No. A949)". However a small sketch in the marked catalogue in the Library of the Royal Armouries, reveals that the sword was Lot 14 in the de Courval sale, Pillet and Roussel, Paris, 17-18 April 1860, bought by Juste, 75 fr.