The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Left-handed sword
  • Left-handed sword
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Germany
  • c. 1580
  • Iron, steel, leather and silver, overlaid
  • Length: 93.4 cm
    Width: 2.6 cm
    Weight: 0.83 kg
  • Inscription: 'IN TOLEDO' In large capitals; spurious
    Maker's mark Stamped on one side
  • A525
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Left-handed sword, one of a ‘case’, or pair of swords intended to be used together, one in each of the swordsman’s hands. The hilt is comprised of a semi-oviform pommel with button; fluted, leather-bound grip; crossguard, curving towards the point, from which spring a knuckle-guard and solid, ovoid shell. The pommel, grip, and guard are all half-round in section and would have formed, put together with its twin (now lost), a complete hilt. Both could then have been carried in a single scabbard, as if they were a single sword. The inner face of the pommel is tongued to fit into a groove on the inner face of the companion weapon; the outer surface of the hilt, including the shell-guard, is overlaid in silver with a hexagonal section, is incised in large capitals on each side:

    IN TOLEDO

    The strong ricasso is stamped on one side with a maker's mark.

    An exactly similar case of swords, with scabbard, is reproduced on plate no. 170, (Fig. 2) of Asselineau (1844). These were then in the collection of Moreau, vîcomte de Courval. These were lot 17 in the de Courval sale 1861, to the Tsar's collection at Tsarskoye-Selo for 350 fr (marked catalogue in the Library of the Royal Armouries. In 1962 it was thought that the amount was 600fr, but the Royal Armouries copy records 350fr). They are now in the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg. One sword is inscribed ‘James Brach’, the other ‘In Toletto’; but the mark commonly attributed to Brach is absent (see Lenz; Z.H.W.K., Band 5, pp. 394-5). The 1986 Supplement notes that the overlaid decoration on this case was now lacking. Another case, also complete with scabbard, is in the Historisches Museum at Dresden.

    A 'case' of rapiers or swords consisted of a pair of twin weapons flattened on the inner side and fitting into the same scabbard. A duel with a case of swords, one in each hand, much resembled that with the sword and dagger.
    Despite the inscription, the lettering of which is not in the Spanish manner, the sword is probably German, like the other 'cases' of rapiers alluded to above. A Spanish swordsmith might be expected to inscribe his blades EN TOLEDO rather than IN TOLEDO. See A584, 648, 654, 662 and 686.