The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Sword
  • Sword
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Hilt- possibly France; blade- Germany, possibly Bavaria
  • 1650 - 1775
    c. 1650 - c. 1660 (hilt)
    mid 18th century (blade)
  • Steel, gold and silver, blued or russeted, etched, gilded and overlaid
  • Length: 79 cm
    Width: 2.5 cm
    Weight: 0.575 kg
  • Inscription: 'AV . DVC . D'ORLEANS' In gold lettering
  • A671
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Sword, the hilt composed of a fig-shaped pommel, with button; wire-bound grip of oval section; knuckle-guard and single side-ring of oval section, the former returning to the pommel, which is set with a hole to receive it; short slightly curved quillon with lobated end; the whole overlaid in gold with figures, grotesques and scrolls of conventional foliage on a blued ground; at the junction of the hilt to the blade is an oval moulding inscribed on the face in gold lettering:

    AV . DVC . D'ORLEANS .

    Blade with a deep groove, double at the forte and becoming single for the rest of its length. The blade is etched throughout with running foliage on a gilt ground, the grooves being prominently decorated with rows of silver studs in the forms of shells, rosettes and other ornaments chiselled and applied (a number are missing).

    Hilt possibly French, about 1650-60; blade German (possibly Bavarian) mid-18th century.

    De Beaumont Catalogue, no. 60.

    Provenance: Librairie Tross (Épée de Gaston d' Orléans, 600 fr.: receipted bill, 15 August, 1866); Comte de Nieuwerkerke.

    Although de Beaumont accepted the tradition that this sword had belonged to Jean Baptiste Gaston d' Orléans, duc d' Anjou, who was born at Fontainebleau in 1608, it is more likely that the inscription refers to a shop-sign and indicates the address of the maker.

    In the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle is a blade with like decoration. This was joined to a hilt of chiselled steel by the order of Prince Albert (Laking, The Armoury of Windsor Castle, 1904, no. 58). Others are in the Victoria and Albert Museum, formerly in the collection of S. V. Grancsay (loan exhibition, New York, 1931, no. 208), and in Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum (inv. no. A2036). A small sword with a somewhat similar blade was in the Dreger Collection, sold Fischer, Lucerne, 1927, lot 117, and there is one in the Royal Armouries (S. E. Lucas sale, Christie's, 15 May, 1956, lot 217).

    The decoration was apparently etched and the areas left in relief overlaid in gold.

    Hilt possibly French, about 1650-60; blade German (possibly Bavarian) mid-18th century.

    Norman, 1967, illus. 8; Norman and Barne, 1980, pp. 191, 274 and 359, pI. 96.
    Fourteen of the heads of the silver studs in the blade are missing. This hilt has been connected with a group typified by a smallsword, traditionally of Major-General Charles Worseley (died 1659), in the Royal Armouries (no. IX.1428), with which in fact it has little in common (Blair, 1974, no. 36; and Borg, 1975). The blade resembles a number in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich, one of which bears an inscription to the Elector Palatine Carl Theodor and his consort Elizabeth and must therefore date not earlier than their marriage in 1742 (no. W2705; K. Maurice, letter of 10 November 1982).