The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Sword
  • Sword
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Possibly France, the blade Vienne
  • c. 1650 - c. 1670
  • Steel, silver and gold, inlaid, blackened and chiselled
  • Length: 102.2 cm
    Width: 2.1 cm
    Weight: 0.8 kg
  • Inscription: '· IN · VIENNA · MEI · / · ME · FECIT · NE'
    Stamp: Crowned 'P' Stamped
  • A680
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
History
Further Reading
  • 'Pillow' sword, the hilt made up of a pommel chiselled in the round as a laureate male head; silver wire-bound grip with heavy cording; short quillons slightly arched and then turned back in the form of busts of Mars and Venus, chiselled in the round, the escutcheon bearing a figure of Mercury in relief on the left side; small, projecting guard on the right side fashioned as a female bust wearing at the neck a heart-shaped pendant inlaid in gold; the rest of blackened steel. Blade of hexagonal section, the deep groove at the forte incised in lettering of the Spanish style:

    · IN · VIENNA · MEI · / · FECIT · NE

    The ricasso stamped on each side with a crowned P. The blade is of the rapier type and has been shortened by some four or five inches.

    Possibly French (Vienne), about 1650-70.

    Skelton, II, Pl. CIX, figs. 5 and 6.

    Provenance: Sir S. R. Meyrick; Frédéric Spitzer.

    Norman and Barne, 1980, pp. 186, 276 and 327. The 'pillow' sword derives its name from the custom of hanging swords of simple form at the head of the bed for ready for self defence. There is a similar sword in Vienna (Böeheim, Album, I, 1894, pl. 38) ascribed by Laking (V, fig. 1507) to Gottfried Leygebe, see A. Bruhn, Der Schwertfeger Godfried Leygebe, Copenhagen, 1945.

    Vienne, near Lyon (Rhone), had a great reputation in France at this period for swords, and the blade of A680 may be from that source. The form of both the lettering on the blade and the mark on the ricasso is Spanish in style, probably an intentional imitation. The crowned P mark is of little help, as it was used by a large number of swordcutlers, including most of the Toledo bladesmiths, whose Christian name was Pedro.