The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Dagger with scabbard and combined knife and fork
  • Dagger with scabbard and combined knife and fork
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • 1600 - 1850
    17th century (blade)
    c. 1840 (hilt)
  • Iron or steel, ivory, silver, gold, leather and wood, engraved
  • Length: 25.2 cm, blade
    Width: 0.9 cm
    Weight: 0.24 kg, dagger
  • A734
  • European Armoury I
Commentary
History
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  • Dagger and scabbard, the hilt made entirely of ivory and composed of a cylindrical pommel secured on the top by a leaf-shaped, silver-gilt washer, engraved with a frieze of scrolls and conventional roses; circular grip tapering to the guard; the latter is formed of three busts in high relief, two female and one male, wearing head-dresses of the style of the first half of the 16th century, one bearing that of a jester. The blade is square in cross-section (except in the middle, where it is diamond-sectioned) and doubly fluted on two sides. The scabbard is made of wood covered in leather and mounted with a silver-gilt locket and chape; these are engraved with a bird and conventional leaves and scrolls; there is a suspension ring mounted on the back. The scabbard also includes a sleeve containing a small combine knife and fork with a pommel of silver gilt depicting Judith with the Head of Holofernes in low relief.

    The hilt is highly suspect. It appears to be a romantic conception of the mid-19th century. The blade is genuine as is the scabbard, although the latter dates from the 17th century.

    Provenance: de Roisère sale, Paris (Pillet and Mannheim), 19-21 March, 1860, lot 128; and Basileweski sale, 26 April 1869, lot 53.

    A dagger with a similar hilt, but with three fool's heads is in the National Museum at Copenhagen, inv. no. CD.b., 642. This entered the Royal Kunstkammer there between 1737-75 (information kindly supplied by Dr. Askgaard); another was in the Thewalt Collection (sold Cologne, 4 November, 1903, lot 1629) and the Dreger Collection (Catalogue, 1926, pl. II, no.2, but not in the sale catalogue of 1927). Reproduced in the Basilewski sale catalogue in reverse. According to Pillet's papers in the Archives de Paris (D 48 E3 50), lot 53 was bought by Juste for 500 fr. (S. Gaynor, personal communication, 1985).