The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Ear-dagger
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Venice, Italy or Spain
  • c. 1500
  • Steel, horn and copper alloy, engraved
  • Length: 21 cm, blade
    Weight: 0.225 kg
  • A737
  • European Armoury I
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Ear-dagger, the pommel consisting of a pair of disks angled outwards and covered on the exterior side with plaques of horn, from each of which projects a small slanting cone of brass engraved with brass circles, reminiscent of oyster shells. The grip, of steel, is overlaid on each side with a strip of horn, moulded at the base. The blade, of diamond section, has hollow-ground sides and a short ricasso; the strong tang forms the centre of the grip.

    Venetian or Spanish, about 1500.

    De Beaumont catalogue, no. 79 and pl. 1; Laking European Armour III, fig. 833; Gazette des Beaux-Arts, Jere, xxiv, 1868, p. 422, no. 9, and pl. facing p.41.

    Provenance: Comte de Nieuwerkerke.

    See also A736.

    Most existing ear daggers are of Spanish-Moresque origin, though possibly they were made by Middle-Eastern workmen based in Venice as well. The inventory of King Francois I of France mentions 'une petite dague à oreilles à l'espanol.'

    See R. Lorente in Gladius, I II, 1964, pp. 67-87, who describes this type of 'ear dagger' with composite grip and equal-sided ricasso as ‘Venetian or Spanish in Hispano-Moresque style’ but made for and worn by Christians (Type II).