The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Cinquedea
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Italy
  • c. 1500 and 19th century (blade)
    19th century (hilt)
  • Iron or steel, ivory, bronze and gold, gilded, etched and inlaid
  • Length: 48.6 cm, blade
    Width: 10.3 cm
    Weight: 1.12 kg
    Inscription: 'IMP · C · TETRICVS P.F. [AVG]'
    Inscription Obscure inscription
    Inscription: 'IMP. LICINIVS P.F. AVG.'
    Inscription: '[D.N.] VALENTINIA[NVS P.F. AVG]
    Inscription: 'CONSTANTINVS P.F. AVG'
    Inscription: 'S P Q R'
    Maker's mark: Blacksmith's mark 14cm from hilt
  • A746
  • European Armoury I
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Cinquedea, the arch-shaped hilt of ivory, mounted with gilt bronze, decorated with a pair of lyre-shaped acanthus leaves in low relief; grip in one with the pommel, faced with two ivory plaques, with two circular filigree ornaments and with inlaid coins (see below) inserted. Inset at the side between the plaques are bands of gilt bronze inscribed:


    Curved guard of gilt bronze decorated with a delicate filigree scrollwork and seed pods. The hilt is inlaid with six Roman coins as follows:

    Side A (with the composition of the Golden Calf on the blade)

    Pommel: Tetricus Senior (268-273 A.D.). Bust of Tetricus wearing radiate crown. Inscribed:


    Grip: Possibly Constantine II as Caesar (317-337 A.D.). Bust diademed. Inscribed


    Side B

    Pommel: Valentinian I (364-375 A.D.). Bust diademed. Inscribed:


    Grip: 'Urbs Roma'. Bust of the City of Rome, helmeted. (About 330-337 A.D.)

    Guard: Constantine the Great (305-337 A.D.). Bust diademed. Inscribed:

    The blade is of flat diamond section, with hollowed, sunk panels, five, four, three, and two from base to point. Decorated, on the one side, with the Worship of the Golden Calf surmounted with heads in a medallion supported by amorini, and above this in alternate pairs of panels, nude figures, bearing flags, emblems (one inscribed S P Q R), and finally, conventional leaves, all etched and richly gilt. The reverse side has been similarly decorated with a classical subject, nude figures and conventional foliage. The sharpness and depth of the etching suggest that it has been recut. The letter T is incised upon the altar in the first composition. Compare the letter T (? Taurus) on another. There is a bladesmith's mark on either side 14 cm from the hilt. The same mark appears upon A744-5.

    Italian, about 1500.

    Laking, European Armour III, fig. 852; Yriarte, Le Graveur d' Epées de César Borgia.

    The ivory scales are later replacements and are of the wrong form and size. The pommel-cap is probably also a replacement. The inscription has been doubted, as has the filigree work of the guard which is of characteristic 19th-century type with granulations (C. Blair and J. F. Hayward, personal communication, 1963). The scene on the blade identified as The Worship of the Golden Calf is perhaps more likely to have a classical or humanist source. The flag is, in fact, inscribed S.P.Q.B. The scenes on the reverse include a stag, two old men speaking to a soldier in classical armour, and two women and a man attending a woman who has apparently fallen to the ground.
    Yriarte, 'Le graveur d'épées de Cesar Borgia', Les lettres et les arts, I, 1886, pp. 163-86 and 339-61, illus. on p. 179 (middle); and Yriarte, Maître Hercule de Pesaro, extract from Gazette archeologique, 1887-8, illus. p. 19.
    The mark does not resemble that on either A744 or 745 except very superficially. It bears a closer resemblance to that on the sword given by Pope Julius II to the Emperor Maximilian I in 1509 as a Knight of St. Peter (Vienna, inv. no. A453; Boccia & Coelho, 1975, figs. 293 and 295). A similar mark occurs on a sword made for a member of the von Kressenstein family, now in the Musée de Cluny, Paris (no. CL11811; Boccia & Coelho, 1975, figs. 294 and 296). The etching on all three blades is very similar in style, although not definitely by the same hand. The same mark occurs on a 'cinquedea' blade mounted in a 19th-century hilt in the Armeria Reale at Turin (no. H 7), the etching of which may also be by the same hand as that of no. A746 (Bertolotto in Mazzini, 1982, pp. 63-5, figs. 9-12) This mark also occurs on a 'cinquedea' blade in the Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan (inv. no. 2369; 1980 cat., no. 615), but in this case the decoration is in Goldschmelz.