The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Dagger with scabbard
  • Dagger with scabbard
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Switzerland
  • 16th and 19th centuries (blade and scabbard)
    19th century (hilt)
  • Steel, bronze, gold, copper, wood and velvet, pierced, inlaid and chased
  • Length: 25.3 cm, blade
    Width: 2.9 cm
    Weight: 0.29 kg
  • Inscription: 'IHS' with a mark
    Maker's mark Inlaid in copper
    Inscription: 'APPIVS I CLAV I DIVS I' On throne of Appius Claudius III
    Incised mark: 'V S' Scratched
  • A768
  • European Armoury I
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Dagger with scabbard, the gilt-bronze hilt made up of a vase-shaped pommel with projecting animals’ heads surmounted by a squat female bust, in high relief; oval grip, swelling in the centre and decorated in relief on either side with a female figure; small guard, oblong in section, scrolled at the ends; single side-ring, with a head as a bezel in the centre; blade, of flattened diamond section, grooved down the middle and inscribed IHS and having a mark which may be that of the bladesmith, with a trebly fluted ricasso also inlaid with a maker's mark in copper; scabbard, of wood covered on the outer side with gilt copper, pierced and chased in relief with a scene from the Legend of Virginia: Appius Claudius III on the Judgement Seat, the throne inscribed:

    APPIVS / CLAV / DIVS

    (The same composition, but slightly varied, appears upon the scabbard of dagger A769; see also A770-1.) The ferrule is composed of two dolphins; there is a locket and chain at the side and two loops at the back, for suspension; upon one of these is faintly scratched the letters V S, possibly the initials of an owner; the wooden lining of the scabbard is covered with red velvet and there are pockets in front for a knife and pricker (both now missing).
    Schneider, 1977, no. 59; ‘entirely 19th-century’. The blade is in fact 16th-century, apparently ground down from a sword. The mouth and upper part of the scabbard have been squeezed to fit the rather narrow blade.

    De Beaumont Catalogue, no. 104.

    Provenance: Louis Carrand? Comte de Nieuwerkerke.

    The construction of the scabbard with separate edging bands stamped with candelabra foliage on a horizontally hatched ground, and with the frieze made of four or five separate pieces, one of which, the third figure from the tip, is largely a replacement in a slightly different coloured metal, all suggest that the scabbard may be genuine after all. It was accepted by J. F. Hayward (Virtuoso goldsmiths, 1976, pl. 693). The grip is undoubtedly 19th-century and a similar one is on a composite dagger in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (no. 26.145.95; Dean, Daggers, no. 135, pl. XLVI.).

    Illustrated by Vollon in his Curiosités of 1868 (Sarin, 1980).