The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Dagger
  • Dagger
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • France
  • 2nd half of 16th century
  • Steel, bovine horn, copper alloy and gold, etched, engraved and gilded
  • Length: 37.9 cm, blade
    Width: 4.4 cm, decreasing to
    Width: 2.8 cm
    Weight: 0.535 kg
  • Inscription: 'ASSES · BIEN · FAICT · ET · PAR · SAISON' Heavily gilded
    Inscription: 'QVI · FAICT · SON · FAICT I TOVT · PAR · RAYSON' Heavily gilded
    Inscription: 'TV · FVRIE · CEDAS · CEDENDO · VICTOR · ABIBIS' Heavily gilded
    Inscription: '· ESPOIR · NA · LIVE · OVFORTVNE · DOMINE' Heavily gilded
    Inscription: 'DE · PEV · A · PEV'
    Inscription: ' A B T'
    Incised mark
  • A809
  • European Armoury I
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Dagger, of monumental form. The hilt is composed of five pieces of bovine horn; the grip of square section, architectural in design, the base and capital (pommel) decorated with acanthus leaves in low relief and topped with a ball; secured to the tang by a diamond-shaped, brass washer; short guard of oblong section ending in scrolls; curved shell-guard; heavy blade triangular in section, and back-edged, with strong, forward cutting edge, and with a narrower, chamfered edge on the other side. The ricasso and the chamfered edge are etched with arabesques and inscriptions heavily gilt:

    ASSES · BIEN · FAICT · ET · PAR · SAISON
    (He does well enough and in season)

    QVI · FAICT · SON · FAICT / TOVT · PAR · RAYSON
    (Who does his deed all by reason)

    TV · FVRIE · CEDAS · CEDENDO · VICTOR · ABIBIS
    (Yield thou to madness, by yielding thou shalt go away victor)

    ESPOIR · NA · LIEV · OVFORTVNE · DOMINE
    (Hope has no place where chance is master)

    On the back of the blade:
    DE · PEV · A · PEV
    (From little to little)

    and on the edge of the ricasso:
    A B T

    There are traces of a mark (?), but these are more likely the remains of engraved decoration.

    French, second half of the 16th century.

    De Beaumont Catalogue, no. 87 and no. 107; Viollet-le-Duc, V, pp. 320-2.

    Provenance: Louis Carrand (une dague française à manche de corne et à lame gravée à inscriptions et doré, 1,000 fr.; receipted bill, 13 April 1867); Comte de Nieuwerkerke.

    This class of cutlery is discussed by C. Blair (1974, no. 61).