The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Parrying dagger
  • Parrying dagger
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Spain
  • late 17th century
  • Steel and gold, incised and engraved
  • Length: 42 cm
    Width: 2.4 cm
    Weight: 0.475 kg
  • Maker's mark
  • A837
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
Further Reading
  • Parrying dagger, of ‘main gauche’ type, made up of a faceted oviform pommel, with button, chased in relief with quatrefoils, crosses and scrollwork; diagonally wire-bound grip, of oval section; straight cross-guard, the ends spirally fluted and terminating in button knobs, the middle part incised with foliage on a gilt ground; triangular knuckle-guard, the border enclosing a scalloped edge, the surface decorated with a stag, hare and hounds in the lobes, and floral scrolls in the central triangle.

    The blade is of triangular section, the back-edge notched, changing to flattened diamond section at the point; the ricasso engraved with small circles arranged in saltire on one side, and with two circular holes for sword-catching; on the inner side is the usual oval depression for the thumb. It is stamped on both sides with a maker's mark.

    Probably Spanish, late 17th century.

    There is a parrying dagger in the Real Armería, Madrid, struck with the same mark (G 154).

    The decoration of the guard, made by cutting away the ground to leave the foliage and the animals in low, flat relief, is very unusual on a cup hilt. Sword hilts decorated in this way are in Malmöhus (Carlsson, Kring Malmöhus, 1970, pp. 66-73, illus. on p. 72), and in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore (no. 51.501); another was in the collection of E. Valentine (Valentine, Rapiers, nos. 38-9; sold Sotheby's, 19 February 1973, lot 232, repr. in cat.); and yet another was on the German art market in 1982 (J. H. Fricker, Historische Waffen, Katalog 1982/8, no. 133, illus.). A similar dagger was sold at the Dorotheum, Vienna, 29 February-2nd March 1912, lot 124, repr. in cat., and another is illustrated in a Spanish painting of the mid-to late-17th century, A Kitchen Scene, the property of the National Trust, Penryhn Castle, N. Wales.