The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Serving knife
  • Serving knife
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • France
  • c.1454 - c.1482
  • Iron or steel, gold, enamel and silver, enamelled
  • Length: 13.3 cm, handle
    Length: 22.2 cm, blade
    Width: 5.7 cm, maximum
    Weight: 0.165 kg
  • Maker's mark: Cutler's mark
  • A882
  • European Armoury I
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Serving knife, similar in form to A880-1. Handle of silver gilt, decorated, with flowers in translucent enamels, purple and green; on the pommel, and at the collar, is a coat of arms of Charles I, Seigneur de Gaucourt Lieutenant and Governor of Paris (?1482), who married in 1454, Agnes (alias Colette) de Vaux de Saintines (d. 1471). The arms may be described as Ermine a barbel in pale gules (Gaucourt) or three (i.e., one and a half) moor's heads (2 and 1) ppr bound about the temples argent (Vaux)– both coats dimidiated. Blade with curved edge and straight back, rounded near the point. It bears a cutler's mark on one side.

    French, 1454-82.

    Bailey, Knives and Forks, fig. 1 (1).

    Provenance: Louis Carrand (un couteau de la même époque (XVe siècle) à manche d' argent armorié et émaillé. This knife, with un grand collier en argent du XVe siècle, dit collier du roi de l' arc (see no. III J508), was purchased by the Comte de Nieuwerkerke for 2,000 fr. and un coffret en émail XVIe siècle, attribué à Leonard Limousin, given in exchange. Receipted bill, 2 February, 1870: Comte de Nieuwerkerke. Offered by the Count to the South Kensington Museum for purchase in 1870 at £80. Receipt dated 7 October, and marked in pencil: £80; 2,000 fr.

    In early editions of this catalogue these arms were stated to be those of Sire de Dancourt, Grand Master of Artillery to Philippe le Bon, based on the spelling of the name on the receipt given to the Comte de Nieuwerkerke by the Council of Education in October, 1870. It would appear, however, from a note contributed by Mr. A. Van de Put (Notes and Queries, 15 January, 1916, p. 41) that Dancourt is almost certainly a mistranscription for Gaucourt. The misspelling ('Dancourt' or 'Daucourt') has resulted in the name Dancourt being inserted in two works of reference (see Bouton, Nouveau traité des armoiries, 1887, p. 457; and Rietstap, Armorial général, Supplément, 2nd ed., II, 1887). No province for Dancourt is cited, and it is clear that Rietstap and his coadjutors had not encountered the name before, hence its appearance in the Supplément.

    Charles de Gaucourt was one of the principle French bibliophiles of the 15th century, and various MSS. have been traced to his library. (A. de Laborde, Les manuscrits à peintures de la Cité de Dieu de Saint Augustin, II, 398.)
    Mr. Van de Put has also pointed out that all existing seals of Charles I, Seigneur de Gaucourt, bear his paternal coat, without the impalement of his wife's arms of Vaux.