The Wallace Collection

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Serving knife
  • Serving knife
  • Hans Sumersperger
  • Tyrol
  • c. 1500
  • Iron or steel, copper alloy, antler, rosewood and gold, blued and engraved
  • Length: 32.7 cm, blade
    Width: 5 cm, at shoulder
    Width: 5.8 cm, at widest part
    Weight: 0.76 kg
  • Inscription: 'BON · FRED · VM · DICH'
    Maker's mark: Form of an arrow Stamped
  • A883
  • European Armoury I
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Serving knife, with a handle of flattened octagonal section, heavily mounted with brass and inlaid with panels of polished antler; engraved along the back strip:

    BON · FRED · VM · DICH

    ('Good peace [cheer] about thee')

    Arch-shaped pommel with short beak; grip inlaid with strips of polished antler and rosewood, and four ivory panels, carved in low relief, representing St. Barbara (?) and other saints the forward end of the brass hilt is extended at right-angles to support the blade; heavy broad blade, single-edged and straight-backed. It is decorated with a band of Goldschmelz along the hollow, bordering the back edge, and is stamped with a maker's mark in the form of an arrow.

    Tyrolese, made by Hans Sumersperger, c. 1500.

    Bailey, Knives and Forks, fig. 6 (2); Hayward, 'Early German cutlery' Apollo Annual, 1949, pp. 60-3, fig. Ill a, but with the caption interchanged with fig. Ill b.

    Provenance: Joyeau (?) (Un couteau d' écuyer trachant, du XVième siècle, 520 fr. [with un socle reliquaire]; receipted bill, 19 November, 1865); Comte de Nieuwerkerke.

    A like knife, bearing the same mark, is in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (De Cosson, Dino Collection, pl. 17, G45).

    This knife belongs to a group which Dr. Bruno Thomas has identified with Hans Sumersperger of Hall, near Innsbruck, who worked for the Emperor Maximilian I (1459-1519) and made his State sword, now in Vienna (Met. Mus. Bulletin, New York, February, 1955). The State Sword (das Lehnenschwert) of Maximilian I in the Imperial Treasury at Vienna (inv. no. XIV.4) is dated 1496 and signed 'Hanns von Hall'. B. Thomas (Waffen- und Kostümkunde, 1963, pp. 41-62) lists a number of additional weapons attributed to Hans Sumersperger of Hall, which do not include the knives and their présentoir in the Museo Correr, Venice. They include the so-called 'Hunting Sword' of Maximilian I in Vienna (inv. no. D11); a hand-and-half sword in the Badisches Landesmuseum, Karlsruhe, (no. G58); a 'Landsknecht' sword formerly at Karlsruhe (no. G59); the ceremonial sword of Hans Siebenhirter as Master of the Order of St. George, dated 1499 (Landesmuseum für Karnten, Klagenfurt); a two-handed sword formerly at Ambras, now in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich (no. W872); a ceremonial sword in the National Museum, Copenhagen (no. 4580; Thomas, Vaabenhistoriske Aarbøger, 6 b-c, 1950/1, pp. 105-84); a sword-blade in the Bargello, Florence (Thomas and Boccia, Österreichische Florenzhilfe, Historische Prunkwaffen, 1970, p. 48, pI. 6); a knife blade in the collection of John Hunt, found in the Thames, which Thomas suggests might have been a present to Henry VIII from Maximilian I; and a five-piece table garniture in its case, at Stift Kremsmünster, Upper Austria.