The Wallace Collection

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Gunner's stiletto
  • Gunner's stiletto
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Italy
  • c. 1650
  • Steel, etched
  • Length: 34 cm
    Length: 21 cm, blade
    Width: 1.1 cm
    Weight: 0.155 kg
  • Inscription: '1, 3, 6, 19, 12, 14, 16, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 100, 120'
  • A858
  • European Armoury III
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Gunner's Stiletto, the pommel and grip of steel turned to a baluster form; short guard with turned oviform knobs springing from a square escutcheon; the whole of bright steel. Blade of triangular section graduated for calibration on one side with the figures 1, 3, 6, 9, 12, 14, 16, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 100 and 120; the other two sides are etched with a male and female figure in the costume of the early 17th century, and with flowered scrolls; turned ricasso, deeply stamped on one side with a mark.

    Italian, about 1650.

    J.G. Mann, The Antiquaries' Journal, VI (1931), pp. 46-50, pl. X. Exhibited: Musée Rétrospectif, 1865, no. 1917 (Nieuwerkerke). L' art ancien, I, 26.

    Provenance: ? Félix Petitprêtre (Une dague lame numerotée, 50 fr.; receipted bill, 13 March, 1869); or ? E. Juste (Une dague à lame graduée, 1,900 fr. with other pieces; receipted bill, 2 July, 1866); either of these bills may refer to nos. A858-60; Comte de Nieuwerkerke.

    The gunner's stilleto or fusetto di bombardiere was carried by artillerymen in Italy during the seventeenth century, and these weapons were often called ‘centiventi’ from the highest number engraved upon them. Smaller specimens often stop at the figure 100.

    The graduation on this and A860 corresponds to the scale given by Girolamo Cataneo in his Tratto degli Essamini de' Bombardieri, 2nd edition, Brescia, 1571, Libro secondo, under the heading Sagomo per i pezzi. This scale was used for converting the measurement of the diameter of the bore of a gun into the corresponding weight of shot. It will be seen that the intervals between the figures are irregular and that they fall into three groups. These indicate the weights of lead, iron and stone shot repectively, in order of their specific gravity.

    For a discussion of stylets with graduated blades see M. Terenzi, Considerazioni su di un tipo di pugnale detto stiletto da bombardiere, 1962.