The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Bill
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Milan, Italy
  • early 16th century
  • Iron or steel and gold, incised and gilded
  • Length: 74 cm, including socket, not straps
    Width: 1.995 cm
  • Stamp: Scorpion mark with 'I / L / O'
  • A932
  • European Armoury I
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Bill, with a long top-spike of diamond section; the head is of usual form with edged hook, projecting face below, and spike at the back; two sharp lugs at the base; flattened octagonal socket and two short straps, the whole made in one piece. It is decorated with monsters' heads, conventional flowers and scrolls, incised in such a way as to throw up a bur on a ground granulated and formerly gilt. The blade is deeply stamped with the scorpion mark bearing the letters I L O.

    Italian (probably Milanese), early-16th century.

    De Beaumont Catalogue, pl. 11 Laking, European Armour III, fig. 912.

    Provenance; Comte de Nieuwerkerke.

    The scorpion mark with the letters I L O occurs on a bill in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, and on another in the Musée de l’Armée, Paris (former Pauilhac Collection). An additional bill bearing this mark is in the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg (Z.O. No. 4174). The same mark occurs on glaives in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Kienbusch collection, cat., no. 543, not illus.); Milan, Museo Poldi Pezzoli (1980 cat., no. 703); Rome, Odescalchi collection (inv. no. 1531; Carpegna, 1969, no. 370); Brescia, Museo Civico L. Marzoli (inv. no. 417; Rossi and Carpegna, 1969, no. 213). A decorated bill very like no. A932, which is now in the Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin, (formerly the Museum für Deutsche Geschichte) does however bear this mark (inv. no. W2489; Müller and Kölling, 1981, no. 238).

    A similar scorpion mark, but with the letter B, occurs on staff-weapons in the Royal Armouries (VII, 910, 928); Vienna; Turin, (J 135); in the Museo Stibbert (2485), and the Bargello, Florence (Gay, Glossaire Arch., p. 692); and the Metropolitan Museum, New York (Viollet-le-Duc VI, p. 26, Riggs).
    Bills bearing a scorpion as a mark are frequently illustrated in Italian Renaissance paintings, for instance in the frescoes by Bernardino Pintoricchio in the Library of Siena Cathedral (1503-8).