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Purchased (via Howard Ricketts) at Sotheby's (London) sale 5th May 1983, lot 5. From the collections of Lord Astor at Hever Castle and formerly on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Physical Description

The iron hilt (Norman type 35) has a globose pommel of Norman type 14, slightly flattened on top and in the plane of the blade; a knuckle-guard whose expanded end almost abuts against the surface of the pommel, straight quillons and a pair of arms supporting a ring inside the hand. The forward arm supports a peg projecting outside the hand. The rear arm is linked to the lower part of the knuckle-guard by a long 'swept' loop guard. There is an inner guard of two bars (Norman type 7). The bars of the hilt are of flattened, rounded section and there are flat, oval knobs in the centres of the knuckle-guard, and at the ends of the quillons and the peg projecting from the rear arm.

In most cases both faces of the bars of the hilt and the greater part of the pommel are decorated with symmetrical, arabesque patterns in gold counterfeit damascening; the edges are inlaid with raised silver bands, originally filed to simulate roped borders. The knops are decorated with encrusted silver on a gilt granular ground. Two larger, oval panels on the pommel and the triangular panels forming the 'sleeve' of the quillon block are similarly decorated. Inside the hand, the relief ornament executed, in silver encrusting over the faces of the knops, and the 'sleeve' of the quillon block, involves scrolls bearing stylised foliage cinquefoil flowers, wild strawberry fruits and ears of corn, all contained within a scrolled border of raised and filed ropework. The remainder of the panels have similar, but symmetrical decoration with a chiselled grimacing head at the centre, most often represented wearing a crest of feathers and supporting fern leaves in the ears.

The later, slightly swollen wooden grip is of circular section by the pommel changing to oval section nearest the blade. It is covered with fish skin, spirally bound with a single, broad, silver twist flanked by two narrower twists in the opposite sense. There is a silver Turk's head ferrule at either end. The broad, double-edged blade has three fullers on each side, the outer two extending from the hilt approx. 200 mm (8 in), the central fuller being approx. 18 mm (0.7 in) longer. There is a stamped mark on the inside approx. 25.4 mm (1 in) from the hilt.

Condition: generally good. The counterfeit danascening is worn and there are minor losses to the silver inlay.


Dimensions: Overall length: 976 mm (38.4 in), length of blade: 815 mm (32.1 in), blade length from arms of hilt: 764 mm (30.1 in), blade width by arms: 37 mm (1.35 in)

Inscriptions and Marks

On the inside of the blade (approx. 25.4 mm (1 in) from the hilt), stamped: mark resembling two joined saltires (sketch in typed inv.).

Bibliographic References

G.F. Laking, A Record of European Armour and Arms, 1920-1922, IV: p. 318, fig. 1381, p. 319.

J.F. Hayward, English Swords 1600-1650, in R. Held (ed.), Arms and Armour Annual: pp. 146, 153 (fig 14), 1973.

A.V.B. Norman and C.M. Barne 1980 The Rapier and Small-Sword, 1460-1820, London etc: 98.

G M Wilson et al., 'Recent Acquisitions for the Royal Armouries', Burlington Magazine, 130, no. 1027, Oct. 1988, pp. 799-803, at p. 799 (illus.) (entry by S C B[evan]).

Royal Armouries, Royal Armouries Museum [souvenir guide], Royal Armouries, Leeds, 2000, p. 23 (illus., hilt and base of blade only; printed back to front).

L Southwick, London silver-hilted swords, their makers, suppliers and allied traders, with directory, Leeds, Royal Armouries, 2001, pl. 2 (hilt and base of blade only) - 'Almost certainly from a royal London workshop, about 1600-15'.

Royal Armouries, Royal Armouries Museum [Leeds]. Souvenir guide, Royal Armouries, Leeds etc. [2006], p. (hilt and base of blade, no caption or inv. no.).

C. Paggiarino, The Royal Armouries, masterpieces of medieval and renaissance arms and armour, Milan, 2011 volume 2


A sword with a very similar hilt is shown in the portrait of Sir John Aylmer of Revesby, Lincolnshire, dated 1615, offered for sale at Christie's (London), sale of 'British Pictures 1500-1850', 10 June 2003, lot 4 (see catalogue entry and colour photograph on inv. file). For further comparanda see Norman 1980 where the latter portrait is described simply as 'a member of the Aylmer family'. An undated report of XRF analysis is in ther Tuyped Inventory (p-copy on inv. file). An X-ray of the half of the hilt nearest the pommel, done at the V & A in or before 1983, was passed to David Starley, November 2007, for safe storage and was assigned the ref. Job Code AM 2072 (see report by DS on inv. file).