Object Title

Dagger and sheath

Dagger and sheath



Object Number

X.214 A


Part of the residue of the estate of Thomas Newton.

Physical Description

Ballock dagger with hilt of wood of octagonal section, swelling towards the top, where it terminates in a brass button in the form of an octagonal dome. The opposite end terminates in two small, kidney-shaped swellings, the whole fastened over a gilt bowed washer by a brass conical nail through each swelling, the head missing from one nail. The edges of the washer are decorated with inscribed vertical lines, and there is a small proud vertical stud in the centre of each side.
The washer embraces the ricasso of the stiff, diamond-section blade. The ricasso is decorated with etched and gilt foliate patterns on a diagonally hatched ground within a double-incised line border, the upper and lower edges of the border expanded to accomodate a wave design except for one lower frame which includes the date 1620. The edges of the ricasso has double-incised diagonal line decoration. The first quarter of the blade is similarly decorated with foliate designs, there being two frames of designs on one of the sides and one on the other.
The leather sheath is of oval section, tapering slightly towards the tip, and bowed up on both sides at the mouth. On one side below the mouth a slim leather strap has been laterally inserted, for attachment to the belt. At the front the same area forms one of two embossed bands, each with a central strip of small punched lines. Two similar bands occur a third of the way down, and again towards the tip. Between these groups of bands, the sheath is decorated with running strips of punched dots, some large enough to have hatched interiors.
The tip of the blade is very slightly bent. The head of one of the nails on the hilt swelling is missing. On each side the wood of the hilt centrally between the swellings has a slight crack running a short way up from the washer. The sheath has a lateral split at the upper edge of the upper band of the group nearest the tip, the split running three-quarters of the way round the sheath. the tip of the sheath is damaged and the end missing. There is a split at the side of the mouth, and slight damage to the strap area.
cf. X.214 A but smaller and etched with a different mark.


Dimensions: Dagger: Overall length: 39.2 cm (15.4 in), Length of blade: 29 cm (11.4 in), Sheath: Overall length: 28.7 cm (11.3 in) Weight: Dagger: 0 lb 7 oz , Sheath: 0 lb 1 oz

Inscriptions and Marks

On the lower part of one side of the ricasso, in the frame, is inscribed the date: 1620.There may also be a second mark, like a simple Christian fish symbol, on the main design on this face of the ricasso.


Bibliographic References

Illustrated London News, 6 Oct. 1860, p. 321.

C. ffoulkes, 'Daggers attributed to Colonel Blood', Antiquaries Journal, VII(2), April 1927, pp. 139-40 and Pl. XXVII (fac. p. 139).

A.R. Dufty and A. Borg, European Swords and Daggers in the Tower of London, London, 1974, p. 35, Pl. 103b.

[A.] L. Thompson, Daggers and Bayonets. A History, Spellmount, Staplehurst, 1999, p. 46 (illus., left).


Traditionally the dagger of Colonel Blood (1618-1680) who attempted to steal the Crown Jewels in 1671. For further information on the provenance, see ffoulkes 1927 and papers and correspondence on the inventory file. The originals of a memorandum by Thomas Newton, a letter from the Royal Literary Fund to Charles ffoulkes of 1936 and the labels formerly attached to the daggers are kept as a separate archive (RAR.200; formerly I.20); copies are on the inv. file.