Object Title

Sword

Sword

Date

1670-1699

Object Number

IX.188

Provenance

Not recorded in IBE or ffoulkes 1916; probably Tower arsenal.

Physical Description

Copper alloy ('brass') hilt. Frontally symmetrical hilt consisting of a roughly spherical pommel on a stand with button; knuckle-guard, branching at its lower end to form two short counter-guards each connecting with one of the oval shell guards. Short, lobed quillon at the rear. Two, very small langets extend down the blade from the base of the shells. Oval-sectioned, swollen grip (probably wood) bound with copper alloy fine twist and with a Turk's head ferrule of the same material at either end.


Much of the cast relief decoration is poorly defined, either through wear or a poor casting. A ring of radiating, stylized leaves surround the tang-button on the pommel. On both sides of the pommel and shell guards are two nude figures flanking a crowned lion's mask between lion and unicorn supporters. The left nude figure appears to be winged and to carry a bow (Cupid?); the right figure appears to have a single piece of drapery (Venus?). A plain moulding borders the outside of both shells with a clayx at its centre; acanthus foliage runs along the bases of both faces of both shells, each with a grotesque mask at the centre. The centre of the knuckle-guard is decorated on both sides with a single partially draped figure in a foliate frame with masks above and below, and the end has a flourish, possibly a stylized snail. The rear quillon terminal appears to have some poorly cast and now illegible decoration.


Broad two-edged blade with a shallow fuller which begins approx. 25 mm (1 in.) from th hilt and extends fro approx. 200 mm (8 in.). The blade is etched on both faces with foliage and flowers the date 168(?)7(?). The figures are very worn; on the inside only the first two digits are legible; the last two digits on the outside are not certain. All the etching is worn and on the inside only the first figure of the date is legible.


Condition: at November 1999: generally good; small vice mark on outside of blade near hilt; end of grip wire protrudes near pommel.

Dimensions

HiltDepth90mm
HiltWidth135mm
BladeLength33.7in
OverallLength40.5in

Associations

Places England

Bibliographic References

C. ffoulkes, Inventory and Survey of the Armouries of the Tower of London, London, 1916, vol. II, p. 286 - 'late 17th century'.

Notes

The shells and pommel of IX.188 are simlar to those of IX.191 and IX.7606. The shells are most similar to those of IX.191 but the latter lacks the deocration in the centre of the shells (the two nude figures etc). The decoration of the shells of IX.7606 is similar to IX.188 but hilt is of smaller proportions, having slightly smaller shells and a much shorter knuckle-guard. IX.7606 has a double knop (or calyx) in the centre of the knuckel guard in place of the human figure in a panel on IX.188. The knuckle-guard of IX.191 has a flattened calyx at this point.
A sword of similar proportions to IX.188 with the same decoration but with a cast copper alloy grip was with Peter Dale Ltd (London) in December 1997 (stock no.7085): the cast grip, decorated with abstract shapes, looked unfamiliar but was of the same colour as the rest of the hilt (PJL 5/12/1997).
The shells and pommels of all these swords were probably cast using the same or very similar mould stamps which suggests a common origin.
There are a number of swords of the same general type in the Royal Armouries; for another group with the same design on the shells and pommels, see entry (presently IBE) for IX.937.