Object Title

Sword

Sword

Date

1810-1820

Object Number

IX.1418

Physical Description

Hilt: brass, appears to be cast in one piece with integral pommel, grip and cross guard.
Pommel: in the form of a cockerel's head with pronounced comb and wattles with the beak open. The neck has simulated plumage and gradually blends in to the plain grip.
Grip: formed as a plain extension of the neck of the cockerel, being approximately rectangular with slightly convex inner and outer faces and bevelled corners. It flares outward to meet the quillon block.
Crossguard: consisting of a central, rectangular quillon block, decorated on inner and outer faces with a lion mask and mane. Two quillons stem from the quillon block, having at their roots a circlet of acanthus leaves supporting an octagonal section stem surmounted by a finial in the form of a lion's head.
Blade: curved, single edged and having a single fuller each side commencing from the forte 16 mm below the guard and terminating 150 mm from the point. Each fuller has an etched panel of decoration extending 340 mm from the forte containing a variety of human and bestial forms and masks within scrolling foliage.

Dimensions

Dimensions: Overall length: 1080 mm (42.5 in), blade length: 910 mm (35.75 in) Weight: 1460 gm (52.2 oz)

Inscriptions and Marks

None visible.

Associations

Places France

Notes

cf IX.969 and IX.1258.
The hilt of this sword conforms with that of the sabre for infantry sappers in C. Ariès, 'Armes Blanches Militaires Françaises', 30 vols and index, 1966-1990, tome XVI fasc. 2, fig 5. However, there are none described with a blade of this nature and it can only be assumed that it is for an officer rather than an enlisted man.


The Sapper's sword originated in the surplus of the swords ordered for the Garde Constitutionelle du Roi, disbanded after the flight to Varennes in 1791. There were various types, all with cockerel head pommels, worn until the end of the second empire (1870) and revived by certain companies of firemen before 1939. Early hilts were often re-bladed and it is possible that this happened with IX.1418, although the hilt is after 1810. Since the blade is unmarked, it is likely that this sword is of the Garde Nationale rather than the army. See M. Bottet, 'Monographie de L'Arme Blanche', Paris, pp 18, 19.