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Basket Hilted Scottish Broadsword with Talismanic Date on Blade Circa 1735

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Price: £4,850

Ref: 28.15

Item Description

An attractive Scottish basket-hilted sword dating to the end of the first quarter of the 18th century. The form and construction of the hilt is very similar to some┬ámade by John Allan of Stirling, one of which is illustrated in a paper published in the Spring 2018 edition of the London Park Lane Arms Fair, entitled “Poetry in Steel – The Earliest Swords of Walter Allan of Stirling” by The Baron of Earlshall, figs 9 and 10, described as “Conventional basket-hilted sword by John Allan the elder of Stirling c. 1725-40”.

The guard resembles other conventional hilts marked with the initials of John Allan the elder, and, although bearing no makers marks, this sword is of similarly unpretentious fine form (John Allan the elder was one of the most accomplished Scottish sword-makers of the 18th century and was admitted burgess in Stirling in 1714, founded the “Allan” family business of sword-makers, and worked there probably until the 1740s).

The basket guard consists of a framework of structural guard bars which are rounded at the edges. The main and secondary guard panels are filed with delicate frets and merlons to the edges and pierced with patterns of finely formed triangles and circles. The two main guard panels are also decorated with incised lines towards the edges of each plate. The narrower secondary guard panels at the front and sides are decorated with a vertical central shallow flute which passes along the middle of each panel flanked by thinner incised lines.

The cone-shaped pommel has a small button on top and is decorated with three equally spaced grooves which radiate downwards from the pommel button, each flanked with narrower incised lines, similar to the grooves on the secondary panels. These are interspersed with diagonal “V” shaped grooves applied in a similar manner. The upper arms of the basket fit into a pronounced groove which extends for the full circumference around the pommel just below its middle to secure the hilt. These arms near the pommel are flattened and decorated with a bold vertical central groove similar to those described on the pommel and the secondary guard plates plus decorative cut crescents and merlons on each side – a feature apparent on the higher quality hilts of the time made by makers like John Allan the elder.

The spirally grooved wooden grip is covered with shagreen and bound with blackened silver ribbon and wire and decorative silver ferrules are applied to the top and bottom. The hilt retains a liner made of stitched red cloth to the outside and a leather lining stitched to the inside.

The German (most likely made in Solingen) double-edged “broad-sword” blade gently tapers to its tip. It has a short ricasso and a pronounced broad central fuller which extends from the hilt down the centre of the blade for 7 inches (18 cm) after which the blade is of lenticular section. On one side the middle fuller is marked with the numerals “1414”, each number separated by designs of quatrefoils of dots. The reverse side is similar, the numerals now too feint to see. A running wolf is cut into the blade either side just after the fuller terminal.

The sword is in uncleaned good condition with a consistent salt and pepper patination all over the metal parts. The blade is 31.75 inches long (81 cm) and overall just under 37.5 inches (95 cm).

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