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A functional and robust “Irish” basket hilted sword dating to circa 1620 in exceptionally well preserved condition with its original leather liner and grip. The sword is a rare survivor with its original dark brown patina present and undisturbed over all its parts. The sword is mounted with a backsword blade which retains its original horseman’s length of 35.5 inches (90 cm).
From circa 1600 onwards English sources refer to this hilt type as “Irische” (Irish). From the English perspective the term relates to the Gaelic speaking region which includes both Ireland and Scotland. English armourers seem to have developed this style of hilt from the Scottish basket hilted forms which appeared from the late 16th century.
The basket guard is in original solid condition and formed from thick flattened bars of “ribbon” type. The design consists of a knuckle bow which extends from the cross guard front and is secured to the front of the pommel with a large screw. The side guards rise from the cross guard towards the pommel sides. Below, the frontal loop guard bars are a downward continuation of the side guard bars which protrude and curl forwards to join the base of the knuckle bow at the front quillon terminal.
To the front, in the spaces between the knuckle bow and side guard bars, two saltire bars are attached with small rounded guard plates in the middle. To the rear, two secondary guard bars curve upwards from the rear quillon to attach to the side guard bars near the pommel. Between these at the base, merlons have been attached to strengthen the structure. The large globular pommel has an integral button filed with a waist around its middle. The grip is formed from a core of hardwood covered with leather, now with a rich dark brown patina. The original thick leather liner is also present consisting of stitched parts moulded into the shape of the hilt.
The single edged blade is of late 16th or early 17th century date. It has a short ricasso and four narrow fullers either side incised in a stacked manner beneath the blunt back edge for two thirds of the blade length. The blade gently tapers to its tip and has a deeply incised mark of convex crescents facing each other separated by a “bow tie” mark and surrounded with trefoils of dots (probably a Solingen mark). The blade tip is of rounded form giving the sword an effective backstroke slashing capability to complement the frontal cutting edge of the blade. The overall length of the sword is 41 inches (104 cm).
For further examples of the “Irische” hilt sword type see “British Military swords 1600 to 1660”, Stuart C Mowbray, Mowbray Publishers, 2013, pages 110 to 126.