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A fine Scottish West Highland Ribbon Hilt, sometimes called “Beaked Neb”, broad sword, dating to the middle to late periods the 17th century. These swords are often associated with Scottish Highlanders in the Civil War, Covenanting and early Jacobite times in Scotland. The sword has a particularly pleasing profile, with a well formed and rounded hilt mounted with a tapering blade. This sword has seen a lot of use during its time.
The sword has a characteristic hilt formed from wide flat iron bars forged together, and decorated with cut grooves and lines, plus a distinct “beak” to the front formed from the convergence of the main frontal guard bars. The upper terminals of the guard arms are forged into a crescent of iron which fits into a groove extending most of the way around the pommel just below its middle. The pommel has an integrally raised small button. The grip is of wood and spirally grooved, lacking its cover and binding but retaining its old leather liner.
The double-edged blade is of gently tapering form and of flattened lenticular section for most of its length. A short ricasso extends from the hilt from between which two fullers of 7 inches (18 cm) length run in parallel down the blade on either side. The appearance of the fullers is complemented by an incised line cut along the middle ridge between them and to the right and left respectively of each. On both sides the letters “ANDRIA” are incised in the upper fuller when the blade is viewed horizontally with the hilt to the left, and “FERARA” in the fuller beneath, each group of letters flanked by quatrefoils of dots. Beyond the fullers on either side, where the incised lines terminate, an armourers mark in the form of a stylised cross is present. The blade was most likely made in Solingen.
The hilt retains its shape and is in good order. This condition is unusual for ribbon hilts which are often damaged and corroded through in places when offered for sale. This sword exhibits blackened age staining in patches.
The only hitherto known portrait depicting such a sword is that of Lord Mungo Murray by John Michael Wright, circa 1670, and he is shown armed with a contemporary dag, dirk and long gun. His sword hilt is handsomely gilded. For a further reference work on ribbon hilt evolution see “British Basket-Hilted Swords” by Cyril Mazansky (Boydell Press 2005) pages 69 to 73.
The overall length of the sword is 39.25 inches (just under 100 cm) and the blade 33.5 inches (85 cm).