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English Civil War Period Mortuary Back Sword

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Price: £3,250

Ref: 018.16

Item Description

A fine English “Mortuary” hilted back sword dating to the middle part of the 17th century. The hilt is of typical form consisting of a broad, pierced and chiselled, dish-shaped guard plate from which three main guard bars extend with the flattened terminals screwed into the pommel. The spaces between these bars are infilled with subsidiary bars and scrolls. The workmanship is a fine example of the English Civil War period armourers craft.

The main guard plate is covered with uniquely and boldly chiselled and pierced decoration to the outside, consisting of four panels with a bust in each, the spaces imbetween, with images of beasts. These features and the style of engraving represent a sub-group of design type within the “Mortuary” category, the work of a particular armourer or workshop, now unknown. A  member of this group, with identically engraved guard, is illustrated on pages 222 and 223 of “British Military Swords”, Stuart C Mowbray, Mowbray Publishing, 2013, in the York Castle Museum Collection.

The guard bars and pommel are decorated with chiselled lines in a fern-like manner. A curled wrist guard is fashioned from the rear of the plate. The pommel is globular in shape and has an integral button and a pronounced flared neck. The wooden grip is wrapped with wire. The grip sits on an iron flanged plug mounted onto the inside of the guard plate and from which two langets extend through the tang aperture to flank the blade either side of the ricasso for a short distance from the hilt.

The blade is single edged for most of its length. It has a short ricasso and shallow fullers. Armourers marks are stamped and incised on the blade a short distance from the hilt consisting of star shapes and two pairs of facing crescents either side. The blade is age stained in places and in general the sword is in fine condition. The blade is just under 33.75 inches long (85.5 cm) and overall the sword measures 40 inches (101.5 cm) long.

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