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Fine & Rare Late 16th Century South German Broad Sword of “Ambras” Type

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Price: £8,850

Ref: 013.17

Item Description

A fine, functional and elegant Tyrolean Broad Sword / Rapier dating to the end  of the 16th century mounted with a Toledo marked blade. A solid, and well proportioned weapon, presented in unusually fine and original condition. Swords of this rare type are present in the Ambras Castle Collection in Innsbruck, Austria, from where its name is derived.

The attractive hilt is formed from a central quillon block at the base of the grip, forged with triangular langets, which extend for a short distance along the ricasso on both sides. From the top of the block the front quillon is formed as a knuckle bow of flattened oval section which curls upwards towards the pommel and terminates in a slightly expanded, grooved, fishtail terminal. Opposite, a rear quillon of shorter length forms a wrist guard which curls downwards from the block with a similar terminal. Underneath, two convex bars curl downwards to terminate left and right of the ricasso in pas d’ane rings.

On the outside a robust and reinforced guard loop extends across the hilt and  converges with the pas d’ane rings which are strengthened with a crescent of iron from which two upwardly curved guard bars extend in parallel and also terminate in fishtails.  On the inner side a single thick bar extends from the block at the base of the frontal quillon and trifurcates into three rounded bars which attach to the bases of the pas d’ane rings.

The pommel is forged in slightly flattened ovoid form, with a circular collar at the base, and expands towards its top which is forged into a large fishtail terminal pierced for a wrist thong. The original grip is formed from a base of spirally grooved wood onto which alternate loops of straight and twisted copper wire has been wrapped and moulded into the grooves which are further finished with vertical lengths of twisted copper wire mounted at an angle to the binding.  Copper wire “Turks Heads” are mounted top and bottom of the grip.

The impressive double-edged blade is of sharp, stiffened, diamond section and tapers acutely to its reinforced point, indicating that the sword was intended for thrusting and stabbing, probably to penetrate the joins in plate armour and mail, as well as for cutting and slashing. From the hilt the ricasso extends for 2.25 inches (5.5 cm) and is decorated with incised lines. On one side a clearly punched armourers mark consisting of a stylised letter “T” with a lower case “o” above (indicating Toledo) in raised relief is present inside a shield.

The blade may have been manufactured by a Toledo trained smith working in one of the northern Italian territories under Spanish jurisdiction in the late 16th century, such as Milan, with access to nearby Germanic and Southern European markets further north. The sword is in exceptional condition. The overall length is 44.5 inches (113 cm) and the blade is 38.5 inches (97 cm).

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