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A Very Fine Scottish Basket Hilted Sword dating to 1720 to 1740

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Price: £8,500

Ref: 024.20

Item Description

A very fine Scottish basket hilted sword made during the years which span  the failed Jacobite Rebellions of 1715, 1719 and 1745. It represents the work of the Scottish armourer and hilt maker at its best. The hilt is forged from thick pieces of iron in a symmetrical and pleasing form with the filed grooves, frets and pierced designs all executed in an artistic and deliberate manner. The hilt retains its attractive contours and its original grip and liner. The robust blade complements the hilt to create a well balanced and attractive sword.

The structural guard bars of the hilt are forged in thick rectangular section and decorated with longitudinal flutes formed with fine shallow filed grooves along the middle of each bar on the outside. The main and secondary guard panels are filed with delicate frets and merlons to the edges, incised with line designs and pierced with patterns of circles and triangles.

The conical pommel has a similarly shaped button filed with a groove around its circumference just beneath its flattened top. Three sets of lines radiate from the button, formed as a wide middle groove, similar in width to the grooves on the outside of the structural guard bars, flanked with thinner incised lines. The spaces between these lines are decorated with upwardly convex crescents formed in the same way.

The tops of the guard arms fit into a pronounced chiselled groove which extends for the full circumference of the pommel just below its middle. The spirally grooved wooden grip is covered with shagreen and bound with roped copper wire, a thicker central twist flanked by two of thinner manufacture.  Silver ferrules with crescent shaped convex edges, decorated with raised  bands and enhanced with rows of dots are mounted top and bottom of the grip. The hilt retains its shaped leather liner covered with red velvet to the outside and joined with a blue silken hem.

The high quality single edged tapering blade has a pronounced fuller extending from the hilt for most of its length either side underneath the spine to a distance 9 inches (23 cm) from the tip after which it becomes double edged. A second fuller of equal depth and width commences at a distance of 7 inches from the hilt and terminates 6 inches from the tip. A pronounced ricasso is present which extends from the hilt for just over 1.5 inches (4 cm) after which the sharp cutting edge commences. The blade length is just under 33.25 inches (84.5 cm) and the overall length of the sword is 39.5 inches (100 cm).

Some Scottish basket hilted swords are stamped with the initials of the maker. The practice seems to have emerged in Glasgow in the later 17th century and continued until traditional Scottish sword making disappeared after the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. Armourers that worked in other towns copied the practice, particularly in Stirling. Although this sword is not marked by a maker, the style of its well executed hilt indicates that it was made in Stirling.

The condition of the metal is very good all over the sword is very good. The original surface sheen of the metal is retained and there is little damage from rust other than minor small blackened age related stains in places as the photographs show. The sword is firm in hand.

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