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Mid 17th century English Mortuary Sword mounted with a broad “ANDRIA FERARA” blade

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Price: £3,500

Ref: 05.20

Item Description

A good English “Mortuary” hilted broad sword dating to the middle part of the 17th century. The iron and steel parts exhibit an appealing and untouched patination which has an attractive sheen. The sword is mounted with a fine and broad German made blade.

The hilt is of typical form consisting of a broad saucer-shaped guard plate from which three main guard bars extend upwards with the flattened terminals screwed to the pommel. The spaces between these bars are infilled with subsidiary bars and scrolls. The guard plate is covered with chiselled decoration to the outside consisting of panels of foliage and ferns plus two busts either side of the blade.  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 a pronounced button and flared neck.

The baluster-shaped wooden grip is bound with shagreen and the hilt also retains its leather liner. The grip sits on an iron flanged plug mounted onto the inside of the guard plate from which two langets extend through the tang aperture to flank the blade either side for a short distance from the hilt.

The impressive, broad, double edged blade is 34.5 inches (87.5 cm) long, has a short ricasso and gently tapers to its rounded tip. A broad fuller extends from the hilt along the middle for 8.5 inches (21.5 cm) inside which the armourers name “ANDRIA FERARA” is stamped on each side, the words separated by crescents and “X” marks, and flanked by further “X” marks. Just after the fuller terminates a latten inlaid orb and cross mark is present on each side. The blade was most likely made in Solingen. Overall the sword measures 41 inches (just over 104 cm) long.

For a further discussion on Mortuary swords see Cyril Mazansky, British Basket Hilted Swords, Boydell Press 2005, Chapter 11, pages 233 to 280. Our sword hilt corresponds to Mazansky’s Type ii and the engraving is similar to sword reference IICii, in the National Army Museum,  illustrated on page 257. The sword hilt is also particularly like that illustrated on page 217 of “British Military Swords”, Stuart C Mowbray, Mowbray Publishing, 2013, in the York Castle Museum Collection. The similarities between the engraved patterns to the hilts of these swords may indicate a sub-group within the overall “Mortuary” category, or the signature design of a particular maker or workshop, now unknown.

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