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An English Mortuary Sword of Early Type dating to circa 1630 to 1650

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Price: £2,875

Ref: 42121059

Item Description

A sturdy English “Mortuary” hilted sword dating to the second quarter of the 17th century and the beginning of the Civil War periods. The sword is in good  condition and retains its original grip and leather liner. The hilt has the typical profile of the English Mortuary sword and appears to be of early form. The rear guard bar more usually found on fully developed Mortuary hilts is absent and the chiselled decoration is of simple linear form indicating an earlier date than those with more evolved flamboyant decoration.

The hilt is of typical form consisting of a broad saucer-shaped guard plate, with a raised front, from which the knuckle bow and side guard bars extend upwards ending with flattened angled terminals pierced and screwed into the pommel. Two downward facing bars emanate from each side of the knuckle bow which connect with the base of each side guard bar to add strength to the structure.

The guard plate is chiselled with simple linear decoration to the outside. A chiselled rectangle surrounds the tang aperture from which straight grooves radiate to the edge of the guard plate. The guard bars are left plain whilst the pommel is chiselled with branches with crescents between. The pommel is globular in shape and has an integral button  on top and a pronounced flared neck beneath.

The spirally grooved cylindrical wooden grip now lacks its wire binding and retains one of its “Turks Head” roped  copper wire washers at the base. Typically 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 double-edged lenticular section blade tapers to its rounded tip. Two short fullers run in parallel, each close to the blade edge, for a short distance near the hilt. Between the fullers on one side is stamped “A N D R E A” and on the other “F A R A R A”, with stamps representing a male bust punched between pairs of these letters. The blade was probably made in Solingen in Germany.  Huge numbers of blades were imported into Britain during the English Civil War period to fulfill demand for swords on both Royalist and Parliamentarian sides.

The mark “ANDREA FARARA” appears on many of these blades and was regarded as a mark of quality in Britain but probably spuriously applied by  German blade makers. The original Andrea Farara was an Italian  blade maker working in the late 16th century. The blade is just over 29.5 inches long (75cm) and overall the sword measures 35.5 inches (90 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, and also Stuart C Mowbray, “British Military Swords”, Mowbray Publishing, 2013,  pages 178 to 225.

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