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Peter Mustonen




Location: Finland
Joined: 01 Jan 2009

Posts: 27

PostPosted: Wed 23 Sep, 2015 2:38 pm    Post subject: Odd ball sword but rare.         Reply with quote

Any other known examples, any dateable pieces, any other pieces with scabbard. Open discussion.

Sword is Dalmatian (Venetian region). Blade c. 1350-1450 shortened probably on both ends. Scabbard reminds those from schiavonas.



Cheers. Ptr



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Mark Lewis





Joined: 19 Apr 2014

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 359

PostPosted: Thu 24 Sep, 2015 3:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Peter, this is an example of a distinctive Balkan style of hilt, other examples can be found in museums in various countries in the region. I've attached several that also still have a scabbard; there are others in Belgrade, Sarajevo, etc.

I'm not sure if it can be attributed to a particular nationality... I have seen these swords identified as Dalmatian (native, not Venetian), Albanian, Bosnian... Most are dated a bit later, into the early 16th century; Christie's sold one they dated to the 17th. Of course older blades may have been rehilted and reused.

Budapest, Hungary:
Sofia, Bulgaria:
Vrsac, Serbia:
unknown location:
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Zimke Zlovoljni




Location: Serbia
Joined: 11 May 2010

Posts: 2

PostPosted: Thu 24 Sep, 2015 11:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Peter, as Mark said that should indeed follow swords from Western Balkan, most finds come from Serbia and Bosnia with one example from Bulgaria. But hold your hopes, while blade and scabbard could be original, crossguard, hilt and pommel really look like poorly executed modern period reconstruction, although I'd like to be convinced otherwise. Owner or seller in my opinion probably tried to achieve pronounced knob style of pommel commonly seen in late 15th and 16th century schiavona swords from Western Balkan and less ornate Venetian copies of those pommels style seen in 16th and 17th century, unlike to shallow knob styled pommels of early to mid 15th century. While crossguard copies the shape of sword from Bosnia(unknown location) shown in this picture, number 6
http://take.ms/e3Wlx

Take a look at this two examples, on the left, late 15th-16th century sword from Serbia-Vrsac, which shows pronounced knob style of bronze pommel, and on the right sword from Serbia-Belgrade with transitional shallow knob styled pommel which derived from the general shape of late 14th century "Serbian sword", predecessor of schivaona (more on that can be found in excellent book by leading expert in this kind of swords Marko Aleksic; "Mediaeval swords from southeastern Europe"):
http://take.ms/0JIQF


Developed form of this pommel can be seen not only in bronze, but also in steel/iron variants like this example from Serbia-Belgrade (there are more, no need to post additional pictures):
http://take.ms/78moU

Another surviving scabbard has been found in Serbia-Uzice:
http://take.ms/sjw1h

And in Bulgaria-Sofia, Mark posted it already, so here is only one photo:
http://take.ms/rsYvL

Another sword from Bosnia, listed as Dalmatian sword was sold at auction by Faganarms, Inc.
http://take.ms/QQ3NW

Sword Mark listed as unknown location is from Bosnia-Foca.

One characteristic for all of this swords is U shaped crossguard, like this examples from Bosnia-Sarajevo
http://take.ms/NKrDu

Bosnia-Pocitelj
http://take.ms/SdDzw

Serbia-Belgrade
http://take.ms/PtGdY

There are plenty more examples, no need to post them all since we are focusing here on developed knob styled bronze pommels. Hope that I helped a bit in solving your mystery.

Best regards.
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Peter Mustonen




Location: Finland
Joined: 01 Jan 2009

Posts: 27

PostPosted: Sat 26 Sep, 2015 3:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi guys.

Thank you for the good pictures and information. The sword was not a mystery for me as I knew the manufacturing and using area to be Bosnian/ balkan. Some of these pictures I have in my library but not all, so thank you for the added information.
I was thinking that these swords must be related to schiavonas because of the similarities. And yes pommel form or maybe these cross guards would give the guidelines for development.

Its very easy to throw some kind of dates for the pieces like Christie's do, but is there any good documentation of these swords in paintings or sculpture? That would give the guidelines for dating.

What comes to my sword Zimke, it is very original exception of left quillon (the better looking) which was replaced and would need some refinement in shape. When you see the un artificial patination, unopened pommel and general way how it looks and was made there is no doubt about originality. ( also one thing have to keep in mind, why would somebody use a good medieval blade to use it for very ugly almost unknown balcan hilt when He could make a very good fully medieval German sword worth a real money. Laughing Out Loud ) All tough I have to admit that quality of the sword is awful but everything was there from the beginning.
Interesting that upper plate connected to cross guard was stamped, even it looks more like cast.

Your picture of the drawing was the first one to show similar tips on crossguards. usualy they tend to be those almond or drop shapes.
Pommel is made in two halves and I think it resembles mostly the first development of this style. Personally I would had dated it to 16th century but who knows if it was made closer to the period of the blade.
There is also one basic example in Bob Hales book if I remember right. Very interesting that this similar shape of the cross guard was also used by early moorish sword makers.

Sword appeared in Austria and there was plenty of 16th century furniture and few pieces of armour sold from the same provenance.

Regards. Peter... and again thank you. Your information was very vast in this strange subject unknown to many collectors.
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Mark Lewis





Joined: 19 Apr 2014

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 359

PostPosted: Mon 28 Sep, 2015 8:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Mustonen wrote:
I was thinking that these swords must be related to schiavonas because of the similarities. And yes pommel form or maybe these cross guards would give the guidelines for development.

Its very easy to throw some kind of dates for the pieces like Christie's do, but is there any good documentation of these swords in paintings or sculpture? That would give the guidelines for dating.

I do not have any more definite information re. dating... there does definitely seem to be a link with the later Schiavonas through the pommel form. I think there is also a possible link with the earlier (or contemporary?) "spadas Schiavonescas" attributed to Slavic mercenaries in Venetian service.

Specifically, similar maker's marks appear on some of the Balkan swords (including the ones from Pocitelj, and sold by Faganarms), the Slavic-Venetian swords, and also on other swords of presumably Italian(?) manufacture from the Alexandria Armoury. Hermann Historica identifies the mark on a Venetian example as a "Brescian eye"... I haven't found a better reference for this term and attribution. Does your sword have any visible maker's marks?

Incidentally, I think the sword sold by Faganarms is (or was) in the possession of Cornelis Tromp, who posts here from time to time...
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Luka Trkanjec




Location: Zagreb, Croatia
Joined: 19 May 2015

Posts: 5

PostPosted: Tue 13 Oct, 2015 4:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Mustonen wrote:

Its very easy to throw some kind of dates for the pieces like Christie's do, but is there any good documentation of these swords in paintings or sculpture? That would give the guidelines for dating.


Dear Peter,

There is a recent article by Misrad Sijaric, an archaeologist of Bosnian national museum, which deals exactly with dating of these types of swords. Unfortunately, it isn't written in English, so I'll try my best to give you a brief summary here:

There are two sources from the medieval archives of Republic of Ragusa (modern day city of Dubrovnik), from to the years 1419. and 1427. respectively, that mention a special type of "Bosnian sword" (spada de Bosna, enses Bossinenses). There is also a couple of contracts from 1412. and 1414., in which a certain Bosnian blacksmith struck a deal with a sword-smith in Ragusa, to forge for him 200 (!) sword blades, specifically described as having "three or four fullers." Now that pretty much describes the blades of most of these surviving Bosnian swords, as you can see in pictures from Zimke's post. Finally, there is a missal commissioned in 1404. by a Bosnian overlord, duke Hrvoje Vukčić Hrvatinić, which has a picture with his crest, that displays a very similar sword (you can actually see this on his wikipedia article).

Based on all this, it can be assumed that these types of swords - with three- or four-fullered blades, horseshoe shaped guards, and octagonal pommels - were produced in the medieval kingdom of Bosnia during the first half of 15th century - apparently in significant quantities, and probably exported to neighboring lands. However, since Bosnia fell to the Turks by 1463., I think it is safe to assume that the production of such swords ended by that time, and the existing examples were either taken as spoils to the east, or found their way with whatever refugees flocked Italy, Hungary and Austria.

best regards,
Luka
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