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Christian deXavier





Joined: 31 Mar 2018

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Thu 05 Apr, 2018 7:38 am    Post subject: English billhook buttspike         Reply with quote

Does anyone have primary source evidence of the English using a buttspike on their billhooks during the Elizabethan era? Thanks in advance.
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Bob Burgess




Location: Wiltshire UK
Joined: 30 May 2011

Posts: 21

PostPosted: Tue 05 Mar, 2019 10:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Do you mean a spike at the base of the handle of a bill or other pole arm, do are you referring to the many variants of agricultural billhooks with a spike or hook on the blade???
Edge tool collector and historian, with a special interest in the billhook...
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Benjamin H. Abbott




Location: New Mexico
Joined: 28 Feb 2004

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Posts: 1,207

PostPosted: Tue 05 Mar, 2019 10:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Giacomo di Grassi encouraged having a buttspike on bills/halberds and his manual appeared in English translation in 1594.

Sir John Smythe mentioned the following in 1594 treatise: "such battleaxes, or halbardes for the squadron should not be aboue 6. foot long from the top of the points to the lowest end of the little iron hoopes commonly called the Feralles [ferrules?] of their staues." It's unclear from the text if these ferrules were pointed, but we know that some were.

George Silver has a clear buttspike on his short staff in his manual's illustration.

Between those texts and the long English history of the pollaxe, which often featured a buttspike, I imagine some English bills had them in the Elizabethan era.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Christian deXavier





Joined: 31 Mar 2018

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed 06 Mar, 2019 8:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bob, I'm talking about a cap on the base of the handle that would have been spiked.

Benjamin, do you have a copy of the Silver illustration?
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Benjamin H. Abbott




Location: New Mexico
Joined: 28 Feb 2004

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,207

PostPosted: Wed 06 Mar, 2019 11:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's this image. There's a spike on each end of the staff.
Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Christian deXavier





Joined: 31 Mar 2018

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Thu 07 Mar, 2019 5:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hmm, perhaps I'm being too picky, but that isn't the "brownbill" or "blackbill" that Silver describes elsewhere in his work, but thank you.
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