XVI-XVIIcc Italian Stilettos - wear / suspension questions

my current hobby project (XVI-XVIIcc Italian Stiletto) is nearing completion. Hopefully I will be done with the stiletto this week, and ready to start on scabbard.
Just to show what type we are talking about, I attached a picture of a similar reproduction. Mine is different in details, but overall similar shape / size / construction (7-8" blade, 5" handle).

All I found after a lot of research on stiletto scabbards is that they are always as narrow as the blade (no wood lining). Either all-metal, or leather with metal chape and throat (which is what I will be doing).
The problem is none of the pictures of originals I found show the back side, so no means of suspension / attachment are visible.

The only period picture I found of this type being worn (in Bashford Dean's daggers) shows it at the small of the back, almost horizontal with handle to the right. Basically like most landsknecht or parrying daggers of the period. But those naturally have belt loops soldered to the back of the scabbard throat, perpendicular (or almost perpendicular) to the blade. On a narrow stiletto scabbard, there is just not enough width to fit one! Maybe the picture isn't accurate enough and the scabbard is actually stuck under the belt. Or shows a wider dagger with a similar handle.

I also read that stilettos may have been carried concealed (I imagine like under clothes, in boot top, stuck under belt, etc.). For this kind of carry, no attachment points would be necessary at all. But then maybe this applies more to the smaller all-metal stiletto type?

As to suspension by cord/thong, I don't think it would work at all as with their light blades stilettos would end up dangling handle down...

So, any thoughts on this matter?
Have you seen any stiletto scabbards from the back? Or can point me to any period artwork showing them worn?


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Heres a pic of one with a scabbard. It seems to have a slot for attachment...

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Thank you Mark, this is exactly what I was looking for!
Not at all what I was expecting to find, though. This scabbard is set up for a vertical carry on a narrow belt. I did consider this mode of carry and dismissed it as hopelessly inconvenient (the pommel would dig into your ribs, and the blade will get in the way when sitting down). But here we see it actually was done. Maybe if the belt was worn loose around your hips and stiletto positioned at the side, it would be enough to keep things comfortable?
Now if we could find some period artwork showing what it looked like...

Not necessarily worn on a belt... that slot could accommodate a strap that goes just about anywhere.. thigh... arm... calf... etc. You'll need sone text or artwork to figure that part out i guess
Renaissance clothes do not seem to allow for hiding a stiletto strapped to your leg anywhere, other than as I said in a boot top.
Arm also wouldn't work for a stiletto of this type, which is at least 12" long overall. By my measurement, you can strap only a very short knife to your forearm. Something like 8" overall, maybe 10" tops if you have very long arms.
The only way I can think of is to have a strap diagonally across your chest and over the right shoulder, with stiletto hanging from it under your left armpit vertically. Under the top layer of clothes, I mean.

Unfortunately, fun as it is, this will probably have to stay pure speculation. Anything carried concealed would by definition not show up in period artwork. Maybe this is why I can't find any stilettos pictured. Or, just because they were considered a "disreputable" weapon and avoided by painters for this reason?

BTW, I finished my stiletto yesterday. Will post separately but here is one picture attached.

Starting on the sheath tomorrow, will make it along the lines of the one in the picture you posted here.


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[ Download ]
I have a sort of different impression on stiletto's..especially the one's surviving from the period. To me..surviving ones look a bit too ?fancy? to be concealed ? They look like they were MEANT to be displayed openly ? I'd expect a stiletto that was meant to be a concealed weapon to be a lot plainer - minimal hilt furniture so it wouldn't easily get hung up on clothing ? Just my humble two cent's worth ?

I had the same thoughts about this type being too long and fancy for concealed carry. The other type of stiletto (smaller overall, all metal handle) seems optimized for it. But for some reason there are no stilettos found openly carried in period artwork (unlike say parrying daggers or landsknecht daggers, of which we see plenty).

Finished my reproduction stiletto and scabbard (posted at http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?p=328657#328657 ).
Experimented with carry options and pretty much confirmed what we discussed here. See the attached pictures (sorry for bad quality and non-period clothing):
- carry on a separate narrow belt worn relatively loose at the hip works, scabbard can swivel a little out of the way when sitting. And this was probably the most common carry, as these stilettos are a little too long and too nicely made/decorated to be dedicated concealed carry weapons.
- the one really comfortable concealed carry option that I found was suspended vertically under the armpit. If covered with some kind of jacket like garment, would be practically invisible.


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stiletto on belt [ Download ]

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stiletto under an armpit [ Download ]
I am resurrecting this thread as I just made my second stiletto, which is of a clearly "concealed carry" size (5" blade, 9" overall).
See https://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?p=342791#342791
This type would definitely have been carried in places like inside a sleeve, a boot top, or attached to a garter.
Which means to me that the usual scabbard suspension methods like a ring or loop wouldn't work very well. I imagine something like a clip that can be clipped on to a garter, boot edge, etc. may be more appropriate.
But I am drawing a complete blank on historic examples. My last hope is that someone here may help, just like the first time above!

Dear Alex,

I'm just going to be lazy, and say: Have you seen Tod's YouTube video about this? (Yes, it includes a stiletto.)

I hope it may prove helpful.



this is a very informative video but Tod's stiletto is the longer, "open carry" type which is intended to be carried on a belt. So not what I was looking for.

Off topic note on this video - with all respect to Tod's expertise, I believe he made a mistake about how the left hand daggers were carried. I conducted quite an extensive research on this subject at one point, in period artwork and other sources, and found that they were practically always carried on the back with the handle pointing to the right, NOT to the left (with the rapier on the left side, so I am not talking about lefties here). I know this sounds counter intuitive for a "left hand" weapon, but this is how it was. There was an interesting explanation of this in an article by Leonid Tarassuk (a fencer and research associate of the Met Museum).

Dear Alex,

In this video Tod shows several ways that cords or thongs on a knife sheath can be used to fix it in place, which I thought might help. But as you'll have noticed, it doesn't include a stiletto. (I made the error of trusting my memory without checking. The video that includes the stiletto is Tod's Who Wears Daggers?, which isn't as useful for suggesting ways of securing daggers. I apologize for the mistake.) In any case, I thought that the different thong arrangements might give you some ideas--long thongs that could wrap around the sheath several times to hold it in place, for example.

Personally, I don't believe that small stilettos were meant to be concealed. I think they were simply examples made in a smaller scale to suit the wearer's preference; or to match a particular proportion; or to imply subtlety and delicacy; or to demonstrate the maker's skill, as working at small scales is more difficult than at larger ones. You've talked about the expected lack of artistic evidence for concealed stilettos. Have you looked consistently at stilettos' size in art? I have not. But for my part, I'm not aware of any literary evidence from the period suggesting that weapons were commonly concealed. Anybody of sufficient social rank to get near likely assassination targets would also have been of a rank not just to be permitted to wear weapons openly, but to be expected to do so. The surprise is the attack, not the presence of a weapon. And street assaults by groups of thugs or by mobs also would not have called for concealed weapons. But evidence is lacking, and my own views on this shouldn't necessarily influence yours.

Indeed, I'm well aware that no iconographic source shows side-ring or other parrying daggers worn with their hilts on the wearers' left sides; they do, as far as I've been able to tell, always show over the right hips. If you posted your research here, it may well have helped to convince me of the fact. I've often thought about writing to Tod about that, but have been too lazy to compile the images to make the case.


Hi Mark,

the question of whether small stilettos were carried concealed (and if yes, how exactly) is of course mostly a matter of speculation in absence of solid historical documentation (which I was unable to find). But the ways of concealing them that I suggested earlier did not come from my imagination, they came from some arms and armor books written from late XIX to XX centuries. It is of course possible that those authors were mistaken, but I like to think they based their writings on some older period sources...

My research into how parrying daggers were carried wasn't really a kind of academic research worth publishing. I just went through about a dozen relevant books I own, lots of Internet searches, plus some paintings I saw and sometimes photographed in various museums. There must have been at least several dozen examples I found, all with handle at/above the right hip (with rapier on the left side). Maybe I have seen one exception somewhere, but can't remember for sure where. So not formal research by any means, but pretty conclusive in my view.


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