C17th English Military Broadsword with Coptic Script.

George Woodruff
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C17th English Military Broadsword with Coptic Script.

Post by George Woodruff » Wed Apr 17, 2019 10:24 am

I need your help with the markings on an English brass-hilted Officer’s Broadsword of about 1680.

The un-fullered blade is probably German but has no Maker’s Marks. It is deeply etched on one side with a Half Moon, A Seven-pointed Star and an arm with a sword appearing from a cloud; on the other side there are two rows of some type of Coptic Script. This etching looks C18th.

Towards the tip the whole is lightly etched with Celtic scrollwork and a 16-pointed star with a human face in the centre. This etching looks early C19th.

I do not think the symbols are Masonic, but they may belong to another Society.

Does anyone have any ideas?
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Richard
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Re: C17th English Military Broadsword with Coptic Script.

Post by Richard » Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:39 am

Hi George

I'm afraid I do not have any answers but here are a couple of random thoughts:

The hilt is similar (but not identical) to a sword in the Royal Armouries (IX-1243) which said to be from the reign of George II (1727-60). The blade of that sword is by Iohannes Brach (or Broch) of Solingen (European Swords and Daggers in the Tower of London, HMSO 1975).

The lettering on the blade does not appear (to me at least) to be Coptic script. Rather it looks like some sort of runic code. If I had to guess, I would say a prayer to protect the bearer from harm or something similar.

The other markings you describe appear consistent with Solingen made blades from the 18th century which often contained supposed magical, astrological or oriental symbols again designed to protect the bearer.

Not much help I'm afraid if you are looking to pinpoint date, maker or country precisely ...

Richard

George Woodruff
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Re: C17th English Military Broadsword with Coptic Script.

Post by George Woodruff » Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:44 pm

Dear Richard,

That is very helpful. I will look at the sword in the Royal Armouries (IX-1243).

The deeper etching looks part of the sword at manufacture and so could be the Solingen markings.

I will investigate runic codes - but I rather need Alan Turing!

Thank you,

George

Bryce
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Re: C17th English Military Broadsword with Coptic Script.

Post by Bryce » Wed Apr 17, 2019 10:43 pm

G'day George,
The two parallel rows of figures also resemble something called "horizontal square script", which has an Asian basis. Not sure how it would appear on a European blade though. There is also the chance that the figures may be a "made up" language designed to look mystical like this later example.
Cheers,
Bryce
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Will
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Re: C17th English Military Broadsword with Coptic Script.

Post by Will » Thu Apr 18, 2019 5:53 am

I think the figures are too precise just to be decoration, at least lets hope. The figures do not appear random to me.

Chris A
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Re: C17th English Military Broadsword with Coptic Script.

Post by Chris A » Thu Apr 18, 2019 5:13 pm

George,
I agree with your date of 1689/90. Does your sword have any decoration on the shells ? A coat of arms perhaps.

Chris.

George Woodruff
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Re: C17th English Military Broadsword with Coptic Script.

Post by George Woodruff » Thu Apr 18, 2019 11:06 pm

Thank you all.

The inside of the shell guard has Cupid riding a lion and on the outside there is Mary holding the Crucified Christ, a Catholic Image on an English Late C17th Military Broadsword which is interesting. It could have been made for an officer who supported James Stuart the Old Pretender, the Runic message would explain all.. if only we could translate it!

An aside; the cast brass hilt appears to have been a Flemish fashion brought back to England after the Restoration. There had been little importation of cast brass hilts during the English Civil Wars as domestic manufacturers actively discouraged it.

Charles II's eight years exile brought contemporary Low Country fashion to England on his return, in portraiture, fashion and architecture but also in things which we now see as peculiarly English such as funerary art. Charles II formed the First Regiment of Foot Guards in Bruges in 1656 and his experience in Flanders set English Military Fashion for the next 200 years. I would suggest the Flemish Brass hilt is the basis of the Royal Horse Guards, 1788 Sword, the Infantry Officer 1796 Pattern Sword and maybe the 1822 Gothic Hilt but that the Honeysuckle Hilt breaks this tradition and is
something older, purer and uniquely English.

I am very grateful for your comments. George

Will
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Re: C17th English Military Broadsword with Coptic Script.

Post by Will » Wed Apr 24, 2019 12:30 am

George I was looking through some references today and your sword does look like an early Lifeguards example.

George Woodruff
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Re: C17th English Military Broadsword with Coptic Script.

Post by George Woodruff » Sat Apr 27, 2019 9:20 pm

Dear Will,

Can you dig out an image of an Early Life Guards Hilt? It would interest me because we have a house in Bruges and I am friendly with a couple of the members of the Archer's Guild here whose forebears hosted the formation of the 1st Foot Guards.

Thank you,
George

Will
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Re: C17th English Military Broadsword with Coptic Script.

Post by Will » Sat Apr 27, 2019 10:15 pm

Charles Martyn's book The British Cavalry Sword illustrates one on page 33, 34.https://books.google.ca/books?id=XdKXAw ... yn&f=false

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