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Dagger

Dagger

  • Place of origin:

    Dresden (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1600 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Blued steel

  • Credit Line:

    Francis Mallet Bequest

  • Museum number:

    M.63-1947

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This dagger comes from the armoury of the Electors of Saxony and equipped a member of their bodyguard. It would have once been twinned with a rapier, a long sword with a slender blade and elaborate hilt. The rapier and dagger combination was primarily designed for self-defence using fighting techniques developed in Italy that are the ancestors of modern fencing. The sixteenth-century rapier was both a slashing and stabbing weapon. Its accompanying dagger was used in the left hand for parrying and stabbing in close. The stiff slender blades of both were designed to pierce clothing rather than armour.

The raper and dagger were also male fashion accessories worn at court, in procession and about town.They projected an image of honour based on social standing and, if necessary, defended it in one-on-one combat.

Physical description

Dagger with hilt of blued steel with mushroom-shaped pommel of octagonal section characteristic of Dresden, the grip bound with blued steel wire, large quillons (crossbars) widening towards the tip and turned down and in towards the blade, single ring-guard filled with a pierced panel of steel (stichblatt). The blade is very broad at the hilt narrowing to a sharp point.

Place of Origin

Dresden (made)

Date

ca. 1600 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Blued steel

Dimensions

Length: 48.2 cm, Width: 16.5 cm, Depth: 7.6 cm

Object history note

This dagger is one of a series that formerly equipped the electoral guard at Dresden in Saxony. It was sold by the Historisches Museum of Dresden in 1927 and was probably lot 49 in the sale on 5th May 1927 held by Lepke in Berlin. It was acquired by the Museum in 1947 as part of the Francis Mallett Bequest.

Historical significance: This dagger is one of a series that formerly equipped the electoral guard at Dresden in Saxony.

Historical context note

This dagger would have once been twinned with a rapier, a long sword with a slender blade and elaborate hilt. The rapier and dagger combination was primarily designed for self-defence using fighting techniques developed in Italy that are the ancestors of modern fencing. The sixteenth-century rapier was both a slashing and stabbing weapon. Its accompanying dagger was used in the left hand for parrying and stabbing in close. The stiff slender blades of both were designed to pierce clothing rather than armour.

The raper and dagger were also male fashion accessories worn at court, in procession and about town. They projected an image of honour based on social standing and, if necessary, defended it in one-on-one combat. The private duel was one consequence of the development of the rapier. In this sense, it is the epitome of the new sense of self fostered by the Renaissance. It was an emblem of personal vanity that settled disputes privately.

The conservative English defence expert, George Silver, felt a noble heritage of purpose-made war blades, clubs, flails and maces had been sacrificed at the altar of fashion as swords and daggers became faddish civilian accessories. ‘We like degenerate sonnes, have forsaken our forefathers vertues with their weapons.’

Descriptive line

Dagger with a blued steel hilt, twisted wire bound grip, and pierced oval guard, Saxony, late 16th century

Materials

Steel

Techniques

Bluing

Categories

Arms & Armour; Tools & Equipment; Fashion; Metalwork

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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