Italian swordsmith master
Northern Italy, 16th century
Material: Forged iron
Size: 62 cm long
Review by Gherardo Turchi
Ancient left hand dagger, known as “Squarciona” in the field of ancient arms; it was made in one of those flourishing workshops of gunsmith masters working in Northern Italy in the XVI century.
Left hand daggers, during the XVI and XVII centuries, had a place of primary importance in the equipment of military garrisons, as well as among civilians who used to travel armed. In fact, the left hand was not only a weapon used in the war field to face the enemies, both on the attack than in defense, thus leaving more chances to hit the sword, but it was also considered a multi-tasking weapon, being a useful tool for hunting, as well as for daily use inside military camps.
During the sixteenth century, many swordsmiths ventured into the making of these weapons, inspired by those made in previous centuries, adding some useful modern tricks. The so-called “Squarcione”, were those newly designed weapons that combined, starting from the mid-sixteenth century, the usefulness of the “Squarcina” dagger of the late fifteenth century, with the length of the dagger used since 1550/70.
The typical broad blade of the weapon, designed to cut the chain mail, merges in this period with the length of a weapon hitting not only people on foot, but also knights still in the saddle.
The daggers “squarcione” were made then, following this new way of conceiving the fight; they were weapons of double utility, both for close combat than for short-medium distance strokes. This weapon belongs to the Italian production of the second half – 16th century.
With a broad blade, equipped with a blood draining that starts from the tang and lengthens along the first three quarters, the weapon has an equipment apparently simple, but which gets extremely innovative features for that time. Its trigger guards in fact curved downwards, a characteristic that allowed blocking temporarily the opposing blade, bearing a ring in its center mainly used as a blade cutter, blocking others’ blades and breaking them with a sharp movement.
The hilt made of wires is embellished at the ends by two “Turkish heads”, also made of intertwining wires. Finally, the weapon assembles an oval pommel that perfectly balances the weapon itself. Particularly relevant is the brand on the blade, on both sides, a typical signature of that group of blade masters, active in northern Italy, whose names, however, is difficult to know today.
This work is in a good state of conservation, and represents an important addition to the Weapons Catalog, made in Northern Italy during the second half of the 16th century.