Artifact of the Day



Bavaria, southern Germany (1762)

Steel. Large flat partisan-like thrusting spike at the base of which is a large flat cusped fluke opposed by broad flat axehead with concave edges that are cusped above & below. Balustered base drawn out in 4 langets and secured to an original ash (?) staff by brass nails. Deeply etched foliation with date "1762" and the upper case characters 'MICHIB' (for Maximilian Ioseph Churfuerst in Bayern. Kurfuerst Maximilian III Joseph of Bavaria 1745-1777) on both faces, together with the Bavarian arms. On base of socket is the incised number '80'. Broad axe-blade with slightly concave, unsharpened edge. The edges above and below are recurved and cut with a single inward cusp near the socket. The axehead is opposed by a flat down-turned fluke which has a pair of inwardly curved pointed lugs at its base. The long, broad apical blade is of near equal width over its length. It is double-edged, of hollow-ground diamond section with a strong medial ridge extending full length from the socket to the tip which terminates in a reinforced, two sided angular point. The integral socket is of flattened rectagonal section below the blade, with a similarly sectioned moulding at mid-length. At the haft, the socket widens slightly and is drawn out into four long thin langets. The socket is incised with the serial number "80" below the fluke. The steel head is secured to the rectagonal section ash or onto haft by six equally spaced, double-headed brass rivets,some of which are lost. Below the squared terminals of the langets is a single, transverse iron rivet, one end of which retains fragments of a brass decorative washer. The butt of the haft is squared and fitted with an octagonal, iron ferrule which is secured by a single iron nail transversely mounted.
Except for the socket with langets, cutting edges and the terminal 60mm of the apical spike, both sides of the head are symetrically decorated with thickly etched foliate traceries and some vegetation on a crudely stippled, black-printed ground. Centered on the axe-blade is etched the Bavarian arms written in an oval cartouche surrounded by a wreath-like mantling of stalks crossed at the base. The whole is surmounted by the crown of the prince elector. On the fluke opposite is a later monogram which consists of the incised upper-case letters "MICHIB (Maximilian Ioseph Churfurst Herzog In Bayern), within a double-incised, retangular frame. On the base of the apical blade above is the incised date "1762". This, as well as the framed letters, is an eighteenth century modification to an earlier, 17th century weapon. The numeral "1" of the date on the front face appears to be earlier, as it seems to be part of the etched decoration and differs consideralbly in form from its partner on the opposite face. The remainder of the blade is etched with an ascending, symetrtical design of thick vine and floral votives, some of which are adorned and voluted, all within a long, rectangular frame and on a ground similar to that below. The blackened decoration appears to have been applied in modern times. At intervals on both the 17th century and 1762 etching and incisions are traces of gilding. Evidently, much of their gilding must have been lost, resulting in the "need" for the restoration of the ground color, albeit incorrectly performed.