Artifact of the Day


Head of a partisan for the guard of Henri III of France (r. 1574-89)

France (1588)

Long, triangular double-edged blade of gently lozenge section over much of length, becoming flat to spatulate point. Blade waisted at about 1/4 of length, then tapers in a series of curves to point. Base of blade drawn out in lobes & pierced with comma-shaped & circular fretting. Tang carved as acanthus leaf. Lower 1/3 of blade etched with circular medallions with human portrait busts on hatched ground & rectangular compartments having a cat-like creature & scrolling tendrils.

Medial line with etched inscription "VYVE LE" (on obverse) "LE ROY 1588" (reverse) (LONG LIVE THE KING 1588) separated by diamond-shaped motifs. Across top of decoration is "IJS" (obverse) and "MARA" [for Maria] (reverse), both surmounted by large acanthus leaf.

Sides have guilloché framing. Between blade & socket is ornate crossbar with addorsed, curving & scrolled arms, 4 with dragon-head terminals, lower 2 having sharply pointed tongue. Elements etched with guilloché. Long, tubular socket with molded ferrules at ends. Extending down front & rear faces are straps with guilloché.