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English 18th Century Hanger

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English 18th Century Hanger 2
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English 18th Century Hanger 97
English 18th Century Hanger 106
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English 18th Century Hanger 12

Straight spear-pointed blade with narrow single fuller running close to the flat spine, like a backsword in miniature. Brass shell guard, part of a brown leather washer, plain brass ferrule, knucklebow hilt and small quillon. Fluted horn grip, fluted brass pommel. Blade 21 inches in length, the hanger 26 inches overall.

Hangers were predominantly hunting swords used for finishing off dangerous animals, but also saw use in war. In the era before standardized military swords officers in particular could carry whatever sword they preferred, and hunting hangers would have had the advantage of being familiar to the user, easier to carry around town than a larger blade and avoiding the expense of purchasing a new sword. This sword might have been used either way: its relatively plain styling suggests it was made for utility, not purely as a fashion item.

The blade is stamped on both sides with a maker’s mark of a Moor’s head in profile, similar to the form seen on the Sardinian and Corsican flags (both derived from the arms of Aragon). German swordsmiths including Johannes Wundes (sometimes rendered as Iohannis or Iahanni) and Martino Antonio used the moor’s head, as did the Italian Matanni. German Moor’s heads are generally crowned (showing overlap with the ‘king’s head’ mark), while Italian heads are bare or wear a bandanna. The markings on this blade are quite indistinct and it is difficult to tell if he is crowned or bare headed. I would lean towards crowned, but in either case it should be noted that this hanger is of an 18th century form while the smiths previously mentioned were of the 17th century. This may therefore be one of the various marks made in imitation of earlier blades by English smiths, or it could be an imported German blade.

This sword was previously hung with the collection of arms and armour in Tushingham Hall, held by the same family for 250 years. A 17th century moated farmhouse later remodelled into a Tudor Revival country house, Tushingham was originally bought from Lord Kenyon by Danial Vawdrey and thereafter held by the Vawdrey family: it then passed by the female line to the Moore Duttons until its recent sale, continuous ownership resulting in undisturbed contents.

Like other swords of the period it has an low carbon tang and shoulder, forge welded to a higher carbon steel blade, and the differential aging of the two materials can be seen at the transition point, which is most clearly visible on the flat side opposite to the shell guard.

The blade has some patination and light pitting in places, some nicks to its edge and has a rounded tip (<3mm). The brass parts are evenly patinated. The horn grip is in good condition with no noticeable chips or scratches. There is slight movement to the knucklebow, guard and pommel piece, while the grip is firm.


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