A Rare Medieval Sword From The Mamluk Arsenal At Alexandria
Lot 78
A Rare Medieval Sword From The Mamluk Arsenal At Alexandria
Sold for £163,250 (US$ 274,393) inc. premium
Lot Details
A Rare Medieval Sword From The Mamluk Arsenal At Alexandria
Second Half Of The 14th Century, Probably Italian
With flat tapering double-edged blade of flattened hexagonal section with a wide shallow fuller extending over half its length on both sides, the forte on both sides incised with a comet-shaped mark retaining traces of latten, and on one side with inscriptions in naskh script, the hilt comprising straight quillons of rectangular section widening towards the tips, later cord-bound leather-covered grip, and large slightly compressed chamfered wheel pommel with rounded button and inlaid on each side with a cross potent in copper and latten (some pitting overall, particularly at the point)
92.5 cm. blade, 115.7 cm. overall


  • Provenance:
    Acquired by the late owner in exchange for a Swedish sword from Major John Lindgreen of Malmoe. Lindgreen had bought the sword at an unknown date from the dealer Lundgreen of Stockholm

    Ada Bruhn Hoffmeyer, To riddersværd i en dansk privatsamling, 1952, p. 21 onwards, fig. 1; idem, Middelalderens tveæggede Sværd, 1954, vol. I, pp. 61 and 191, and vol. II, pp. 17 and 94, pl. 20e
    Ewart Oakeshott, The Sword In The Age Of Chivalry, 1964, p. 67, pl. 30B
    Hoffmeyer, cat. no. 57, pp. 47, 77, 82 and 84, figs. 9 and 18
    Ewart Oakeshott, Records Of The Medieval Sword, 1991, p. 163, XVIII.5

    See also E. Combe and A.F.C. de Cosson, 'European Swords with Arabic Inscriptions from the Armoury of Alexandria', Bulletin de la Société Royale d'Archèologie d'Alexandrie, n.s. IX (1937), pp. 233f., no. III; David Oliver, 'Some European Knightly Swords from the Arsenal of Alexandria', The Sixteenth Park Lane Arms Fair Guide, 1999, pp. 13-24; Clive Thomas, 'A Distinctive Group of Swords from the Arsenal of Alexandria', ibid, 2003, pp. 29-44; idem, 'The Medieval Swords of Leeds Castle', ibid, 2005, pp. 10-29; Stuart W. Pyhrr, 'The Ottoman Arsenal in Hagia Eirene: Some Early Photographs and Visitors' Accounts', ibid, 2007, pp. 29-46; Clive Thomas, '"Father of Victory" Pious donations of European swords to The Arsenal of Alexandria during the reign of the Sultan al-Mu'ayyad Shaykh', ibid, 2008, pp. 17-38; idem, 'Notes on a small group of swords from the Arsenal of Alexandria', ibid, 2009, pp. 23-42; and idem, '"King of Emirs" Pious donations of European swords to the Arsenal of Alexandria during the time of the Viceroy Sayf al-din Aristay', ibid, 2011, pp. 15-36

    The inscription: 'Hubs Khazain al-Silah bi thughri al-Iskandariyya ayyam al-Sayfi Faris al [...d.]', reads in translation: 'Donation to the armoury in the frontier city of Alexandria in the days of al-Sayfi Faris al- [Muhammadi]

    Only four other swords appear to be recorded inscribed in the name of the Amir Faris. One in a private charitable foundation, another in Leeds Castle, Kent, another in the Military Museum at Istanbul, and the other, with a partly legible inscription, sold at Sotheby's London, Arts of the Islamic World, 6 October 2010, lot 249, (£97,250 including premium). See David Oliver (1999), Clive Thomas (2005) above, and Ludvik Kalus, 'Donations Pieuses d'Epées Mediévales à l'Arsenal d'Alexandrie', Revue des Etudes Islamiques, vol. L, Paris, 1982, pp. 1-122

    Amir Faris was an inspector in 840 A.H., corresponding to 1436-7 A.D.
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