This might be the strangest sword I have ever seen so far... OK, to say ever can be a bit of exaggeration, but it is definitely true for this year. It could be the top nominee for the Strangest Sword of the Year award.

 I have found a short description of this item, and fours photos at an auction site [1] while searching for Chinese jians sword of Qin dynasty. So it is fair to classify it as a completely random find!

 The description from the auction site provides us with the following: „Lot 34 A RARE EAST EUROPEAN SWORD HUNGARIAN OR POLISH SECOND HALF OF THE 17TH CENTURY Broad flat double-edged blade with rebated tip the lower half etched on both sides with an heraldic crest surmounting a classical portrait bust and a Latin inscription differing over the respective sides with iron crosspiece formed with button tips and upper and lower langets flat beak-shaped cap-pommel canted downwards at its front original grip bound with leather over cords and the blade tang secured by a lateral rivet on iron rosette washers.

Overall length is 37.5 inches, 95 cm, blade: 32 ? inches (83 cm).
Very good condition. Blade has a chip towards the tip and minors scratches

 So what we have here? Basically a strange mixture of features:
  • a straight broad blade;
  • which is double edged;
  • and without a tip (rebated);
  • a very recognizable sabre hilt (a long crosspiece, langets etc).
 Also there is a well visible dent on the working edge of the sword, near its tip. The most intriguing question: Who might have used this sword? The blade itself has all characteristics of an executioner's sword: a) straight; b) double edged; c) with a round tip. So this is one real possibility. Another -- a less probable -- option, that its owner was a Hussar who wanted an Turkish straight sword, but in this case it is rather difficult to explain the round tip of the blade.


Poster (1959)

 „Original poster maquette for the 1959 World Fencing Championship. Lajos Vajda made two different designs for the same occasion. The artist used elements of both designs for the final design, which became the printed poster. The design shows a Hungarian hussar with his sword, which refers to the Hungarian traditions in fencing. The typography of the title is very elegant and decorative. Size: 18,5x26 cm” [1]

Variant A

Final design

 „World Fencing Championships 1959 in Budapest is a vintage Hungarian sport event advertising poster designed by Lajos Vajda.” [2] The Hussar silhouette was inspired by a statue in the Buda Castle (Budapest) called The Old Hussar created by Kisfaludi Strobl Zsigmond in 1932.

The Old Hussar (1932)


Stab test

  Russian re-enactors created an entertaining and historically accurate video (2017) about the protective features of riveted chain mail (the 4-to-1 pattern) against different medieval weapons.  

 They tested several types of chain mail:

Chain mail (A)

10 kg -- wire thickness: 1.2 mm, ring diameter: 10 mm (A)
14 kg -- wire thickness: 1.6 mm, ring diameter: 11 mm (B)
15 kg -- wire thickness: 1.6 mm, ring diameter: 12 mm (C)
18 kg -- wire thickness: 2.0 mm, ring diameter: 12 mm (D)

 Naturally cuts -- slashing cuts -- were not very effective against this personal armour. As expected they failed to penetrate the chain mail at all, but their impact could have caused serious blunt traumas to warriors wearing chain mail. Thrusts with a sabre, and later with a straight sword having pointy tip penetrated chain mails rather easily. How much the blade had penetrated the armour, depended on the characteristics of a particular sample. 

Chain mail (A) against a sabre [2]

 In this particular case we can see a really deep penetration, somewhere around 20-25 cm, which could have caused a mortal wound. 

An approximate length of the blade 
which penetrated the chain mail sample (A)

   The thickest chain mail (D) against the pointy straight sword (1.5 kg).

This much!

  Most definitely one wouldn't want to have so much steel through his chain mail.
  1. It is better to use the term chain mail, because ring mail is a different type of armour: „an assumed type of personal armour constructed as series of metallic rings sewn to a fabric or leather foundation”. (Wiki) Also it is advisable to avoid the term scimitar.
  2. In the video they called it Horde sabre (0.7 kg), meaning that is a replica of a sabre used by warriors of the Golden Horde.


Medieval sabre

 In a FB group called Military & Classical Sabre Artem Lokhmatov wrote an interesting post about a modern replica of a medieval sabre. He said it is a Khazar sabre. 

A modern replica

Nice hilt

 Later a member of the group asked Artem based on what original artefacts the replica was created. And he posted the following pictures:

Two medieval sabres [1]

A blade sleeve

 In the last photo an interesting feature could be observed: next to the small crossguard there is a metal sleeve, covering the first few centimetres of the cutting edge. 
  1. It isn't completely clear if those two sabres are from a museum or they were found by illegal gravediggers.


Old Hungarian

 At the time when maestro Parise invented (~1884) his fencing headgear Hungarian sabreurs were using a rather different type of head protection.

From the Németh Fencing Collection [1]

 Many contemporary drawings and photos show us the widespread use of it. One of the first sources where we can find this type of head protection is the book of Raimund Sebetic (1886).


 In the following picture members of a Transylvanian fencing club (Kolozsvár) were photographed with their fencing gear, around 1888.


 In the next one Hungarian sabre champion Gyula Iványi (left) can be seen together with his fencing master Zsiga Halasz in 1895. [2]


 A manufacturing company established by Károly Pacholek in 1864 was famous for its swords, fencing equipment etc. At the Millennial Exhibition in 1896 the company displayed a wide range of their products. [3]


A well-known fencing master
Lajos Vermes (~1896)

 Even as late as in 1917 we can recognize this gear in a military manual for Hussars. (The third edition.)

 And finally a photo from a Hungarian exhibition (2016) detailing the development of sabre fencing between the late 18th century and the establishment of Ludovika Military Academy. Several drawings from Sebetic's book (1886) can be recognized. (Fig. 1-5 from his book.)

Old headgear & Sebetic (1886)
  1. Link to the item.
  2. Link to the original.
  3. Fortepan Collection.


Mod. Parise

 An excellent set of photos depicting an Italian fencing headgear (secondo mod. Parise) and also a fencing glove, manufactured in Germany. [1] On the leather forearm protection there is the manufacturer's name „Baviera”. Now we can study this headgear from angles rarely seen in the previously available pictures.

Stuffed with horsehair
  1. From Italian catawiki: 53 photos.
  2. Description: „Casco e guanto da scherma in cuoio - sciabola o scherma - XIX secolo - Germania XIX secolo, Germania - Il guanto presenta una firma "Baviera" - in condizioni d'uso Casco e guanto da scherma in cuoio di produzione tedesca. Probabilmente del XIX secolo. Le condizioni sono buone con segni di usura (vedere foto) Il guanto presenta una firma "Baviera". Dimensione guanto: 46 x 15 x 10 (cm) ... Dimensione casco: 30 x 35 (cm)



 In his 1911 book -- The Theory of Noble Art of Fencing -- Samu Chappon claimed to know Neapolitan fencing (foil + dagger). He said that this type of fencing is highly beneficial both for men and women, because it trains the left hand, develops the chest, and equally strengthens both hands. [2]

„Neapolitan” fencing (Fig. 15)

 We don't know for sure the origin of this peculiar way to use a dagger in icepick position. The most likely explanation is that this „Neapolitan” fencing was invented by Joseph Hartl, fencing master in Vienna, who taught stage fencing to actors. In 1884 Hartl and his female students visited Hungary at least twice and performed several fencing demonstrations in order to popularize female fencing. Chappon could see such a fencing display of foil skills, and later used it as a good marketing tool.

Hartl's pupils in 1885 [3]

 The true Neapolitan way of using a rapier and a parrying dagger can be studied in many historical sources (Texedo, Vega etc.).

Don Pedro Texedo Sicilia de Teruel (1678) [4]

Alvaro Guerra de la Vega (1681)

 In the Vega's picture we could see two fencing guards with a rapier and a dagger: Spanish (Postura Espanola) and Italian (Postura Italian??), with the parrying dagger in the left hand, and ahead of the tip of the rapier. Neither Texedo nor Vega depicted daggers held in icepick position.

 Another historical source -- Don Giuseppe d'Alessandro: Di spada. Con un trattato del modo di Curare I'infermita dei cavalli loro preservativi el altri notizie curca li medesmi. Antonio Muzio, Napoli, 1723.

Don Giuseppe d'Alessandro (1723)
  1. Third edition is available online at the MEK (Hungarian Electronic Library).
  2. A Napoly-vívás, mint a 15-ik ábra mutatja, úgy hölgyeknél mint uraknál, nemkülönben gyermekeknél igen jó testedzést idéz elő. A balkezet rendkívülileg erősbíti, a mellkast fejleszti s mindkét kezet egyformán erősíti.” [Page 76]
  3. The illustration was published in 1885 in the French, Le Journal Illustre. They are the famous women students of Maitre Hartl from Vienna. They traveled all over Europe and the United States giving demonstrations.
  4. It is a Spanish-Italian fencing treatise dedicated to the viceroy of Naples.


Kyohan (1909)

  Ten years ago a great post appeared at kenshi247 site, entitled Kenjutsu Kyohan. This post contained the English translation of an interesting Japanese source: local military sabre manual from 1909. At that time the Japanese military tried to copy European sabre systems, and established a rather interesting hybrid system: Japanese style protective equipment, shinai as fencing weapon, but many other components were definitely copied from the European sabre sources (mainly French). So I have been deeply disappointed when I saw that the translation and the whole post disappeared from kenshi247 homepage. [1] 

 Fortunately it is really hard to remove something from the net, once it was uploaded and widely available. So currently this interesting translation can be found at many places.
  1. Via Way Back Machine
  2. Via the BA's thesis (2010) of its translator (Appendix A). [3]
  3. Via another site.
 If you are interested in such a cross-cultural thing, then download the translation and save it, because who knows how long the above links will be alive. 

French (?) foil fencing & Japanese cadets [4]
  1. Original link. At the moment if we follow that link, only a „Page not found” message welcomes the visitor, without providing any further explanation.
  2. In November 2010 Matt Easton posted the link to this translation at Schola Gladiatoria's list of online treatises. Currently his site is under major transition from one provider to another, and therefore cannot be used. But a cached version can be seen here.
  3. Isaac Meyer: The Soul of a Nation: Swordsmanship in Japan’s Modern Period.
  4. Presumably the last decades of the 19th century.



  In 2019 Czech fencing master Leonid Křížek participated at a very interesting event. In October a local historical fencing group -- Tovaryšstvo bojových umení a remesiel (Fellowship of Martial Arts and Crafts) -- celebrated the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the group with a fancy dress party. Ladies and gentlemen in historical costumes and uniforms danced and fenced.

Mensur swords

  The most interesting were the pictures of simulated Mensur fencing. Naturally it wasn't actual academic fencing of German students. Nevertheless the participants used the same type of swords, and they were obliged to stay at a fixed distance from their adversaries. It must have been a very interesting fencing experience!

Ladies first!

...then gentlemen

  1. The original FB post: „Vzpomínka na nezapomenutelnou akci na statku šermířského guru Petera Kozy. V sobotu 12. října skupina historického šermu Tovaryšstvo bojových umení a remesiel uspořádala už desátý ročník kostýmního bálu a mensurního šermu, kam jsem měl tu čest být pozván. Dámy a pánové v historických kostýmech a uniformách tančili a šermovali a já jsem měl to potěšení zkřížit zbraně kromě jiných také s účastníkem napoleonských akcí Jaroslavem Pelíškem. Pořadatelům moc děkuji za nevšední zážitek. Několik dalších fotek zde...” (Leonid Křížek)
  2. The source of the photos. There you can find many other pictures about the event.