Swords of the “Border Reivers.”

“Number 33.” “The “Amen” Sword?” A German Military backsword of Landsknecht form, circa 1525.

A rare German backsword of “Landsknecht” form. Circa 1525.
Blade marked with the number “33.”
(Photos courtesy of F.J.A.G.)
Dimensions :-
Backsword, with ricasso, and twin fullers as far as the double edged tip.
Overall Length :-  40 and one half inches.
Blade Length :- 35 and one sixteenth inches.
Ricasso :-  2 and one quarter inches.
blade width 1 and one eighth inches at ricasso tapering to 7 eighths of an inch at point where blade becomes double edged.
Back edged for 11 and three quarter inches.
Notched once (maybe twice) on each side just above the back edge.
Point of Balance:- 5 and one half inches below the “cross.”
Weight:- 1 pound 15 ounces
Outside of hand.
Inside of hand.
Front view.
Rear view.
Below are a number of “detail” views.
“Assembly Marks” on Tang, Guard……
…. and Pommel. (four notches on each.)
Traces of red paint… probably from an old “Armoury” number.
Pommel detail inside of hand.
(different on either side.)
Pommel detail outside of hand.
  Note… Just where the lower guard almost touches the ricasso, there is a tiny fleck of gold. This may come from a contact knock, or it may be that the hilt, which has been heavily corroded, was once gilded.
Closer detail of “gilding” on lower guard.
On the back of the blade, just before it becomes “double edged” is a small”notch (perhaps two) on either side. I have commented on these in he past, and still have not managed to find any writing on their purpose. (See my posting of 13/12/13, detail below.)
There they are again…. but why?
(And, I’ve another excellent example to photograph with similar notches, when I have time out to travel.)
So…?  What about the “Number 33″….?
  Good question too!…. Well I’ve said it before… but there is very little on swords, and on blades in particular that has no meaning at all. And they are frequently inscribed with religious symbols, crosses, orbs… invocations to the Almighty for help in combat.
  Many years ago I was the proud possessor of a blade, crudely inscribed with a crucifixion, and the words “Consummatum Est,”
Christ’s last words on the cross…. “It is finished.”
  But in the case of the sword… this also has a double meaning….
i.e…. It,  (the duel, or combat) is over, and the enemy is vanquished.
(Unfortunately… way back, I fell upon hard times… and sold that blade… the tang was stuck with a double H, one on top of the other… and if you find it… I’d be interested in buying it back!)
  But I digress… So back to the “Number 33.”
  And Yes, it could be no more than an Armoury number.
But…. Symbolically the number “33” can represent the word “Amen!” which just like Consummatum Est…. marks “The End”…
“It is over”….  “It is finished”… Or perhaps, more correctly “So be it.”
  What you do is add up the numbers of all of the letters.
  1 – 13 – 5 – 14… which equals…. 33.
If you don’t believe me… give it a whirl on the web… It’s quite well known in “certain circles.”
  The Freemasons with their 33 degrees (no I’m not one!) get quite excited about it an’ all.
  But it is much more than that…. because the number also represents the Seal of Solomon, which you perhaps know better as “The Star of David.” Which is in fact an ancient “cabalistic” and magical symbol, which has only become Jewish in the last couple of hundred years.
  How that works is that the “star” is actually two interlinked triangles, each triangle with it’s three sides, representing “3” so, two triangles represents “33.”
  Now that is seriously weird stuff… way back to the good old Knights Templars… (if you want believe all of that stuff.)
  But back in the day… well perhaps folk did believe it…
  And the Seal of Solomon would be quite a thing to have on your sword blade….
   Which, (or “Witch?”) is why this is Andrew’s sword in my forthcoming “The Watchers of Enoch.”
Position, and orientation of “33” symbol on the sword.

  And it may be worth commenting, that in this position, the blade could be intended to be viewed point up. Which may indicate that the sword was intended to have a secondary (or primary?) ceremonial role.
  Rule of thumb I know… decoration to be read thus :-   point up… ceremonial… point down… a fighting blade….. bit of a dodgy theory, and not one of my own…. but it is interesting, because observation indicates that it is quite frequently true.
Close up of “33” symbol on the blade.
  This is the only “similar” blade mark I can find… It’s from Dudley S. Hawtrey Gyngell’s “Armourers Marks,” of 1959, and is said to be “Italian, 16th century.”
  It may, or, more likely, may not be connected, but whatever… it still reads 33.
  Feel free to speculate… Mr Gyngell gives no further information as to the location, or to the type, of the sword which bears this mark… frustrating isn’t it?
“Seal of Solomon”… “Star of David…”
  Curiously, this symbol still exists as the “Proof Mark” on swords… right through to modern times!
That’s it on an 1855 Wilkinson blade….
  And, to the best of my knowledge, it still goes on!
  I mean, where did it come from… Now surely that’s worth a bit more research!
  Here below is a starting point.
But do have a care…’cause this is entering seriously odd territory.
 And it’s quite capable of destroying the very best of reputations.
 Perhaps it ought to be left well alone… or to our old friend “Dan Brown.”
  ….. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
   That second reference, was apparently published, (29th October 2013)….  in anticipation of Halloween?…. or at least I hope so… Folk certainly can be strange!
  My own take on it all?…
  Well, the triangle is a powerful symbol, and can be seen to represent “strength.” (since it is difficult to distort a triangle.)
Two interlocked triangles, should represent strength and unity, which is a nice concept, and one which in this day and age is oft forgotten. Therefore it would make a good “proof mark.”
All of which fits in nicely with my own “Three Commandments” :-
Be Nice to Folk…
Keep it Simple…
And…. If it ain’t broke… Don’t fix it!
(Plus…Laugh a lot… because it’s good for you.)
  What it all meant, back in the 16th century… Well, who knows…. But all one should expect to see, if one goes peering into dark mirrors… is dark reflections. By: Brian Maffatt


Published by Clan Carruthers Society - USA

We are all passionate about where we came from and where we're going. We set this website/blog up so we can all share our family stories along with the history for future generations.

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