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Title Balkan handschar (European yatagan)
Nationality Austrian
Period c 1760
 (This item is subject to special postage, click here for more information.)

This silver-mounted, horn-gripped sword was carried by officers in the Grenzer regiments of the Imperial Austrian army in the many border skirmishes and sometimes open warfare on the Turkish frontier, which stretched from the Adriatic to Transylvania, about 1,000 kilometres (approximately 1,600 miles).

The blade (22.75" long), probably made in Passau or possibly Solingen, shows typical mid-18th-century Germany engraving with a Turk's head on both sides and a man-in-the-moon symbol. The hilt shows marked Slavonic influence. Two silver rings were mounted on the scabbard and these have now been lost. There is also some minor damage to the stitching on the seam, stretching for 1.5-2". Extraordinary to find a scabbard at all for such a weapon, made of very fine calf leather. The chape in iron could possibly be a working life replacement or, in view of the tough conditions of service, was made this way in the first place.

It could well be that this is specifically a Croatian piece, but this needs further research - there must be musuems in Zagreb and certainly a very fine one in Kotor, Montenegro, which would have examples and some more certain knowledge of the provenance of this weapon.

For a good history of the Grenzer regiments, see the Osprey Men-at-Arms series: 'The Austrian Army 1740-80: 3 Specialist Troops' by Philip Haythornthwaite & Bill Younghusband and 'Austrian Auxiliary Troops 1792-1816' by Dave Hollins & Bill Younghusband, which has among other things a map of the area.

If you want to comment on this item—re quality, age, etc—please email me.

[Edged Weapons : Swords : Austrian : 18th Century]


It arrived today in good order, thanks!

A very nice artifact in excellent condition for it's age.

I greatly appreciate all your efforts.

J C, Canada, 02.08.2014

Bayonet arrived safe and well earlier, finally got a chance to unwrap it and have a quick peek and am very pleased, thanks!

T R, UK, 07.11.2013