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Dirk

WPN1273
Weapons

Object connections:

Collection Weapons, Edged weapons
ExhibitionsVoyagers
User collections Collectables (All) by blueheatwave
Collections (Europe) by blueheatwave
Gallery locationVoyagers (Floor plans)
PeopleProvenance: French, Naval Officer -
Depiction: George, St.
Historical Association: Government, pre-French (pre-1797)
Provenance: Bart, Captain J.Holburne
Provenance: Royal United Service Institution
EventsNapoleonic Wars: Battle of Trafalgar, 1805
VesselsIntrepide fl.1805 (French navy)

Object details:

Object ID WPN1273
Description Dirk, thought to have belonged to a French Naval Officer. The hilt of the dirk consists of inversed brass quillons with an additional bar on the obverse side with three small balls at its centre. The small brass pommel is horizontally grooved. The dirk has a prominent brass tang button, and the small brass ferrule resembles the design of the pommel. There is a noticeable tapering of the hilt from the pommel to the ferrule. The polished hardwood grip is four-sided, black in colour and decorated with a check design. The steel blade is straight, of hollow triangular section (two faces obverse, one reverse) with a roughly shaped point. The blade is engraved on the two obverse faces with a trophy consisting of a cannon, pikes, drums and flags, bounded above and below by a pair of parallel lines; and foliage, engraved in a symmetrical pattern about the central ridge between the two faces, to the point. The reverse of the blade is engraved with a trophy consisting of a cannon, pikes, drums and flags, bounded above and below by a pair of parallel lines, foliage, a floral knot, a shield bearing the cross of St. George, surmounted by a kingly crown, and the motto 'VIVA LA REPUBLICA DI'. The arms on the blade are apparently those of the Genoese Republic. The cross on the shield is vertically shaded and this is the common means of expressing the heraldic colour 'gules' when the colours themselves are not used. The arms of the City of Genoa were argent, a cross gules and, for a time, Genoa signified her sovereignty over Corsica by placing a crown over her arms. The origin of the motto is obscure; it could refer to the pre (French) revolutionary Republic or to the French-dominated Ligurian Republic. The original blade, as the dirk appears to have been re-pointed, would have bore the name of the Republic and probably belonged to a small-sword, so the motto is likely to refer to the pre-French (pre-1797) Government. The small-sword was an Aristocratic weapon frowned on by Revolutionaries. The black leather scabbard has two gilt lockets, with rings, decorated with parallel lines in pairs (four pairs on the top locket and two on the mid locket); a chape may once have been fitted. The scabbard seems to have been made especially for the dirk, but the lockets could be older in date. The dirk was allegedly taken from 'L'Intrepide', at the Battle of Trafalgar. Captain Sir J.Holburne Bart gave this weapon to the Royal United Services Institute.
Date made 1805

Artist/Maker Unknown
Place made France (probably)
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Royal United Service Institution Collection
Materials gilt; hardwood; leather; steel; brass
Measurements Blade: 292 x 25 mm
Parts
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