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Exceptional German Executioner Sword with Scabbard, First Half 17th C
From the collection of Fernand Meyssonnier and once featured in the Museum of Justice and Punishment in Fontaine de Vaucluse near Avignon, France, this executioner sword still features its original copper museum inventory tag numbered "182". Round-section iron quillons with vertically recurved scroll finials; ovoid pommel with button. Original twisted iron wire grip wrap with turks heads top and bottom; original velvet blade washer (worn). Lens-section 33 1/8" blade with short central fuller, deeply etched and engraved with monster heads spewing scrolling foliage framing each side of the fuller, with gallows on one side and wheel on the other. In the fuller is engraved in script on one side "Wan Ich Das Schwert Ihue (sic?) aufheben | So Wunsche ich dem Sunder das Ewige leben" (When I pick up the sword | I wish the sinner eternal life) and "Die Herren steuren Dem Unheil | Ich Exequire Ihr Endt Urteil" (The men steer the evil | I execute your final judgement) on the other. Finely and deeply engraved bishop’s head on both sides, which is the maker’s mark of Peter Munich of Solingen, 1580-1651. Munich was a famous blade-making family and Peter was also Mayor of Solingen in 1649. Original brown leather-covered wood scabbard with steel throat and drag, made without belt attachments. Very good condition with tight mounts, smooth metal surfaces, and sharp clear decoration. Many executioner swords were made without scabbards and of those that were, few survive. Very high quality sword which was well cared-for over the centuries. Overall length 44 ½", weight (without scabbard) 4 pounds 3 ounces.
Fernand Meyssonnier (1931-2008) was an executioner in French Algeria from 1947 to 1961 and executed over 200 convicted criminals by guillotine. He is the author of the book "An Executioner’s Tale" (French Text). His family has been linked to the executioner’s trade since the 16th Century. This exact sword is prominently featured on the internet when a search is conducted on Meyssonnier and is even featured in a video of Meyssonier handling this very sword during a television interview shortly before his death. The entire collection was slated to go to auction in Paris in April, 2012, but the sale was canceled due to public outcry and never rescheduled. The video interview can be viewed at: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x54njt (This sword is seen around 3:50 into the video)