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Executioner Axe Head with Exceptional Provenance
From the collection of Fernand Meyssonnier and once featured in the Museum of Justice and Punishment in Fontaine de Vaucluse near Avignon, this axe head still features its original copper museum inventory tag numbered "175". The axe head is of forged steel, weighing in at a hefty 5 pounds 12 ounces and bears an unidentified stamped makerís mark. The convex cutting edge measures 12 3/4". Large canted triangular socket; no shaft. Likely dates to the 17th Century. Pitted overall. While this axe likely was not made specifically for execution, axes of this type were widely used for that purpose. Even the famous executionerís axe in the Tower of London, known to have been used for the beheading of Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat, in 1747, began its life as a timber hewing axe.
Fernand Meyssonnier (1931-2008) was an executioner in French Algeria from 1947 to 1961 and executed over 200 convicted criminals. He is the author of the book "An Executionerís Tale" (French Text). His family has been linked to the executionerís trade since the 16th Century. This exact axe head is prominently featured on the internet when a search is conducted on Meyssonnier.
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