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Named German Executioner Sword, Dated 1756
From the collection of Fernand Meyssonnier and once featured in the Museum of Justice and Punishment in Fontaine de Vaucluse near Avignon, France. This sword features an iron hilt of typical cruciform shape with round-section quillons expanding toward the finials; apple-shaped pommel with button. Wood grip with remains of original fragile twisted iron wire binding and intact turks heads top and bottom. Broad 35" blade of lens-section, stamped with maker’s mark on the short ricasso and featuring a 10" central fuller; engraved on one side with gallows and "herr hieronymus Peter von Stetten" and a wheel on a pole and "gerichts schultheis 1756" on the other side. This means "Mr. Hieronymus Peter von Stetten court of justice". The von Stettens of Frankfurt were a prominent patrician family. Hieronymus Peter von Stetten (1609-1686) was a mayor and court administrator in Frankfurt. While the date on this sword is nearly 100 years later, it refers to the court he established. Executioner swords often have the name of the executioner engraved on the blade, but it is very rare to find one with the name of the court administrator. This indicates the sword belonged to the court itself rather than the executioner. An executioner may have his own sword and service several towns and cities, but only the largest cities would have their own swords to be used by contracted executioners. Overall length 44 ½", weight 4 pounds 15 ½ ounces. Metal is moderately pitted, but markings are clear.
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.
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