A Silver-Mounted Hunting-Knife or Hauswehr, early 16th century

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Item ref: 3041

  • Germany
  • Steel, silver, staghorn.
  • 52 cm


Private collection, United Kingdom

This type of knife was carried both as a domestic implement and as weapon by the civilian populous in the 15th and 16th centuries. Evidence of widespread use is found in the paintings, woodcuts and tapestry of the period, involving subjects as diverse as the peasantry and the nobility.

The blade was intended for cutting and hacking and accordingly the hilt was designed to provide the advantages of a firm grip during strenuous use. To this end the pommel was flared on the blade edge side to prevent the fingers from slipping. The lower mount of the hilt was extended correspondingly to prevent the fingers from sliding forwards and to offer a little protection.

In the present instance, the deep flutes carved in the grip-scales will not only add to the strength of the users’ grip but, in their continuation over the silver mounts also enhance the aesthetic quality of the hilt. This is certainly an example intended for use within the upper tier of German renaissance society, the silver mounts and the fluting reflecting the German late 15th and early 16th century taste more frequently expressed in the hilts of luxurious presentoirs, swords and trousses for the hunt.