Extremely Rare German Landsknecht Hand-and-a-half Sword, ca. 1520


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SKU: SB1244c Category:


The Landsknecht mercenaries of the Germanic countries were among the most
fearsome warriors in all of history. In a time when there were no standing armies as we
know today, any king or magnate who could afford them wanted to hire the
Landsknechts. The Katzbalger (literally “cat skinner”) was the well-known short sword
with the S-shaped guard of twisted iron. Genuine Katzbalgers are very rare and usually
bring well over $10,000 when they come up for sale. However, what is even more
scarce is the two-handed or hand-and-a-half varieties with S-shaped guard. A two-
handed example sold at auction in Munich about 15 years ago for about $16,000 USD
and has since changed hands several times for ever increasing prices. The example
offered here is the only hand-and-a-half sword of this type we have ever encountered. It
features a very large distinctive S-shaped guard of twisted iron with fluted bun finials.
Ovoid pommel with a pair of incised lines at the base, mounted on what is apparently the
original leather-wrapped two-stage wood grip. The guard is loose due to shrinkage of
the grip and the lack of a ferrule which once was likely mounted at its base. Thick
hollow-ground 42″ blade of triangular section with a latten-filled cross mark, designed to
pierce the weak spots in an opponent’s armor. Metal shows hand forging, light pitting,
and a rich dark patina on the guard. Overall length 54″. Such a sword would have been
carried by a veritable giant for the time. This type sword is often considered the Holy
Grail for collectors of weapons of the age of the armored knight.