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Old 6th January 2023, 02:55 AM   #1
Jim McDougall
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Default Austrian Funerary Sword

With discussions on the darkly termed English 'mortuary' swords of mid 17th century, the topic of mourning swords of 18th century into 19th has come up. These were typically of small sword or court/dress sword type and blackened in somber tone.

Years ago, I saw a most unusual sword listed in a catalog, as a 'corpse carriers sword' believed Austrian, and c. 1860s. I presumed this was likely meaning a 'pall bearers' sword. While intrigued by it, I missed the chance to get it.
However, years later (and I had not seen anything like it during) I saw it again, but this time did get it.

There was a reference with it suggesting the form noted in :
"With Drawn Sword: The Austro-Hungarian Weapons from 1848 to....."
by M.Christian Ortner & Erich Artlich. 2006.

I found this appropriately somber artwork that seemed to go with it, depicting East European coffin carriers.

Just a bit of edged weapon esoterica.
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Last edited by Jim McDougall; 6th January 2023 at 03:16 AM.
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Old 6th January 2023, 05:48 PM   #2
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Looks like a decent sword, could do with something wrapped on the grip to make it less slippery.
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Old 6th January 2023, 06:07 PM   #3
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Thank you Wayne, I see what you mean. Not sure what kinds of protocols were with this kind of funerary process, so unless the swords were drawn in salute or whatever, it is unlikely the grip was important. Also, I think these guys were wearing gloves.
Whatever the case it is most unusual in character, and with obvious blackened metal.
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Old 7th January 2023, 10:35 AM   #4
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Interesting sword, Jim. Also it begs the question in a historical context as to why coffin bearers should carry swords? Was it a sign of a militarised society in Europe in those days, or did they have to be armed to fend off grave robbers? Methinks the former. It seems postmen and railway employees also had their own swords. Many of these men were probably demobilised former soldiers or had a background in the armed forces. It would be interesting to see a statistic of what proportion of males served in the armed forces at some stage in the 19thC in continental Europe.
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Old 7th January 2023, 11:50 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix View Post
Interesting sword, Jim. Also it begs the question in a historical context as to why coffin bearers should carry swords? Was it a sign of a militarised society in Europe in those days, or did they have to be armed to fend off grave robbers? Methinks the former. It seems postmen and railway employees also had their own swords. Many of these men were probably demobilised former soldiers or had a background in the armed forces. It would be interesting to see a statistic of what proportion of males served in the armed forces at some stage in the 19thC in continental Europe.
Thank you! Naturally Europe, especially in Austro-Hungary and principalities with monarchy tend to have military oriented structure, and dress swords were typical in official situations. It has been my understanding that this sword was of a form used in royal court circumstances so military uniform was likely worn.
It does not seem that private or civilian situations would have such, but the tradition of wearing mourning swords was quite well known in 18th c. with status oriented figures' funerals etc.
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Old 10th January 2023, 09:25 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
It has been my understanding that this sword was of a form used in royal court circumstances so military uniform was likely worn.
It does not seem that private or civilian situations would have suchÖ
Yes Jim, I didnít realise the sword was used in royal court circumstances. That explains its elegance.
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