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Thread: French hunting sword inscription

  1. #1
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    French hunting sword inscription

    Hello to the Forum.

    I've recently acquired a French hunting sword, a light and lovely hanger possibly dated in mid- to late 18th century. The grip in ebony, cross made of silver.

    I'm a bit surprised by the inscriptions engraved in two prominent cartouches on both sides of the blade. I attach some pictures of them. Sorry about the somehow disturbing cardboard background, they come from the seller.

    The first can be read as 'Ma... pour ma Belle' ('Ma... for my beautiful one'), while the other may say 'Mon Aime pour Dj...' ('Mi love for Dj...').

    Since I understand that DJ's were not popular yet in Mozart's times, I'd love to hear some suggestions from you (specially French speakers, please come to my rescue!).

    Best,
    JJ

    PS: this is the first true love declaration I see on a sabre blade. Love has no borders!
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  2. #2
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    Hello Juan,
    That’s a beautiful sword. Congratulations to you! How long is the blade?? It looks a bit severe to be a mere hunting sword? The grip with the pommel looks like a karabela. The lattice pattern decoration looks like it’s Hungarian. Isn’t that what they call a ”Transylvanian knot?” I think these kind of knot patterns may have Celtic origins. I imagine Pandurs would have been armed with these sort of things. Pandurs were sort of light infantry militia used in Eastern Europe, including the Austrian army where Baron von der Trenck’s unit gained notoriety and fascination by the public.

  3. #3
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    Found this.
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  4. #4
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    Hello, Magnus.

    Thank you for the suggestion but, believe me, it is a hunting sword. I've not weighed it yet, but it is very light and short, only 68.5 cm overall. Somewhere between a long dagger and a true short saber. In fact, more than a short saber, it is a sabre slightly miniaturised, if you know what I mean. Perhaps you got puzzled because the proportions and details on the blade are indeed those of a regular sabre, like the karabela, only smaller. These style of grips are not unusual on hunting swords, either.

    However, the grip of this one allows enough room to fit a man's hand, no problem with that. It is not a child's sword, just a small one. It could dispatch wounded game, if required.

    And, I forgot, it can't be seen in the pictures, but at the beginning of the fuller, on both sides of the blade, there's a little, delicate motif engraved: a jumping deer... got it, a hunting sword!

    Best,
    JJ
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  5. #5
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    My paleography skills aren't that great, so I can't quite make the words either. I am thinking some king of abbreviation maybe. The last one could be "toujours". The first I have no idea.

  6. #6
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    An engaving of a jumping deer rightly suggests it’s a hunting sword. But I guess that doesn’t necessarily exclude Pandur use. The exotic Pandur style became quite fashionable in Western Europe at some time I believe so it could be an imitation of style for hunting. On the other hand the Pandurs likely used a wide range of arms and since many worked as retainers for country estates, it would only be natural for them to use a hirschfanger as a personal sidearm. In this particular case one would wonder why it would be so luxurious with ebony grip and silver cross with inscription in French? The unknown words may be hard to read partly because they may not be in French (e.g. Hungarian names?)? I attach a picture of an engraving from a Hungarian hussar sabre for comparison.
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  7. #7
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    Nice idea, Max. In fact my wife, with her bit of French, suggested that possibility. Who knows...at least it makes sense.

    Regarding the Hungarian inspiration, Magnus, it can't be ruled out, either. In France they were rather keen on Eastern trends at that time, hussars' units being one of them. This French Hirschfänger (I love this German, word, too) à la hongroise may be a nice cultural blend!

    JJ
    Last edited by Juan J. Perez; 07-08-2018 at 08:53 AM.
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  8. #8
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    I thought maybe some words may not be in French because the last word in the last picture seems to contain an ü but maybe the umlaut is just scratches? Using the dechiffring method of recognizing identical letters: ”Maxxe pour ma belle” where the first word could be something like mauze or maine? The second text looks like ”Mon Aime Pour Djexx” where the last word could be a misspelt ”jeux”??

  9. #9
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    Hi,

    could it read something like "XXX pour ma belle" (XXX for my love), "Mon arm pour dieu" (my weapon for god)?
    Just an idea. I just don't have an idea what the owner wanted his love to have.

    Cheers

    William
    C-Trainer Fechten

  10. #10
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    On the first side I see "Ma vie pour ma belle", whatever it means.

  11. #11
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    I think we got it, gentlemen!

    'Ma vie pour ma belle' / 'mon arme pour Dieu '

    'My life for my beauty, my weapon for God' . That makes real sense. I'll devote my life for my loved one, but my armed hand will only serve God. A good motto indeed.

    Thanks a lot to all of you!
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