Forming part of the great collection of The Barons Nathaniel and Albert von Rothschild, these halberds were seized by the Third Reich in 1939 along with the entire property belonging to the Viennese branch of the family. Following the war items from the collection were incorporated into the collections of the Austrian state museums until early in 1999 when the works of art were returned to the heirs of Baron Alphonse von Rothschild. A significant number of items were sold by Christie’s in London on 8 July 1999 but some pieces, including these two halberds, were retained by members of the family and are now offered for sale for the first time.
Two similar halberds from the Bodyguard of the Holy Roman Emperor Matthias are retained in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (accession numbers 14.25.387 and 14.25.461). Like ‘A2256’, each of these halberds is marked with the monogram ‘BS’ which is perhaps the initials of the decorator.