Circa 1550
Comprising a long straight slightly tapering double-edged blade secured by a central rivet at the bottom into a slot at the top of a short flat upper-socket between the inner ends of the two sickle-shaped upturned side-blades pivoting on the same rivet, all three blades with full-length double fuller on each face, the main one also engraved 'IVL' on one face and with an unidentified letter or symbol on the other, each within a shaped frame, the upper-socket hinged at one side to the top of the main socket and locked to it in the extended position by a double spring-catch (repaired and loose) activated by two press studs, and a locking catch (damaged), lacquered (?) wooden staff (minor damage at base) decorated throughout with a gilded arabesque pattern, and tapering iron ferrule with spherical terminal, the base of the blades, the sockets and the ferrule damascened throughout with arabesque scrollwork in two-colour gold (slightly rubbed in places)
46 in. (118.1 cm.) head
Rothschild inv. no. AR1007.
1903 Theresianumgasse Inventory, p. 60, no. 124.
1934 Theresianumgasse Inventory, p. 73, no. 415.
B. Thomas, O. Gamber and H. Schedelmann, Arms and Armour, Masterpieces by European Craftsmen from the Thirteenth to the Nineteenth Century, London, 1964, no. 45.
L.G. Boccia and E.T. Coelho, Armi Bianche Italiane, Milan, 1975, p. 367, pl. 337.
L.G. Boccia et al., Armi e Armature Lombarde, Milan, 1980, p. 203, pl. 244.
O. Gamber and C. Beaufort, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Wien. Katalog der Leibrstkammer, II, Busto Arsizio, 1990, p. 186, pl. 122.
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, inv. no. A 2255, from 1967.

Lot Essay

The head is made to fold down and the side blades to fold inwards over it. Opening it also opens the side blades automatically
This belongs to a rare group of folding spetums, of which seven other examples of closely similar construction are known to survive, respectively in the Hofjagd- und Leibrstkammer, Vienna (inv. no. A 458, originally in Schlo Ambras, near Innsbruck), Schlo Ambras (inv. no. A 457), the Real Armera, Madrid (inv. no. I 96), the Museo di Capodimonte, Naples (inv. no. CA 4423), the Bargello, Florence (inv. no. M 410), the Armeria Reale, Turin (inv. no. J 237), and the Muse de l'Arme, Paris (inv. no. K 202). The example at Madrid is illustrated in the Inventario Illuminado of 1544 of the Emperor Charles V's armoury, while the damascened decoration on the present example and those at Vienna and Ambras relates closely to that on Milanese parade-armour of the same period, for example on the work of the Negroli family, thus establishing the date and origins of the group. The Habsburg connections of the Madrid, Vienna and Ambras pieces and their high quality suggests that they may have been made for an imperial bodyguard, though Boccia has suggested that they were hunting weapons

An entry in the 1543 inventory of Francesco Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua for 'un spedo da forbeso che se desnoda' [a crab-claw spetum that can be dismounted], probably refers to a similar weapon.
The Rothschild example is the finest of the group (see A. Jubinal, La Armera Madrid, Paris, n.d., pl. 22; C. Buttin, 'La corsque', Bulletin Trimestrial de la Socit des Amis du Muse de l'Arme, no. 45, 1936, p. 84; L.G. Boccia, Nove Secoli di Armi da Caccia, Florence, 1967, fig. 44).

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