Presented is an Austrian fighting sword which may be called a
“Hanger” which were usually 20 to 30 inches in length. This term first appeared in England in the 15th Century and was
used to describe a “cut and thrust” blade that was hung from ones belt. It was shorter and lighter than the heavier swords
of the time. It was readily adopted at sea because it was more easily carried and used on the crowed ship’s decks
or in the rigging. This example, made from iron, shows numerous nicks of combat along its lower edge which remains
sharp. The point of balance is 2 1/2 inches in front of the hilt, which makes it feel perfect in the hand. It has
a pleasant brownish patina of age. The very unusual rib or spline along its top edge and double disk hand guard are exactly
the same as the example being offered for 1200.00 Euros or $1750.00 by a European Military Antiquarian.
As was not unusual in the 19th Century many of the weapons were unmarked as
is this example. However, the shape of the disk guard and of the ribbed wood handle, which at one time was covered, with the
skin of a fish, confirms its Austrian heritage.
handle with fish skin cover remnants
So often are drawings and paintings of the period shown with crews, officers and pirates armed
with shell or disk guard hangers that it is the weapon that comes to mind when one visualizes hand-to-hand combat at
sea. This is what we have here.
side of guard
Left side of guard
Combat nicks mid section
Combat nicks end. Note the spline
It is interesting to consider some of the conflicts in which this sword could have been used.
EUROPEAN HISTORY 1850 – 1871
SOME CONFLICTS INVOLVING AUSTRIA:
1859, April 26: War is declared between Piedmount,
France against Austria. About 138,000 French faced 129,000 Austrians. One day of fighting saw nearly 40,000 dead
and wounded on the field. Napoleon III (1851-1870) is the Emperor of France and Francais Joseph (1848-1916) is King
1863: King Franz Joseph (1848-1916) and his minister of Austria foolishly
permitted themselves to be drawn into the war against Denmark, from which Prussia alone stood to profit.
1866: The Austrian naval battle with the Italians included 26 Austrian
ships and 28 Italian ships. The Austrian Admiral Tegethoff ordered his ironclads to ram the Italians flagship.
The Italian flagship is breached and sent to the bottom. The rest of the Italian fleet made off as best they could.
Bismarck ordered Prussian forces to do whatever is necessary to be obnoxious to the Austrians to instigate war. As a
result of the Prussian-Austro War Piedmount (Italy) obtained Venetia.
CONDITION: Considering its age and use, this example is in excellent
condition. Of great interest is the blade has a series of nicks that show it was used aggressively in combat. The
wood handle is complete except for the fish skin covering with remnants at only the front and back of the handle. The blade
is solid in its handle.
Handle 5 1/2″ L x 7/8″ W x 1 1/4″ H
Blade 23 7/8″ L x 1 3/4″ W x 1/4″ T at widest
Weight 3 Pounds
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