This dagger was used in the left hand with a cup-hilted rapier in the right for dueling and personal defense to engage the opponents rapier by deflecting its thrusts and engaging the blade to provide an opening for a successful thrust. As in some segments of society today, men demanded respect and encounters lacking it, whether real or perceived, could lead to mortal combat. The rapier and left hand dagger were the weapons of the street and countless conflicts were settled with deadly results. This example is typical but for the application of an overlay to the guard which may have armorial significance, as conflicts could be avoided by identifying the owner whose prowess would be common knowledge. A near identical example with an overlay to the guard of nearly identical form pierced with birds and scrolls and blade with the same Maltese cross mark as this example was in the Valentine Collection. Blade length: 18 1/2".