From the William Fagan Ltd. Collection

20 ¾” haft length. Head 13 1/8” deep. Weight 6 lb 14.3 oz. The haft with bun form butt and showing good glossy patina. Head showing its black forged finish and maker’s mark to the left side. The form accords in detail with the iconic axe preserved at the Tower of London, to which many royal and noble executions are attributed. That axe is preserved with a haft which of greater length than historically associated with it is documented in numerous early illustrations. In those, the haft is shown to be an inch or so longer than the block is high. The block displayed with it is the original and may be used to verify the ratio. The haft of our example is very dry with a shrink crack, likely from the use of green wood, and deterioration in the socket front, consistent with a 17th century origin. The surface polish from handling is also as expected as it was used, but stored between uses and abrasions or surface degradation would not be expected. Virtually every town in Europe was equipped with such an axe in the 15th-17th century after which the sword was utilized, though the axe was still reserved for nobility. Evidently, the severed head remains alive for a short while and at least one record exists of a man calling to the victim who rolled his eyes to meet those of the caller. Speech would be impossible as it requires an intact respiratory system.

Stock Number: FNS6327

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