French Leather Backswording Guard
French Leather Backswording Guard

French Leather Backswording Guard

1700 to 1900 France

Offered by Finch & Co

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An Unusual French Leather Backswording Guard the interior marked with a Red Napoleonic ‘N’
Late 18th Century

Size: 15cm dia. (max) 12cm high – 6 ins dia. (max) 4¾ ins high
Provenance: Ex English Private collection

A backsword is a single-edged metal sword, but as steel was very expensive, and could be lethal, provincial contests were often fought with a stout stick. Backswording was used as practice for either fencing or swordsmanship. A straight ash or oak ‘cudgel’ was placed through and held in a protective leather guard by the hand. To win a game one had to score a ‘blood’, which was to produce a one-inch long trickle of blood from a point above your opponents’ eyeline. Contestants were constantly looking for an opening to get under their opponents guard and then when they did, striking hard to make their mark.
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