Sword of the Urnfield culture from a museum collection

Object number
Object: Sword of the Urnfield culture from a museum collection

Material: Bronze.

Period: 11th cent. BC to 8th cent. BC.
Transitional period between Bronze Age and Iron Age in Central Europe.
Urnfield period.

Description:    Bronze sword with straight blade and medial rib. The top quarter of the blade tapering into a pointed end. The hilt is riveted to the blade. It features a crescent shaped guard, a ridged grip and a discoid pommel with central knob.
The fantastic state of preservation and the size of the blade impress and give a glimpse into the weapons of the Urnfield culture.

Background: The sword belongs to the so-called Möringen type, made by the Urnfield culture of Europe. The name goes back to a find spot in today's Switzerland (see literature reference).

Dimensions: 61.5cm long. 5.1cm wide at the guard.

Condition: Great condition. The massive bronze body is complete. The surface has been cleaned by a previous owner and repatinated over the decades. The hilt is repaired and a stable crack can be seen. Bumps at the blade are probably ancient signs of use. Inscription "2780" with red ink on the pommel.

Provenance: Acquired by us in 2021 on the Paris art market. Previously with Sotheby's London in their 20 March 2013 auction together with Thomas Del Mar Ltd, lot 116. Consigned from the museum collection of the US American John Woodman Higgins Armory Museum, inv. no. 2780. John Woodman Higgins acquired this sword at auction from Parke-Bernet Galleries New York (later Sotheby's) on 17 November 1944, lot 111a.

John Woddman Higgins (1874-1961) was an US American entrepreneur in the steel industry. He was a lover of craftmenship and fine armory. In the 1920ies his quest to acquire an arms and armor collection on the art market started. In 1931 he opened a privately funded museum of this purpose, the John Woodman Higgins Armory Museum. After Higgins death in 1961 the museum underwent different phases and the board of trustees decided to convert the broad interests reflected in the museum to a highly focussed collection. In the following decades from the 1970s to 2010s various praised exhibits were sold. The income helped the museum to care for and curate the remaining collection. It is this initiative that brought the sword to us and possibly to you as new caretakers.

References: For the type of sword and similar pieces see F. Keller, The Lake Dwellings of Switzerland and Other Parts of Europe (2012), p. 276, plate XL.

Authenticity: We unconditionally guarantee the authenticity of every artefact, all items are subject to our lifetime return policy on authenticity.