Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Swiss Dagger with Sheath, Bodkin, and By-Knife

ca. 1570
Steel, gold, bronze, wood, textile
Dagger (04.3.130); L. with sheath 17 5/8 in. (44.8 cm); L. without sheath 15 3/4 in. (40 cm); W. 3 1/2 in. (8.9 cm); Wt. 1 lb. 1.5 oz. (496.1 g); Wt. of sheath 13.3 oz. (377 g); bodkin (04.3.131); L. 7 1/16 in. (17.9 cm); Wt. 0.8 oz. (22.7 g); knife (04.3.132); L. 8 1/16 in. (20.5 cm); W. 5/8 in. (1.6 cm); Wt. 1.1 oz. (31.2 g)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1904
Accession Number:
Not on view
Daggers with I-shaped grips were known as baselards, after the city of Basel, and were considered a national arm of the Swiss. Splendidly decorated specimens such as this one, with elaborate gilt bronze mounts and scabbards, were worn by officers and wealthy burghers, who usually also held high-ranking positions in the militia. The figural decoration on the scabbard represents the story of William Tell, the Swiss national hero.
Nickel, Helmut. "Arms and Armor from the Permanent Collection." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 49, no. 1 (Summer, 1991). pp. 35, 64, ill.

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