Dueling Sword

(Épée de Combat)
19th – 20th century


French dueling sword, c. mid-19th century. Exceptional engraved blade, private collection.

The French dueling sword or épée de combat was used throughout the 19th century and well into the 20th century in the settling of private quarrels. It is a thrusting weapon designed and used for the specific purpose of dueling. This weapon was not worn as a side arm and in many instances these dueling weapons were brought to the dueling ground in their own case. The blade, like that of the earlier small-sword, is triangular in cross-section and tapers towards the point. The guard/shell was made in a variety of shapes and sizes. In the first half of the century the guard resembled the two shells of the 18th century small-sword but without the knuckle bow, quillions or arms. By the latter part of the 19th century, typical dueling swords were mounted with a larger cup-shaped guard, which provided better protection for the sword hand. The foil (fleuret) was the training tool for this weapon for the major part of the 19th century.  However, toward the last quarter of the 19th century, training was conducted with a blunted version of the actual dueling sword affixed with a pointe d’arrêt on the nail-head point of the blade, sometimes referred to as an épée de salle.

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