Melee weapons refer to those instruments used in spontaneous acts of violence, for example to protect oneself. From the Stone Age there is evidence of sharpened stones being used to protect life and property. Flint stones would be sharpened and then mounted on to lances, spears and used for arrow heads.

This form of melee weaponry developed in the Bronze Age as humankind developed their metal processing skills. Swords created during this historical period are considered the first weapon, in the modern sense.


Left: Very rare hunting knife with imperial monogram of Tsar Nicholas II, Russia 1891
Right: Hunting sword with stone lock pistol, Russia (Tula?) 3rd quarter of the 18th century

Throughout history, swordsmanship developed into an art. Swords were made with either a single-edge or a double edge, in order to safely guide a sword, it is important for the user to put balanced weight on both the blade and the handle.


Left: Medieval sword with silver decoration at Knauf, Germany 1st quarter of the 12th century
Right: Ornate court decor of a nobleman, France 2nd half of the 18th century

The Gladius, the typical short sword of the Roman soldiers, is a good example of swords used in battle in the ancient world.


Left: General of the Napoleonic wars, gold decoration with the 4 flags of the alliance (Prussia, Russia, England, Austria) Prussia 1813-14
Right: Silver dagger, Turkish wars, Ottoman Empire late 17th century

In Europe during the Middle Ages, the sword was the weapon of choice for noble knights, who would charge on horseback, sword defiantly raised, towards their enemies.


Left: Khanjar with Steingriff and Golddekor, India 19th century
Right: Sword with enamel embellishments, Persia 19th century

At the end of Middle Ages, the sword in warfare was gradually replaced as firearms were invented to cater for battles in which the two enemy sides would have a great distance between them, with up-close combat becoming rarer and rarer.


Left: Shashka with Cyrillic inscription "In memory of Petia and Sascha", Caucasus 19th c.
Right: Yatagan with the signature (Tughra) from Sultan Ahmed III. (1703-30), Ottoman Empire

However, the sword continued to evolve with rapiers or sabres used during the 17th century by military officers and also as a mark of honour and recognition from European nobility.


Left: Tanto of Naomitsu with engravings (Horimono) of Masatsugu, Japan 3rd quarter of the 19th century
Right: Qatar, decorated with seven Makara heads, India around 1900

Historically, whilst swords with a straight blade were common in the Western hemisphere, swords with a curved blade, scimitars, dominated Asia.

In addition to melee weapons, Czerny's sale on 16th September will feature historical firearms, such as rifles, pistols and revolvers from the world over. Another auction will take place on 29th September which will focus on Chinese ceramics and Asian antiques. Check out more here.