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Landsknechte

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Achtung!
Collectors: If you would like to see a beautiful, short video on the Landsknechte and their times, click here.

 

Here Germania opens another category with the addition of Landsknechte. This is quite the interesting chapter for the complete Germanophile as these mercenaries, both brave and bold, were the forerunners of the Waffen-SS, Brandenbergers, Fallshirmjägers and other elite troops of the Deutsches Vaterland's fighting troops. The name "Landsknechte" means literally "servants of the land," a misnomer in that they were originally poor farmers, who, when the crops failed, started to work as mercenaries to earn much-needed cash. The name was coined by Peter von Hagenbach, who commissioned the farmers for service with Charles the Bold of Burgundy. In the 1470's, the freebooters fought for those who could pay, and pay the best! They fought in Germany, Spain, Austria, and the Balkans. Maximilian I (1483-1516) transformed the Landsknechte into a disciplined corps d'elite and many Germanic nobles fought with them. They were best known for their outrageous, multicolored clothing. They fought hand-to-hand against the enemy with pike formations. Commoners also used a short sword called a Katzlaber (cat ripper). The Katzlaber was usually 28 inches long. Nobles used the two-handed sword called Zweihander, which was 66 inches long. The Landsknechte provided their own gear. Flamboyance was their point of pride with huge plumed hats, slashed doublets, hose in various colors, ribbon, and colorful bows. The major weapon of the Landsknechte was the pike (made of ash) and approximately 18 feet in length. The steel head was 10 inches long and often a fox's brush or animal tail was tied to the top of the pike for its healing properties and protection in battle. These mercenary armies more or less invented a new style of clothing with slashings. It was actually brought forward by the Swiss in 1476. The legend is that upon defeating Charles the Bold of Burgundy, they pillaged a wealth of velvets, silks, and other finery, which the victors used to patch their own clothing. The attaching of pieces of fabric to the back of tears received in battle became a Teutonic fad. This was called simply "slashing." Fabric later was purposely slashed at regular intervals and was backed by the fine silks and velvets. Soon, the nobility caught "slashing fever" and the next step was the cod piece, which soon became inflated with padding.



 

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Landsknecht Plaque (Item LAND 1-1)

DESCRIPTION:   Here is an utterly gorgeous plaque or teller mounted in a scrumptious-looking solid-bronze frame specially made to receive the Landsknecht painting on porcelain. This is an actual painting done by a master artist probably in the 1850’s or 1860’s. The quality, although unsigned, looks to be “KPM” (Königliches Porcelin Manufactur) of Berlin Fame. We would testify to this based upon many years of experience in the antique business. The central figure is that of a young Landsknecht soldier in the 1400’s, who looks to be of noble background. He is portrayed wearing the typical freebooter garb with the slashed tunic and feather-bedecked hat. He carries the Zweihander massive sword as was the wont of these mercenary Soldaten. The bronze frame makes this plaque quite heavy. It measures with frame about 17 ½ inches and the porcelain platter is about 10 inches in diameter. The face of the man is of spectacular artistic presentation with every hair of his head and beard pronounced an detailed. this is without a doubt an elegant and fine museum relic of note. We are very proud to offer this wonderful art piece to the collecting public and to museums and fine art galleries worldwide.

PRICE: $2,850.00

 

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Landsknecht Cabinet (Item LAND 1-2)

DESCRIPTION:   Here is a neat little cabinet that can be either used free standing or hung on the wall. It is crafted in oak (the sacred wood and has a magnificent Landsknechtsoldat as the central theme completely hand carved. The soldier is dressed in the typical costume of the 15th-century mercenaries with flamboyant feathered hat and slashed tunic and trousers (see our Landsknecht explanation). He holds the famous Landsknecht Trommel (drum). The carving is first rate and the lock and corners are decorated with German (tin) pewter décor. There are two shelves inside. The height is 17 inches including the footed bottom. It’s 11 inches wide across the front and 6 inches deep. This is a true Germanic art rendering of the mid 19th century. This is not only a great Landsknecht item, but is also a fine furnishing for the wall or desk of the true Germanophile.

PRICE: $1,200.00

 

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Landsknecht Trommel und Tish (drum and table) (Item LAND 1-3)

DESCRIPTION:   Here is a fascinating Germanic art piece and historic relic all rolled into one. This is an actual Landsknecht Trommel (drum) of the mercenary solders of the Landsknecht This has been used as an end table in a very famous German collection for many years and was only recently released because of poor health of the former owner. The drum is painted in the pattern of Bavarian Landsknecht. We do not know if this item harks back to the actual era of the illustrious freebooters, but it indeed is old. Copies of Landsknecht implements such as swords and daggers were made in Germany for centuries because these elite 15th-century warriors were the heroes of legend and lore of the Teutonic people; then and now. There have been songs such as the Landsknecht Trommel down through Germany’s history documenting the romance of these tough and resourceful fighters. The drum is interesting in that in keeping with practical use and tradition there are some odd holes in the drum’s body. This may have been where hanging devices were attached to suspend the drum in a special museum display at some time or another. They really do not take anything from the looks or historical significance of the instrument. The drum serves a double purpose. When not being used as a drum, there is a flat, wooden board that is painted in the same manner as the drum. This article sits securely on the top of the drum and acts as a table. This is peculiar only to Landsknechtsoldaten. They were so picturesque and flamboyant that even their equipment demonstrated practicality, with a flair! You can imagine this tabletop drum placed near the warrior’s chair sitting within the war tent, and on top, his steaming-hot and ready-to-eat lunch. The drum is 33 inches high and 13 1/4 inches diameter. The bottom drum skin has a small crack and slit about an inch long. The top drum skin has an 8-inch crack and slit. It’s remarkable that it is there at all considering its age. The top board that converts the drum to a table is 19 inches from side to side. The ropes we are sure have been replaced, but certainly not recently. The design is pure Bavarian throughout even to the 15th-century-style Reichsadler (eagle). This is a historic treasure as well as a beautiful addition to a great collection of Teutonic artifacts.

PRICE:  SOLD

 

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Pair of Landsknecht Statues (Item LAND 1-4; KSTATUE 3-5)

DESCRIPTION:   Here is the ultimate Landsknecht collectibles; a pair of statues in vibrant dramatic pose. they are undoubtedly from the late 19th century; possibly 1870’s during the height of Germanic victories and military pride in that present time and the past. The Landsknecht were practically exalted in patriotic German lore (see our explanation in the foreword of the Landsknecht page). These statues are constructed in German Weissmetal (white metal), otherwise know as spelter. The sculptures are large, about 20 ¼ inches tall with the bases being about 12 ½ by 9 ½ inches. The costuming is typical Landsknecht with the ultra-flamboyant cap with feathers, the gaudy trousers with the slashing patterns, and the tunic with bloused sleeves. They wear the traditional dagger and wield the Zweihandler (the great sword). At the feet of one of the figures is a Standarte that looks like it identifies the swordsman as being from the Saxon Landsknechte. Underneath this is the royal-eagle motif with oak-leaf trim. The other soldier is standing on a standard that looks to be the royal lion of Bavaria. Gorgeous scroll-like decoration springs up also on the base. On one figure the crossbow of the times is depicted. Both figures have the short sword or dagger at their side known as the Katzlaber, or cat ripper. Fine and accurate in every single detail, they are mounted on wooden bases. They are so vividly real looking that the observer will feel that he hears them saying: “Hut-Dich-Baur Ich Komm,” “Look out. Here I come!” One can also contemplate the effect that these colorful displays in garb may have had on the foe when they also heard that fearful chant resounding over the field of battle. Pay was always the important consideration for these men. More than one general anguishing from declining funds would suffer the ultimatum of “No pay-no Landsknechts.” To this end the mercenaries were always given the right to loot any town which they had captured; all except for the church bells, which were reserved for the master gunner for melting down to cast cannon barrels. Originally, the Landsknecht were raised in companies (Fähnlein) of 400 men commanded by a captain appointed by the Oberst colonel. From an early stage these freebooters were guaranteed by the Imperial Diet a great freedom in the way they dressed. This freedom was supposed to give the men a little happiness and pride in their lives which was so full of danger. So, the almost outrageous dress had its use and we see it reflected in these two wonderful artistic depictions in metal that we proudly present here and now.

PRICE:  SOLD

 

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Landsknecht Sword (Item LAND 1-5; AHN 2-7)

DESCRIPTION:   Here is a typical Landsknecht short sword. This is a copy, but not a “new” copy of the famous Katzlaber of the freebooters. It’s the usual 33 inches long altogether with the blade measuring 27 inches long. It has the almost obligatory reverse-twist sword guard. It has a maker’s guild mark on the blade with “E.V.A.” initials. The logo or mark looks like a lion within a shield. Within the departments of the German Heritage Association there was a section that was responsible for the making of ancient Germanic weapons. They, of course, did not manufacture these re-created pieces. They farmed this out to companies in Solingen and in other weapons-producing outfits in the Reich. This weapon is completely made of iron (Iron Age). It balances well as a highly destructive instrument of bloody carnage. It could easily dismember a body when swung by a mighty arm (gives us ideas!) when thoughts turn to certain x-spurts on the web! But that’s another study into so-called, but sadly, lacking knowledge too often dubiously expressed. This is a rather rare piece regardless of the fact that it does not harken back to the age of the true Landsknechts. This is a choice weapon for a good Teutonic collection. Germanophiles will salute this one!

PRICE: SOLD

 

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Mounted Crossbowman in a Porcelain Plaque (Item LAND 1-5a)

DESCRIPTION:   Here is a magnificent depiction of a Landsknecht fighter, who, by the trappings of his horse and his own magnificent garb, would be possibly an important officer of the freebooters. The usage of great color makes this plaque or plate a stunning presentation that faithfully depicts the age of mercenary battle. The oak-leaf motif on the horse’s tail and mane are as Germanic as Knackwurst. Only the Deutsche Landsknecht used the oak-leaf décor. The item is 12 inches in diameter. It seems to be hand painted and the image is in high relief. It’s signed “C. Barner.” This very well may be a unique creation. Just about Allach quality, probably from the 1930’s. There is a mark on the back from a firm in Hamburg. They might have been the handlers for fine art offerings. we proudly present here and now.

PRICE: $350.00

 

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Hand-Painted Target (Item LAND 1-6; HUNT 6-3)

DESCRIPTION:   Here is one of the more unusual German traditional phenomenon. From ancient times German artists have produced wonderful paintings on wooden plaques, sometimes beer-barrel tops with the express purpose of being targets. The winning shooter of the day is declared Königshutz, king shooter, and he gets the target as his prize. The subjects can be forest animals, military soldiers and equipment, Munich maids, even religious subjects. There is no significance to the shooting at revered subjects. It simply is a target and the nicer or the most meaningful it is the better it will look on the König’s wall. This one is a beauty depicting a Landsknechtsoldat in full, fancy attire with his weapons. The wording has something to do with military protection and fine art that attends our competition. This seems to indicate a military shooting contest of sorts. The shots fired appear to all be to the right of the target. Probably the winning shot was the one piercing the middle of the Landsknecht’s sword or dagger. This is indicated by what is left of a red sticker that was over the particular bullet hole in the back of the target. The piece measures 15 ½ inches in diameter with 20 bullet holes that looks like they were fired by a .22-cal. pistol or rifle. This is truly a classic example of this shooting sport. A great wall piece.

PRICE: $450.00

 

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Authentic Landsknecht Sword (Item LAND 1-7; ANTWEP 2-28)

DESCRIPTION:   Here is the Katzlaber of the 1500s. See our explanation at the Heading of this page. The age is apparent on this typical short sword of the colorful Freebooters of historical Germanic fame and saga. The serpentine guard and fittings are of iron, while the grip is covered in leather that shows its age. The leather is sewn together with cat gut or sinew. The blade is marked with a name ‘E. Schmidt,’ who was either the blacksmith or the owner of the weapon. There is a scabbard that seems very old, but possibly not as aged as the sword. These Katzlaber were so well thought of and treasured that replacement scabbards were often newly fashioned when the previous one wore out from steady usage. The length of the whole sword is about 29 inches. The blade is about 23 inches long and 1 3/4 inches wide. The scabbard is 23 inches, but because of age and shrinkage, the sword blade does not enter completely. It lacks about 2 inches of going in. The tip of the scabbard has the typical Alte Germanic, two-ball décor. We are fairly well convinced that this one is the real thing. We have seen similar ones in fine German museums and the comparison is duly noted as equal in design and age patina. This was definitely made for in-fighting and is sound and lethal. Heft it and if you will strain your ears a bit you will hear the Landsknecht Trommel!

PRICE: $3,895.00

 

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Two Carved Wood Landsknecht Sculptures in Wood (Item LAND 1-9; KCARVING 1-4; OLD 5-9)

DESCRIPTION:   These are truly magnificent museum pieces in every sense of the word. Against carvings recently done in Bavaria or the Black Forest region there is absolutely no comparison. The figures are absolutely worthy of being featured in a museum or advanced art gallery. We have in many years never seen finer examples although we have viewed some of Germany’s greatest collections of wood sculpture and just nothing quite compares. The accuracy of the costuming, the human countenance of the faces, the deployment of their armor all go to speak of masterpieces in wood. From what we have been able to garner in information about when these figures were carved from German sources we are led to believe that they probably were executed in the mid 19th century and the work is considered extra typical of the carving of the south Tyrol. The armor and other costuming of the sculptures suggest historical depictions that would be from that area, as well. The figures depict Landsknecht militiamen of the first third of the 16th century. Note that we show pictures from museum sources of similarly attired Landsknechtsoldaten. The difference between the Swiss and northern Landsknecht was mainly in the style of the weapons used. The sword seen worn by one of the figures differs in that it does not have the typical s-curved cross guard. The mace he holds is the long version that was used not only as a head crusher, but because of its length, it was very effective in bringing an enemy down from his horse in a quick motion. The pole arm held by the other figure is a simple staff with what usually had an iron point. Simple, but deadly, it could be thrust into the adversary piercing chain mail or it could be hurled through the air at the enemy soldiers. The figure holding this weapon is suited in excellent armor garniture and wears an iron helmet. His upper torso is covered in chain mail. His blouse is of the typical Landsknecht flamboyant style. The armor covers only the chest and upper leg area. His back has no vital covering. The other figure wears no actual armor, but has a full tunic of chain mail. He wears a full protective helmet and the cloak usually worn by officers. The cloak was often of bright woolen weave. The figures measure between 14 and 15 inches generally, not counting the height of the weapons. The faces of these men are individual, but the artist has put true character in each one. They could practically breathe; they are so realistic. So what you see here are examples of the pride of Germany’s wood sculpture art. These figures could hardly be executed today even by the best of the Tyrolian carvers. The condition is excellent. The figures will be sold as a set, only.

PRICE:   $7,000.00

 

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Champagne Goblet with Landsknecht Scene (Item LAND 1-10)

DESCRIPTION:   This is a fine-art glass goblet with a scene of Landsknecht mercenaries gambling with dice. They wear the traditional costume of many colors in the halberd and sword known as the “Katzlaber” are evident in the depiction. We think this scene is hand painted on the glass. Speaking of the glass, it is the finest of its type that when struck against a coin the ringing reverberation is clear as a church bell. The glass is opaque cream color. It is 11 inches high, with a mouth opening of 4 inches. There are no cracks, no chips; this is just a very nice example of the glass maker’s craft.

PRICE: $185.00

 

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