Original German WWII Officer's Lion Head Sword by ALCOSO of Solingen circa 1940-1943
Original Item: This is a beautiful classic Lionhead German WWII Officer sword, made by the well-known firm of Alcoso Werke in Solingen, Germany. The all brass hilt consists of a finely detailed lion head cat with art deco leaf backstrap and "P" guard. The cat is fitted with blood red faceted eyes. Nice detail throughout his whiskers, chin, and muzzle. The handwork is beautifully rendered throughout this brass. The backstrap consists of raised out leaves with double leaves flowing into the side tabs. These may be oak leaves, but they are quite angular compared to the standard ones used.
This lionhead sword hilt features an outstanding feline head with faceted eyes. The features of this lion's head have been nicely hand rendered to the bottom of the jaw, the whiskers, the eyelids and the mane which runs backward slightly down the sword. The "P" guard and ferrule both have the same angular leaf motif on them as on the rest of the fittings.
The crossguard langet has a typical Alcoso style deco open winged eagle which looks to the viewer's left. The breast area of this eagle, as well as the legs and the wreath enclosing the swas, have all been hand enhanced. The reverse langet is blank, but would often be personized with a monogram. The brass alloy hilt still has a good degree of the original gilded finish, making it very attractive, one of the best Alcoso-made swords we have seen.
The scabbard of this example still has good original factory black lacquer, though there is crazing and checking due to age. Overall 90% of the paint remains, with no dents that we can see.
The grip is an outstanding black celluloid-over-wood base. It is wrapped with four brass wires, the center pair being twisted together. The blade of this example is really something. This blade is of highest quality steel and reflects a mirror bright nickel-plated finish. This blade is in excellent condition, with just a few flecks of oxidation keeping it from being "mint." The blade is 31 1/2 inches long, with the original blade washer is in place. Factory catalogs specify blades were available up to 35 inches. Overall length is 36 1/2 inches.
The reverse ricasso is stamped with the trademark Alcoso used from 1940-1943. It depicts the scales with the firm's initials, AWS interspersed. Next to this is the firm's name in cursive script, Alcoso, and below the town of business, SOLINGEN, the legendary "City of Blades" in Western Germany.
According to J Anthony Carter's Work GERMAN KNIFE AND SWORD MAKERS, Alcoso is a trade name of Alexander Coppel & Co. KG, Stahlwarenfabrik, located in Solingen, the legendary German "City of Blades." The company was a major manufacturer of edged weapons and tools from the end of the 19th century up until the WWII period. Unfortunately, as NSDAP-control increased, brothers Carl Gustav and Dr. Alexander Coppel, the Jewish owners of the firm, were forced out. In 1936 the firm had been "Aryanized", and started using the name ALCOSO to hide the Jewish family name. By the end of 1936 the brothers were ejected from their Solingen offices, and by 1940 the brand trademark initials ACS were changed to AWS to reflect the change in ownership and name: Alexander Coppel Solingen to Alcoso-Werk Solingen. Carl Gustav Coppel committed suicide in Solingen in 1941, and Dr. Alexander Coppel was arrested in 1942 and sent to Theresienstadt Prison camp, where he died August 5th 1942. The factory itself was destroyed by Allied bombers in November 1944.
Overall an excellent example of a German Army Officer's Lion Head sword, from a maker with a somber back story.
The German Army (German: Heer, was the land forces component of the Wehrmacht, the German armed forces, from 1935 to 1945. The Wehrmacht also included the Kriegsmarine (Navy) and the Luftwaffe (Air Force). During World War II, a total of about 15 million soldiers served in the German Army, of whom about seven million became casualties. Separate from the army, the Waffen-SS (Armed SS) was a multi-ethnic and multi-national military force of the Third Reich. Growing from three regiments to over 38 divisions during World War II, it served alongside the army but was never formally part of it.
Only 17 months after AH announced publicly the rearmament program, the Army reached its projected goal of 36 divisions. During the autumn of 1937, two more corps were formed. In 1938, four additional corps were formed with the inclusion of the five divisions of the Austrian Army after the Anschluss in March. During the period of its expansion by Adolf AH, the German Army continued to develop concepts pioneered during World War I, combining ground (Heer) and air (Luftwaffe) assets into combined arms teams. Coupled with operational and tactical methods such as encirclements and the "battle of annihilation", the German military managed quick victories in the two initial years of World War II, prompting the use of the word Blitzkrieg (literally lightning war, meaning lightning-fast war) for the techniques used.
The German Army entered the war with a majority of its infantry formations relying on the horse for transportation. The infantry remained foot soldiers throughout the war; artillery also remained primarily horse-drawn. The motorized formations received much attention in the world press in the opening years of the war, and were cited as the main reason for the success of the German invasions of Poland (September 1939), Norway and Denmark (April 1940), Belgium, France and Netherlands (May 1940), Yugoslavia (April 1941) and the early campaigns in the Soviet Union (June 1941). However their motorized and tank formations accounted for only 20% of the Heer's capacity at their peak strength.
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