The weapons in the Basel Historical Museum can be divided into three groups (excluding archaeological finds) according to origin. First in time is the small but very important group of weapons from the Burgundian spoils. Preserved for symbolic and commemorative reasons, these weapons are today among the most precious items in the collection. Other weapons, too, had great memorial value attached to them: the dagger of Erasmus of Rotterdam recalled the humanist who died in Basel in 1536, and the dagger of Johannes Amerbach kept alive the memory of one of the founders of book printing in Basel.

A second group in the present collection – incomparably larger with about 3,500 items – comprises the former holding of the old city armoury. It was assigned to the museum at the end of the 19th century.

A third, numerically very small group is made up of weapons donated or purchased by the Basel Historical Museum since its inception. It includes, for example, two crossbows and three precious Swiss daggers that would never have entered the city armoury, since such weapons were worn only by rich and distinguished citizens.

The Museum's weapons collection cannot bear comparison with a princely collection. Its significance is chiefly that it was the stock of the old city armoury. Nevertheless, there are several pieces that are important from the historical, art historical or cultural point of view and these add some lustre to the collection.

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