Baton; France, 1929

Salute before a match at staff

Salute before a match at staff

The staff fencing of the Compagnons appear to have survived until the 1920’s…

This postcard from Mazamet in southwestern France shows two young fencers before a match of Baton… the French version of quarterstaff. Dated 1929, this salle contains not just sabers and foils but also sticks used for la canne (see Detail.)



Of interest especially to historians of pan-European fencing traditions is the ribbon worn by the fencers on the bench, as well as by the bout director. (It shows very faint on the fencer to our right.) These resemble the Bänder of German fraternity students as well as those worn by French journeymen (compagnons), whose 18th- and 19th-century brevets depict them engaging in baton and canne fights and practising drinking rituals that closely match those of German students.

On those ribbons, two different color combinations are discernible among the fencers. The distance kept by the young man on the utmost right of the bench and the three others (as well as his glance toward the fencer to the left) could indicate that there are two different teams or associations involved in this match.

Francophile readers of the blog are invited to contribute to our enlightenment.

Bänder in France?

Bänder in France?

Below see a brief club of la Canne fencing as demonstrated by Charlemont, one of the fathers of this discipline.


2 responses to “Baton; France, 1929

  1. Wonderful image. You are doing a kudos deserving job with the blog. One thing I find interesting here though is the apparent size of the sticks… what indicates (double handed) bâton practice to you in place of (single handed) la canne? The bâton is usually 4 to 5 foot long (1.2 to 1.5m) and these sticks appear shorter to my eye (3 foot?).

  2. fencingclassics

    As far as batons go, these do appear to be very short. In fact, I was about to call the image “La Canne Fencers”, when I discovered the sticks on the wall. I welcome further suggestions and clarification…

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