Images of stone, glass, paper etc..... (NEW)

The billhook has been recorded in many ways: primitive carvings found on stones in northern Italy; door lintels of the houses of winegrowers in Alsace; boundary stones in Germany; stained glass windows in cathedrals; in illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages and in paintings and engravings.


All serve to illustrate the shapes of billhooks used in various countries...

A sketch of the 'Ripani dei Pennati' at Monte Gabberi, Camaiore, Lucca in north west Italy, showing a variety of shapes of 'pennati & roncole'.

Another 'rocce dei pennati' from Tuscany in northern Italy

A 'kosir' from a wine producing area of Croatia carved into a village boundary stone.

Another Croation 'kosir' carved into the lintel of the door to a winegrower's house.

A carved stone lintel from the dooway into a winegrower's house in Alsace, dated 1793

A stone gatepost from Alsace, dated 1789, with a small 'serpette' and the proprietor's initials in a cartouche below the broken bell pull.

Funereal stele of a Roman blacksmith and edge tool maker, showing some of the tools made hanging over his head.

Another Roman stele - showing an axe, an adze and other tools as well as a small pruning billhook....

A Gallo-Romain statue of a 'vigneron' holding a billhook in his left hand, found in the Sarthe region of France.

A medieval carving from Parma in Italy

Part of a gravestone of a 'taillandier-forgeron' (edge tool maker and blacksmith) from Château du Loir in France.

A carved cartouche from the gravestone of 'weinbauer' (wine-grower) Hans Wegner Iacob 1616 in the town of Karsruhe-Durlach in south Germany, close to French Alsace. As well as the 'rebmesser' (pruning hook) there are two ploughshares (not to scale).

The combination of a pruning hook and ploughshare seen on the gravestone above is also common on 'wappen' (coats of arms) of winegrowing areas, as on this one from Kippenheim in southern Germany (also on the border with Alsace). 

Vignerons (winegrowers) from one of the many 13th century stained glass windows in Chartres catherdal in France that show images of the pruning billhook ('serpette à taille')

"Vuillafans - la fabrication des paniers à rémonter la terre" by René Perrot - 1943. Vuillafins in the Doubs department of France was a centre for basket making. French artist Perrot René (1912 to 1979) made many sketches of traditional craftspersons. Behind the 'vannier' (basketmaker) is a small 'serpette' used to trim the 'brins' or osiers. Soil that was washed down the slopes of the vineyards by the rain had to be carried by hand back to the top of the slope, and placed around the base of the vines. The basket maker is making the baskets in which the soil is carried.

Another sketch by Perrot - 1943, showing some of the wooden tools used in the workshop of basket maker Xavier Parguet. Carved into the sides of the handles of boxwood are some of the 'serpettes' he would have used. Many of Parguet's tools are works of art in themselves.

Another drawing by Perrot - 'Bûcherons partant à la coupe' - 1943. Note the 'serpes' tucked into the belts of the woodcutters. Perrot was born in Cuse, a small village in Doubs. During WW2, from 1942 onwards he toured France on behalf of the Musée des Arts et Traditions Populaires, producing over 500 sketches and water-colours.

'Bûcheron à Saint-Cyr-sous-Dourdan', a sketch of  a woodcutter - c 1842 by André Jordan (died 1908), with his 'serpe à bûcheron' stuck into the top of the saw-horse.

"The hedger in a country churchyard" c 1935-1940 - a print by the artist and engraver Stanley Anderson CBE RE (1884 to 1966) . Bristol born Anderson is probably best known for his 20 year series of detailed engravings of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire craftsmen and women that he started in 1933 after he bought a cottage and moved to Towersey, near Thame in Oxfordshire. Note the billhook used to partially cut through the saplings in the hedge, and the thick leather glove worn on the left hand to protect from the thorns found on quickthorn and hawthorn.

This worm-eaten wooden statue of a 'colporteur' is in the Musée de la Rennaissance at Ecoeun (north of Paris), although missing his right hand and his backpack, he still has his 'serpette' tucked into his belt under his left arm. A coleporter, or peddler (also pedlar), carried goods (and news) from village to village using mules or, in very mountainous regions where there were only footpaths, on his back. His billhook would have been used to make shelters or cut firewood for the night - maybe even to defend himself with.