Two-handed Bearing Processional Sword
- Dated: 1599
- Culture: German
- Place of Origin: Brunswick
- Measurements: overall length 189 cm / 74.4 inches
- Provenance: Historic Collections of the Dukes of Brunswick successively at Schloss Cumberland, Schloss Blankenburg and Schloss Marienburg
The hilt now fitted with a leather-covered wood grip, features a trapeze-shaped iron pommel with ends curving towards the blade to form two small hooks, pierced with a central circular hole and etched overall with arabesques surrounding winged beasts. The flat iron quillons of spatulate form, curve towards the blade and widen and curl at their ends in opposite directions and small re-curved volutes spring from the quillons close to the blade.
The sword has large, flattened side-rings flank the blade etched with a central cartouche enclosing an acorn emerging from a heart, one side retaining an initial "B" flanked on either side with a monogram RSL within decoration en suite with the rest of the hilt. These side-rings enclose two flat guards, similarly etched on both surfaces with panels of grotesque birds within scrolling decoration surrounded with borders of dot decoration.
The blade of flattened diamond section comes with a long ricasso from which spring parrying spurs bearing the date 1599, flanking a standing figure of a musketeer on one side and a soldier bearing a lance or spear on the other. The blade then broadening with two short central fullers pierced and marked “INI” flanked by panels of decoration en suite with the hilt.
Source: Copyright 2013 © Peter Finer
Secrets of the Wallace: The Rapier in the 16th and 17th Centuries
A rather nice (even if brief and very basic) interview with the Wallace Collection curator David Edge about the rapier swords of the Renaissance period; the 16th-century must-have fashion accessory.
- Dated: circa 1570
- Maker: Miguel Cantero
- Culture: Toledo, Spain (blade); Dresden, Germany (hilt)
- Medium and Techniques: steel, iron, partly gilt, encrusted with silver, with copper wire
- Inscriptions: ‘MIGUEL CANTERO’;’EN SOLO DIO CONFIO’ and a crowned ‘C’ for Miguel Cantero of Toledo, Spain
- Measurements: overall length: 109.5 cm, hilt length: 18 cm, blade length: 91.5 cm, quillons width: 26.5 cm, hilt depth: 13.6 cm
This is one of the finest swords in the Museum’s collection. This type, with a simple cross-shaped hilt similar to old medieval swords, remained in use in Saxony until the 17th century. The sword was probably used as a military rather than a civilian weapon as its open hilt could be compensated by other hand protection such as a gauntlet or chain mail. Its rich ornament of silver on a gilded background suggests it was probably used by a wealthy prince or his household guard and possibly comes from the armoury of the Electors of Saxony.
The blade is a fine example from Toledo in Spain and is signed by the maker Miguel Cantero. Sword blades were articles of international trade, made in a few important centres and shipped all over Europe where they were fitted with hilts in the local fashion. During the 16th and 17th centuries the sword blades of Toledo, Valencia and Milan were the most sought after although the largest centre of production was the German town of Solingen.
Guild regulations in Toledo were strict. Those seeking to practise as swordmakers had to pass strict tests of quality stipulated by the King. The finest European hilts were usually equipped with a Spanish blade but if not available a German blade (sometimes with a spurious Spanish inscription) was fitted instead.
Swords were not just weapons but important decorative elements in masculine costume. They were symbols of honour and rank for their owners throughout Europe. They remained an indispensible feature of outdoor dress of any person with pretensions to status until the late 18th century in Europe.
Source: Copyright © 2013 V&A Images
- Dated: circa 1670
- Artist/Maker: Joannes Kalkoen
- Culture: Dutch
- Place of origin: Amsterdam, Holland
- Medium: steel and enamelled gold
- Measurements: blade length: 68.8 cm. Hilt length: 15 cm hilt. Overall length: 89 cm. Width: 9.3 cm. Depth: 6.7 cm
This is an early example of a small sword. The hilt bears the mark of a goldsmith and is elaborately decorated with enamel and gold wire. Later blades were often mass-produced but this one has been cut down from a prized Toledo rapier blade of around 1620.
From around 1640, light swords with short, flexible, pointed blades appeared in response to new fencing techniques that emphasised thrusting at speed. They were worn increasingly with civilian clothes as ‘small swords’, offering a means of self-defence but largely denoting status for the well-dressed gentleman.
Small swords were items of male jewellery. By the 1750s, their elaborate gold and silver hilts, mounted with precious stones and fine enamelling, were the products of the goldsmith and jeweller rather than the swordsmith. They made fitting rewards for distinguished military and naval service. With their blades tucked away inside scabbards, it was their ostentatious and expensive hilts that carried their thrust.
Source: Copyright © 2013 V&A Images
- Dated: 17th century
- Culture: probably Spanish
- Measurements: 122 cm in overall length
The sword has a deep cup of typical form, embossed, chased and pierced throughout. The guard, knucklebow and pommel comes with wrenched motifs, while the wooden grip features with wrenched fluting. It has a double-edged tapering blade with a narrow central fuller at the forte.
Source: Copyright © 2013 Auction Flex