Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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kronckew 7th March 2018 06:48 PM

Islamic sword from toledo
3 Attachment(s)
Saw this on a toledo made sword from around the mid 19c. appears to be arabic in a cartouche on the grip. can anyone tell what it says? I'm not sure which way is up, ;) I do not recognise if the writing is actually arabic or the artisan's impression. blade is quite flexible and razor sharp. appears to be real gold inlays.

mariusgmioc 7th March 2018 09:36 PM

Can you please show us the whole sword?



Oliver Pinchot 7th March 2018 09:59 PM

It's not Arabic

M ELEY 8th March 2018 10:38 AM

Siamese? Tibetan? Bhutan? :shrug:

kronckew 8th March 2018 10:50 AM

I think it's mock/ersatz arabic, for decorative purposes by someone illiterate in arabic calligraphy.

kronckew 8th March 2018 11:16 AM

4 Attachment(s)
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
Can you please show us the whole sword?



Attached :) note the reinforced forte/ricasso area.

fernando 8th March 2018 11:31 AM

Modern ?

carlos 8th March 2018 11:50 AM

The work in handle is typical from Toledo and is known as Damasquinado. I think this piece could be from 1920 more or leas. Is a beatiful sword. The Fábrica de Toledo made some copies of swords from different ages.
I love this sword! If some day you want send me ...😀😀

Roland_M 8th March 2018 12:15 PM

Originally Posted by kronckew
Attached :) note the reinforced forte/ricasso area.

What a beautiful sword! These Arabesques are among the best I ever saw!

I tend to date the sword back to the 19th ct..


mariusgmioc 8th March 2018 05:23 PM

Beautiful it is but unfortunately it is just a purely decorative piece not even a reproduction of a hystorical sword... at least none I can recognize. :shrug:

Battara 8th March 2018 11:42 PM

My first thought was an artificially aged copy. Then the blade bending - :eek:

fernando 9th March 2018 08:33 AM

Originally Posted by Battara
... My first thought was an artificially aged copy...

Mine as well.

Originally Posted by Battara
... Then the blade bending - :eek:

More of an Indian trick, right ?

fernando 9th March 2018 09:17 AM

Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
Beautiful it is but unfortunately it is just a purely decorative piece not even a reproduction of a hystorical sword... at least none I can recognize. :shrug:

I have been in Toledo (for the second time) the other day. The city is infested with sword (and armour) copies, being offered in hotel lobbies and all kinds of shop windows; Boadbil jinetas face to face with unreal things you see (or not) in fiction movies. On the other hand i wouldn't take it for certain that this piece was made in Spain.

mariusgmioc 9th March 2018 04:09 PM

Originally Posted by fernando
On the other hand i wouldn't take it for certain that this piece was made in Spain.

I also have major doubts that it was made in Spain. Much more likely it is a "toledized" Jian, made in China.

midelburgo 13th June 2018 03:58 PM

6 Attachment(s)
These were from the 1870s to 1880s. There was a workshop at the Toledo Factory working with silver and gold inlays. The main artisan was Zuloaga, a brother to the famous painter, although I think he was more often at Eibar.

There is another piece from this workshop in this thread:

Often they are idealized weapons with a now absurd romantic or oriental-like aspect.

There is a book on this:

I have myself a cup hilt rapier dated 1881. I do not think from Zuloagas himself. The piece is hopeless as a weapon, too heavy, wrong balance, too stiff, too long (1.25m plus). It has three different gold tones (out of reach now). Main gauches are often seen in this style.

The horrors you can see in Toledo tourist pieces, mainly from the 1950s to 1970s are trying to imitate with acid etching and red and gold paint the old workshop. Last two pictures.

kronckew 13th June 2018 08:08 PM

Thank you for confirming it's age. That confirms my information.

Since the thread was started the sword has gone back to Spain to be restored by its new owner who works for that Toledo works as his father and his father also did as a damascener, he confirmed it's provenance. He suspects his family likely did the original work back then. He is happy to have recovered a bit of his family's past.

midelburgo 14th June 2018 10:32 AM

Maybe there is need for a fast clarification about Toledo.

Toledo cutlers have been famous even before the christians recovered the city in XIth century. They continued functioning as a guild up to early XVIIIth century. Their medieval structure and methods had been very inefficient for a century by then. A Toledo blade could cost five times more than one by Solingen, and the quality gap had been diminishing. So they were disappearing.

Around 1760, king Carlos III ministers decided to rescue what was left under the patronage of the state. They gave contracts for standard models, each cutler working in his own workshop, until in the 1770s a new centralized building was established, La Fabrica de Toledo, in the city outskirts, and all the cutlers were moved there. Quality and production numbers were recovered. Between 1770 and 1900, the swords were marked with Fabrica de Toledo and the production year. When the Fabrica became a responsibility of the Artillery Corps, Fabrica de Artilleria de Toledo. Brass moldings started in the 1830s, decorative etchings workshop for officers was usual from the end of 1840s. In the 1860s the factory included in its catalog replicas of old swords and items for civilian market, hunting knives, letter openers... and souvenir wallhangers. The factory would continue making these items, adding small firearms ammunition up to 1980, when it was closed just after celebrating its second centenary. In the 2000s the old XVIIIth century buildings were recycled to house the University of Castilla-La Mancha.
The Fabrica archives thought lost for years, are still under the control of the Army.

Since the 1920s or earlier, cutlers in the old city started producing tourist pieces of poor quality. They were imitating especially the civilian pieces from the Fabrica. They could not mark Fabrica de Toledo, but they marked as Toledo. This market grew in the 1950s and 1960s. As swords lost importance in the military, even the few gala swords for officers, started being made by these workshops. The historical models (medieval Cid sword for example) used in these workshops were the high-quality copies made by the Fabrica, not the originals from the Royal Armouries at Madrid. For a hundred years they were making copies of copies of copies, without looking at the originals. In the 1980s they started adding Hollywood Movies weaponry...

In the 2000s a new movement for antique fencing in Spain started looking for a producer of the needed historical weaponry (mostly XVIIth century). Toledo was an obvious option, this has created among a few cutlers there an interest for old techniques and models, but it has still a low profile compared to the wallhanger market.

fernando 14th June 2018 10:56 AM

Excelent synopsis. Thanks for posting it, Midelburgo :cool: .

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