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fernando 9th February 2008 09:05 PM

Spanish colonial sword
10 Attachment(s)
I am not at home, my camera batteries are ran out and i don't have my precious tripod. But i couldn't wait to show this piece, for which payment i had to get naked :mad: . These lousy pictures try to show an aledgely 18th century Spanish colonial tigela ( bowl ) sword.
The double edged blade, with a wide central fuller, is 76 cms. (30") long and 3,5 cms. (1 3/8") wide.
Clear marks on the blade left side and only a half dozen letter traces remaining on the right face ... probably impossible to decipher.
Anybody to coment on the marks and, obviously, on the sword ?
Are you around, Jim ?
Anything to do with espada anchas ? Sorry my ignorance.
Coments will be so much welcome, Gentlemen.

Jim McDougall 9th February 2008 10:54 PM

WOW! Fernando :)
Indeed this does appear Spanish colonial, and seems to be an interesting hybrid of the bilbo type guard system, as well as reflecting the influence of European smallswords. The scalloped type edge of the shellguard is further evidence of the colonial possibilities, as well as the shape on the terminals and elements on the guard.
The blade looks to be one of the heavy military type broadsword blades that are now thought to have been actually Solingen made c.1770's and typically have the 'Spanish motto' in the triple fullers.
The large initials appear to be of either an owner or possibly a unit? In any case they would not be makers initials as far as I know.

The only associations with espada ancha would be that during this period, many of them carried these type blades, often reduced in length. The scalloped shell theme also occurred on some espada ancha in a flat extension of the guard that was like a large langet parallel to the blade.

Very nice! and its interesting to see a 'smallsword' type example that seems to be contemporary with many of the 'bilbo' swords, probably end of the 18th to early 19th century, and probably for an officer.

All best regards,

fernando 10th February 2008 08:02 PM

Thank you Jim,
Your'e allways there, my friend :)
Meanwhile i have improved the pictures ... have i ? :eek:
... Just in case other European swords conoisseurs come in :cool:
I wonder where Marc is ;)

Jim McDougall 11th February 2008 02:45 AM

You always come up with great pieces Fernando! and I too look forward to hearing from Marc on this one. The pictures really are much better, and in one it seems the BB, the first B has a S. in it.
All the best,

Marc 11th February 2008 02:51 PM

Marc would like to be able to say something about the marks, but he can't :) It's a small brass inset what I seem to see in the mark closer to the hilt in the reverse of the double "B" (fifth picture, DSC00010.JPG)? It may be an optical effect...
I'm still looking around for it, but as a first approximation it's indeed Spanish/Spanish Colonial. It's not the first one I see, with some minor variations. Blade seems to be "import", probably German. It's a military sword, Cavalry/Dragoons, second half of the 18th c., and a nice piece to boot, my sincere congratulations :)

fernando 11th February 2008 11:22 PM

Thanks a lot for your input and for praising this piece, Marc :) .
No, there is no brass in the apparently unreadable marks, only some dust in the dot.
BTW, how would you tipify this sword, in terms of its guard ... be it in English or Spanish, in a way that i can bring it to Portuguese. It is not cup ( taza ), neither shell ( concha). Jim called it a bilbo hybrid type guard. Bilbo derives from Bilbao; is this how you call it in Spain ?. I am not certain it has an equivalence in portuguese. I already knew this name, but i browse the net and i don't see any examples.The thing is i don't know how to classify it for my files. The seller called it tigela ( bowl ) guard, but i don't think he is correct.
Or should i just call it by its class; a cavalry dragoon sword, basicaly of colonial issue?
Sorry to be such a bore

Jim McDougall 12th February 2008 02:44 AM

Fernando, if I were trying to classify this it would be as a dragoon officers shellguard dress sword with bilbo style quillons and of latter 18th century, probably Spanish colonial. The true Bilbo does have a bowl type guard, and it does seem that there may be some association with Bilbao as far as the derivation of the term. While a bit lengthy in words, it is better to be more descriptive when an atypical form is the subject.
Marc, its great to hear from you on this, and I agree it really is a nice example. I was hoping you might something similar among the regulation Spanish swords, but for the most part this seems like a cavalry officers sword that reflects the smallswords of the gentry, much like the British M1796 Heavy Cavalry officers dress sword.

All the best,

Gavin Nugent 12th February 2008 03:37 AM

The Brass on this sword.
What is the significance of the brass on the Ricasso and quillons? To my eyes they look to be added later than the swords original manufacture. Could there in fact be other marks under the brass that covers the ricasso?


Marc 12th February 2008 11:46 AM

Come on, it IS nice, and you very well know it o wouldn't have bought it to start with... *grin*

It's Spanish Colonial and very likely for mounted forces, hence cavalry/dragoons. The "bilbo" thing it's a bit more complex... English-speaking collectors (and as far as I know others influenced by the English-speaking arms collecting world) tend to loosely call "bilbos" to swords with a double-shell guard. The term is somehow historical, and in period referred to late 16th and 17h c. rapiers with this kind of hilt.

So, these would be "bilbos":

or even these, although in the same context these tend to be called "Pappenheimer", even us in Spain use it for rapier hilts of Central-European origin (17th c.) with pierced double shell:

The current theories place the origin of the name to the city of Bilbao, in the modern Basque Country, in northern Spain, the capital of the actual province of Bizkaia which was a millenary iron-production center and also origin of sword and dagger hilts of fame at that time. It was a part of Spain with traditional trade contacts with Britain, so it's a very likely origin.

But fact is that the term is actually used to cover all double-shell hilt swords, and it's specially used to describe what in fact it's the Spanish cavalry Pattern sword M1728, like these:

This style was in use, with variations, since mid 17th c, and after being made into a cavalry pattern in 1728 was going to be in service until the beginning of the 19th c. As such, calling this a "bilbo", it's stretching the term a bit too much. In Spain it's called a Cavalry sword M1728, a "double shell" guard sword or a "Horse-mouth" guard sword, because of the similarity of a construction detail of the hilt with a piece of a horse bite.

I'm sure you can easily notice the similarities in general "feel" and build with the sword being discussed here :)

As you can see, the "colonial" versions were slightly different, with an alternate shell and the brass highligths. The brass ricasso it's there because these swords mounted all kinds of imported blades, some of which had no ricasso to speak of, so they put that hollow brass "capsule" on the tang in the right place to create an operative "fake ricasso".

The blade in Fernando's sword seems to be an import, probably German, as said before. Again, the marks are not familiar, I'm sorry.



Jim McDougall 12th February 2008 04:27 PM

Beautifully done explanation on the 'bilbo' swords Marc!!! and as always, your expertise in the weapons of Spain is paramount! In visualizing the bilbo (M1728) I was incorrect in using the bowl term, and will take the insanity defense :) Actually I believe I was thinking of the frontal view which looks bowl like in degree, and should have reviewed illustrations.

The bilbo term, seems to be yet another transliteration or romanticized term used by collectors, and may be derived from 'bilobate' which of course would describe the double lobed shellguards. The term bilbo occurs (and cannot recall detail which is in notes unavailable at the moment) in Shakespeare and I believe may account for the collectors choice of term.

The sword is indeed a cavalry form, and resembles the style of horsemens swords of the low countries, sometimes referred to as 'walloons' (another term with interesting history) and used by the British also in the late 17th century. This sword seems to reflect a combination of these, the bilbo (M1728) and as mentioned the dress swords for officers of beginning of the 19th century. All of these suggest the profound preservation of traditional form that is a hallmark of the beauty of Spanish weapons.

Gavin, good observation on the brass, which is often used in variation on Spanish colonial weapons, and typically seems to be an aesthetic affectation. It is possible a makers stamp might be under the brass collar on the ricasso within the pas d'ane. The brass terminals and en suite additions to the guard appear for dress, in Spanish colonial application much favored.

All very best regards,

fernando 12th February 2008 11:05 PM

Thanks a lot Marc. I am speechless at such material.
Also thank you Jim, for your excelent dissection.
Thanks for coming in, Gav.
I will now try and digest the whole lecture and get the best of it.
All the best and keep well, Gentlemen.

Jim McDougall 15th February 2008 01:11 AM

Thanks Fernando :) the quiz will be on the 16th :) !!

All best regards,

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