EAA Research Consultant
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
In reading the 1885 work of the fencing master Egerton Castle, "Schools and Masters of Fence", I found some interesting passages which might support the period for this type blade of first quarter to mid 18th c. :
...the characteristic of the colichemarde blade is the very great breadth of the fort, as compared with that of the faible. The change is very abrupt; the blade, which is stiff and broad in the portion nearer the hilt, suddenly becoming excessively slender about the region of the half weak.
The pronounced difference facilitated the rapid management of the point to an extraordinary extent, without weakening the sword at the forte, from which all parries are made; so that practically the blade remained strong as ever. This form of blade was eminently favorable to methodical fencing, and this is one of the rare instances in which the form of the weapon was not the result of the development of the theory, but one in which the invention of a new shape ultimately altered the whole system.
Soon after its coming into general use we begin to hear of the free use of the 'cut over the point', of multiple feints, and what especially constituted te essence of small sword or French fencing, in contradistinction to rapier play, namely circular parries (contra-degagements) in the four lines.
This highly perfect form of blade was used between the years 1685 and 1720, and then seems very suddenly to have gone out of fashion, being REPLACED AGAIN BY ONE WHICH TAPERED VERY UNIFORMLY FROM THE BASE TO THE POINT.
But the advantages of an exceedingly light point were too important to be neglected, and accordingly the WHOLE blade was made very slender".
( Egerton Castle- pp.239-240. )
It would seem that this 'triangular' blade may well be indeed transitional as described above, but well apart from the rapier. The civilian examples more strictly following fashion likely took the gradual taper shape (triangular) in order to retain the heavier forte. At some point the blade became entirely slender, probably by about 1730.
Meanwhile as I noted earlier, the military, always stubbornly adhering to tradition still maintained the earlier blade shape, as evidenced by examples as late as 1780, George Washington having one of them.
I believe this example to be of 1720-40 period based on these notes .