Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: adelaide south australia
Spanish Bilbo Circa 1700
When we began collecting one gentleman had an enormous influence on us, the late Irishman Eric Magill of Adelaide. This sword was probably the first quality sword we ever purchased and came from Eric’s collection. Recently as we are required to display swords each month at two local collecting clubs, I have had to revisit the swords in our collection prior to their display which is proving to be a useful exercise. When you are obliged to really look at a sword that you have had for many years it’s surprising what you find out.
The Sword is known by English Collectors as the Bilbo.
Date: Circa 1700 (18h Century), blade may be older
Overall Length: 41 ¼” 104.7 cm
Blade length: 34 ¼” 87 cm
Blade widest point: 1 3/8” 3.5 cm
Hilt widest point: 8 ½” 21.6 cm
Inside grip length: 3 1/8” 8 cm
Marks, etc: Appears to have been re-marked with Charles the 4th of Spain. There is also a large flat H on ricasso
BILBO Spanish backsword of the late seventeenth century, of the type known as a Bilbo. 18th century sword with flat broad backsword blade engraved on one side with P CS IV and on the other the remnants of A DE rest long since removed. The ricasso struck on one side with a broad versions of the Letter H. Steel hilt with asymmetrical upturned shell guards, screwed to the guard, which is integral with the large pas d’ane; including a pair of straight quillons with turned finials; knuckle bow stopping short of the bun-shaped pommel; the wooden grip bound with twisted copper wire. Single edged blade probably pre-dates hilt, and may have been re-marked with Charles the 4th of Spain. Sword came to Eric Magill out of a Scottish museum via an English dealer in the 1980’s.
The Mark may be that of Maria Hortuna 17th Century Esoana (Toledo) Ref LENKIEWICZ-Zygmunt 1000 Marks of European Blade MakersPp29
The Bilbo term, was an old name for a cup-hilt rapier sword, in use around in the 16th -18th century. The name comes from the Basque city of Bilbao, where a significant number of them were exported to the New World. These swords were also sold to arms merchants of the most European country, including England. The Bilbo Sword was a favourite weapon of Spanish soldiers and sailors in the New World and the pirates of Caribbean during the 18th century and also wildly used by the American cavalry during the revolutionary wars.
BRINCKERHOFF, Sidney B. and CHAMBERLAIN, Pierce A. Spanish Military Weapons in Colonial America 1700-1821 pp 79-82, 97 plate 186
DUFTY, A. European Swords & Daggers in the Tower of London. pp 23, plate 42 a.
MOMPARLER Vincente Toledo ESPADAS ESPAÑOLAS MILITARES Y CIVILES desde el siglo XVI al XX by Vicente Toledo Momparle. Pages: 98-103.
NEUMANN George C by Battle Weapons of the American Revolution.. Page. 348. No.135. SS.
NEUMANN George C by Swords and Blades of the American Revolution. Page 160. No.296.S
OAKESHOTT, E. European Weapons and Armour. pp168-167.
SOUTHWICK, L The Price Guide to Antique Edged Weapons pp 58. plates 126.
If anyone has more information on the various blade markings and early Bilbo’s that would be most appreciated.
Cheers Cathey and Rex