Join Date: Dec 2004
[QUOTE=Jim McDougall]This is a cup hilt comprised of four shells which seems usually of first half 17thc and both Italian and Spanish convention. The Italian are often with pierced openwork and from Brescia, while the solid and usually chiseled style like this are of course usually Spanish.
The four-shell construction is rather unusual for the type. I beg to differ on the pierced openwork hilts of Italy, however. Though some examples of this type of craftsmanship do hail from Brescia (Giovan Maria Tonini was a noted cutler from there who made hilts of this style), the cities of Milan and Naples were far ahead in both quality and quantity of output. The ranks of Italian masters of pierced hilts are headed by Lorenzo Palumbo of Naples and Francesco Maria Rivolta of Milan, both flourishing in the third quarter of the 17th cent. See Boccia and Coehlo, ARMI BIANCHE ITALIANE, for near-mint examples of their work in major museum collections in Europe and the US, it is simply breathtaking. Also check out the new digital catalog of the Wallace Collection. The openwork style was imitated elsewhere; according to Oakeshott, inferior imitations were made in Germany in an attempt to cash in on the south European market for these unique weapons.
Interesting that although the Italians are responsible for some of the best quality in this class, they regarded cup hilts as a foreign innovation, calling these rapiers " spade alla spagnola" . They date from a time during which the southern half of Italy was under Spanish rule.