Join Date: Jun 2005
I have some opinions on the Boca de caballo/shells hilts. The first curious thing is that you do not find them in Spanish swords prior to 1650s.
Searching for phylogenetic relations, the most similar examples are Swedish, for example the sword Gustav Adolf took to his death at Lützen (1632). These swords were often made at the Netherlands, but the flat quillons turned in opposite directions are typical Swedish.
Spanish Cavalry sword hilts that preceded the 1728 model could be a simplification of the two shells civilian rapier hilt. This one sometimes is found with military blades, like the first example below. These were probably made also in Germany. Usually these hilts have very thin civilian blades (third picture). I suspect in some cases the hilts were reused at a later date, as for second picture, with typical pre-1728/1728 blade, grip and pommel.
On ocassion, I have seen these hilts as been made in Brescia, but I am not sure that info is reliable. Maybe it arised from the blade the sword had at the moment.
However, unrelated to the Swedish or other Northern types (pappenheimers), it is posible the 2-shell rapiers did derive from the cup hilt rapier, through intermediate, lobated hilts, as shown in pictures 4 to 8. The earliest isolated examples of Spanish cup hilts are from the 1630s. They became popular towards 1650s, and the 2 shell rapiers started about 1660s.
There are also rougher military versions, one of the 3 types of the so-called Caribbean rapiers, last two pictures (but rather common soldier infantry and navy swords). Cup hilts and shell hilts remained in use in Spain and colonies up to the Napoleonic wars.
If the present rapier is Spanish (German made) the usual civilian Spanish one would have been one of those with the bridges and the engraved dogs (next to other less common representations). This rapier could be some kind of transition piece, as it does not have studs, bolts or screws, as do the pre-1728 and 1728s but not the 2 shell rapiers.
The Boca de caballo cavalry swords have often blades marked "En Alemania, " "En Solingen" and by the smiths "Enrique Coel" "Gio Knegt" in different spellings.
The topic rapier is soaked now in mineral oil as the guardapolvo had active rust.