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Old 12th February 2021, 02:20 PM   #1
urbanspaceman
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Default cartouche

I've been unable to identify the origin and meaning of this cartouche on what I understand is an Italian transitional rapier of the second half of the 18th C.
I've had my [ex] Sicilian mother-in-law, who was a professor of language, attempt to decipher the motto but I am not convinced by her efforts (she was never convinced by my efforts either) so I thought I would open up the mystery to the global experts.
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Old 12th February 2021, 02:27 PM   #2
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ps
Here is the entire sword:
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Old 12th February 2021, 03:24 PM   #3
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Let's try Lorenzo Chinaglia (BerberDagger). I will PM him
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Old 12th February 2021, 04:24 PM   #4
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I saw this on an early 18thC French smallsword and it seems to bear some resemblance:
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Old 12th February 2021, 05:27 PM   #5
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Could well be; both have angel wings.
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Old 12th February 2021, 05:38 PM   #6
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It is Cupid!

two hearts and two names Simon and Vio (from Violetta).

And it is a smallsword all day (look at the proportions between the length of the hilt and the length of the blade).
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Old 12th February 2021, 05:46 PM   #7
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Bingo ... Marius .
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Old 12th February 2021, 06:26 PM   #8
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It is a 36" /92cm blade; very sharp on both sides.
A wedding present from the bride's family perhaps; it is the lower line that stump me as it is one word and my mother-in-law couldn't identify it but maybe it is Spanish or Portuguese etc.
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Old 12th February 2021, 06:29 PM   #9
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it is a large hilt as well, hence the deceptive proportions
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Old 12th February 2021, 06:31 PM   #10
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maybe that is an ampersand third from the right?
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Old 12th February 2021, 06:39 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urbanspaceman
It is a 36" /92cm blade; very sharp on both sides.
A wedding present from the bride's family perhaps; it is the lower line that stump me as it is one word and my mother-in-law couldn't identify it but maybe it is Spanish or Portuguese etc.


Even if it is 92 cm long blade, that doensn't make it a rapier, but a large smallsword. And yes, the new photo shows better the proportions... but more images may shed more light.

The lower line definitely does NOT appear to be one word, but a succession of abbreviated words (I suggest below one possible way of separating the words), hence the difficulty of deciphering its meaning.
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Old 12th February 2021, 06:49 PM   #12
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this picture shows the proportions more accurately
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Old 12th February 2021, 07:02 PM   #13
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The blade is a flattened lozenge. With regard to a triangular blade: what confuses the eye is a soft flat along its length from the bottom of the engraving which is almost a gentle groove.
I considered the lower lettering as one word as it is joined at the base whereas the lettering of Simon has a separated O; equally, if it is an ampersand then the join-up is not relevant. All seems possible, and has always confused me.
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Old 12th February 2021, 07:15 PM   #14
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Now this is where I also get confused: it is unquestionably a smallsword hilt (see pic) but that style of blade has always suggested rapier to me.
The sword is too late to fit into the chronological transition period i.e. first half of the 17thC but I assumed a rapier like blade and a smallsword hilt was generically labelled a transitional rapier.
I have two swords, both with old rapier blades and new court-sword hilts that are equally confusing to me.
I've also included n enlargement of the motto.
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Old 12th February 2021, 07:29 PM   #15
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While most frequently smallswords had hollow triangular blades, diamond and flattened hexagonal blades were also common.
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Old 12th February 2021, 07:34 PM   #16
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Beautiful sword.
Amazing thing; it never occurs to me calling these, and the like, rapier blades ... independently of their proportions. I take it those are a different universe .
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Old 12th February 2021, 07:46 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Beautiful sword.
Amazing thing; it never occurs to me calling these, and the like, rapier blades ... independently of their proportions. I take it those are a different universe .


Because they are not "rapier blades"...

The rapier is defined by both the blade and the hilt... or at least for me.
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Old 12th February 2021, 08:04 PM   #18
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Reference Marius: yes, when Shotley Bridge began work in 1687 the smallswords they initially produced were all narrow broadsword blades (see pic). They were actually all Solingen manufacture and smuggled in by Mohll in 1687 to get the business up and running. This is why the most closely associated swords of Shotley Bridge had the Passau Wolf (not the Bushy Tailed Fox: that came a couple of years later) and the lettering Shotle(Y) and Bridg(E). All very confusing which was what was intended. The lettering was added because otherwise everyone would naturally assume - having a Passau Wolf - that they were Solingen manufacture and not the new 'Hollow Sword Blade Company's' output.
Incidentally: broadsword bladed smallswords were first choice of Scotsmen as they were unhappy with the weight and lack of cutting edges of the new trefoil blades. Shotley Bridge is walking distance from Scotland.
The smallsword pic below is a stock reference image from our local museum: hence the poor resolution and lack of markings; but I have handled it and it has a Passau Wolf and SHOTLEY and BRIDG which dates it to 1687 -1690.
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Old 12th February 2021, 08:09 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
Because they are not "rapier blades"...

The rapier is defined by both the blade and the hilt... or at least for me.


I have to disagree Marius, considering the huge difference between Pappenheimers and Swept Hilts and Cup hilts and etc... the only constant is the blade.
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Old 12th February 2021, 08:15 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Beautiful sword.
I take it those are a different universe .


Yes, Fernando, I only visit this planet occasionally.
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Old 12th February 2021, 08:19 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urbanspaceman
I have to disagree Marius, considering the huge difference between Pappenheimers and Swept Hilts and Cup hilts and etc... the only constant is the blade.


You are in fact making my point!

Swept hilt, Pappenheim, cup hilt, clam shell hilt and ring hilt are ALL typical and DEFINING rapier hilts.

Moreover, some later 17th century Spanish rapiers had very thin and narrow, as well as rather short blades, yet they are still considered to be rapiers.

However, if you take the very same blade to a smallsword hilt, you will have a smallsword all the way.

Now have a look at the rapier below. Notice anything strange?!
It is the smallsword I posted previously, to which I replaced the hilt with a clam shell Spanish rapier hilt and... ta-da... here you have a rapier!
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Last edited by mariusgmioc : 12th February 2021 at 08:34 PM.
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Old 12th February 2021, 08:20 PM   #22
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Default Capitals

BTW Marius, that is a magnificent sword; is it from your collection? I am jealous indeed.
Re. capital letters: this is yet another possibility that keeps confusing me. They could be capitals or they could be tall letters such as l etc.
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Old 12th February 2021, 08:29 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
You are in fact making my point!

Swept hilt, Pappenheim, cup hilt, clam shell hilt and ring hilts are ALL typical and DEFINING rapier hilts.

Moreover, some later 17th century Spanish rapiers had very thin and narrow, as well as rather short blades, yet they are still considered to be rapiers.

However, if you take the very same blade to a smallsword hilt, you will have a smallsword all the way.

Point well made Marius. My two swords I mentioned with old rapier blades and new court-sword hilts are very definitely 'Courtswords' but with rapier blades (short and narrow). It is the blade I was naming though, not the entire package, and that is why I opted for calling them 'transitional'; although, without getting into semantics, they are -strictly speaking and quite rightly- not what have been considered transitional rapiers up to now. Hence my confusion.
ps Thank-you, I couldn't remember clam and ring.
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Old 12th February 2021, 08:40 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urbanspaceman
BTW Marius, that is a magnificent sword; is it from your collection? I am jealous indeed.
Re. capital letters: this is yet another possibility that keeps confusing me. They could be capitals or they could be tall letters such as l etc.


Capital letters or not, they are of different height and I believe that's because they signal the beginning of a new abbreviated word.

And to make everything more complicated, one must first guess the language, as it cannot be taken for granted that is Italian.

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Old 12th February 2021, 10:25 PM   #25
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No, it is definitely not Italian: my mother-in-law declared that.
However, she did say it may well be a colloquial dialect common parlance... she meant 'slang'.
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Old 13th February 2021, 03:48 AM   #26
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With the likely image of Cupid, I think the remaining words are "culo casto", which may translate to something like "chaste ass/butt/derrier". Maybe a bawdy refrain, or an admonishment to keep one's tail out of trouble.

Also, regarding the rapier/transitional rapier/small sword distinction, here is my (likely flawed) taxonomy - they all need to have thin(ish) blades designed primarily to facilitate an effective thrust. Cutting is a secondary function (if at all). It could have a rapier-like hilt, but if it has a cutter for a blade, not a rapier (i.e. 1728 pattern cup-hilt arming swords).

So, if it has the right blade, we are in the right genus. Further, all are designed for single hand use. Now, to determine species. Rapier and small sword are easy because they are distinct forms.

A rapier has the right blade. They have a proper hilt designed to protect an ungauntlented hand (side rings, swept hilt, plates (Pappenheim), cup). Some transitional rapier have these features, but to be a TRUE rapier, there must be a TRUE ricasso that the fingers can grip by hooking over the quillion, and yet still be protected by the guard. No such ricasso, not a rapier. Personally, I would call anything with this exposed ricasso a rapier regardless of length (within reason). Because these typically have long blades and heavy hilts, they were used to attack, while the off-hand provided defense.

A smallsword typically falls into a range with a much shorter blade that allowed for defenses parries followed by quick ripostes (counter attacks). The shorter lighter blade could be better controlled without hooking the fingers over the quillion. So, these have the grip of the hilt touching the guard. There is no ricasso behind the guard. Control is achieved by subtle fingering. The pas d'anes became vestigial until they were mere ornamentation.

A transitional rapier is harder to classify because it is indeed transitional. The distinctions are more gradual. It is hard (impossible) to draw a clear line between one form and the next, however, between transitional and Smallsword. But, using my above criteria, the moment the ricasso is eliminated (or moved in front of the guard), it is no longer a rapier, but in the transitional realm. Without this ricasso, the swept hilt becomes obsolete. I can't think of a transitional rapier with a swept hilt. It simply doesn't make sense if the blade were to be sharpened all the way to the grip. So, transitional rapier have dish, cup, shell hilts. They still have rather long blades, and therefore, a substantial pommel. They also very often have fully functional past d'anes (or rings, or branches). These allow a grip similar to the finger-over-the-quillion grip, but again, without touching a ricasso. Because these are transitional, they blend from rapier lengths and weights down to Smallsword. I've yet to establish a clear criteria to determine when something can be called a short sword, but it has a lot to do with handling. If it can be utilized effectively for both defense and offense, it is a Smallsword. This wieldabilty also includes the type of footwork needed to establish distance and void relative to how quickly the weapon can be used to deflect an attack, or change the line of one's own attack. Again, the differences are negotiable, but you know it when you have it in hand. If the weights of such swords were more often listed in reference material (this forum included) we could probably determine the weight and balance at which we say this is a transitional rapier, and this is a smallsword.

Apologies for digressing, but the topic came up and I've been meaning to take the time to share my classification, and see what folks think. That said, perhaps I need to keep my culo casto, and stay out of trouble!
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Old 13th February 2021, 05:46 AM   #27
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"Culo casto" is definitely a posibility. And an interesting one.
In this case the different heights of the letters might be for esthetic reasons.

Regarding your classification for rapiers, it matches pretty much mine. As I said earlier: "the rapier is defined by both the blade and the hilt." An yes, the presence of a functional ricasso able to be used for the finger is quite essential for defining a rapier (hence the "rapier grip"). However, this is much more important when distinguishing the early rapiers from the side-swords. But I think such a discussion is worth a new separate thread.

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Old 13th February 2021, 07:17 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urbanspaceman
Yes, Fernando, I only visit this planet occasionally.

-
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Old 13th February 2021, 08:32 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
-


Why surprised?!

With all this Covid-19 crisis, with mandatory quarantine and PCR tests did you expect him to visit more often?!
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Old 13th February 2021, 10:28 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
Why surprised?!

With all this Covid-19 crisis, with mandatory quarantine and PCR tests did you expect him to visit more often?!

Or maybe i was misunderstood .
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