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Old 8th November 2019, 05:29 PM   #1
midelburgo
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Default Dissimilar shells rapier... Portuguese?

I just got this piece. I bought it thinking it could be an officer version of the Spanish 1728 model cavalry sword, but I am not sure that is correct.

Probably the sword is earlier than what I first thought, at the end of XVIIth century. Contemporary to lots of cup hilt rapiers. I still think it is a military weapon, but it is too long for infantry use. And it is more thrust than cut.

The inscriptions say:
xx EM x ALEMANHA xx
xx EMFLENTE x RONIQUE xx
The first one sounds more oriented to Portuguese market than Spanish.

It would be nice to have more info about this RONIQUE. EM FLENTE could be a place or EMELENTE

It is 105cm long and weights 1070grams. Balance point some 5cm ahead of shell, handles easily.
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Old 8th November 2019, 05:39 PM   #2
kronckew
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Pictures took a while to show up. Looks like a civilian rapier...cool tho.
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Old 8th November 2019, 05:44 PM   #3
midelburgo
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To me it seems to unelaborate to be a civilian weapon at the end of XVII or beginning XVIII th centuries.

I have in my pictures collection a similar hilt piece, specially at the reinforcing pas d ane, although the blade seems similar to those of XIXth century from Couleaux. Both with no bolts or screws.
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Old 9th November 2019, 11:33 AM   #4
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Hello,

Not portuguese.

Regards,

BV
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Old 9th November 2019, 12:06 PM   #5
fernando
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Default Bizarre

In fact EM ALEMANHA sounds very Portuguese; despite such wording doesn't frequently appear, it does show up now and then.
Hoever the letterings on the other face, which 'regularly' show the name of the (German) smith, or words like ESPADEIRO DEL REY, don't match with any word at all, even considering the usual misspellings.
Nothing close to those letterings appear as smith names in Viterbo's work or old exhibition catalogues.
The closest approach to EMFLENTE would be 'Em Frente' (sort of straight ahead), but unlikely, though.
You've got a riddle there; apparently not so easy to crack.

.
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Old 10th November 2019, 06:40 AM   #6
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This is a most interesting anomaly which at first glance brings to mind of course Spanish cuphilts and indeed without being next to a 'bilbo' (M1728) Spanish sword it is in degree mindful of these type swords.

The blade appears to be a Solingen product, and it seems inscriptions of these kinds abound in these rapier blades, and as Sir James Mann notes in the Wallace collection (1962, p.304, A599) these inscriptions appear to be German corruptions of Spanish wording.
There examples of EM IOENEVENDO and LDC EVLENEELO are noted as 'making no sense'. The sword discussed is a German rapier c.1615.

The 'anchor' and the characteristic XX markings are typical of Solingen work.

In "The Rapier and Small Sword 1460-1820" AVB Norman, 1980, p.192, and in plate photo #59, a pommel very similar to this is shown on sword of 'Pappenheimer' style (pierced bilobate discs placed lower exposing inner guard) as N. Europe, c. 1625-35.

Also these kinds of rapiers with bilobate discs are seen in other entries (photo #61, and type 64 hilt).

In looking at this sword the small sword hilt comes to mind as well, but with less upward discs, in examples of 1640s, yet this sword has a distinct guard system structure to later cup hilt rapiers of Spain and Italy.

I am wondering if perhaps this is a rapier of the Low Countries with its austere demeanor and Spanish hilt features combined with the bilobate discs of the Pappenheimer fashion of the mid 17thc. +.

Possibly Jasper might have a look.
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Old 10th November 2019, 01:29 PM   #7
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Your interesting entry enticed me to spell out some digressing, Jim, if i may ...
... in that is noticeable (to me) that even the most authorized authors do not reject the "long shot" number. One notices this when they (some) are writing a book or a catalogue and are contextually compelled to have an explanation for an item; a similar behaviour may be also noticed when they are lecturing on a subject and one asks them a question for which they don't the answer; their image (ego) prohibites them to assume they don't have the right response at hand so, no probem, they make up one, plausible or not. And we, common ignaros, accept it as if it were provided by the Gods.

It takes a lot of good willing to concur with Sir James Mann on the assumption that the senseless letterings in the A599 rapier are possibly a corruption of EL VEYO/EN TOLEDO. As is surpring that he misspelled EL VIEJO, a term constantly shown out there, as repeatedly mentioned in the Palomares Nomina, for one, as opposed to EL MOZO, to remind that, there were father and son working on the blade smith's business.
On the other hand, one thing also noticeable is that, in Midelburgo's blade the term EM ALEMANHA is surprisingly (?) one that shows the engraver was well sure of its Portuguese spelling. You don't have EM (in) and the nasal consonant ALEMANHA in any other language ... that i know of.
It would be nice that Midelburgo presents us with further detailed photos, like close ups of hilt and guard.
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Old 10th November 2019, 03:54 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Your interesting entry enticed me to spell out some digressing, Jim, if i may ...
... in that is noticeable (to me) that even the most authorized authors do not reject the "long shot" number. One notices this when they (some) are writing a book or a catalogue and are contextually compelled to have an explanation for an item; a similar behaviour may be also noticed when they are lecturing on a subject and one asks them a question for which they don't the answer; their image (ego) prohibites them to assume they don't have the right response at hand so, no probem, they make up one, plausible or not. And we, common ignaros, accept it as if it were provided by the Gods.

It takes a lot of good willing to concur with Sir James Mann on the assumption that the senseless letterings in the A599 rapier are possibly a corruption of EL VEYO/EN TOLEDO. As is surpring that he misspelled EL VIEJO, a term constantly shown out there, as repeatedly mentioned in the Palomares Nomina, for one, as opposed to EL MOZO, to remind that, there were father and son working on the blade smith's business.
On the other hand, one thing also noticeable is that, in Midelburgo's blade the term EM ALEMANHA is surprisingly (?) one that shows the engraver was well sure of its Portuguese spelling. You don't have EM (in) and the nasal consonant ALEMANHA in any other language ... that i know of.
It would be nice that Midelburgo presents us with further detailed photos, like close ups of hilt and guard.



Actually I am inclined to agree that in course with human nature, even the most highly regarded academics and scholarly writers will on occasion, posit a dismissive explanation for certain elements which defy the larger context of the topic at hand. This indeed may be considered pertaining to personal ego, or perhaps an effort to preserve the integrity of the rest of the text at hand , and most probably both.

I have always highly respected the venerable sages of the literature that has become the backbone of our corpus of knowledge within our community of students of arms, but do not consider every aspect of their observations as Gospel any more than others who regularly challenge many of their entries.

The references from the writing of the late Sir James Mann regarding these inscriptions were primarily a point of reference acknowledging the proclivity of misspelling and improper structure by German workers adding them to these blades. I have been under the impression that the blades destined for both Spain and Portugal originated in large degree in Solingen in the 17th century, which seems the period of this sword.

Returning to the unusual character of this hilt, it seems a hybrid of the rapier guard system of 'cup hilts' of Spanish/Italian style of mid 17th, but with exposure of inner guard arms as with a small sword. This is combined with the unusually small bilobate shells in the manner of the so called Pappenheimer hilts of these times associated with North Europe, but of course without the piercing.
The cup hilt 'feel' is accentuated with the apparent guardopolvo within.

I would only express opinion on possibilities for the probable geographic provenance of this sword as North Europe, Low Countries, based on the interesting combining of varied hilt styles as seen in these pictures. With regard to period it seems that mid to perhaps later 17th c. would be reasonable. The pommel shape of the early 17th was of course simply estimated by the styles noted in Mr. Norman's references. Pommels were not only often mix and match, but reused over long periods as swords were refurbished. Naturally many styling influences transcended the boundaries of specific classifications.
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Old 10th November 2019, 04:48 PM   #9
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Interesting; i had this unshakable idea that, the 'dissimilar shells' (per Midelburgo) perpetuated as BOCA DE CABALLO, was a one and only Spanish invention. Noting that, even though written material places this guard type at the first quarter XVIII century (1728 cavalry sword), nothing avoids this system had a prior existence.
What looks like a guarda polvo in the discussed example might just been the usual compromise for such style guard loop fixations... i would say.
It will really be interesting when Midelburgo has it in his hands, to tell us more about it ... and post contextual pictures.
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Old 10th November 2019, 06:48 PM   #10
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As far as I have known in reviewing old notes, the convention of asymmetric shells in the hilt convention known as 'boca de caballo' (= horses mouth re: bridle) began in Spanish hilts around mid 17th c. (per Juan Calvo).
Naturally (as noted) the hilt system prevailed and was accordingly varied in degree.

I am not sure that it was a Spanish 'invention' as much a matter of cross influences in the developing rapier hilt styles through the 17th c. As I had noted, the so called "Pappenheimer" hilts of N. Europe had these opposed (bilobate) loops in which these were installed with a pierced plate on one or both.

It may be that the rule of the 'Spanish Netherlands' accounted for the cross adoption of styles and influences. This provincial collection of Habsburg states in union 1556-1714 included S. Netherlands, N.France, W.Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg, which may well account for the combining of these fashions.

I have seen these rather austere quillon terminals on Spanish rapier guards of 17th c. and as mentioned, the pommel style seems in accord with Pappenheimer rapiers of early 17th. which were of course from N. European regions as well as Germany.
I have seen other Spanish rapier hilts of the boca de caballo style with these smaller discs noted as 17th c. as well, but cannot place the source of my sketches in my notes.
In the case of this example of the sword we are discussing here, the guardopolvo seems a vestigial element in accord with the rapier gestalt of the weapon.

The Spanish version of these which has been designated the '1728' and become known colloquially as the 'bilbo', is a 'pattern' which was noted in regulations of that year, and as often the case, was well established as a form some time earlier. These were 'arming' swords and had heavier blades suited to the rigors of combat on campaign. As often the case with Spanish sword types, these found use, particularly in colonial regions, even through the 18th into 19th c.

Typically these narrow (yet stout) rapier blades were intended for civilian use of course, but I would suggest that perhaps this rather pedestrian example (which I find attractive and strictly business) may have been for an officer of the town guard or city militias of these regions in those times. The idea is in accord with units such as Rembrandt's "Black Watch" and so on. These became a kind of 'mens club' in sense, though the military aspects were well intended. It would not be unreasonable to presume this sword might have been assembled for wear by a member in one of these quasi military units.

Attached is one of the 17th c. 'Pappenheimer' hilts which this sword may be 'scaled down' from in a sense; next is the well known Spanish arming sword known as the 'bilbo' (1728).
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Old 10th November 2019, 08:24 PM   #11
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Red face A bit of name game

I can not locate the article in which Calvó defines the BOCA DE CABALLO as having started prior to the 1728 ordnance model. The source where i have read that, was a different one (which ?). Actually Calvó attributes the reason for the popular term to have been expessed by his friend Eduardo Jiménez. Actually my idea for such reason is not the same, as i feed my fantasy; but that is another business.

If i may express a (second) personal opinion, i don't like to use the term "bilbo", and neither do the Spaniards, i guess. I take it as a "foreignism", not the real thing.
Who was him who said:

" The current theories place the origin of the name to the city of Bilbao, in the modern Basque Country, in northern Spain, the capital of the actual province of Bizkaia which was a millenary iron-production center and also origin of sword and dagger hilts of fame at that time. It was a part of Spain with traditional trade contacts with Britain, so it's a very likely origin.
But fact is that the term is actually used to cover all double-shell hilt swords, and it's specially used to describe what in fact it's the Spanish cavalry Pattern sword M1728, like these:
This style was in use, with variations, since mid 17th c, and after being made into a cavalry pattern in 1728 was going to be in service until the beginning of the 19th c. As such, calling this a "bilbo", it's stretching the term a bit too much. In Spain it's called a Cavalry sword M1728, a "double shell" guard sword or a "Horse-mouth" guard sword, because of the similarity of a construction detail of the hilt with a piece of a horse bite.
"Bilbo" is an English catch-all word used to very generally refer to the Spanish "Utilitarian" cup-hilt swords, so often found all over America. They usually had a wide, _relatively_ short sturdy and well tempered blades, very practical and unadorned. The grip was more often than not wood, sometimes covered with wire.
The term comes from the Spanish Basque city of Bilbao, where a significant number of them were made and exported to the New World. In Basque that name is actually "Bilbo", although there's also a basque town by that name. I understand these swords were also sold to merchants of every european nation, including England.
The type was very popular aboard ships, where it was used on a similar role as the cutlass was among other nations. Needless to say, this sword was also used in Europe, but curiously, seem to have survived better in America. Probably because in the colonies these were better taken care of, since they were more difficult to acquire, and thus more valuable.
"Bilbo" if often misused by neophytes to refer to *any* spanish sword ".



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Old 11th November 2019, 12:16 AM   #12
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LOL!
The point of the reference to boca de caballo (actually I first learned it from you some years ago but do not recall the source you gave)was to illustrate that the bilobate shells were certainly around LONG before the so called 1728 pattern. The Pappenheimer rapiers were similar in a sense as I described because of the shell position in the hilt configuration, and these were of course used during the Thirty Years war in Germany and its environs.

The name game is just that, and it is the obsession of collectors to appoint catchy names to certain weapon types, much in the way weapons are often nicknamed in military contexts colloquially.

The Pappenheimer appellation is of course referring to a commander of armies in the Thirty Years war who is presumed to have favored this design rapier.

With the 'bilbo' term, of course it too is a 'collectors' term, but seems to have deeper associations in use in Shakespeare's "Merry Wives of Windsor" where the term refers to a rapier with fine steel blade (Biscayan iron) so its use appears to extend to latter 16th c.

It is interesting to note that the term 'bilboes' also may refer to a bar of iron with sliding fetters attached, a kind of shackles used to hold prisoners etc and thought to refer to the city of Bilbao where these may have first been made. Perhaps this association of iron bars may be a visual association much as with the horses bridle bit (pun intended).
Whatever the case, it seems a colloquial term which as often is the case, became collectively used for a range of Spanish swords.


I believe we have quite thoroughly digressed from Midelburgo's example.
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Old 11th November 2019, 11:01 AM   #13
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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.
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