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Old 26th September 2023, 10:40 PM   #1
cel7
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Default Strange long rapier

Hi,

I won this cup-hilt rapier at an art and antiques auction this week. It was described as a 19th/20th century example. Judging from the photos of the blade of this rapier, I made an offering on it because the blade seems much older to me. Today I picked it up and finally had the chance to see it in person. Although this type of weapon falls outside my comfort zone, I can only conclude that it is a strange case. The length is the first thing you notice. The total length is 144 centimeters, the length of the blade is 118 centimeters! That's quite long for a rapier. At the very base it is 42mm wide and 7mm thick.
It is decorated with figures and has a fuller of 33 centimeters. The blade is hand forged and there are a few superficial cracks visible. In general the blade is still reasonably sharp. However, the point is round, but it is of course possible that it has been adjusted at some point. So it could have been several centimeters longer.
The cup is also strange. It is hand-forged, the traces of hammering are clearly visible on the inside. It is decorated with chiseled figures. On one side an angel-like figure and an eagle. On the other side something that looks like a coat of arms and an unknown figure. The last two are inlaid with copper wire or something similar, the other two figures still show remnants of the same material under a magnifying glass. It's not really high art, so perhaps this rapier falls under the heading "Munitions grade"!? One of the arms attached to the inside of the cup once came loose and was repaired with a screw and nut. The handle is simple and made of wood. Perhaps it was wrapped with leather or thread in the past.
Who knows what this is? Is it really a 19th century copy or is it somewhat older?

I also posted this rapier on another forum.
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Old 26th September 2023, 10:42 PM   #2
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and some more photos
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Old 27th September 2023, 12:30 PM   #3
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I can't comment about the age but the grip seems unusually long for a cup hilt.
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Old 27th September 2023, 02:35 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by werecow View Post
I can't comment about the age but the grip seems unusually long for a cup hilt.
That's right, 14.5 cm between the crossguard and the pommel. No idea what this should normally be.
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Old 27th September 2023, 09:31 PM   #5
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Naturally this example is far from an actual cup hilt rapier, and the date estimated is probably correct. While I would be tempted to consider this as being a theatrical piece, the attempts at detail and the extraordinarily long blade seem atypical for such pieces.

It would be silly to call this a reproduction as it is so far from an actual example that could not have been the intent. The rounded blade tip is of course completely contrary to that of a rapier as these are thrusting weapons.

The stubby quillons are also contrary to cup hilts. The decoration on cup and blade seem approximations of some decoration and motif in degree.

Such as it is, only speculation can estimate the intent of this piece, and as I never wish to denigrate someones weapon, I would optimistically consider the fabrication of traditional weapons sometimes in rural community settings.
Such an instance is with the strange composite assembly of this sword which is likely from Mexican frontier regions sometime in 19th c. using hilt of a cavalry saber, old cut down dragoon blade and briquet hilt.
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Old 27th September 2023, 11:08 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
Such an instance is with the strange composite assembly of this sword which is likely from Mexican frontier regions sometime in 19th c. using hilt of a cavalry saber, old cut down dragoon blade and briquet hilt.
When I just started collecting I bought this Spanish 1840 briquet hilt with an absurdly oversized (German?) cavalry saber blade. I had no idea what I was buying of course.
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Old 27th September 2023, 11:46 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
Naturally this example is far from an actual cup hilt rapier, and the date estimated is probably correct. While I would be tempted to consider this as being a theatrical piece, the attempts at detail and the extraordinarily long blade seem atypical for such pieces.

It would be silly to call this a reproduction as it is so far from an actual example that could not have been the intent. The rounded blade tip is of course completely contrary to that of a rapier as these are thrusting weapons.

The stubby quillons are also contrary to cup hilts. The decoration on cup and blade seem approximations of some decoration and motif in degree.

Such as it is, only speculation can estimate the intent of this piece, and as I never wish to denigrate someones weapon, I would optimistically consider the fabrication of traditional weapons sometimes in rural community settings.
Such an instance is with the strange composite assembly of this sword which is likely from Mexican frontier regions sometime in 19th c. using hilt of a cavalry saber, old cut down dragoon blade and briquet hilt.
Thanks Jim for your response! I really looked into rapiers today. Apparently the length is not exceptional and there was a period when this was the standard. Despite that, it remains a strange sword. Here is a link to a good study of various rapiers in museums (pdf). It mainly focuses on the length, weight, balance point, etc. It only describes rapiers made between 1575 and 1615. https://subcaelo.net/ensis/vauthier-..._articleVE.pdf
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Old 27th September 2023, 10:59 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by cel7 View Post
That's right, 14.5 cm between the crossguard and the pommel. No idea what this should normally be.
As I understand it, the Spanish cup hilts often had quite short grips (see below), due to the tendency to stick two fingers over the crossguard IIRC. Not entirely sure outside of Spain, though.
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Old 28th September 2023, 06:50 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cel7 View Post
Hi,

I won this cup-hilt rapier at an art and antiques auction this week. It was described as a 19th/20th century example. Judging from the photos of the blade of this rapier, I made an offering on it because the blade seems much older to me. Today I picked it up and finally had the chance to see it in person. Although this type of weapon falls outside my comfort zone, I can only conclude that it is a strange case. The length is the first thing you notice. The total length is 144 centimeters, the length of the blade is 118 centimeters! That's quite long for a rapier. At the very base it is 42mm wide and 7mm thick.
It is decorated with figures and has a fuller of 33 centimeters. The blade is hand forged and there are a few superficial cracks visible. In general the blade is still reasonably sharp. However, the point is round, but it is of course possible that it has been adjusted at some point. So it could have been several centimeters longer.
The cup is also strange. It is hand-forged, the traces of hammering are clearly visible on the inside. It is decorated with chiseled figures. On one side an angel-like figure and an eagle. On the other side something that looks like a coat of arms and an unknown figure. The last two are inlaid with copper wire or something similar, the other two figures still show remnants of the same material under a magnifying glass. It's not really high art, so perhaps this rapier falls under the heading "Munitions grade"!? One of the arms attached to the inside of the cup once came loose and was repaired with a screw and nut. The handle is simple and made of wood. Perhaps it was wrapped with leather or thread in the past.
Who knows what this is? Is it really a 19th century copy or is it somewhat older?

I also posted this rapier on another forum.
That is a 17th c blade !
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Old 28th September 2023, 07:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ulfberth View Post
That is a 17th c blade !
There you are!!!! We needed ya in on this!!! Totally agree of course, but are these rather crude inscribed markings added later?

Seventeenth century rapier blades were still being shipped to the colonies in 1690s as one I have from a shipwreck off Panama then.
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Old 28th September 2023, 11:17 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by ulfberth View Post
That is a 17th c blade !
Thanks for your response Ulfbert! Nice to read how people respond from different perspectives. That is of course also what makes a forum like this interesting.
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