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Old 25th June 2018, 05:27 PM   #1
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 94
Default Suspicious Rapier hilt

Last week I got involved in an unusual trade. A friend (and fellow fencer) suddenly sent me through WhatsApp three pictures of swords taken in a hurry. He explained to me that an antiquarian had offered them to his wife to buy (she was at a different spot), and he was asking me if they were any good (this was in Aragon, Spain). So this was kind of a chain talk, involving four people in three different locations...
I could see a civilian smallsword of about 1760 in very fine condition, a revolutionary Mexican Commander sword of about 1880 with a nice 1873 Toledo blade and an Eibar damascened hilt, and what seemed to me a XVIth century rapier hilt with a XVIIIth century trade blade with no ricasso.

I said they were interesting pieces, although I was not too sure about the last one. We were supposed to make an appointment and see them quietly... Then suddenly, the seller said to pick the three of them there and then for 600 euro. My friend was interested in the smallsword, and I agreed to take the rapier hilt, we could divide later expenses and the Mexican sword.

I will not see the swords still for some two weeks. I have been looking through the Norman, where the hilt fits loosely into types 29 or 35. That gives a window 1525-1585 and about 1625. I think a branch (piton) from the left lower guard is missing. Still, I cannot find a close example and I do not discard the thing being a Victorian era creation. In some pictures, it looks made of brass, but it is actually gilt iron. I will welcome any suggestion. I am sorry about the poor pictures but I will not have new ones in a while.

The most similar branching structures I can find are from Dresden.
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Last edited by midelburgo : 25th June 2018 at 09:11 PM.
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Old 26th June 2018, 02:58 AM   #2
Join Date: Apr 2014
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It looks to likely be cast? Possibly the hilt looks to be connected with the pommel as one piece?

Here is a better pic I took of one of the Dresden swords in your picture.
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Old 26th June 2018, 06:33 AM   #3
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That is an idea. I will look for casting lines. I do not see any obvious with these pictures. I would expect cast iron to be brittle, and several of the branches are quite distorted to stand something like that. But it could be some other pot metal and my friend is wrong about it being iron. Whatever its age the sword seems old enough for not being made of cast steel. The grip has the same aspect as a Bilbo grip that has lost the wire and the longitudinal ribs, the rings above the cross and below the pommel do not look XVIth century to me but rather XVIIIth century and Spanish. Your picture shows nicely the lower guard with the part that I think is missing. The inner guard is less developed in the problem grip, but still protrudes more than the usual XIXth century decorative wall hanger.

Last edited by midelburgo : 26th June 2018 at 07:21 AM.
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Old 4th July 2018, 05:30 PM   #4
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Very suspicious piece. To me, the hilt looks more like cast bronze. The blade doesn't even look like a classic rapier blade but more like a Solingen 18 century trade blade. And the connection between blde and hilt definitely doesn't look right.

But all this is pure seculation and guessing without actually holding the sword.

I think you will have much more answers once you getthe swords.
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Old 12th July 2018, 08:38 AM   #5
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Well the thing arrived.

The hilt is made of four iron pieces made by sand casting and riveted together. This explains why they do not need to be bent too much. Several casting lines are visible, especially in the pommel. To complete a logical defense I was missing a branch that seems it was never there. Even with an inner loop, the thing is flat enough to hang on the wall.

No idea when this could have been done. The second half of XIXth century I suppose. The technology was there earlier than that, but the reasons to copy old swords not.

The brass-gilt color is provided by... paint!

The grip could be XVIIIth century but also made at the same time as the hilt. Rings have been brass-soldered. Under them, there are still very thin copper threads.

The blade has remnants of foliar decoration and an inscription in the central fuller. Shape and decoration are very similar to examples I have seen of PDL Luneschloss (or the Knecht family) from Solingen blades exported to the Republic of Mexico in the 1820s.
This is confirmed when I decipher "vaines sin -ono", part of the motto "no me saques sin razon, no me envaines sin honor". Blade is very sharp and the edge includes the ricasso close to the grip, making not recommendable to cross a finger. Too dangerous for a theatrical weapon.

So this was sort of a bad buy. Problem is that some of the best sword business I have made came also from similarly unwise decisions...

Last edited by midelburgo : 12th July 2018 at 08:51 AM.
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