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Old 15th July 2014, 08:19 PM   #1
fernando
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Default A sail guard sword - blade for ID

This one was added to my little collection in unusual circumstances. Not that i don't like it, on the contrary .
I will call it Portuguese and not (also possibly) Spanish, because it belonged to a Portuguese collector, for one. In principle from the XVII century ... until better opinion.
The hilt forming what we call over here a sail guard sword; the scallop a nice addition to the traditional style. The grip in ivory (i presume) with nice patina.
The rapier blade (to call it so) measures 87 cms. with 19 M/M width. The wole sword is rather light, with only 695 Grams. Point of balance approx. 7 cms. from the guard.
What troubles me is the inscription on the blade; whether it is a maker's mark or some kind of allusion text, i can't pick the slightest trace. I believe that this is the type of lettering that it will not be identified by simply managing to read it but potentialy by someone already familiar or experienced with it, like having seen or possessing a blade with similar characters. In any case it would be great (greatest) if some forumite pops up with the solution, whatever the method.

.
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Old 15th July 2014, 11:29 PM   #2
Jim McDougall
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You know how much I love these rapiers Nando!!
The hilt on this looks very much 18th century, but that blade seems earlier and of course a Solingen product.
The shellguard added to the edge of the cup is an especially nice feature very much favored on Spanish and Portuguese swords in these times. I have always considered them an allusion to St.James of Compastela and the symbolism of the shell .

The linear inscription on the blade seems broken up in the manner of these seen on 17th and 18th century blades. While earlier ones often specified ME FECIT SOLINGEN etc. as well as the spurious EN TOLEDO type inscriptions among many other slogans and inscriptions, it seems more 'mystical' affectations became more popular toward the 18th century. These 'mystical' and acrostic inscriptions were of course not new but just seem more prevalent then, perhaps in a sort of revival sense.

This blade inscription seems like possibly acrostic letter combinations which were probably spaced or separated with the usual punctions of four dots in quadraform between. Some of the figures seem to be paired arcs or the curious O-(- marks used as the letter E in many inscriptions in Toledo. Others seem possibly insertions of occult or cabalistic characters and of course the familiar 'anchors' at the terminus of the inscription.

With the number of letters or characters so worn away it is difficult to discern what this might represent, and with these arcane acrostics it is pretty unlikely we can decipher. As always though, we never know what new information might come up, especially if we find a similar inscription or blade with more provenance or discernible lettering.

What we can surmise is that it is probably a Solingen made blade representing Toledo style and of likely 17th century with mounts in what appear to be late 18th century style. The fluted ivory grips and the classical pommel form seem of that period.

Very nice!!!
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Old 16th July 2014, 02:52 PM   #3
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Hi Fernando,


that's is a very elegant rapier you got there, I like the Spanish type of rapiers to especially the cup hilts, yours is even more rare with the sale guard.

I think that the Spanish sword are amongst the most underestimated swords and over here they are not as popular as the espada ropera's.

There were two simular ones in the last auction of HH, they were discribed as 18th century one's.
Looking at the metal and the way it is made in my opinion yours is 17th century.

kind regards

Ulfberth
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Old 16th July 2014, 10:56 PM   #4
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Thank you so much for your input, Jim.
Indeed the vieira (shell-scallop) became Santiago pilgrims symbol since the middle ages, but eventualy Portuguese King Dom João V (1706-1750) was also fond of it, in a manner that firearms trigger guards, for one, were often made with such shape. This to say that the shell in this sword guard doesn't necessarily attribut it a specific provenance. I also guess (without thorough consultation) that the vieira in Spain is more a regional adornment (Galiza) than Spanish in general.
On the other hand if i were to fully trust Eduardo Nobre in his work AS ARMAS E OS BARÕES, i would assume without a doubt that these examples with the shell are surely Portuguese, as he quotes in one of these in his book, dating them form the end XVII century.
I have faith that the inscription lettering makes some sense, other than a symbolism setup, arcane and acrostic, as you put it in fine words . I already burnt my eyelashes trying to figure out its contents but, so far, i go no further than guessing that the lettering on the right face would be Berchausen or Berghausen; but browsing on these names as sword smiths i came to no result ... as probably i am way out of reality.
In any case i follow your in the assumption that this is a German blade from the XVII century. I have also seen that 'stylized' letter E in German blades.
I still trust that one of our experienced members, Jasper for one, comes in with a solution .

.
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Last edited by fernando : 17th July 2014 at 09:05 AM.
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Old 16th July 2014, 11:04 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ulfberth
Hi Fernando,
that's is a very elegant rapier you got there, I like the Spanish type of rapiers to especially the cup hilts, yours is even more rare with the sale guard.
I think that the Spanish sword are amongst the most underestimated swords and over here they are not as popular as the espada ropera's.
There were two simular ones in the last auction of HH, they were discribed as 18th century one's.
Looking at the metal and the way it is made in my opinion yours is 17th century.
kind regards
Ulfberth

Thank you for your words Dirk. Indeed sail guard swords are rare. I hope you keep your opinion if they are Portuguese .
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Old 17th July 2014, 05:50 AM   #6
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my opinion does not change, Spanish or Portuguese.
These two are often seen as one and were one for a while and their swords are in the same style, let's just say i like'm both
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Old 17th July 2014, 05:20 PM   #7
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I always seem to neglect combining the obvious closeness in these sword forms as to Portuguese as well as Spanish, Nando. I try to defer from the use of the term Iberian as I know it sort of annoys you In many cases it seems indiscernible without specific marks or inscriptions, but in both cases I have only the highest regard for these fascinating arms in either instance, as you know.

I always am so grateful for the notes you share out of these references such as the fine work of Mr. Nobre as these references are quite little known in the scope of published arms material. I agree there may be a degree of regional preference with use of the scallop shell in decoration, but it seems widely diffused overall as these are even quite notable among many espada anchas in New Spain. Since the symbolism is of course certainly and profoundly associated in the Catholic Faith it seems understandable that it may be widely used in many contexts.

Im right with you on these strange, arcane arrangements of letters, and I spent hours going through Wallace Collection and others. The use of interpolation of occult or arcane symbols within these groupings of letters as well as in inscriptions or names seems to have been a trend from Italy an Spain picked up on by innovative German smiths as well. It seems that these groupings in most cases I found are repetitive, one case had for example the letter 'M' repeated five times. With that considered, it seems quite possible that numerology could be in place, but of course those speculations are far beyond any hope for confirmation.

The thing with such arcane symbolism and its inherent secrecy is that obviously there is no documentation which would explain it, and the known meanings intended at the time were lost as those using them passed .

The best hope we have is that cross instances might be discovered which might reflect some consistency with other detail and clues. Here I would join you in hoping that Jasper will come in on this as his experience with these arms is remarkable.
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Old 18th July 2014, 12:47 PM   #8
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Very nice looking piece Fernando!

Being so light I bet it would handle nicely.

Terry
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Old 18th July 2014, 03:46 PM   #9
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Great wisdom, Jim and rather comprehensive observations on the shell wide influence as a symbol, namely its presence in the Espada Ancha, one of your beloved favorites .
In trying to go further into deciphering the inscription, i found i have negleted a little but maybe important detail in identifying the maker's mark; an O circumference/letter/digit on the forte. As it only appears on the right face of the blade, with no counterpart on the left side, i assume it is an intentional mark and not an 'arcane' symbol.

.
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Old 18th July 2014, 04:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry K
Very nice looking piece Fernando!

Being so light I bet it would handle nicely.

Terry

Thank you Terry
Yes, the 'featherweight' feeling is due both to the guard bowl not being a full cup but a reduced 'sail', together with a slim and relatively short blade ... rather pointy, by the way. With a point of balance so close from the guard, you may call this rapier sword a great tool for a fencer .
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Old 18th July 2014, 04:29 PM   #11
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Thank you so much Nando. Actually as I further continued my research on these mysterious letter grouping I found that such combinations were widely present in Italian blades, usually in repetitive groups of letters in linear fashion and often reversed or changed in the same combination on the other side. It seems with these, the idea of an acrostic would be defeated, though anagram tenuously remains. Even the idea of numeric equivilents would be compromised with these varying arrangements, so at this point we can only continue speculation.
As you point out, the 'O' seems strategically placed so most interesting. I know that on blades in India symbols and other devices seem to be placed in strategic places on blades, of course still unproven, but perhaps to strengthen at least in concept, that particular part of the blade.

It does seem clear that while arcane symbols are sometimes interpolated amid regular capital letters, it is curious as to which letters are selected to be redesigned. If only we could imagine what these guys were thinking!
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Old 19th July 2014, 08:01 AM   #12
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beautiful sword, swords with a boat-shell guard a variation on Norman type 91 occurred between 1630 and 1650 in Western Europe. see, for example, a self portait of Rembrandt with Saskia from 1634.
The pommel is norman type 64 and can be dated around 1630, this corresponds perfectly to the rest.
When I read the text right here; Pedro (Peter) Tesche Berghausen.
Peter Tesche worked as a bladesmith in Solingen in the first half of the 17th century. whether this is actually made ​​by him, and if there is a connection with the place Berghausen in Germany, unfortunately I can not tell you.
the handle of ivory is a subsequent restoration, it is actually too slippery to function.

very beautiful and rare type!

best,
Jasper
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Old 19th July 2014, 10:49 AM   #13
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Ah ... great news, great knowledge Jasper .
It was well worth waiting for your input ... perfect, as always.
Besides my inversion of the blade sides (right and left) i would never make it that a German smith would use the name Pedro instead of Peter.
It really takes a lot of acumulated knowledge to discern these things as you so well often do.
I am contented to have 'almost' cracked a part of the puzzle (Berchausen-Berghausen), which places me in a good position to run for expert class III category

Well Jim, no 'arcanostic' esotérica this time

Dank u wel Jasper

.

Last edited by fernando : 19th July 2014 at 11:45 AM.
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Old 20th July 2014, 06:27 PM   #14
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Hi Fernando,
A great addition to your collection. Where do you put the ball and powder . ??? It is just as well that Jasper has nailed it as I cannot find a similar example of the type anywhere and as you've no doubt gathered I've not seen one before. Are you going to do anything about the urn pommel and the ivory grip or are you going to put them down to period repairs and leave it like that? Great and unusual piece.
My Regards,
Norman.
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Old 20th July 2014, 07:15 PM   #15
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As always Jaspers notations are well worth waiting for as noted,
But blast it!!!! no arcanery!!! ???? oh well ,

Still, the puzzling thing remains on the inscription, what was behind the odd breaking up of names, words, and punctions between letters etc.
It looks more like the grammar structural lessons in English classes.

The grip still seems 18th century, but in my opinion leave it alone, it may well be a repair of later period and to my eye only adds historical dimension to the piece.

Thank you for posting this Fernando, and the research was fun and a good learning experience, always ready for the next adventure!!
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Old 20th July 2014, 08:11 PM   #16
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Hi Fernando,
Per our discussion, I'm still apt to believe that a piece like yours (beautiful, BTW) might have seen later sea service. Ivory grips, while unpopular on dueling pieces, were common on naval swords, dirks, etc. The same argument goes for solid brass hilts (unpopular for cavalry and infantry due to slippage from blood runoff, but common on naval pieces). Prior to the late 18th century, when patterns began to develop in the navies of the world, an officer carried whatever he pleased. The shell motif is a tip of the hat to my notes on Annis (usage of nautical themes being popular with naval use). Likewise, we pinpointed that such swords did indeed go to sea, both as officer's preference and along with Spanish/Portuguese soldiers on the Treasure Fleets and otherwise. The fact that the grip was replaced with ivory or bone in the 18th could be an indication of naval use, specifically to identify 'officer status and rank', as so many of the later swords and dirks would in the following century. As a classic example (though English), please see Captain Philip Broke's (H.M.S. Shannon) 17th c. Scottish broadsword refitted with with ivory grips, per the style.

Jim, you are right about the curious markings on the German blade. As the blade is earlier, any chance these could be cabalistic in nature? Reminds me of some of those odd symbols and number patterns on Dutch blades?
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Old 21st July 2014, 06:37 PM   #17
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Thank you all guys, for all that you have said.
The ivory grip being an issue i believe it is not a 'repair' or a 'replacement' in what it means changing something in bad shape for something new. I would call it a 'modification', in what it means to make it a more selective sword.
Assuming such operation didn't take place in the period, it certainly wasn't done much later ... or was; i see no visible signs of it, though.
I wouldn't reject at all Mark's perspective that, these modifications were commissioned to give the sword a more navy rank posture; which falls within the reasoning of Eduardo Nobre, from which book/collection i extracted and here upload two sail guard examples; one with the discussed scallop and the other with a fluted ivory grip.

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Old 21st July 2014, 09:06 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Thank you all guys, for all that you have said.
The ivory grip being an issue i believe it is not a 'repair' or a 'replacement' in what it means changing something in bad shape for something new. I would call it a 'modification', in what it means to make it a more selective sword.
Assuming such operation didn't take place in the period, it certainly wasn't done much later ... or was; i see no visible signs of it, though.
I wouldn't reject at all Mark's perspective that, these modifications were commissioned to give the sword a more navy rank posture; which falls within the reasoning of Eduardo Nobre, from which book/collection i extracted and here upload two sail guard examples; one with the discussed scallop and the other with a fluted ivory grip.

.



Hi Fernando,
Fashion invariably influences all things, swords included. No reason to ignore the possibility that the grip was changed to bring the sword more up to date i.e. into the 18thC. Again if ivory grips were popular with naval personnel one cannot discount the possibility of it being changed for that reason. If a repair the cutler involved may have rehilted in the manner of the day. A number of circumstances may apply for the apparent change but regardless of which one the sword is interesting, unusual and a great addition to your collection.
My Regards,
Norman.

Last edited by Norman McCormick : 21st July 2014 at 09:26 PM.
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Old 21st July 2014, 09:51 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Norman McCormick
... A number of circumstances may apply for the apparent change but regardless of which one the sword is interesting, unusual and a great addition to your collection.
My Regards,
Norman.


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Old 22nd July 2014, 04:47 AM   #20
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Yes, Fernado, perhaps you should send it my way so I can carefully see if it fits in with my naval collection...for classification purposes only, I swear!
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Old 22nd July 2014, 01:27 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Thank you all guys, for all that you have said.
The ivory grip being an issue i believe it is not a 'repair' or a 'replacement' in what it means changing something in bad shape for something new. I would call it a 'modification', in what it means to make it a more selective sword.
Assuming such operation didn't take place in the period, it certainly wasn't done much later ... or was; i see no visible signs of it, though.
I wouldn't reject at all Mark's perspective that, these modifications were commissioned to give the sword a more navy rank posture; which falls within the reasoning of Eduardo Nobre, from which book/collection i extracted and here upload two sail guard examples; one with the discussed scallop and the other with a fluted ivory grip.

.

Fernando,

you post pictures of beautiful swords, these type's are elegant in their simplicity and real pure forms !

Kind regards

Dirk
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Old 22nd July 2014, 01:33 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M ELEY
Yes, Fernado, perhaps you should send it my way so I can carefully see if it fits in with my naval collection...for classification purposes only, I swear!

Thnks fo the suggestion, Cap'n; your'e a good man . But i wouldn't do that to you; imagine all the stress living in common with the grip dilemma .
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Old 22nd July 2014, 02:59 PM   #23
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Thank you Dirk,
Their provenance is not the same as my example, but they are from the same vicinity.
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Old 29th July 2014, 05:40 PM   #24
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how about sail guard daggers Fernando ....
Spanish or Portuguese ....
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Old 29th July 2014, 07:43 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ulfberth
how about sail guard daggers Fernando ....
Spanish or Portuguese ....

The only one close to it:

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ght=left+dagger
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Old 30th July 2014, 06:20 AM   #26
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Hi Fernando,

That is a nice example with a very long slender blade.

I will try to post a new thread on the topic today, maybe someone can pinpoint the exact origin ... Look for sail guard dagger.

Kind regards

Dirk
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