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Old 1st March 2017, 01:48 PM   #1
fernando
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Default The half moon symbol in early Spanish swords

I thought i would give here some food for thought, on what concerns the half moon symbol applied by early Spanish sword smiths in their sword blades.
When researching on this subject in the course of a thread submitted by Lean-Luc (Cerjac) for comments on one of his swords, i came across citations of Spanish Scholars on a early, such as contemporaneous, personality (Jehan Lhermite) whom, along his Castillian Spanish travels made encounter with sources in Toledo, that provided him with a detailed description of early sword smith Masters, their works and their marks.

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showp...01&postcount=32.

What i here pretend to focus on is, the half moon symbol (mark) which the author mentions as having been a mark used by Master Juan Martinez in his blades.
The description reads, in a non sworn translation that, he used to put his name in the blade fuller and, while not in the sides of their ricasso, with a fleur-de-liz mark topped with a crown, which is the oldest one because after, together with this mark he puts a half moon, with a "rostrillo" formed inside it.
We know that the rostrillo is/was an adornment used by Spaniards to embellish the head of images of the Virgin Mary, aledgedly inspired in widow veils which, with not much effort, we can discern its part section inside some half moon variants we see in exhibited or registered blade marks out there.
We are aware that Sir James Mann, in his Wallace Collection catalogue, only points out two of several half moon marks in its contents as been connected with the status of Espadero del Rey, an assumption not subscribed by the Spanish scholars we managed to contact. On the other hand, when we try to figure out why Thomas Mann only selects two of all catalogue cases as been those appointed, we can not find solid consistency in such half moon examples being those with the rostrillo, as to distinguish their differentiation with the countless 'plain' half moons used by blade smiths of many nations.
One wonders the reason why these symbols, eventually in their specific rostrillo design, are forcingly connected (by Thomas Mann) with the espaderos honoured with the Royal appointment and, if so, why this duality is not recognised by other authors, namely those from Spain.


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Old 1st March 2017, 02:23 PM   #2
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Fernando, thank you for formulating this thread specifically on the elusively symbolic and apparently inconsistently placed 'half moon' markings, which seem to originate from Spanish blade contexts.

This is an absolutely wonderful idea to place this intriguing topic in a titled thread of its own so this important material is more readily accessible for those researching these markings.

Also, I would like to thank you for adding some information which explains the curious accents often seen in these Spanish half moons, specifically the unusual 'banding' along the back of many of these moons. I had never known, nor realized about the 'rostrillo', and this is (for me) pretty exciting insight into this characteristic. There are a good number of religiously oriented representations of course in many blade markings, and I must say that you have presented the solutions in identifying many of them over the years here, much to my benefit in my research on markings.

As always, the material you thoroughly add in these cases have consistently exceeded my expectations in hoping for informative input which better allow our understanding of these often mysterious markings....thank you very much!!!......and just wanted to say that.

I look forward to more on this topic !!!!

Very best regards
Jim
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Old 2nd March 2017, 03:27 PM   #3
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Actually Jim, i thought this subject was by now depleted of new entries once, in one had, we don't see so many interested in following it and, on the other, exhaustive web research has been so dry of results that it looks like this came to an end.
When suddenly the fountain of knowledge opened its tap and we are again contemplated with further info.
If we have a second to look to the notes of JOSE MARIA PELAEZ VALLE called COMENTARIOS METALÚRGICOS A LA TECNOLOGIA DE PROCESOS DE ELABORACIÓN DEL ACERO DE LAS ESPADAS DE TOLEDO DESCRITAS EN EL DOCUMENTO DE PALOMARES DE 1772, we may catch that, among Palomares dual position in that, in one hand, he rejects the mystic of the Tagus river being the explanation for Toledan swords quality, rather than the competence of their smiths forging techniques, soon after he romantically points out the gold particles in their sand melting to a fine varnish that impeaches the sparks escaping from the steel spirit, we carry on reading the above author's chronicle in that Palomares work is neither definite nor complete in that, for one, he fails to mention that Juan Martinez (el Viejo), used a contrast of a figure looking like a fleur de liz, with examples in the Dresden Museum, inventory numbers bla and bla.
Aun así, el trabajo no es definitivo ni completo; piezas auténticamente inequívocas portan hojas de espaderos famosos referenciados en la tabla con marcas distintas a las que figuran en la misma .
5 - Un simple ejemplo: Juan Martínez (el Viejo) usaba un contraste de figura parecida a una flor de lis que no aparece en la tabla de Palomares. Ejemplares de la colección Dresde HMD VI/306, INV 1606 y HM D INV 1832 I 170/17.

Now, this fits precisely into the description of Jehan Lhermite in his "Passetemps". Once this being the smoke caused by fire, we keep on hammering on this path and, going deeper into the magnificent Met sword already posted in Cerjak's sword thread, we find a set of marks of Juan Martinez that are very elucidatory:
Marking: On the ricasso, the following Toledo marks: a crowned T repeated six times; a half moon repeated four times (and twice again at the end of blade grooves); a crowned fleur-de-lis repeated four times.
. Then we proceed digging into the Master's work spread out there and we find the following article by LECH MAREK, called RAPIERS BY JUAN MARTINEZ THE ELDER – THE ROYAL SWORD-SMITH FROM TOLEDO FOUND IN POLAND, including some the swords forged by the Master, and which presents us with outstanding revelations, such as, the half moon being an individual mark, the To being the Toledan export mark and the fleur-de-liz being the mark of Espadero del Rey. Interestingly the half moon depicted in the illustrations has a slight rostrillo inside it.
So it looks like a fait accomplis that Sir James Mann inference on the half moon's attribution is more of a silogism that lacks foundation. But now we have the fleur-de-liz being the newly appointed star. May this one make more sense ... knowing that this is a symbol of the Royal Bourbon Family, still figuring in the Coat of Arms of Spain.


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Old 2nd March 2017, 04:12 PM   #4
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Well Fernando, I get the feeling it is you and I on this admittedly esoteric topic, but I know others are out there (I can hear them breathing ).
I think this is pretty fascinating among the plethora of markings, and it seems that the half moon, with rich allegorical symbolism historically, may have varied significance in these contexts.

As you have shown, the 'espadero del rey' classification in Spanish smiths is not necessarily, nor perhaps directly linked to these half moon markings as implied by the suggestions of Sir James Mann (1962) and in a number of other perpetuated references.

So it seems we need to wonder, just what was the significance of the half moon in placement on sword blades in Spain? While shown in Palomares as a punzon in one instance in his study, we know that his 1772 work is wrought with 'misperceptions' and of course there is nothing accompanying the details which tell us more on the conditions or meanings of these punzones or other devices.

You have noted another author, Jahan Lhermite, contemporary to the working masters who recorded more on their markings etc. By the time Palomares wrote, the Toledo blade industry had been literally gone for a century.

I found a reference, "Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries" Vol. XVIII, June 21, 1900, Baron C.A. DeCosson (pp.206-215), which includes an interesting inclusion regarding an unedited manuscript by Rodriguez del Canto, a Madrid fencing master (1734) . It is titled "El Discipulo Instruido" and a list of all the most celebrated smiths of Toledo with marks.
Here there are notable contrasts to the work of Palomares, in particular one referring to Pedro de Garatea, who appears to be the Pedro de Lageratea in Palomares.
This manuscript was in the possession of Count Valencia at the time of DeCosson writing (1900).

These contrasting records are most likely in degree to be the root of some of the misperceptions of later scholars, including Sir James Mann, toward these matters of these markings .

Returning to the dilemma of the half moons, we look to find what meaning or significance these distinct markings may have had to the Spanish smiths.
We well understand that there are many ecclestiastical symbols, inscriptions and devices incorporated into blade motif and imbuement.

In study of the half moon historically, the face has typically been represented as the 'man in the moon' despite the fact that astrologically it seems that the sun (solar=male) while the moon (luna=female). With that it seems that technically the representation of the Virgin Mary, with the notable and traditional rostrillo, makes good sense (and of course as noted by the Spanish scholars) and has been as far as I know, entirely not known to most scholars on arms outside of Portugal and Spain.

In a most interesting circumstance pertaining to the half moons, some time ago I found reference to its use in Holland as a symbol for the notorious privateers known as the 'sea beggars' or 'waterguezen'. These were primarily associated with Calvinist Dutch nobles who from 1566 onward vehemently opposed Spanish rule in the Netherlands.
They contrived the use of the half moon with face to allegorically suggest it was better to be in league with the clearly contrary Turks than to be under Spanish suzerainty.
At this time the crescent moon was considered representative of the Turk, and in 1570 a medal was designed with the half moon emblazoned with the motto, which is worded essentially 'rather Turkish than Papist, in spite of the Mass'.

It seems odd that the Dutch used this symbol, it would seem almost inadvertently as far as the Turk analogy, while here it seems to have been of key religious significance to the Spanish, who they were opposing.
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Old 3rd March 2017, 11:26 AM   #5
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see http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...nti+papal+moons where at post# 53 I noted the anti papal half moon structures present on Basket Swords. This is a fascinating episode in Forum activity ...The Watergeusen episode is a very interesting period in European history.
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Old 3rd March 2017, 03:39 PM   #6
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Ibrahiim,
Thank you so much for this entry, and for always finding such pertinent threads and posts to augment the discussions at hand! Your skills at navigating the material archived in these pages is exemplary.

It is great to see these paired crescent moons on these German blades which seem to date from early 18th century and perhaps earlier and seem to occur notably on blades mounted in Scottish and English swords.
This was remarkable information as I recall, as in the course of study on these crescent moons in pairs on takouba blades in North Africa, as well as many kaskara in Sudan, these were native applied.
What was interesting is that it always seemed that the native pairing of these crescent moons (known locally there as 'dukari') may have been configured as such in a native interpretation imitating the moons on many German blades with cosmological themes in motif.

It appears with this information from 2015, and the blades shown by Cathey and discussed with Eljay (very grateful to them both for these valuable contributions) that the dual crescent moons with face indeed did have European origin and posed in that exact manner.

Here we see the appearance of the crescent moon, or half moon with face, being applied on blades in Germany by the beginning of the 18th century and likely earlier. As we have discussed, the use of the crescent moon seems to have evolved in Spain and used in yet undetermined significance on sword blades at the time of the great Toledo masters.

I recall years ago thinking almost fancifully about the similarities between many of these 'faced' half moons used on blades and in other 'magical' motif including some seen in the unique tarot 'moon' cards. I found that the tarot cards, indeed used in various countries in Europe, did have use as early as the 14th c in Spain. These were soon prohibited however in the well known religious events of the times, though covert use certainly prevailed. While unclear on the 'artistic' nature of the illustrations used, the crescent moon was of course in some manner portrayed on the 'moon' card of the sets.

What seems key here is that the 'man in the moon' portrayal of the crescent moon (paradoxically with the female moon association normally observed) seems to have filtered into the theme at some point. It is known that Jewish mysticism, of course with its mysterious cabala, was profoundly present in Spain, and it may well be that this symbolism had some degree of influence in the character of these half moons .

Although the nature of these suggestions may seem fanciful in their nature it must be remembered that in these times, magic and superstition along with many notions and beliefs were very much in place.
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Old 3rd March 2017, 04:00 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... As the 'espadero del rey' classification in Spanish smiths is not necessarily, nor perhaps directly linked to these half moon markings as implied by the suggestions of Sir James Mann (1962) and in a number of other perpetuated references. ...So it seems we need to wonder, just what was the significance of the half moon in placement on sword blades in Spain? While shown in Palomares as a punzon in one instance in his study ...

Well, as already supported and until further evidence the half moon is Juan Martinez personal mark. Also it seems plausible what Beraiz pretends that the half moon in #39 of Palomares nomina, together with its aledged smith name, is a false case, such symbol pertaining to Juan Martinez .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... we know that his 1772 work is wrought with 'misperceptions' and of course there is nothing accompanying the details which tell us more on the conditions or meanings of these punzones or other devices...

To aggravate such problematic, the majority of the punzones has flown from their depository, the few remaining probably belonging to less early smiths.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... an interesting inclusion regarding an unedited manuscript by Rodriguez del Canto, a Madrid fencing master (1734) . It is titled "El Discipulo Instruido" and a list of all the most celebrated smiths of Toledo with marks...Here there are notable contrasts to the work of Palomares, in particular one referring to Pedro de Garatea, who appears to be the Pedro de Lageratea in Palomares.

The discrepancies in marks, names, local of birth and working places is so vast that it would need a thesis to analize them all. Actually, if the discrepancy cited by del Canto is precisely as you here quote, that would represent another flaw in itself; the name actually written in the nomina is Pedro Lagaretea when it should be Pedro de Garaeta; which may be seen in blades at the Dresden Museum. But then you have Domingo de Lama for Domingo de Lezama, Alman for Almau; Alcazes for Alcozer; Lafra for Zafra; Lazonetta for Lagaretea; Vergas for Vargas ... and others.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... Returning to the dilemma of the half moons, we look to find what meaning or significance these distinct markings may have had to the Spanish smiths... We well understand that there are many ecclestiastical symbols, inscriptions and devices incorporated into blade motif and imbuement.

In the study made by Lech Marek we may see that Juan Martinez, certainly as many others, applies religious inscriptions in his blades, apparently not for his introversion but more on the talismanic perspective, as so often this kind of habits is dicussed. In the blade example shown above he quotes psalm No. 71: IN TE DOMINE SPERAVI NON and, as mentioned, when having space available depending on the type of blade he forges, he inscribes the other part CONFUNDAR IN AETERNUM ... if i am correct.

For those no bothering to consult Lech Marek's work, nevertheless a very succinct paper, not so exhaustive as that of del Canto, where you fall asleep before you find what you are looking for, i here upload one of Master Juan Martinez magnificent blades, mounted in a beautiful chiselled iron Dutch renaissance hilt ... and also pictures of where the surviving punzones de espadero are kept, in Military Museum at the Alcazar de Toledo


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Old 4th March 2017, 08:16 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Ibrahiim,
Thank you so much for this entry, and for always finding such pertinent threads and posts to augment the discussions at hand! Your skills at navigating the material archived in these pages is exemplary.

It is great to see these paired crescent moons on these German blades which seem to date from early 18th century and perhaps earlier and seem to occur notably on blades mounted in Scottish and English swords.
This was remarkable information as I recall, as in the course of study on these crescent moons in pairs on takouba blades in North Africa, as well as many kaskara in Sudan, these were native applied.
What was interesting is that it always seemed that the native pairing of these crescent moons (known locally there as 'dukari') may have been configured as such in a native interpretation imitating the moons on many German blades with cosmological themes in motif.

It appears with this information from 2015, and the blades shown by Cathey and discussed with Eljay (very grateful to them both for these valuable contributions) that the dual crescent moons with face indeed did have European origin and posed in that exact manner.

Here we see the appearance of the crescent moon, or half moon with face, being applied on blades in Germany by the beginning of the 18th century and likely earlier. As we have discussed, the use of the crescent moon seems to have evolved in Spain and used in yet undetermined significance on sword blades at the time of the great Toledo masters.

I recall years ago thinking almost fancifully about the similarities between many of these 'faced' half moons used on blades and in other 'magical' motif including some seen in the unique tarot 'moon' cards. I found that the tarot cards, indeed used in various countries in Europe, did have use as early as the 14th c in Spain. These were soon prohibited however in the well known religious events of the times, though covert use certainly prevailed. While unclear on the 'artistic' nature of the illustrations used, the crescent moon was of course in some manner portrayed on the 'moon' card of the sets.

What seems key here is that the 'man in the moon' portrayal of the crescent moon (paradoxically with the female moon association normally observed) seems to have filtered into the theme at some point. It is known that Jewish mysticism, of course with its mysterious cabala, was profoundly present in Spain, and it may well be that this symbolism had some degree of influence in the character of these half moons .

Although the nature of these suggestions may seem fanciful in their nature it must be remembered that in these times, magic and superstition along with many notions and beliefs were very much in place.



Salaams Jim, and many thanks for your analysis and for placing those details in perspective.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 4th March 2017, 09:22 AM   #9
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The hilt of post #7 can be Italian I/o Dutch.
see, for comparison, a rapier at the V & A museum from the armoury of the Electors of Saxony.
The Hilt is probably from Italy and the blade is an export blade from Toledo.
it's hard to say where these type of hilts are made.

from the V&A description:
The blade is a high quality Toledo blade by the prestigious maker Alonso Perez. Perez worked at the shop of the famous swordmaker, Gil de Almau who produced several swords for the Emperor Charles V and his son Philip II of Spain.

Sword blades were articles of international trade, made in a few important centres and shipped all over Europe where they were fitted with hilts in the local fashion. During the 16th and 17th centuries the sword blades of Toledo, Valencia and Milan were the most sought after but the largest centre of production was the German town of Solingen. The finest hilts were usually equipped with a Spanish blade but if not available a German blade (sometimes with a spurious Spanish inscription) was fitted instead.

fe this is probably the case with the German blade? of the Rapier of Jean-Luc
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=22366

The most prosperous swordmakers in Toledo were concentrated in an area bordered by a road called Calle de Armas (Weapon Street) where there were also ironsmiths, crossbow makers, knife and axe makers. Guild regulations in Toledo were strict. Those seeking to practise as swordmakers had to pass strict tests of quality stipulated by the King. The King also protected the Spanish trade by issuing a decree in 1567: "... do not allow or permit to import any kind of sword in our kingdom from the exterior, and the ones made in Toledo wear the mark and signal of the master who made it and manufactured it, and the place where they are made, and whoever violates this they will be condemned as false ..."


best,
Jasper
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Old 4th March 2017, 03:03 PM   #10
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Hi Jasper,
It is good to have the top brass entering in this thread, which means this has some interest in arms study.
You have noticed that, the asumption that the hilt shown is Dutch, is one from Lech Marek in his mentioned work; i wouldn't be able to judge it by myself. Mind you, he mentions Dutch style; maybe this makes the difference:
Fig. 5. Chiselled iron hilt of the rapier from Fig. 4. Dutch renaissance
style. Photo by L. Marek.


Yes, the 'Calle de las Armas' and the tests the smiths were submitted, as already approached in the same thread you linked to the Jean-Luc rapier discussion.
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showp...62&postcount=28.
Every 5th March two examiners and two observers would perform such exercise, visiting candidates in their shops ad workshops.

But it is interesting that you show that beautiful sword with an Alonso Perez blade, as we here again face the dilemma of the marks discepancies. If my eyes don't betray me there is a clear difference between the mark engraved in your sword and that recorded by Palomares in his nomina. I wouldn't at all dare pretending that the blade you post was not forged by the illustreous master, but then, we may stand before another of these recurrent riddles.
However if i am wrong, which i am ready to admit, please bother correcting me .


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Old 4th March 2017, 04:47 PM   #11
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Hi Fernando,

I wish that rapier was mine

it is one of the nicest swords in the Victoria and Albert museum.

and.....believe me, there is very small chance that there is something wrong with the allocation of the blade.

(this description is made by Claude Blair, not the first best.)


please see

http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O...r-alonso-perez/

best,
jasper


PS : Lech Marek is from Poland and I'm Dutch
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Old 4th March 2017, 08:48 PM   #12
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Hi Jasper,
Thank you for your enlightening.
I am not Polish or Dutch ... neither i have the capacity to attribute a sword to this or that smith, just by looking at its characteristics. But that the mark on the blade in the Victoria Museum and the one recorded in available sources are different, nobody can deny; notwithstanding that some early smiths introduced new marks at a different stage.
Ah ... also i would like to own such sword ... or the one i spotted also at the same place, with a blade of the same Master.

Met vriendelijke groeten ,

.
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Old 5th March 2017, 01:39 AM   #13
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It is good to have Jasper join here, as this is a thread focused on an aspect of arms study which does often seem a bit too esoteric for the general arms study community. This has seemed apparent to me for the many years I have been admittedly obsessed with the origins, meanings and applications of blade markings and inscriptions. There have been a number of references over the years, mostly compilations with perpetuated errors among the fairly reliable remainder represented in these.

That is why this thread is so important in addressing at least one long misunderstood instance of the topic of blades, markings and those of Toledo with their spurious counterparts in Germany and Italy. That is the curious half moon device and the identity of the Espadero del Rey.

The article by Lech Marek is outstanding, and thank you Fernando for pointing it out. It does seem compelling in noting the character of the markings used by Juan Martinez, a noted and renowned Espadero del Rey.
It shows of course the half moon as his personal mark; the TO (which is an 'O' over 'T') as the Toledo export mark and the fluer de lis as the 'mark of the Espadero del Rey'.

In looking at this rapier from the Victoria & Albert, it does seem curious that the mark for Alonso Perez, an S apparently topped by an 'O' and crowned does not match the punzon shown in the Palomares nomina. Perhaps the reference used by the V&A was from one of these other sources we have discussed?
If the late Claude Blair was the author of the assessment of this sword, I would definitely consider it sound. This man was one of the most resounding authorities in the arms and armour world, and was cited personally as a source in more articles, books and references than I can even list.

In looking at Palomares chart, it seems there are so many duplicate punzones, for example the shield with crowned S (as noted for Perez) has 6 other similar examples with only subtle variations in crowns.
Ironically 4 of these are for the Sahagun's, another highly purloined name of Toledo, as well as the one for Juan Martinez!

Another thing I am curious about is why the TO always appears as OT (the over the T) and in the Perez example with S, it is topped by an O in the same manner.
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Old 5th March 2017, 11:12 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Hi Jasper,
Thank you for your enlightening.
I am not Polish or Dutch ... neither i have the capacity to attribute a sword to this or that smith, just by looking at its characteristics. But that the mark on the blade in the Victoria Museum and the one recorded in available sources are different, nobody can deny; notwithstanding that some early smiths introduced new marks at a different stage.
Ah ... also i would like to own such sword ... or the one i spotted also at the same place, with a blade of the same Master.

Met vriendelijke groeten ,

.


Hi Fernando,
thanks!
Now it is clear to me why the first rapier is attributed to Alonso Perez while there is only ALONSO EN TOLEDO as inscription on the blade (no PEREZ)

the one you posted has the same OS mark but as inscription the full name OF Alonso Perez;
A.L.O.N.S.O. P.E. on one side
R.E.Z. E.N. T.O.L.E.D.O at the other side.


The style of horsemen on V&A rapier came 60 year later on equestrian small swords of around 1650.
they have a similar chiseled style with horsemen cut in high relief and were used extensively in the Netherlands.
however, it is not known where this type was made, perhaps by the medal cutters in Paris because of the very high and detailed quality work or maybe in liege. attached an equestrian hilted small sword from my collection

best,
Jasper
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Old 5th March 2017, 03:21 PM   #15
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So why OS?
And why is the TO seemingly reversed (if it is to mean Toledo)? on the so called Toledo export mark as shown in Marek.
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Old 5th March 2017, 04:09 PM   #16
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Jim, i am glad that you stood with me in the Alonso Perez mark enigma, as to comfort me for not having visions, something potential with my pharaonic age.
As for the Toledo punzon, Jose Maria Pelaez Valle questions himself on this issue and takes a guess that the different positions ot the two initials and their shield could indicate the different period (year) in which the blades were produced, like in silver hallmarks of certain countries; as also that the non applying of such TO mark in blades could mean that some masters were so reknown out there that they would see no need for such quality contrast.
It is a fact that, the abundance of the letter S on smith's marks which names appear not to contain such letter, needs some enlightenment; other than the fact that period Latin phonems could cause erroneous situations, besides cultural perceptions. Remember the great master Tomas de Ayala was illiterate. On the other hand and subject to double check, marks being usually correspondent to the initial of the first or family name, were not necessarily so; allegory to the smiths place of origin (toponimic) could also be taken into account. It seems as the S for the Sahagun family was so attributed because they actually were from Sahagun.
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Old 5th March 2017, 04:30 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
So why OS?
And why is the TO seemingly reversed (if it is to mean Toledo)? on the so called Toledo export mark as shown in Marek.


hi Jim,

I do not understand the question, can you explain it please?
Is The question why Alonso Perez used OS ?

best,
Jasper
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Old 5th March 2017, 04:43 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cornelistromp
... Now it is clear to me why the first rapier is attributed to Alonso Perez while there is only ALONSO EN TOLEDO as inscription on the blade (no PEREZ)...the one you posted has the same OS mark but as inscription the full name OF Alonso Perez;
A.L.O.N.S.O. P.E. on one side
R.E.Z. E.N. T.O.L.E.D.O at the other side...

Yes Jasper, the second example having the full name makes it clear that both blades were forged by the same smith. Now we only ignore the reason why he apparently changed his mark... and why in both cases he uses the letter S. If it weren't for the discussed S 'mania' and trying to unveil the criteria used by (Toledan) smiths in their names, the little o over the S in the the Vitoria examples might be that of ALONSO and the vertical line crossing the S in Palomares nomina could be the l of ALONSO. But this only giving wings to imagination.

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Originally Posted by cornelistromp
... attached an equestrian hilted small sword from my collection...

Superb .
I tell you what; next time you come over to the peninsula for kite surfing you bring this one with you for, say, your self defence ... and tell me which hotel you will stay at .
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Old 5th March 2017, 05:01 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cornelistromp
hi Jim,

I do not understand the question, can you explain it please?
Is The question why Alonso Perez used OS ?

best,
Jasper

I guess the answer Jim is looking for is basicaly expressed in my post #15
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Old 5th March 2017, 07:45 PM   #20
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Yes Fernando, you did answer me exactly, and we being of the same pharaonic age group and of the same visional subjectivity, you hit exactly what I was trying to ask. Jasper, I thank you very much for your patience and am grateful for your input here as we try to sort out the enigmas of these swords and their markings.

Fernando, it is most interesting about Valle's theorizing about the 'Toledo' mark with its curious letter positioning in the shield, and uses knowledgeable , though tenuous theorizing about what such placements of letters might signify. It would be naïve to discount the number of potential answers there might be, and which may involve unusual explanations.

We must remember that there was nowhere in Europe more involved in religious contrasts, mysticism, magic and occult and military brotherhoods and orders than Spain and Portugal. While there are no records specifying Jewish armourers and swordsmiths, we know they existed of course. The use of Cabbalistic symbolism and sigils which were it seems often used in talismanic contexts along with other symbols and motif.

With illiteracy prevalent, as noted even with many of the famed masters, the use of symbols, sigils and allegorical signs were often key in conveying the imbuement of quality and talismanic virtue in blades.
With the many forms of codification and secret symbols held so profoundly by Spaniards and Portuguese in so many instances, it would be extremely difficult to define any meanings in these punzones and markings accurately.

Even the Spanish system of swordsmanship, destreza , was an occult and scientific mystery, with complex numerical and geometric features. Is it possible aspects of this, along with the many other types of symbolism, may carry the mysteries even further?

As noted, the letter 'S' seems well represented in at least 7 examples, with 4 of them being Sahagun. The placement of a dot or a line may explain which specific maker the punzon might represent, but others are simply the letter S. Perhaps subtle differences in the crown may be the key?

The idea of the placement of the letters as signifying the initial of the maker, his place of origin also seems questionable. I recall one writer once suggested the repeated use of the letter 'P' in a number of punzones possibly because so many makers were named Pedro! Another conundrum is with the number '3', which occurs in a number of them. I have seen no adequate explanation for this one.

While these dilemmas seem almost impossible to resolve, with lack of accurate records, the purloining and spurious use of marks in Spain as well of course in the busy centers of Germany and Italy.....we have come a long way here thanks to you guys and the great insight and information you share.
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Old 6th March 2017, 08:09 AM   #21
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as known, some German blacksmiths from solingen used hispanicized marks.
For example, Clemens Stamm used the toldedo mark and an IS crowned together with the crescent. see nr 45,107 There is even a rapier described with a Spanish inscription
CLEMENS.STAM.ESPADERO.DEI.REY. ( A. Weyersberg solinger schwertschmeide p.44)
Clemens Tesche used crowned S, Peter Tesche a crowned B and Toledo mark, the crowned OT. etc. see nr111,112
It seems that for geographical determination, a mark in itself has subordinate value and should always be considered in conjunction with the inscribed name of the blacksmith.

best,
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Old 6th March 2017, 03:15 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... While there are no records specifying Jewish armourers and swordsmiths, we know they existed of course...

From the work A ARMARIA EM PORTUGAL by Sousa Viterbo 1907/8:

... Besides Moors, Jews were also experts in metalic arts in general and in the production of weapons in particular, reason why an exception was promulgated in their favour. According to Damião de Gois, in part I, chapter X, of his Chronicle of (King) Dom Manuel, the Jews of Castille, who came to Portugal in the time of (King) Dom João II, paid 8 cruzados per capita and the black smiths, tinkers, mail smiths and armourers (only) paid half. The influence of these imigrants could obviously not be long lasting, as they had to be expatriated in the realm of Dom Manuel. However many Jews, converted to Catholicism, continued exercizing their activities, so that we see in (city of) Tavira, Algarve, a family of New Christians (converted Jews), that of the Fains, dedicated to the production of lances.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
...As noted, the letter 'S' seems well represented in at least 7 examples, with 4 of them being Sahagun...
Actually in over a dozen examples, with more or less appendixes. Could we have here the toponimic phenomina, that is, their origin being, for example, Zaragossa, a place well known for its sword smiths which, in Catalonian, a neighbour of Aragon and once its ally, is spelt Saragossa ? I am trying to get some clarification on this issue from Germán Dueñas Berains, but i don't think he has the time to pay attention to my new email.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
...Another conundrum is with the number '3', which occurs in a number of them. I have seen no adequate explanation for this one...

And ... is that a (number) 3, Jim ?


.

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Old 6th March 2017, 03:26 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cornelistromp
as known, some German blacksmiths from solingen used hispanicized marks... It seems that for geographical determination, a mark in itself has subordinate value and should always be considered in conjunction with the inscribed name of the blacksmith...

Absolutely, Jasper.
Actually the inverted stiuation, as you know, is also not reliable. Often we see blade smiths name inscriptions, some times even 'supported' by the To symbol, that are a fake; Ayala, Sahagun and other.


.

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Old 6th March 2017, 06:34 PM   #24
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Perfect Fernando!!! I knew you would have a reference on Jewish smiths , which seems to have escaped the English language references I had used. I think they must have assumed that these artisans must have not been noted as such as so much of the motif, markings and inscriptions which were covertly encoded with Cabbalistic devices and numerology, that their identities must have been equally encrypted.
As always, I thank you for the elucidation.

There we have the Z and S syndrome again! and I forgot to look for the Zs.
I knew that Zaragoza was also spelled Saragossa, but was unclear on the grammar determination of which was proper in which geographic or linguistic setting. This was indeed a key alternate center which seems to have been an alternate location for many of the masters.

The number 3 seems to appear in a number of the punzones, but indeed, the character may be a letter in the calligraphy of Spanish dialects or geographic and period references. Again, I hope you might set this straight.
Curiously, the numeric three in various symbolic application is believed to represent the Holy Trinity in Christianity as well as the Holy Three in other religions symbolism. I have even seen the number '3' standing alone on some western blades.
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Old 7th March 2017, 07:58 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
In looking at this rapier from the Victoria & Albert, it does seem curious that the mark for Alonso Perez, an S apparently topped by an 'O' and crowned does not match the punzon shown in the Palomares nomina. Perhaps the reference used by the V&A was from one of these other sources we have discussed?
If the late Claude Blair was the author of the assessment of this sword, I would definitely consider it sound. This man was one of the most resounding authorities in the arms and armour world, and was cited personally as a source in more articles, books and references than I can even list.

In looking at Palomares chart, it seems there are so many duplicate punzones, for example the shield with crowned S (as noted for Perez) has 6 other similar examples with only subtle variations in crowns.
Ironically 4 of these are for the Sahagun's, another highly purloined name of Toledo, as well as the one for Juan Martinez!

Another thing I am curious about is why the TO always appears as OT (the over the T) and in the Perez example with S, it is topped by an O in the same manner.


Palomares is a good starting point, but it must be remembered that the Toledo blacksmiths use multiple marks while Palomares has only indicated one.

Palomares has made the list in 1762, by then the heydays of blade making in Toledo were over.
Actually there were hardly blades made in Toledo in the 18thC anymore, it was almost all taken over by Solingen. The newly established fabrica de armas in Toledo did not change this.


Furthermore there has no proper investigation done by Palomares. There is no indication when the blacksmiths have worked in Toledo, mentioned By Palomares under the chart list of names .
He has only listed 5 names with a year.
there are 99 marks and only 94 names, multpiple times; el viejo, the elderly, el mojo, the younger, son and brother are used.


A blacksmith who worked outside Toledo is also mentioned, labro tambien en Gordova and the same mark is given to two persons 65 and 66 ??

Pedro Hernandez, Juan Hernandez and Piedro del Monte are missing from the list, as are some German blacksmiths who worked in Toledo. Heinrich Col fe.

nr 13 nr 15 and nr 23 have only the Toledo town mark as their mark, this is probably a mistake ?

TBC

best,
Jasper

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Old 7th March 2017, 11:47 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... I knew you would have a reference on Jewish smiths , which seems to have escaped the English language references I had used...

It wouldn't be easy to find 'my' source. It is in fact a two tome old publication that i once found and immediately bought . One tome (1907) is dedicated to white arms smiths and the other (1908) to firearms makers. Hundreds of them, since the XIV century, listed with full texts of their Royal letters of privilege, as often events of their personal lives.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
...I think they must have assumed that these artisans must have not been noted as such as so much of the motif, markings and inscriptions which were covertly encoded with Cabbalistic devices and numerology, that their identities must have been equally encrypted...

Going into such encrypted universe, we face riddles that are not easy to crack as also so often involved by esoteric fans into the mantle of fantasy.
On the other hand, in this great work written by Viterbo, with read details on smiths so exhaustively narrated but no comments being made on marks, except for the sketch of a couple used in firearms, those from the XVIII century, a period in which high end gun smiths fancied applying their seal.
I guess (guess) the habit of marking swords (blades) is a procedure adopted by the (guild) smiths of some countries, Portugal not included. One can spot one or two smiths names, one or two owners names, one or two patriotic or (common) religious inscriptions, but not actual smiths seals, whatever religion they practiced.

,

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Old 7th March 2017, 04:22 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... The number 3 seems to appear in a number of the punzones, but indeed, the character may be a letter in the calligraphy of Spanish dialects or geographic and period references. Again, I hope you might set this straight.
Curiously, the numeric three in various symbolic application is believed to represent the Holy Trinity in Christianity as well as the Holy Three in other religions symbolism. I have even seen the number '3' standing alone on some western blades.

Jim, you know that i am not much of a fan of esoterism, such as you are, as i prefer digging into more 'skeptical' interpretations. In looking back to considerations written in LA MARCA DEL PERRILLO DEL ESPADERO ESPAÑOL JULIAN DEL REY by J. J. Rodriguez Lorente, we quotes Sánchez Cantón, who interpreters Jehan Lhermite's attributions to the mark of Sebastian Hernandez, as being a 'Z' with an arched tail . So we have here a period stylized (cursive) letter 'Z' trasvestized to our modern eyes as being a number '3'. We might then be closer from the toponimic mark of Zaragossa, in view of both Fernandez and Hernandez and having possibly such origin. How is this for an approach ?

.
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Old 7th March 2017, 08:08 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cornelistromp
Palomares is a good starting point, but it must be remembered that the Toledo blacksmiths use multiple marks while Palomares has only indicated one.

True in a way, Japer ... but i realize the majority of the smiths only used one mark, that of their personal seal; otherwise period chroniclars like Jehan Lhermite would have related such profusion. Instead, he only mentions as using various marks one or two smiths, the more profuse being Juan Martinez. But we also know that, those with more than one mark, often used secondary ones as either prestige symbols (Espadero del Rey), or decoration signs, that not their personal seals. Juan del Rey is also said to have used a 'few' marks but then again, the perrillo was more of a 'quality' contrast and apparently there is no record of what the others may have been. Curiously Lhermite doesn't mention this famous master, probably because he was still working in Zaragossa by the time the Flemish passed by Toledo, a vital detail not well distinguished by Palomares


Quote:
Originally Posted by cornelistromp
Furthermore there has no proper investigation done by Palomares. There is no indication when the blacksmiths have worked in Toledo,

As already approched and according to specialists in this subject, Palomares, a Toledan native, had a tendency to list smiths as having 'also' worked elsewhere, when in fact they 'first' worked elsewhere (their home towns) and only after went to Toledo.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cornelistromp
... He has only listed 5 names with a year...

Another of his imprecisions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cornelistromp
... there are 99 marks and only 94 names,..

Yes, he saw the 5 punzones in the Toledo archives but never found out whom they belonged to. Eventually mark #95 contains a fleur-de-liz and could (could) well be, not a personal mark but, an additional contrast mark belonging to an Espadero del Rey.
Mark #99 could (could) be that from whom Lhermite calls Machin, who recorded that he used an aguililla (small eagle) as his mark.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cornelistromp
... multiple times; el viejo, the elderly, el mojo, the younger, son and brother are used...

This was in fact a current use in tat period, to distinguish each one of the family, as so often the son was given the name of his father ... and this from his grandfather.


Quote:
Originally Posted by cornelistromp
A blacksmith who worked outside Toledo is also mentioned, labro tambien en Gordova and the same mark is given to two persons 65 and 66 ?? ...

They are quoted to have the 'same' mark as the previous one as, according to regulations, they could use the mark and privileges of their fathers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cornelistromp
... nr 13 nr 15 and nr 23 have only the Toledo town mark as their mark, this is probably a mistake ?...

Historians mention that some smiths opted by only using the Toledo mark ... just as others used their personal mark and not the Toledo contrast.


.

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Old 8th March 2017, 04:49 AM   #29
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Well Fernando, for not being a fan of esotericism.......on the solution for the crowned '3' (as I was seeing it) actually being a calligraphically embellished 'Z' ( as Sir James Mann had specified, 1962)........as they would say here in Texas....'ya done good!!!

The 'Z' as a toponymic for Zaragossa, as noted a key location for these masters outside of Toledo seems very well placed.


With the fluer de lis, it seems that was mentioned in discussion on Juan Martinez as being one of the multiple devices on his blades, along with half moon and crowned T (from Valle and Marek). I believe it was Marek who regarded the fluer de lis as associated with Espadero del Rey as it was of course the roya symbol of the Bourbon family.


Jasper,
Thank you for the scans of the detail on Clemens Stam and the marks used by them in Toledo.
The one (I think it is for Stam) which is a kind of grated image......would that be a portcullis?
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Old 9th March 2017, 05:52 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
True in a way, Japer ... but i realize the majority of the smiths only used one mark, that of their personal seal; otherwise period chroniclars like Jehan Lhermite would have related such profusion. Instead, he only mentions as using various marks one or two smiths, the more profuse being Juan Martinez. But we also know that, those with more than one mark, often used secondary ones as either prestige symbols (Espadero del Rey), or decoration signs, that not their personal seals. Juan del Rey is also said to have used a 'few' marks but then again, the perrillo was more of a 'quality' contrast and apparently there is no record of what the others may have been. Curiously Lhermite doesn't mention this famous master, probably because he was still working in Zaragossa by the time the Flemish passed by Toledo, a vital detail not well distinguished by Palomares



As already approched and according to specialists in this subject, Palomares, a Toledan native, had a tendency to list smiths as having 'also' worked elsewhere, when in fact they 'first' worked elsewhere (their home towns) and only after went to Toledo.


Another of his imprecisions.


Yes, he saw the 5 punzones in the Toledo archives but never found out whom they belonged to. Eventually mark #95 contains a fleur-de-liz and could (could) well be, not a personal mark but, an additional contrast mark belonging to an Espadero del Rey.
Mark #99 could (could) be that from whom Lhermite calls Machin, who recorded that he used an aguililla (small eagle) as his mark.


This was in fact a current use in tat period, to distinguish each one of the family, as so often the son was given the name of his father ... and this from his grandfather.



They are quoted to have the 'same' mark as the previous one as, according to regulations, they could use the mark and privileges of their fathers.


Historians mention that some smiths opted by only using the Toledo mark ... just as others used their personal mark and not the Toledo contrast.


.



Hi Fernando,

thanks but of course there are many possible explanations, but I think the fact that Palomares created the document in 1762 is decisive.

So 150-200 years after the blacksmiths worked, there probably was not enough information available.

it seems that there has been a previous blacksmith register before palomares made by Rodriquez del Canto, el discipulo instruido.
have you maybe heard of that document.


best,
jasper
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