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Old 6th June 2017, 08:20 AM   #1
Cerjak
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Default 17th century training rapier?

17th century training rapier?
O.L. 117 cm ; blade L. 104 cmThe tip has a round shape. Horn grip
Any comment on it would be welcome.
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Last edited by Cerjak : 6th June 2017 at 09:26 AM.
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Old 9th June 2017, 06:52 PM   #2
Philip
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Thanks for sharing this one. Looking at the tip of your sword, it seems to me that it got rounded as a result of combat damage, and quick re-grinding to make a usable point -- a radiused tip like that is still dangerous if an edge is made all round it.

I would like to draw your attention to Tobias Capwell's excellent book, THE NOBLE ART OF THE SWORD: FASHION AND FENCING IN RENAISSANCE EUROPE (London, Wallace 2012), specifically the chapter "Blunted and Balled -[ Safety in the fencing school". Two examples of training swords are shown. Their tips are expanded into either a button, or a "ball" with a very blunt conical face. These expansions are large enough that the sword won't fit a conventional scabbard, and although they will cause a bruise if a touche made contact, they can't pierce clothes and skin. I think that the tip of your sword is a bit more dangerous than that.
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Old 9th June 2017, 08:02 PM   #3
Jim McDougall
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Interesting perspective Philip! and of course sounds most likely. If I recall, weren't there many cases of European arming swords as well which had these very fully sharpened radiused points, which were remarkably effective in slashing cuts?
It seems as well, in Italian fencing there was a slashing cut (usually to the face) which was termed 'stramazone' and intended to distract the opponent with said wound. I have not located the reference, but seems like somewhat rebated points sharpened in this manner were used.

Also, it has always been curious that North African swords such as the takouba always have a 'rounded point' (I believe Omani sa'ifs as well). I have always taken that this was for slashing type cuts.

While it would seem to negate the thrusting value, if I have understood correctly, a very sharp radiused tip would still be effective in a thrust, but would have to be sharpened in the full radius as you have noted.

This is an odd hilt though.
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Old 10th June 2017, 03:06 AM   #4
Philip
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Default rounded tips

Actually, fully-sharpened radiused points aren't all that rare on European swords. You see quite a few katzbalgers and Scots basket-hilts in the same configuration. Usually these are well-used blades, and it's my impression that they were fully pointed when they hit the market but got rounded off during extensive use, when the point got chipped and users successively ground away at the flats on either side to restore usable sharpness without removing too much metal from the sides. My experience as a polisher, when receiving a sword with a broken-off tip, is to scribe the original tip outline on what remains with a marker pen, and more often than not, a lot of metal needs to come off to get the original profile back. On various Far Eastern blades that are edge-tempered, you can lose most of the hardness at the extremity that way, which does affect the historical integrity of the piece in addition to its functionality. It calls for a consultation with the customer before I do anything because once the material is removed you can't put it back on!

All else being equal, a pointy tip penetrates easier than a sharpened radius, but there are lots of areas a trained swordsman can aim for that don't take much effort to get in and do damage -- the jugular, armpit, the abdomen under the ribcage, and (eesh) the groin. The first two, along with the area behind the knee, are also difficult to fully protect with armor, and in all these regions, there are vital things just below skin level. (Who was it that said that the proverbial stab through the heart existed mostly in novels, opera, and Hollywood?)

Also, a wider, round or irregular tip makes a nastier wound, not as clean as a poke from an acute one. This is why the Russians put those chisel-shaped tips on their spike bayonets, from the 19th cent. until WW II. Instead of the needle-sharp ones the French, Italians, and Brits used on theirs.
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Old 10th June 2017, 11:40 AM   #5
fernando
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip
... Looking at the tip of your sword, it seems to me that it got rounded as a result of combat damage, and quick re-grinding to make a usable point -- a radiused tip like that is still dangerous if an edge is made all round it. ... Their tips are expanded into either a button, or a "ball" with a very blunt conical face... I think that the tip of your sword is a bit more dangerous than that.

Ah, the button; is it a different context in that the French used a button they called "fleur de laine" (wool flower), after which they called their foils "fleurets". Interesting that in my lingo we use the galicism "florete".
Within my ignorance, i see the blade of Jean-Luc more fit to street fighting than to indoors school; its shape, the ricasso construction ... even the tracings of a smith's mark and an inscription ... if my eyes are not tricking me .
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Old 10th June 2017, 06:17 PM   #6
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I believe this rapier was assembled from various parts. The blade is obviously of high quality (regardless the signs of time and use), the guard was damaged intentionally with the two main branches bent backwards (for unknown reason) thus making it awkward to use, the grip is crude and does not fit the weapon properly, the pommel is too small and improper - it looks like a pommel from a knife (I didn't find alike in Norman's book).
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Old 11th June 2017, 12:00 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by broadaxe
I believe this rapier was assembled from various parts. The blade is obviously of high quality (regardless the signs of time and use), the guard was damaged intentionally with the two main branches bent backwards (for unknown reason) thus making it awkward to use, the grip is crude and does not fit the weapon properly, the pommel is too small and improper - it looks like a pommel from a knife (I didn't find alike in Norman's book).

The two Quillons donít have the same size and I donít think that the they were be made to be horizontal or if it was the case ,the Quillon terminal have been reworked to have the same shape than the pommel I donít believe this second hypothesis.
Yes, me too I did not find any similar pommel with urn shape in Norman but the size for me is correct compare to other rapier of same size and also the point of balance is similar.
The hilt is somewhat a crude work but in an other side the smith has made the terminal quillons matching with the pommel.
I still believe that this work had been done later in the 17-century reusing a blade of high quality .
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Old 12th June 2017, 10:38 AM   #8
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As Cerjack has pointed out with the shape and design its obvious that the pommel and the guard do belong together + the same workmanship and patina, there is no reason to doubt that.
It seems that the composition here is a working life combo, that does not mean it could been assembled like this initially either.
I don't know if there are books that illustrate these type of pommels but I have seen them before and here is a similar one , they are definitely used as sword or rapier pommels. A nice detail is the guard of this one has upward pointing quillions to.

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Old 15th June 2017, 01:22 PM   #9
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Cerjak, it seems we both agree the good blade was re-fitted. After a second look I also agree the pommel matches the guard (I'm aware of that type, just cannot put my finger on period and place). Could be a colonial rapier.
However, I still think the cross bars were bent backwards against its original design.
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Old 15th June 2017, 06:32 PM   #10
fernando
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Quote:
Originally Posted by broadaxe
... However, I still think the cross bars were bent backwards against its original design.

So they could. And yet, being of different length, it would look more plausible if they were meant to be originally positioned backwords ... as if the longer one served as a knuckle guard.
On the other hand, when it comes to fencing school rapiers, (quoting Jasper) the shape of quillons is a matter of personal taste and of course of the type of the fighting school and personal fighting skills.
We can see here how the same type of fencing rapiers may have different quillon approaches:

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ighlight=school
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Old 15th June 2017, 07:17 PM   #11
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Ulfberth, that is an absolutely perfect catch!!! Excellent example, and I agree this assembly may well have had working life originality. The pommel in Jean Lucs example is cruder and the sides are curved in from the top, and these quillons are crudely worked....however the sword itself has a certain mystique.
I am thinking that broadaxe is onto something with the colonial suggestion.

With the example Ulfberth shows, the swept upward quillons, the type of pommel and essentially the gestalt of the hilt suggest compelling likeness.
The example he shows, has an arming type blade with SAHAGUM, the name commonly use in Solingen for blades for the Low Countries.

The quillon terminals remind me of Spanish rapier types, and clearly this example of Jean Luc is a rapier blade, Its condition renders the markings pretty much indiscernible. I agree with Philip's idea of the blade point being reground possibly from damage.

It would seem to me that this may have been a sword following a type of hilt known and in some favor in Low Countries, probably Holland. Perhaps this was in a colonial setting where such fabrication might have been performed by a blacksmith using an older rapier blade, and following this apparently somewhat distinct hilt form. The Spanish influences, and possibly blades together with Dutch forms might offer plausible solution.
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Old 20th June 2017, 08:00 PM   #12
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I too feel this is not a practice weapon, but a real one, with the crude hilt added later. The bars were originally straight, I am certain. The colonial origin does make a lot of sense, I would definitely put my dollar on it.
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