Ethnographic Arms & Armour
 

Go Back   Ethnographic Arms & Armour > Discussion Forums > European Armoury
User Name
Password
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 1st January 2018, 01:32 AM   #1
Cathey
Member
 
Cathey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: adelaide south australia
Posts: 178
Default Spanish Bilbo Circa 1700

Hi Guys

When we began collecting one gentleman had an enormous influence on us, the late Irishman Eric Magill of Adelaide. This sword was probably the first quality sword we ever purchased and came from Eric’s collection. Recently as we are required to display swords each month at two local collecting clubs, I have had to revisit the swords in our collection prior to their display which is proving to be a useful exercise. When you are obliged to really look at a sword that you have had for many years it’s surprising what you find out.

The Sword is known by English Collectors as the Bilbo.
Date: Circa 1700 (18h Century), blade may be older
Nationality: Spanish
Overall Length: 41 ¼” 104.7 cm
Blade length: 34 ¼” 87 cm
Blade widest point: 1 3/8” 3.5 cm
Hilt widest point: 8 ½” 21.6 cm
Inside grip length: 3 1/8” 8 cm
Marks, etc: Appears to have been re-marked with Charles the 4th of Spain. There is also a large flat H on ricasso

Description
BILBO Spanish backsword of the late seventeenth century, of the type known as a Bilbo. 18th century sword with flat broad backsword blade engraved on one side with P CS IV and on the other the remnants of A DE rest long since removed. The ricasso struck on one side with a broad versions of the Letter H. Steel hilt with asymmetrical upturned shell guards, screwed to the guard, which is integral with the large pas d’ane; including a pair of straight quillons with turned finials; knuckle bow stopping short of the bun-shaped pommel; the wooden grip bound with twisted copper wire. Single edged blade probably pre-dates hilt, and may have been re-marked with Charles the 4th of Spain. Sword came to Eric Magill out of a Scottish museum via an English dealer in the 1980’s.

General Remarks
The Mark may be that of Maria Hortuna 17th Century Esoana (Toledo) Ref LENKIEWICZ-Zygmunt 1000 Marks of European Blade MakersPp29

The Bilbo term, was an old name for a cup-hilt rapier sword, in use around in the 16th -18th century. The name comes from the Basque city of Bilbao, where a significant number of them were exported to the New World. These swords were also sold to arms merchants of the most European country, including England. The Bilbo Sword was a favourite weapon of Spanish soldiers and sailors in the New World and the pirates of Caribbean during the 18th century and also wildly used by the American cavalry during the revolutionary wars.

References:
BRINCKERHOFF, Sidney B. and CHAMBERLAIN, Pierce A. Spanish Military Weapons in Colonial America 1700-1821 pp 79-82, 97 plate 186
DUFTY, A. European Swords & Daggers in the Tower of London. pp 23, plate 42 a.
MOMPARLER Vincente Toledo ESPADAS ESPAÑOLAS MILITARES Y CIVILES desde el siglo XVI al XX by Vicente Toledo Momparle. Pages: 98-103.
NEUMANN George C by Battle Weapons of the American Revolution.. Page. 348. No.135. SS.
NEUMANN George C by Swords and Blades of the American Revolution. Page 160. No.296.S
OAKESHOTT, E. European Weapons and Armour. pp168-167.
SOUTHWICK, L The Price Guide to Antique Edged Weapons pp 58. plates 126.

If anyone has more information on the various blade markings and early Bilbo’s that would be most appreciated.


Cheers Cathey and Rex
Attached Images
    
Cathey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 1st January 2018, 11:27 AM   #2
fernando
Lead Moderator European Armoury
 
fernando's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Portugal
Posts: 6,626
Red face Correct me if and where i am wrong ...

Hi Cathey,
If i dare point out a couple discrepancies on your notes.

The sword model...
As you kow, the term Bilbo (Basque/Euskera for Bilbao) is somehow a catch-all word, created by english speakers to refer to swords imported from that capital city of the Biscay Gulf province, region of the famous Mondragon steel. In strict terms, to call a sword style a Bilbo falls into some contingency. In the case of your example, if i well discern, it would be a mounting sword (Espada de montar), for which the Spaniards had a name that resembled is assymmetrical guard shells, called Boca de Caballo (horse mouth). Once it has the Carlos IV (which i don't view as being a remark), this both means it is a military issue made to Royal property (the civilian version also existed) and, Carlos IV having reigned between 1788-1808, your sword would be the "new model", as the first one was issued durig the previous Carlos III realm.

http://www.catalogacionarmas.com/public/49-Conchas.pdf

The second blade iscription ...
Although i didn't figure out its actual meaning, it looks consistent with some letters of the initials referring the military corps it was produced for, as usually done.
The mark in the ricasso ...
This is somehow intriguing. Starting by the attribution given to Maria Hortuna (better spelt Hortuña). Maria is a woman's name and we don't know any records of a female sword smith; unless the author eventually picked the sword smith's wife at reading whatever notes.
On the other hand, all three Hortuños registered in Palomares chart (and not only) were of a Basque family (Ortuño) that worked in Toledo in dates prior to this type of sword, from grandfather 1604-1613 to grandson registered in 1637.

http://hedatuz.euskomedia.org/2217/1/04029034.pdf

Furthermore the letter H's they used as mark, together with the Toledo symbol, are not consistent with the one in your blade ... assuming yours is a H.
See Palomares nomina for the three Hortuños and their marks, positions #22, #38 and #80.
... And forgive me if my assessments would do no more than misguide you; iam not even a Spaniard.



.
Attached Images
  

Last edited by fernando : 1st January 2018 at 11:38 AM.
fernando is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 1st January 2018, 05:29 PM   #3
Madnumforce
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 18
Default

That's extremely interesting. Well, I'm not so interested in maker's marks, but discovering the Spanish tradition is something new to me. It's amazing to see typically Spanish designs surviving in renewed, late 18th century forms.
Madnumforce is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 1st January 2018, 08:25 PM   #4
fernando
Lead Moderator European Armoury
 
fernando's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Portugal
Posts: 6,626
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Madnumforce
That's extremely interesting. Well, I'm not so interested in maker's marks, but discovering the Spanish tradition is something new to me. It's amazing to see typically Spanish designs surviving in renewed, late 18th century forms.

Personally i am a passionate of marks. It is a vast universe to dive in. Just don't push me into it ..
fernando is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 1st January 2018, 11:18 PM   #5
Cathey
Member
 
Cathey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: adelaide south australia
Posts: 178
Default Boca de Caballo Sword

Hi Fernando

I am also passionate about marks but find them very frustrating. The only H I could find that vaguely resembled the mark on this sword was listed as Maria Hortuna 17th Century Esoana (Toledo) Ref LENKIEWICZ-Zygmunt 1000 Marks of European Blade Makers Pp29. I have attached the extract.

As for this H or whatever it is, looks like a squat H to me though, I am hoping someone out there has seen it before and can shed some light on it.

With regard to this sword, what appears to be unusual is that it is a backsword blade, not broadsword. All of these swords in my reference books are broadswords. This might be why the previous owner was of the opinion that the blade predates the hilt and that the original engraving has been removed or altered to accommodate a latter monarch.

Any other examples of these swords with backsword blades would be appreciated.

Also, this example has straight quillons, any thoughts about when these came in or where they around at the same time as the curved ones.

Cheers Cathey and Rex
Attached Images
 
Cathey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2nd January 2018, 04:43 PM   #6
fernando
Lead Moderator European Armoury
 
fernando's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Portugal
Posts: 6,626
Default

Let me still take some shots before more knowledged members show up to correct me ... which is not so difficult.
Hortuño Maria instead of Maria Hortuño makes all the difference ... in gender.
Hortuño being male, is not uncommon to have (female) Maria as a second name over here. Still i gather that this smith doesn't figure within this issue, nor he figures in listings by Palomares, Leguina, Gestoso or even Lhermite, who has been in Toledo around 1600 and listed its smiths and their marks. It could well be a less published smith, working for a contract; however his ambiguous mark (a H or maybe a small animal) on a rapier doens't appear to to fit in your case.
I had a further reading on these swords, a subject as vast as a bottomless well. The Boca de Caballo (assymmetrical shells) hilt had its beginnning in the XVII century, with the so called modelo 1650. It is also registered that such model had straight quillons.
Concerning blade markings ant their meddling with, authors like Juan L. Calvó admit the possibility of blades imported from Germany (Solingen) (before the opening of the Toledo factory in 1760) having their original inscriptons changed to more fit Spanish (Castillian) legends, but also possible that smiths installed in Spain marked their blades as produced in Germany to favour their commercialization.

http://www.elgrancapitan.org/foro/viewtopic.php?t=14794

On the other hand, one may notice that the Carlos IV initials (Cs. IV) in blades are rather identical to the one you have in your example, as may be seen in swords mounted for other military branches like Infantry, and such blades having a square back along more than 1/3 and double edgded until the point.
So for the approach of the blade predating the hilt, in another angle is the hilt that predates the blade. Definitely the (doubtful) H mark in the ricasso from (misterious ) Hortuño Maria would give a great push to cracking the riddle.


.
Attached Images
  
fernando is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2nd January 2018, 07:04 PM   #7
Foxbat
Member
 
Foxbat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 69
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cathey
Hi Fernando

With regard to this sword, what appears to be unusual is that it is a backsword blade, not broadsword. All of these swords in my reference books are broadswords.


Hello,

I can't see that in the pictures - to my eyes it looks like both edges are the same - no?
Foxbat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 3rd January 2018, 04:08 AM   #8
Cathey
Member
 
Cathey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: adelaide south australia
Posts: 178
Default Yes it's a backsword

Hi Guys

the picture does not show it well but the blade is a back sword for 2/3 rd's and spear for the remaining length.

Cheers Cathey and Rex
Cathey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 3rd January 2018, 05:14 AM   #9
Victrix
Member
 
Victrix's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Sweden
Posts: 177
Default

Hi Cathey and Rex,

Lovely sword! Thanks for posting. I can see the flat edge in the top right photo. Lange messer springs to mind. It’s clearly intended as a cutting (chopping) weapon. Interesting that the blade has no fullers so the strenth is more important than agility. It seems to me that these Boca de Caballos or Espada de Conchas are all different, especially the blades. So production was not standardized and the customer was likely able to choose his favoured blade on which the hafters had fashioned a hilt. Is it possible that the ”H” is a picture of a small animal, like a perillo?

Best wishes for the New Year 2018.
Victrix is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 3rd January 2018, 01:33 PM   #10
fernando
Lead Moderator European Armoury
 
fernando's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Portugal
Posts: 6,626
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
...It seems to me that these Boca de Caballos or Espada de Conchas are all different, especially the blades. So production was not standardized and the customer was likely able to choose his favoured blade on which the hafters had fashioned a hilt...

Apparently efforts were made throughout first mid XVII century to obtain a definite normalization, but we have to consider that non rank and file versions were still of free choice

Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
... Is it possible that the ”H” is a picture of a small animal, like a perillo?...

It would have to be an atypical version . Looking again into this, we see no trace of this punzon in the Catalogue of the Real Armeria, either. The only 'somehow' resembling this mark i spotted is in Gyngell's ARMOURERS MARKS (1959) as a secondary (?) mark for Juanes de la Huerta, AKA Juan de la Horta, or Orta, a famous master active in the XVI century. Don't ask me where in hell Gyngell found this mark, or a blade with it.


.
Attached Images
 
fernando is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 5th January 2018, 11:01 AM   #11
fernando
Lead Moderator European Armoury
 
fernando's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Portugal
Posts: 6,626
Default

Time to rewind some previous assessments, as certainly contained erroneous conclusions.
I let myself concur with the mark in the ricasso being from a blade smith, forgetting that, the days in which this practice used to take place, were gone by the time the discussed sword was produced.
What actually started to appear with the founding of the Toledo Factory by Carlos III around 1760 was the inspection mark, that imposed by a Factory examining master. This was composed by a team of expert smiths, the first leading one being Dom Manuel Fernandez, as sourced by Juan José Pérez. This not meaning that this blade was produced in Toledo, at least until factual evidence is shown but, that circumstances appoint to such conclusion, is a point to consider. Its body inscriptions having probably been remarked, would not appoint to it being from a different origin but a swap of regimental allocations or an attitude of equivalent grade, for what this matters. Some remaining letters could denounce inscriptions relative to CABALLERIA DE LINEA, the broken D could be part of the King's crowned R, you name it. On the other hand, it remains hard to accept that this remarking operation was not not done by the Toledo Factory; even the 'asterisks' are precisely the same as those in other blades.
We may eventlly find in Calvó's ARMAMENTO ESPAÑOL ... blades of such extensive length as the one discussed, mounted in what he calls 'Arms for Personal Equipment', swords with blades with a square back in a little more than two thirds; this meaning that there were blade profiles for all tastes.
Nothing much to add to the discussed hilt; only that, having its shells fixed by four screws, would then be a Toledo Factory issue. The previous version of this 1728 model sword had such improvement from two screws introduced when starting its production in the Factory. It was already approached that, the straight quillons in this 'later' version was not common ... but possible. It is even registere that, in some cases, was the owner that had them straightened up.


.
Attached Images
   
fernando is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 5th January 2018, 01:22 PM   #12
Victrix
Member
 
Victrix's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Sweden
Posts: 177
Default

Hi Fernando,

Interesting to hear about the inspector mark. The straight quillons might be favoured by cavalry as they assist in keeping the sword straight (balanced) in order when galloping. I noticed Swedish infantry swords from early 1700s have only one straight quillon whilst cavalry swords have two. The reason for this is speculation on my part. Schiavonas have one straight quillon which many users bent so it did not turn during movement and hit the wearer in the ribs. It’s been suggested that the Schiavonas which still have a straight quillon were not worn but were stored in arsenals.

Does the sword in the post above have a leather covered grip or is that wood we see in the picture?

Many thanks.
Victrix is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 5th January 2018, 04:26 PM   #13
fernando
Lead Moderator European Armoury
 
fernando's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Portugal
Posts: 6,626
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
... Does the sword in the post above have a leather covered grip or is that wood we see in the picture ?...

In the above Carlos III hilt version, the wood part is visible because the grip is missing the wire wrapping and the vertical reinforcement bars. I just selected such example to emphasize the inspection mark issue.


.
Attached Images
 

Last edited by fernando : 5th January 2018 at 05:51 PM.
fernando is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 7th January 2018, 02:35 AM   #14
Cathey
Member
 
Cathey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: adelaide south australia
Posts: 178
Default Inspecion mark makes sense

Hi Fernando

And thank you for all of the information you keep finding, its extremely interesting. Looks like the H may be an inspection mark as you suggest. I hope others will post further examples with the straight quillons for comparison.

Cheers Cathey and Rex
Cathey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 7th January 2018, 01:27 PM   #15
fernando
Lead Moderator European Armoury
 
fernando's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Portugal
Posts: 6,626
Default

Hi Cathey,
We must not forget that your sword predecessor, modelo 1650, had straight quillons, a detail that forcingly carried its influence iton later style evolutions, be it put out of factory by (non ordenance) customers, or brought from Germany with such variation, as seen out there, and even straightened by owners, also as also noted by authors, particularly because the act of their straighening leaves some mechanical traces.
I will hijack again Mr. Vicente Momparler works to show you a nice example, visibly not of military property, without the usual Royal marks and with the suggestive isncription "BENCER O MORIR POR MY REY" " (Win or die for my King). Bencer instead of Vencer was a common mispell, as still so pronounced in some areas, even in th North of Portugal.
Next i will hijack an article (already used above) by Mr. Juan José Perez, in which he restored one of theses swords with a broken quillon, in which the remaining one showed traces of having been curved before being straightened by someone ... even by a collector, a procedure not excluded by Juan José.


.
Attached Images
   
fernando is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 7th January 2018, 04:05 PM   #16
Victrix
Member
 
Victrix's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Sweden
Posts: 177
Default

Hi Fernando,

Would you be able to post a picture of the predecessor espada modelo 1650 for us, so we can see what that looks like in comparison?

Many thanks!

I managed to find these pages on the internet, from what must be a rather charming book.
Attached Images
   
Victrix is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10th January 2018, 04:08 PM   #17
fernando
Lead Moderator European Armoury
 
fernando's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Portugal
Posts: 6,626
Default

For your amusement, pictures of a sword sold by Jose A. Solis, dated 1777, in which the guard fixation is already done in four points, but in this case with rivets, a version prior to that with screws. The inspection mark is well visible.
Interesting to see how the quillons were straigtened in a such careless manner.


.
Attached Images
   
fernando is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



All times are GMT. The time now is 09:48 AM.


Powered by: vBulletin Version 3.0.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Posts are regarded as being copyrighted by their authors and the act of posting material is deemed to be a granting of an irrevocable nonexclusive license for display here.