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Old 19th June 2008, 09:23 PM   #1
Jim McDougall
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Default Andrea Ferrara blades

Recent interest in Andrea Ferrara blades recalls our previous thread on early makers trade marks, and noting that while this name (or marking) appears most on Scottish baskethilt blades, some have been found mounted elsewhere. Some have appeared on Moroccan 'nimchas' as well as on Indian tulwars.

The 'Andrea Ferrara' mystery has often reappeared with the main question being was there really such a maker? if he actually existed, was he the one listed in Belluno, Venetia in the late 16th c. or has appeared in a recent query posted elsewhere, a Spanish smith who killed an apprentice caught spying on him as he was at work on a blade. The secrets of the swordsmith were of course mysterious and guarded, and one reference to this account ("Scottish Swords and Dirks", John Wallace, 1970, p.25) . Ferrara then supposedly fled to Scotland where he joined the court of James V and began a workshop.

It is generally agreed that the 'ANDREA FERRARA' mark was consistant and apparantly quite significant on the blades of Scottish swords, but these are of 17th to 18th century blades, which are certainly from German workshops. Therefore, it seems clear that these blades carry this name more likely in the sense of quality or talismanic significance, since the named person whether Italian or Spanish, lived over a century before most of these blades were made.
Though most Italian swordsmiths have been researched to the point of even finding thier original working locations ("Armi Bianche Italiene" Boccia & Coelho) none have been found for the oft mentioned Andrea Ferrara nor his brother Donato. For an Italian maker to go to Spain however, would not be surprising with Spain's provincial occupation there.

The dramatically crafted tale of the mysterious and elusive swordsmith who kills an apprentice and flees to Scotland, where presumably his blades are well sought after, seems clearly in line with many such colorful stories in weapons folklore. It is generally held today, as proposed by a number of the venerable arms writers, that 'ANDREA FERRARA' may well be an applied term suggesting the quality of the blade (ferara = lat. ferrous=iron; andrew= a colloquial expression of the time equiv. to true, honest). It is suggested since these blades are clearly German, and the marketing acumen of these makers is well known, that other famed makers names may have been applied to blade forms in this manner also, i.e. Ayala on rapier blades, Sahagun on backsword or SE sabre blades.

Obviously, this topic has been discussed here and elsewhere a number of times over the years, and by search, these can easily be found. However I just wanted to rewrite a synopsis of some of my notes for future reference, and as always, hoping for comments, observations and especially any new material that would be pertinant.

Last edited by Jim McDougall : 19th June 2008 at 11:37 PM. Reason: wording
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Old 19th June 2008, 10:06 PM   #2
Lew
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Jim

Here is one to start off with . Fernando you have a good eye It's still hanging on the wall in my museum room as my wife calls it

Lew

A nice anchor

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This is one the most incisive and well punctioned anchors i have seen. I picked it from the Internet, October last year, and i deeply regret i didn't register its provenance ...most probably a selling site. All i ( surely) know is that it was struck on a boy's kaskara, .
Perfect, isn't it?
( I hope i am not exagerating )
Fernando
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Old 19th June 2008, 10:57 PM   #3
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Hi Jim ,

thinking outside the box, I wondered about the connotations of the name Andrea Ferrara .

Andrea, is an Italian 'form' of Andrew (the patron saint of Scotland from the middle of the 10th Century)

"...According to legend, in 832 A.D. King Ëengus (II) (or King Angus) led the Picts and Scots in battle against the Angles under a king named Athelstan near modern-day Athelstaneford in East Lothian. King Angus and his men were surrounded and he prayed for deliverance. During the night Saint Andrew, who was martyred on a saltire cross, appeared to Angus and assured him of victory. On the following morning a white saltire against the background of a blue sky appeared to both sides. The Picts and Scots were heartened by this, but the Angles lost confidence and were defeated. This saltire design has been the Scottish flag ever since....."

FERRO is Italian for "iron" , could Ferrara be a mis-spelling (Italian) of "iron ***"
You have mentioned that Scotish blades or re-hilted Scots blades tend to have this 'name', perhaps it is Talismatic, perhaps it meant something like

(St) Andrew ( bringer of victory) iron (????)

Bearing in mind the Scots were predominately Catholic ....Latin or Italian wording may have been believed to be more 'powerful' ?

I told you it was 'outside the box'

Regards David
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Old 19th June 2008, 11:35 PM   #4
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Thank you so much guys!!!!

Lew, right on! I remember that excellent kaskara, unusual with a distinct trade blade, unusual fullering. It seems that for some time, old kaskara blades ended up in England joined with medieval styled hilts to be passed of as weapons of the Crusades (Oakeshott).
Fernando does indeed have an incredible eye for great pieces, and this one is a very good example.

David, again well thought out! and outside the box which is the best place to be in trying to really get perspective on many of these great old edged weapon mysteries. Good observation on Andrew (lat./Ital. =Andrea) and the note on St.Andrew, of course Scotland's patron saint.
Your deductive reasoning is great, and much appreciated.

Thanks again for getting this one goin' !!

Very best regards,
Jim
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Old 20th June 2008, 03:48 PM   #5
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Jim,
continuing along the idea of 'Andrea Ferrara' being a slogan, trademark etc

'Playing' on Babelfish (translation website)

FERRO ARRA translates to IRON EARNEST (Earnest iron ??) (in Italian)

Dictionary meaning of 'Earnest'... http://ardictionary.com/Earnest

Includes ...
Something of value given by the buyer to the seller, by way of token or pledge,

A trademark ?

As a name Andrea (Andrew) means 'manly'.

Regards David
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Old 20th June 2008, 04:04 PM   #6
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Great line of thinking David .

'Serious Iron' , kind of like 'Pure Steel' as is sometimes seen on some Indian pieces .
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Old 21st June 2008, 04:19 PM   #7
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Sorry for coming in late on this one, time, if only I had more time .

Andrea Ferrara who or what was he has been debated for over 150 years. One assumption is that the name Ferrera is derived from his town. There are towns of Ferera in Spain as well as Italy (spellings vary as much as seem on the blades). The Scots themselves in the 19th century had a bias that he was from Spain. The evidence for Italy comes from a 1585 treatise on Venitian swordsmiths, by Giovan Cigogna. He mentions in the town of Belluno the "masters Giovan Donata and Andrea of the Feraras, both brothers." It is certain there was a family of bladesmiths named Ferrara but there were also others elsewhere.

From articles and stories of the 18th and 19th centuries, it is clear that the Scots thought of him as a real smith of the finest blades. not a trade mark or talismen. They also knew there where many "forgeries" from Germany and Spain. Many heirloom blades where thought to be the real thing, of course many of these real blades have also what we now know to be Solingen or Toledo marks.

Did an Andrea Ferrera produce blades in Scotland? Sir Walter Scott. seemed to think he was brought in by James V as part of a program to improve Scottish manufacturing. Lord Archibald Campbell relates a tradition in the West Highlands of Ferrera being a Spanish artist fleeing persecution after killing an apprentice who spied on him applying a secret white powder to his blades.

In any event the debate will continue for a long time yet. I will see if I can find more on this topic later. Great thread Jim!

All the Best
Jeff
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Old 21st June 2008, 07:26 PM   #8
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So Lew, after all, the anchor is hanging on your wall (it even rhymes) .
Isn't that wall too full of stuff ? I still have a vacant one and my wife has long allowed me to transform the living room into a museum .
Andrea Ferrara ... a talismanic conotation or an actual famous sword smith?
In my obvious ignorance, i am not for the mystic version, but more on the side of those who sustain that he was a real blade maker. For a start, the name (also) sounds like a plausible one. We know that most people last names were an alusion to the place they or their ancestors came from (such is my own case). Eventually Belluno is not so distant from Ferrara, right ?
But speaking of riddles with names, Jim, one thing amazing is the name associated with Boccia in Armi Bianche Italiane, Eduardo T Coelho. This is what you can call a very Portuguese name. Eventually Coelho means rabbit, and is spelled in portuguese, which is distinct from italian ... or spanish. I don't know this Italian work, but i can only understand that Boccia's partner was either a Portuguese or one with direct Portuguese origins.
I now this is not propperly a topic on anchors, but with your permission i would like to show here a mark associated with what is usualy called anchor (another atribution uncertainty). This one comes in a rare double tome work i have in Portuguese armoury, with listings and references of sword, guns and other arms makers since the XV century. This mark was engraved on a sword dated 1641, made by the smith Lourenšo de Carvalho.
Isn't that (also) a sugestive mark?
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Old 22nd June 2008, 03:38 AM   #9
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Outstanding info Jeff!!! I did not know of the Venetian treatise, though the Ferrara's are indeed extremely elusive in comparison to the many of other well documented makers. The Scottish end of things of course add to the mystery and drama (I worked on my own geneology for many years, and these folks were indeed Highlanders....and with that came incredibly fascinating tales of my own ancestors). Sir Walter Scott was truly a marketing genius in his romantic stories, and I'm glad you noted Sir Archibald Campbell as the source of the Ferrara escaping to Scotland...I could not find the original source.

Thank you Fernando, the additional info on the anchors is great, and also that on Coelhos name! I love these bits of info !!! Again the depth of Portuguese presence in so much history adds wonderful new dimension.

It is really great to once again bring together all the sword detectives on these interesting mysteries!! The games afoot again gentlemen
What is best about these discussions is that we always seem to add new information to what we already had, and I'm amending my notes accordingly. Thank you so much guys,

All the best,
Jim
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Old 26th June 2008, 09:25 AM   #10
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Hi Jim on the subject of Ferrara blades I have just run across this very old paper

"Notes and Queries" in the Oxford Journals

http://nq.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/is.../s7-XII/301.pdf

a damn good read
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Old 26th June 2008, 09:29 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katana
Jim,
continuing along the idea of 'Andrea Ferrara' being a slogan, trademark

FERRO ARRA translates to IRON EARNEST (Earnest iron ??) (in Italian)

Dictionary meaning of 'Earnest'... http://ardictionary.com/Earnest

Includes ...
Something of value given by the buyer to the seller, by way of token or pledge
As a name Andrea (Andrew) means 'manly'.

Regards David


You can also have Andrew meaning TRUE and Ferrara a bastardisation of frerrous = IRON

TRUE IRON
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Old 26th June 2008, 07:03 PM   #12
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Thanks so much Dominic for the heads up on that entry in Notes and Queries! Indeed a very good read. It is interesting to see contemporary writings from Victorian times addressing this myth on the Andrea Ferrara markings, and wishing for a time machine to have been at that Glasgow exhibition!!
Much appreciated, and strong support for Solingen production on these.
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