Thread: cartouche
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Old 13th February 2021, 04:48 AM   #26
shayde78's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 372

With the likely image of Cupid, I think the remaining words are "culo casto", which may translate to something like "chaste ass/butt/derrier". Maybe a bawdy refrain, or an admonishment to keep one's tail out of trouble.

Also, regarding the rapier/transitional rapier/small sword distinction, here is my (likely flawed) taxonomy - they all need to have thin(ish) blades designed primarily to facilitate an effective thrust. Cutting is a secondary function (if at all). It could have a rapier-like hilt, but if it has a cutter for a blade, not a rapier (i.e. 1728 pattern cup-hilt arming swords).

So, if it has the right blade, we are in the right genus. Further, all are designed for single hand use. Now, to determine species. Rapier and small sword are easy because they are distinct forms.

A rapier has the right blade. They have a proper hilt designed to protect an ungauntlented hand (side rings, swept hilt, plates (Pappenheim), cup). Some transitional rapier have these features, but to be a TRUE rapier, there must be a TRUE ricasso that the fingers can grip by hooking over the quillion, and yet still be protected by the guard. No such ricasso, not a rapier. Personally, I would call anything with this exposed ricasso a rapier regardless of length (within reason). Because these typically have long blades and heavy hilts, they were used to attack, while the off-hand provided defense.

A smallsword typically falls into a range with a much shorter blade that allowed for defenses parries followed by quick ripostes (counter attacks). The shorter lighter blade could be better controlled without hooking the fingers over the quillion. So, these have the grip of the hilt touching the guard. There is no ricasso behind the guard. Control is achieved by subtle fingering. The pas d'anes became vestigial until they were mere ornamentation.

A transitional rapier is harder to classify because it is indeed transitional. The distinctions are more gradual. It is hard (impossible) to draw a clear line between one form and the next, however, between transitional and Smallsword. But, using my above criteria, the moment the ricasso is eliminated (or moved in front of the guard), it is no longer a rapier, but in the transitional realm. Without this ricasso, the swept hilt becomes obsolete. I can't think of a transitional rapier with a swept hilt. It simply doesn't make sense if the blade were to be sharpened all the way to the grip. So, transitional rapier have dish, cup, shell hilts. They still have rather long blades, and therefore, a substantial pommel. They also very often have fully functional past d'anes (or rings, or branches). These allow a grip similar to the finger-over-the-quillion grip, but again, without touching a ricasso. Because these are transitional, they blend from rapier lengths and weights down to Smallsword. I've yet to establish a clear criteria to determine when something can be called a short sword, but it has a lot to do with handling. If it can be utilized effectively for both defense and offense, it is a Smallsword. This wieldabilty also includes the type of footwork needed to establish distance and void relative to how quickly the weapon can be used to deflect an attack, or change the line of one's own attack. Again, the differences are negotiable, but you know it when you have it in hand. If the weights of such swords were more often listed in reference material (this forum included) we could probably determine the weight and balance at which we say this is a transitional rapier, and this is a smallsword.

Apologies for digressing, but the topic came up and I've been meaning to take the time to share my classification, and see what folks think. That said, perhaps I need to keep my culo casto, and stay out of trouble!
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