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Old 28th May 2021, 05:20 PM   #1
midelburgo
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Default Dilemma on a bilbo

I am just the winner in an online auction for a Spanish 1728 cavalry officer sword.
There was something strange at some points. Too perfect workmanship and an unusual blade model, marked X EN TOLEDO X. The sword has surface black spots, but no pitting. Price was slightly on the cheap.

I started looking through the picture collection until I found an identical one in pristine condition, sold 6 years ago. They seemed like the same sword, but in the older pictures it seemed newer, too incredible new, actually. The weathering on the auction sword maybe it is not 200 years old but it is consistent and not recent.

And then I found it. In 1910, The Toledo factory made a copy of the 1728 model that can be found at that year catalogue (number 83).
https://www.toledo.es/toledo-siempre...te-hacia-1920/

I am not sure what to do. Honour my bid or tell the auction house they are selling a replica as the real stuff.

The 1910 copy is extremely rare. And the workmanship the Factory put in these swords was amazing, nothing comparable to the usual Toledo wallhangers.

As I collect both, 1728s and Toledo factory products, the thing would not be out of place, actually. I already have another similar to number 86, but this one is marked as from the Toledo Factory and dated 1881. I have another, number 97, that is also properly marked with the factory stamp after 1943. But it seems those from 1910 can be deceiving, or the stamps have been erased.

I will hang the pictures of the sword when I have decided. I understand replicas shall not be the proper subject of the forum and I have not problem if this is moved.
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Last edited by midelburgo; 28th May 2021 at 05:46 PM.
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Old 28th May 2021, 05:31 PM   #2
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This is more of an ethical query than anything else. A good question here would be, could you have discovered all this prior to placing your winning bid? Another question would be, do you think the Auction House was acting earnestly in it's assessment or is there reason to believe that they were knowingly trying to pass it off as older than it is?
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Old 28th May 2021, 06:23 PM   #3
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This is most interesting, and quite honestly I was unaware of the modern products replicating these early examples of 'bilbo' . I think your approach is pretty amazing in that you have recognized not only the original antiquities, but the modern productions in Toledo, which as noted have their own place as antiques, but of more recent times.

It would be hard to say what to think of the representation as presented in the auction, but one would hope that absence of notice of the condition and inconsistencies which seemed apparent were simply an oversight by the auctioneer. In your case, as clearly a well informed and astute collector, you have gained an item which fits well in the scope of your collection, but in more modern grouping.

I think it would be good to notify the auction house of your observations and alert them that including that information would be important in their 'accurate' description of that or similar items, and you wished to increase their awareness. It is better to approach as an oversight and whatever adjustments that result would ultimately become acceptable by both parties.
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Old 28th May 2021, 06:32 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helleri View Post
This is more of an ethical query than anything else. A good question here would be, could you have discovered all this prior to placing your winning bid? Another question would be, do you think the Auction House was acting earnestly in it's assessment or is there reason to believe that they were knowingly trying to pass it off as older than it is?
In fact I know from that catalog since some 13 years ago, but somehow I thought all those swords were marked revealing they were copies, as most are.

Spanish swords are usually copied only as wall hangers, and their copies do not suppose the problems some other nationalities have. But here is an exception.

At first impression the sword really looks alike all the other real 1728s we are used to see. Specially because of the surface toning.

I do not think the auction house tried to deceive me. I have seen often their "curator" making mistakes, not surprising, as his field of expertise shall cover any period and geography.
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Old 28th May 2021, 07:53 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by midelburgo View Post
In fact I know from that catalog since some 13 years ago, but somehow I thought all those swords were marked revealing they were copies, as most are.

Spanish swords are usually copied only as wall hangers, and their copies do not suppose the problems some other nationalities have. But here is an exception.

At first impression the sword really looks alike all the other real 1728s we are used to see. Specially because of the surface toning.

I do not think the auction house tried to deceive me. I have seen often their "curator" making mistakes, not surprising, as his field of expertise shall cover any period and geography.
That answers one of the questions. But the other (to clarify) is could you have come to this realization about the nature of the piece prior to winning the bid had you a mind to investigate it then? Was it only some factor that came into play after winning the bid and only because of the way the bidding went that peaked your interest into taking a closer look. Or was it a lapse in your own due diligence into investigating the prospective purchase from the start?
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Old 28th May 2021, 08:08 PM   #6
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Here there is an interesting psychological question. With the fact that bidding online is easy and covers the globe. I, and as I suppose, many of you, keep an eye on several auctions at the same time. If prices reaches above a threshold, you discard that piece. But you do not really became mentally involved in a piece until you see you can win it, and that is minutes before the auction end. This means I do not make a deep research of the item. There are many kinds of 1728,and this seemed another one of them. On the same day. There was a sword auctioned at Hermann Histórica that interested me more, but I did not win it, so I turned to the second choice.
Probably I will end taking the sword. I am curious to see how it handles.
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Old 28th May 2021, 08:20 PM   #7
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So it's down to the very nature of participating in an auction. Part of that nature being a degree of risk. A gamble on what you are paying for what you are getting.

There is another aspect to this however. If a piece sells for more than it is really worth, and if Auction house records go unchanged regarding the sale of that piece and remain inaccurate. That can harm the integrity of the system. It could with enough such small errors, artificially drive the price up on some items. So another question would be, do you have an onus to correct errors and receive fair pricing for the sake of preserving the integrity of the system?
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Old 28th May 2021, 09:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helleri View Post
So it's down to the very nature of participating in an auction. Part of that nature being a degree of risk. A gamble on what you are paying for what you are getting.

There is another aspect to this however. If a piece sells for more than it is really worth, and if Auction house records go unchanged regarding the sale of that piece and remain inaccurate. That can harm the integrity of the system. It could with enough such small errors, artificially drive the price up on some items. So another question would be, do you have an onus to correct errors and receive fair pricing for the sake of preserving the integrity of the system?

Well put Helleri, it does seem to me that errors, no matter how honest or unintended, should be addressed, not just to the benefit of the clientele, but those of the auction who stand to gain important detail and awareness.
It is their fiduciary responsibility to be as accurate as possible, and if reputation is of concern, should be grateful for input.

There is a great deal of psychology involved here, as noted, and often 'good deals' just happen due to degree of specialized traffic at the time to one item or another (I once got a great deal on an Uzbek sword amidst the volume of British military swords being presented).

I have a great deal of respect for those who catalog in many of the large auction houses, and have had the privilege of knowing a few. They would have been horribly chagrined if one of their entries had been inadequate.
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Old 29th May 2021, 04:16 AM   #9
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It's a two-edged sword [no pun intended].
Let's consider a reverse scenario - had a rare and valuable sword been described incorrectly as a replica, and you happened to spot that prior to auction taking part, would you have the pins of conscience whether to inform them of their mistake, or to bid on such a find? I'm sure most of us live for finds like that.
Now, if the sword you're considering an early 20th c. production [now an antique in its own right] wasn't too expensive, it may actually be a nice piece to own. Do you have photos of it? Thank you for the Toledo catalog link!!! I bookmarked it.
Jim, re:fiduciary responsibility...I was banally screwed by a fiduciary a couple of years ago. To me it's just a term, like any other. It all depends on the individual, not the title in front or behind their name.
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Old 29th May 2021, 05:25 AM   #10
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Now, imagine I did not find out about the sword being a replica, until, after paying for it, I would receive it several days later.
Probably, I would be outraged, and ask for a return and a refund. Even if there was not deceiving intention by the auctioneer.
This is the sword, only one of the pictures has clear clues to think the sword is from a later period.
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Old 29th May 2021, 01:15 PM   #11
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... I understand replicas shall not be the proper subject of the forum and I have not problem if this is moved.
Well, we may take it as 'within context'.
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Old 29th May 2021, 05:24 PM   #12
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Well, we may take it as 'within context'.

Very much so, I agree.
I always think of the author who once told me, 'it is the responsibility of the author of a written work, to present other held views whether contrary or not in order that the reader be fully aware of 'all angles' (so to speak).

In this case, it is the examination of an item, or type, and the case is that it was presumed authentic despite not apparently being so. This deems the case being evidential and illustrating the character of the type is key to readers and collectors as 'need to know' information.

Context, absolutely!
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Old 29th May 2021, 11:36 PM   #13
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Other than the new-ish grip wrap, what is the giveaway here? Looks like a nice period sword to me.
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Old 30th May 2021, 04:12 AM   #14
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I concur with Dmitri. It looks of the period to me except for the wire wrap-
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Old 30th May 2021, 06:56 PM   #15
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Other than the new-ish grip wrap, what is the giveaway here? Looks like a nice period sword to me.
There are two problems here. The first one is that the cross is of the wrong shape and too perfectly executed. I have never seen a real XVIIIth century 1728 where the transition from the round quillion to the shields surrounding the cross are perfectly simetrical. Usually this is made by soldiering two shield-like pieces to the usual cross. Here, this has been made by adding the quillions to a slightly oval cylindrical piece. This can be seen at the 1910 catalog too.

The second problem is the blade motto. The blade shape is typical from the period shortly before the refoundation of Toledo, 1740-1760, or rather earlier. If the motto would have been x EN SOLINGEN X or X KEISER X or X ENRIQUE COEL X. But that is a blade (and hilt) typical from a time when Toledo was functionally dead.

I believe the 1910 Fabrica de Toledo replica was made copying from a real sword, but this sword sported a Solingen blade, and they wrote instead X EN TOLEDO X.

The only X EN TOLEDO X large cavalry blades I could find were copies of the 1796 model made at the end of the XIXth century and this other next sword, sold some 6 years ago.

It is so much similar to the sword auctioned this week that it could be the same sword, just before being forcibly antiquated. Or it is a twin of the 1910 replica. I repeat, I have not seen that X EN TOLEDO X blade on a 1728 outside these two (one). I do not believe this has 270 years.

I believe the now defunct Madrid Army Museum had a number of the 1910 replicas used to dress mannequins with period uniforms, but as I do not live in Madrid I was a bit unaware of the danger of these replicas. Specially if antiquated.
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Old 30th May 2021, 07:29 PM   #16
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Just to show the point of shields at the cross.

Officers swords (and Guardias de Corps) have often a shield with a lyra like form. Troopers and some officers swords have just semicircles.
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Old 30th May 2021, 08:00 PM   #17
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Some older 1728s.
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Old 30th May 2021, 09:48 PM   #18
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I see what you are saying.
The junction/quillon block where the pas de ane and quillons emanate is too perfectly round in the area I circled. It was probably cast, while some of the other examples you posted were wrought.
If F.ca de Toledo did have this particular sword in their catalog, they must've made more than a few. Although, to be fair, the catalog sword isn't the same as the one you bought. The shell is more shallow on the catalog sword, the grip is different, the knuckle bow does not reach the pommel.

The second sword you posted, the unaged one, is the twin of the one you bought.
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Old 30th May 2021, 10:41 PM   #19
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The thing with Toledo replicas is that they made very few a year but they lasted for something over 40 years. So it is to expect that some differences were introduced along. The shells can be more open and they will look flater on the side picture. The grip could be made with and without the barretes and knuclebow brought higher, just as real period swords.

Before c1905 all Toledo products were dated, and they carried the Fabrica de Toledo mark. After c1930 they changed the stamp to FNT and a logo. In between, marking was fuzzier, and probably easier to erase.

As you say, quillons (I was writing langlets, sorry) and the cross block could be cast. The only way to be sure would be to handle the sword. I have contacted the auction house, that has a 14 day period to reject the piece (after arrival) and it is perfectly possible to cancel also before even payment. I have forwarded them my opinions on the sword being a replica and asked for cancellation. So it seems I will not handle it. Probably it will be on the market again.

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Old 25th April 2022, 12:53 AM   #20
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I just happened to stumble onto this thread just now, but I recognize the sword under discussion as I bid on it last year as well (I recognize the bright patches near the guard)! A good humility check to find out a year later that I was bidding on a reproduction!

I ended up buying this one instead (although not at that auction and from the looks of it after it had undergone a bit of cleaning, so I guess a reseller; pictures attached from the auction site as mine are all blurry due to bad camera).

Now all of a sudden, of course, I'm really hoping there's no 1910 Toledo reproduction with a silver wire grip and facetted pommel marked Sebastian Hernan[d]ez.
Although, either way, it handles like a dream.
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Old 25th April 2022, 01:06 AM   #21
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Hello.
I do not think that is a repro but a very nice officer version. The octogonal pommel and the striated guardapolvo at the bottom of the cup are typical. You can find them as well in royal Guardia de Corps troopers.
Take the Sebastián Hernández inscription as apocriphal until you can compare with well known examples. Madrid royal armory ones for example, or the one that belonged to Alvaro DE Bazan in the naval museum.
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Old 25th April 2022, 03:32 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by midelburgo View Post
Hello.
I do not think that is a repro but a very nice officer version. The octogonal pommel and the striated guardapolvo at the bottom of the cup are typical. You can find them as well in royal Guardia de Corps troopers.
Take the Sebastián Hernández inscription as apocriphal until you can compare with well known examples. Madrid royal armory ones for example, or the one that belonged to Alvaro DE Bazan in the naval museum.
Thanks, for your thoughts. }|:o) Indeed, I found some quite similar specimens online, like this one and this one. Otherwise I probably wouldn't have felt comfortable buying it! Still, it's good to hear that you agree.

And yes, I took the Hernan[d]ez name as more of a tribute or an attempt at marketing/boasting than it being an original blade by that maker (not in the least because the name is misspelled).
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Old 26th April 2022, 02:45 PM   #23
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It is very nice you got it with a scabbard. the hilt and grip are probably from 1790s. The rings at the grip could be silver or silver plated. I think I recognize the mark at the ricasso as one from Solingen.
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Old 26th April 2022, 05:50 PM   #24
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It is very nice you got it with a scabbard.
Yeah, definitely. The scabbard was a large part of why I jumped on it. It does seem to be missing the locket though (see attached image or this one). Perhaps I'll run into one of those at some point.

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The rings at the grip could be silver or silver plated.
I'm not great at recognizing materials and I haven't done any acid tests but both the grip wire and the ferrules/spacers look like silver to me and they are not magnetic, so my guess would be solid rather than plated.
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