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Old 16th January 2024, 03:05 AM   #1
shayde78
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Default Side sword with unusually wrought hilt

Well, this may be another case of me "paying tuition" for a lesson in not pursuing items that seem too good to be true. In all honesty, I approached this piece with a great deal of skepticism. However, once the item was in hand, I find it not so easy to dismiss as a modern piece of art.

To my admittedly untrained eye, I don't see evidence of modern manufacturing techniques. I don't see any evidence of casting and the details seem hand chiseled with the inconsistencies and asymmetry expected from such a technique. If my assessment is accurate, the hilt took a lot of labor to produce. This prompted me to look thru my references on Ernst Schmidt's atelier of Munich, and I don't see any comparable pieces. That said, I feel I've seen such a hollow hilt before, I just don't know where.

The hilt is entirely steel. The golden color is the result of old varnish. In fact, the entire sword seems to have been dipped in varnish quite some time ago as a thick coating covers the full blade and hilt. The tang is rectangular through its visible length thru the grip.

The sword is surprising light and well balanced. The blade is well tempered and flexible with a steady distal taper.

.I still need to take my full measurements, but the overall length is 44.5 inches, with blade of 36 inches.

The photos are the seller's.

I'm eager to know your thoughts, and don't spare my feelings. I bought it knowing it's most likely no older than Victorian (quite possibly even modern), but still...could it be more?

As always, thank you for sharing your honest opinions.
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Old 17th January 2024, 03:20 PM   #2
Jim McDougall
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Shayde,
Well noted on 'tuition', something I think we are all well acquainted with in this esoteric cirriculum, but I applaud your taking the leap.

As you say, it is tempting to see this as modern art, and it seems I think of these kinds of things being 'projects' in metal shop classes I recall about a zillion years ago with the writhen styling testing skills.

However, it does seem, in my well fogged memory, that I have seen this kind of work in genuinely early examples of rapier etc. so you were wise to check the work of Schmidt (the Mowbray book is so valuable!).

I would initially be tempted to think of old theatrical or fraternal items, but frankly this seems too elaborate. The varnish application is a very old method, and often signals being from an old collection.

My curiosity notably piqued......to the books!

Hopefully other entries will follow .
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Old 18th January 2024, 01:36 AM   #3
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Thank you, Jim!

Your feedback is always welcome. Your thoughts echo mine. I was hesitant to even post it here, but that use of varnish definitely harkened back to old techniques. It does, however, interfere with normal patination so many of the other cues I would look for are not present.

I appreciate you opening the dialogue
-Rob

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Old 18th January 2024, 03:05 AM   #4
Jim McDougall
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Absolutely Rob,
I appreciate you not only taking a chance on this, and having the courage to post it no holds barred. There are many readers who fear making comments due to risk of adverse reaction. In my opinion any sincere entry of either example or comment has merit and potential.

Actually, in my minds eye, I have seen something like this in an auction catalog years ago, and if I recall it was against a blue background like this, and was a rapier. While this is full length sword, the alternating quillon guard and the ring side guard recall left hand daggers, obviously which this is not. Perhaps the blade was added, hard to say.

Earlier in looking through "Armi Bianche Italiene" (Boccia & Coelho, 1975) many of the weapons reflect this kind of dynamic iron work and writhen dynamics, though not necessarily coiled in this manner. However looking at the often complex guard systems in rapiers etc. with often elaborate figures and art work, I could not help but think of this as with Italian influence.
The grotesque face on the pommel also corresponds to such features on some of these, mostly these weapons are from 16th-through 17th c.

Though not saying this is a weapon that early, it does provide a certain palate of influence that might have been produced indeed in the 19th century in any number of circumstances in similar ateliers in the manner of Schmidt.

Certainly not an answer, bot hopefully a direction.

all the best
Jim
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Old 1st February 2024, 03:05 AM   #5
shayde78
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As always, thank you, Jim, for being so generous with your feedback.

I found some examples of hilts that share some elements with the sword in question. All of these are from the collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The ballock dagger is thought to be Western European/British from c1450-1500

The pommel is listed as British c.1630

The transitional rapier is listed as Brescan c. 1650

As Jim said, these might have served as a pallet to inspire a later creation. I'm still perplexed at the amount of work someone put into this if merely meant as a wall-hanger. But, it worked to separate me from my money, so...mission accomplished?
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Old 17th February 2024, 11:20 PM   #6
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Example from mid-1700s?
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Old 21st February 2024, 12:00 PM   #7
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A few more examples
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Old 21st February 2024, 03:43 PM   #8
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Maybe

The Green Man

Blattemaske

Der Guener Mensch

The metal work (if genuinely old) would be no earlier than 17th century.

Some early cast stuff
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Old 4th April 2024, 02:00 AM   #9
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Thanks for weighing in, Hotspur

I guess the consensus is that this is nothing special. I knew it was a long shot, but thought I lucked out with this one.

As always, thanks to those that provided feedback
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