The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Sword
  • Sword
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Blade- North Italy, probably Caino
  • c. 1600
  • Iron or steel, wood, velvet and silver wire, chased and etched
  • Length: 97.5 cm
    Width: 4.3 cm
    Weight: 1.27 kg
  • Inscription: 'CAINO'
    Incised mark: Shield with three bends, surmounted by a cornet Etched
  • A516
  • European Armoury II
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Sword, the hilt of bright steel made up of a flattened, cylindrical pommel with button; oval wooden grip bound with red velvet laced with silver wire; crossguard, strongly curving towards the point, of oval section, widening at the ends; single side-ring. The form of the hilt resembles, on a larger scale, that of a contemporary parrying dagger. The tapering, double-edged blade of diamond section is stamped near the hilt:

    CAINO

    and etched with a shield, chased with three bends and surmounted by a coronet (unidentified).

    Numerous other swords in the Collection carry the name Caino of Milan. There is no reason to believe that the many blades in existence bearing this name are the work of one Francesco Caino of Brescia, or that they can be identified with Pietro Caimo (sic), swordsmith, who signed blades with his name and address 'at the sign of the golden lion at Milan', and who worked at the end of the 16th century. The name is found in conjunction with various single letters, e.g. S, C, M, M, S, P, S, the pseudo Toledo mark O/T, a cross, a series of Roman letters, the half-moon mark of Spanish espaderos del Rey, and one example bears also the guild mark of Amsterdam. Antonio Petrini, in his MS. Work L' Arte Focile (1642), speaks of blades marked Caino as being of excellent quality, 'four-sided and without grooves'. In 1567 Cicogna writes of a certain Franchesceni Cain (sic) of Brescia who made 'arms of marvellous temper'.

    Caino is the name of a small town nine miles north-east of Brescia, which happens to have been an important blade-smithing centre since the Middle Ages. Other examples in the Wallace Collection bearing the name Caino are A559-60, 564, 608, 616. The inscription on this blade and on others in the Collection (A543, 559, 564, 608, 616 and 649) therefore almost certainly indicates the place of manufacture, rather than a single bladesmith or family of bladesmiths of this name (see Boccia and Coelho, 1975, fig. 483 and note, p. 385). A comparable hilt appears in a portrait of Pio Capo da Lista, dated 1617, while a similar hilt survives in the Farnese armoury at Capodimonte (Boccia and Coelho, 1975, figs. 536 and 549 respectively).