The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Rapier
  • Rapier
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Hilt- Italy, blade- Germany
  • c. 1540 and c.1610 (hilt (probably Italian))
    c. 1610 (blade (German))
  • Iron or steel, gilded
  • Length: 100.2 cm
    Width: 2.7 cm
    Weight: 1.03 kg
  • Maker's mark: Stag's head within a pearled border Stamped twice
  • A542
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Rapier, the hilt comprised of a vase-shaped pommel, of hexagonal section, the facets divided by ridges; oval, wire-bound grip of diamond-shaped pattern; nearly horizontally re-curved crossguard, the riband ends split and scrolled; single side-ring, hilt-arms, with a projecting prong, its ends curled and split like the crossguard terminals, strongly marked écusson; all the guards are of triangular section, the edges grooved, and the whole surface gilt. The stiff, double-edged blade, which is later, is cut with close-set parallel ridges and grooves, pierced at the forte; the ricasso flattened on one side for the thumb and stamped twice with a maker's mark: a stag's head within a pearled border. It has been suggested that this mark was used by Meves Berns, the Solingen bladesmith, but the rapiers by him, mentioned below, at Vienna (Boeheim, Album I, Taf. XXVIII, 4) and at Dresden (E 706, 716) bear as a mark a complete stag, and not the head only.

    This rapier was not in the Pourtalès-Gorgier sale of 1865, and may have been acquired previously. Illustrated in L' Art Ancien, no. 608, as being then in the possession of M. Maillet du Boullay. (See also under A498).

    Referencing rapiers at Vienna (Boeheim, Album I, Taf. XXVIII, 4) and at Dresden (E 706, 716) which bear as a mark a complete stag, and not the head only, the 1962 catalogue argued that these marks and A542's mark of the stag's head within a pearled border were all used by the same Meves Berns, a Solingen bladesmith. However, by 1986 referencing (A. Weyersberg, Z.H.W.K., XII, pp. 137-8), it has been argued that there seems to be no evidence that Meves Berns ever used the stag's head within a pearled border mark. A Meves (a diminutive of Bartholomäus) Berns is recorded in Solingen in 1614, while in 1640 a second man of this name took the oath as a swordsmith. Weyersberg records several variants of the mark of Meves Berns on sword blades, the stag represented in profile standing within a circle (Solinger Schwertschmiede, 1926, pp. 11-12). However, a sword blade at Vienna, signed and dated 1613, bears as a mark an ibex in profile standing within a circle (KHM, inv. no. A1027). He is further represented by several swords at Dresden, two in the Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin (one dated 1612), and at Vienna, dated 1613.