The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Rapier
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Germany, probably
  • late 16th century
  • Steel, chiselled and blackened
  • Length: 127.6 cm
    Width: 2.85 cm
    Weight: 1.2 kg
  • Inscription: '· A N D R E A · F E R A R A ·' On each side; probably spurious
    Stamp: Toledo mark Probably spurious
  • A544
  • European Armoury II
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Rapier, the hilt composed of a flattened cylindrical pommel with a cone-shaped button; an original spirally-fluted, wire-bound grip; crossguard curved alternately upwards and downwards, with a slight horizontal recurve; single side-ring joining the trilobate hilt-arms, and two projecting double counter-guards. The crossguard and counter-guards terminate in oval lobes bearing masks chiselled in relief; the pommel and side-ring are chiselled with cartouches containing an equestrian and a standing figure in relief. There is no decoration on the left side of the hilt, except on the pommel; the whole is of blackened steel. The double-edged blade of hexagonal section, the double flute at the forte being inscribed on each side:–
    · A N D R E A · F E R A R A ·
    The ricasso stamped on each side with the Toledo mark.
    The blade is probably a German imitation of Spanish (Toledo) and Italian (Belluno) work.

    Two very similar hilts are in the Musée Dobrée, Nantes, from the collection of the comte de Rochebrune (1917 Cat., pI. X, nos. I and V). Belluno is a small town on the right bank of the River Piave at the edge of the mountains fifty miles to the north of Venice. Andrea and his elder brother, Giovan Donato or Giandonato de i Ferari, are both mentioned as being talented masters in the first edition of the Trattato militare of Giovan Matteo Cigogna, published in Venice in 1567. They were employed in one of the two forges of maestro Giovan Battista detto il Barcelone (died 1583), presumably a Spanish immigrant, at Fisterre in the parish of Cusighe near Belluno, where they also lived. The first name of their father is unfortunately unknown, but since his surname was da Fonzàs it is possible that the family originally came from Fonzaso, a small community some twenty-two miles south-west of Belluno. It is possible that the nickname Ferari, incidentally a common one in Belluno at that time, was taken from their working in iron, rather than from their coming from the city of Ferrara. One of their sisters, Maria or Mariana, both names being given, married another swordsmith, perhaps also a man of Spanish birth or extraction, Zuan or Giacomo Castellano, who also had a forge at Fisterre. Both brothers were old enough for each to be the head of a workshop by 1567, and so they were probably born about 1530. Andrea, whose first wife Franchescina, the daughter of maestro Zuan de Cesa, a bell founder, had died at some unknown date, married again, on 24th July 1580, Fiametta, daughter of ser Zaneto Cavalaro da Treviso, living in Cividale. She died in 1603, and he lived on until 21st April 1612. (D. F. Pellegrini, 'Di un armaiuolo Bellunese del secolo XVI', Archivio Veneto, X, 1875, pp. 43-53, but quoting the second edition of the Trattato of Cigogna, published in 1583. There appears to be no evidence of what mark, if any, Andrea dei Ferari used. The name, which was widely forged, as here, appears with a large variety of marks and there is no certainty that any are genuine. A signed rapier blade in the Royal Armouries is mounted in a hilt dated 1597 (no. IX.1018). Of the immense number of blades bearing versions of Andrea's name, the great majority cannot have been wrought by him, as they are of later date, and few have been isolated as his work with any certainty. Similarly, the Toledo mark was freely imitated in Germany. The hilt is of poor design, rough workmanship, and does not approach in quality the best Italian work.

    For other blades inscribed Andrea Ferara, see A545, 565, 588, 592, 636, 696.