The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Rapier
  • Rapier
  • Family of Wirsburg , Swordsmith
  • Solingen, Germany
  • c. 1630 - c. 1640
  • Steel, silver, copper and gold, chiselled and gilded
  • Length: 120.6 cm
    Width: 2.1 cm
    Weight: 1.045 kg
  • Inscription: 'ME FECIT SOLINGEN'
    Incised mark: A member of Wirsberg family
    Incised mark: 'W'
    Signature: '(WI)RSBERG'
  • A548
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Rapier, the hilt comprised of a flattened oviform pommel, with button; tubular steel grip of oval section; crossguard curved alternately upwards and downwards and ending in medallions; large hilt-arms, and double rings enclosing shells decorated with open octofoil, embossed and chiselled. The whole hilt is of steel incised with wavy lines and bound with a riband enriched with silver spots and showing traces of gilding. The pommel, grip, crossguard and ring-guards are inlaid with small oval medallions of silver containing equestrian and nude classical figures in relief, the centres of the shells are filled with two small copper plaques of Cupid with a peacock, and with a dog. Blade of diamond section becoming hexagonal at the hilt where it bears an inscription. This has been nearly obliterated, only the words:–

    ME FECIT SOLINGEN

    being now legible. There is an etched ornament of the usual Solingen type. It probably bore the name of a member of the Wirsberg family whose mark of the pincers is clearly stamped on both sides of the ricasso. The remains of the signature (WI)RSBERG are also legible on the blade. This mark resembles most closely that attributed to Wilhelm Wirsberg (see below). The tang is deeply incised on one side with the letter W.

    Norman and Barne, 1980, pp. 42, 152, 153, 369 and 374.

    For other swords here by the Wirsberg family see A594. There was almost certainly more than one swordsmith of this name in Solingen. The man who was Burgomaster in 1573/4 was probably older than the man of the same name who was Kirchmeister in 1585, but the latter could have been the Burgomaster of 1590/1 and 1594/5. According to A. Weyersberg this man can be traced in the town records from 1581 to 1628. It was he who signed a lease in 1603, 'Wilhelm auff dem Ollich'. The Kirchmeister of the same name in 1622/3 was almost certainly of a third generation. There is at present no way of distinguishing between their work (Weyersberg, Solinger Schwertschmiede, 1926, pp. 52-4).