The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Rapier
  • Rapier
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Hilt- France; blade- Solingen, Germany
  • c. 1630 - c. 1640
  • Iron or steel, bronze and gold, gilded and chiselled
  • Length: 116.8 cm
    Length: 100.2 cm, blade
    Width: 2.4 cm
    Weight: 1.015 kg
  • Incised mark: '·SEB·AST·IAN · HER·NAN·DES·' Incised twice
    Stamp: Crowned double-headed eagle with finial ornament of triple cross
  • A549
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
History
Images & Media
  • Rapier, the hilt made entirely of gilt bronze and composed of a hollow, spherical pommel pierced with scrolls, with a solid, spherical button; hollow grip of oval section similarly pierced; crossguard curved alternately upwards and downwards, and ending in hollow oviform terminals; hilt-arms, covered on the right side by a circular shell pierced with the Imperial eagle; the main decoration consists of C-shaped scrolls, pierced and chiselled, the surface being chased with lines of dots. Blade of hexagonal section, doubly grooved at the forte and pierced, incised twice on either side with the name of the Spanish bladesmith:

    ∙SEB∙AST∙IAN ∙ HER∙NAN∙DES∙

    Stamped on either side above the forte with the mark of a double-headed eagle crowned and incised with the final ornament of a triple cross; strong rectangular ricasso.

    The pommel is associated. The original would have been a taller ovoid. The blade is a German (Solingen) imitation of Spanish (Toledo) work. Illustrated with a different pommel as no. 128 of 'Armi lunghe a taglio' among Dassi's drawings of the collection of Ambrogio Uboldo, in the Castello Sforzesco, Milan. Norman and Barne, 1980, pp. 42, 152, 153, 219 and 373.
    The mark attributed to Sebastian the Younger, probably in fact the third of the name, by Francisco Palomares in 1762, is a small figure 3 under a crown all in a shield-shaped punch. A comparable eagle displayed with wings inverted and with a crown above each head also occurs on a sword-blade struck with a lion of Toledo, in the Electoral Armoury at Dresden, which is inscribed JUAN MARTINEZ DE TOLEDO (1899 cat., no. E200). The same mark is stamped on a sword in the Hermitage at St. Petersburg (Lenz, 1908, B589, p. 239), also inscribed; Sebastian Hernandes. A similar eagle, but with only one crown between the heads, also occurs on a blade signed by Martinez and bearing a second version of the Toledo lion, in St. Petersburg (Lenz, 1908, B 483, p. 159). The mark bears no resemblance to that (the letter Z crowned, cf. that upon A611) generally attributed to Sebastian Hernandes the younger, whose mark was a 'wildman'. Absent also are the other marks associated with Toledo, the crowned OT and the half-moon. The placing of the mark upon the blade, and not upon the ricasso, is also unusual on genuine Spanish blades. This mark of a crowned double eagles also found in three places on a sword in the Fürstl. Hohenzollern Museum at Sigmaringen, with the signature Johannes Berns. On the other side of the blade is Me Fecit Solingen. The hilt of A549 is German in style, and the blade supports the probability that it is a contemporary German imitation.

    For a note on the Toledo swordsmiths called Sebastian Hernandez, their signatures and marks, see under no. A532. (referencing Boeheim, Handbuch der Waffenkunde, 1890, p. 669, the 1962 catalogue states that Sebastian Hernandes the younger's mark was a 'wildman', (cf. A532). This appears to have been an error as there is no evidence of the mark ever being associated with any 'Hernandez').The 1986 supplement also clarifies that the mark attributed to Sebastian the Younger, probably in fact the third of the name, by Francisco Palomares in 1762, is a small figure 3 under a crown all in a shield-shaped punch (1962 lists it as a letter Z crowned cf. A611).
    The shell of A549 was been broken off for many years and was exhibited separately (cat. of furniture, et., 1920, no. III J 561). It was reunited by 1945.