The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Rapier and dagger set
  • Rapier and dagger set
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Rapier hilt/hanger- Hilt- German, possibly Saxony; rapier blade- Germany, possibly Solingen
  • c. 1620
    possibly 19th century (dagger and sheath mounts)
  • Steel, leather, wood and silk, blackened, chased and embroidered
  • Length: 113 cm, rapier
    Length: 97.7 cm, rapier blade
    Width: 2.2 cm, rapier
    Weight: 1.17 kg, rapier
    Weight: 0.125 kg, rapier scabbard
    Length: 24.4 cm, dagger
    Width: 1.9 cm, dagger
    Weight: 0.26 kg, dagger
    Weight: 0.045 kg, dagger scabbard
  • Mark: Double-headed eagle
  • A575
  • European Armoury III
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Rapier, dagger, scabbards, sword-belt and rapier hanger.

    The swept hilt of of the rapier constructed of blackened steel, matted with small, wavy lines (cf. A635). The hilt is composed of a flattened cylindrical pommel with tang button; vertically fluted, wire-bound grip; horizontally re-curved crossguard widening at the ends; knuckle-guard; large hilt-arms, double side-ring, joined by a loop-guard to the knuckle-guard, the smaller ring enclosing a pierced shell and the thumb-guard is fitted with a like shell of narrow triangular form; the surface of the guards is chased with close-set, wavy lines. The stiff blade of diamond section with a sharp ridge down the centre of each side with a groove on either side of it, the ricasso stamped on each side with a double-headed eagle.

    The rapier scabbard is made of wood covered with black leather, the mouth split and furnished with a projecting lip to engage the hanger; the chape of diamond section has been blackened and chased to match the hilt; both the leather and the chape are restorations.

    The sword-belt and hanger, possibly Saxon, are made of leather covered with black velvet embroidered with silk, the buckles, hooks and mounts of blackened steel chased with wavy lines like the rapier hilt. The hanger is divided into two broad loops for carrying the sword, fastened by means of two large slides.

    The hilt of the parrying dagger comprises a flattened cylindrical pommel, vertically fluted, wire-bound grip; horizontally recurved crossguard; single side-ring containing a pierced shell; the whole of blackened steel chased with wavy lines. The blade is of diamond section, deeply ridged, grooved and pierced, the ricasso flattened on one side for the thumb. A washer remains at the hilt to ease contact with the locket. Although the blade is genuine, the workmanship of the dagger hilt and dagger scabbard furniture differs from that of the rapier and were probably made in the 19th century, to complete the rapier and dagger set. No reference to the dagger is made either by De Beaumont or Juste.

    Norman and Barne 1980, pp. 130, 233 and 297. De Beaumont Catalogue, No. 46, refers to the belt and hanger (which became separated from the rapier and were not restored until its discovery in a store-room at Hertford House in 1908). De Beaumont stated that it came from the Pourtalès-Gorgier Collection, but it is not mentioned in the sale catalogue of 1865, and this may be an error.

    Provenance; Comte de Belleval, La Panoplie, 1873, catalogue du cabinet d'armes, Nos. 125 and 152 (dagger). Cf., also E. Juste aîné (Une épée en fer noir ciselé et son ceinturon en velours noir brode complet. 1,118.25 fr. With Commission 1,200 fr.). Receipted Bill, 5th December, 1865; Comte de Nieuwerkerke.

    A rapier bearing a like mark, and inscribed with the name of the Solingen bladesmith, Andreis Berns, is at Dresden, no. 297. The mark of a double-headed eagle with wings displayed and elevated on the sword signed ANDREIS BERNS in the Electoral Armoury at Dresden, mentioned in the 1962 Catalogue, has a straight upper edge to the punch rather than a shaped one as on A575. Weyersberg does not seem to have found any record of this man in the Solingen archives, although several other swordsmiths with the same surname are recorded there; Arnold or Arndt (recorded 1626-61), another man of the same name (recorded 1649-88), Johannes (recorded 1640-60), and Moves, a diminutive of Bartholomaus, discussed under no. A542 (Weyersberg, Solinger Schwertschmiede, 1926, pp. 10-11). For the eagle mark of Andreas Berns, see Weyersberg, op. cit., p. 10, fig. 4. A blade at Windsor Castle signed ANDREIS BERNS bears only a spurious Toledo mark, the letters O over T all crowned (1904 cat., no. 34). A sword blade at Waddesdon Manor signed JOHANNES BERNS bears a mark very similar to that of A575 (Blair 1974, no. 35).