The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Rapier
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Hilt- England; blade- Solingen, Germany
  • c. 1610 - c. 1620
  • Iron or steel, gold, wood, and copper, gilded, russeted and chiselled
  • Length: 97.1 cm, blade
    Width: 3 cm, blade at the top of the ricasso
    Weight: 1.03 kg
    Length: 112.7 cm
    Width: 20 cm, guard
    Balance point: 11.1 cm, forward of the guard block
  • Maker's mark: Bull's head and crowned 'B'
  • A595
  • European Armoury III
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Rapier, of exceptional quality, having a swept hilt , with the pear-shaped pommel carved out into a hollow framework formed of scrolled bands, with a tang button; hexagonal grip of wood bound with copper wire; diagonally curved quillons also slightly re-curved, of oblong section, terminating in scrolls; knuckle-guard, joined to the hilt-rings by a loop-guard, single projecting bar, and transverse guards on the inner side; the entire hilt richly chiselled and gilt with masks, scrolls and festoons of drapery on a dark ground, also panels in the central parts chased with garlands and trophies of arms fully gilt. The broad, two-edged blade of flattened diamond section, the ricasso stamped on each side with two maker's marks: a bull's head and the letter B crowned, which are those of Jaspar Bongen the Elder, who was working at Solingen about 1620. Compare the mark upon the rapier at Dresden, E. 581, which is inscribed: Jaspar Bongen me fecit Solingen.

    The general form and the decoration resemble that on the sword by Clemens Horn of Solingen, ascribed to James I, at Windsor Castle (Laking: Windsor, No. 62; European Armour, IV, fig. 1378). Both swords have similar hollow, scrolled pommels and this feature also occurs on swords in the Scott and Burrell Collections at Glasgow, and in the Swedish Royal Armoury at Stockholm (J.F. Hayward, Scottish Art Review, IV, 1, 1956, p. 19.)

    In 1963 Claude Blair suggested that this hilt might be English and pointed out that the decoration was similar to that on contemporary English guns and crossbows at Madrid, and on the wheel-lock pistol formerly at Belchamp Hall, Essex. A hilt with guards and pommel of identical form is in the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg (Z.O. no. 1025). A pommel and part of the guards identical to those of A595 appear in a portrait of an unknown man, British School about 1610-20, at Welbeck Abbey. Jaspar Bongen is not apparently mentioned in the Solingen city records. A. Weyersberg believed that the name was borne by a father and son in succession. A blade in the old Electoral Armoury at Dresden, bearing the larger size of mark, is signed JASPAR BONGEN ME FECIT SOLINGEN (1899 Cat., no. E581; Weyersberg, Solinger Schwertschmiede, 1926, pp. 13-14).