The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Rapier
  • Rapier
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Solingen, Germany
  • c. 1585 - c. 1610
  • Iron and steel, chiselled
  • Length: 123.1 cm
    Width: 2.2 cm
    Weight: 1.17 kg
  • Incised mark: Running wolf
    Stamp: Ship and three marks
  • A620
  • European Armoury II
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Rapier, the swept hilt comprised of a pommel of flattened cylindrical form, the button much reduced, chiselled with panels of the Annunciation and the Nativity, and adoring angels in low relief; fluted, wire-bound grip; knuckle-guard, joined by a loop to the hilt-arms; single curved rear quillon and side-ring. The whole chiselled in low relief with scenes from the Life of Christ, including the Annunciation, Adoration of the Magi and the Flight into Egypt, together with oval panels of conventional flowers and fleur-de-lys. At the end of the quillon and knuckle-guard are medallion heads of Christ and the Virgin. The blade is of hexagonal section, the single fuller incised on one side with the running wolf mark, the ricasso is stamped on each side with a ship (?) and another mark (struck three times). The original guards inside the hand have been cut off and replaced by a U-shaped guard linking the ends of the arms of the hilt.

    Norman and Barne, 1980, p. 370.

    A rapier with the same marks was in the collection of the late M. Pauilhac, now in the Musée de l’Armée, Paris. Compare the hilts of A618 and 619. A good example of the type is the sword of Ambrogio Spinola, formerly in the Whawell Collection, and now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York. Two were in the Kennedy sale, 1918, lots 12 and 128, of which the former reappeared in the Bevan sale, 1923, lot 170 (Cripps-Day, Armour Sales, p. 166)

    The largest mark does appear to have at its centre a small single-masted sailing ship. A very similar mark occurs on A710 and apparently on A502. A similar combination of marks occurs on two blades, ascribed to Venice or Brescia, in the Museo Stibbert, Florence (Boccia, 1975, Nos. 295 and 312). On both the Stibbert blades the mark is accompanied by an incised running wolf very similar to that on A620. The same mark occurs, again with an incised wolf of Solingen type, on a sword in the Hofjagd –und Rüstkammer, Vienna, inv. no. A590. Either these are Solingen blades using spurious Italian marks or they are Italian forgeries of Solingen blades. For a note on the subsidiary incised decoration of the hilt see A808.