The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Rapier
  • Rapier
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Italy
  • 1595 - 1899
    c. 1595 - c.1620
    19th century
  • Steel and leather, blackened and chiselled
  • Length: 107.3 cm
    Width: 2.5 cm
    Weight: 1.57 kg
  • Stamp: Cross and '*IHS*'
  • A622
  • European Armoury II
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Rapier, the swept hilt, a modern and inauthentic restoration, made up of a pommel of flattened cylindrical form, hollow and faceted button, decorated on one side with an oval panel containing the figure of St. George in low relief; short, narrow grip, oval in section, wire-bound over leather; single curved rear quillon widening at the end; ring hilt-arms, joined by a loop to the knuckle-guard (cf. A603), with triple transverse bars on the inner side, all oval in section. The entire hilt has been cast in a mould, to simulate the authentic historical processes of piercing and chiselling in low relief. The ornament is comprised of diagonal bands of double fleur-de-lys alternating with lines of berries or conventional fruit, the escutcheon incised with ornament previously described as two P's confronted and taken for a personal mark of ownership or a hilt-maker's signature. The authentic blade is of hexagonal section, the single groove stamped on each side with a cross (possibly a maker's mark), and the letters:

    ·IHS·

    Strong ricasso; the point has lost about a quarter of an inch of its length.

    Skelton, II, Pl. CVII

    As Meyrick points out, the shortness of the grips of rapiers of this type compelled the passing of the first finger and thumb beyond the guard to grip the ricasso.

    Compare the sacred monogram on the blades of A566 and A600. The minutely chiselled figures on the hilt can be compared with A589, etc.

    An early photograph in the archives of the Collection shows this sword with a very much longer grip than it has today. The hilt of A603 is a similarly decorated but authentic 16th-century example. For a note on the subsidiary incised decoration see A808.