The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Rapier
  • Rapier
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Milan, Italy
  • c. 1600 - c. 1615
  • Iron, steel, silver and gold, overlaid and fire-gilt
  • Length: 112.7 cm
    Width: 3.1 cm
    Weight: 1.41 kg
  • Incised mark: Small crosses or saltires
    Maker's mark: Crowned 'M' Stamped twice
  • A625
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Rapier, the semi-swept hilt made up of a hexagonal, vase-shaped pommel; spirally-fluted, wire-bound grip; diagonally curved quillons ending in flat terminals formed of addorsed scrolls; ring-guard, with transverse loop-guard from quillons to the hilt-arms, and the bars on the inner side form two loops crossing in saltire; the hilt is chased with diamond-shaped and angular panels enclosing small silver masks; the guards are of oval section encrusted with silver and minutely overlaid with gold arabesques with the plain surfaces gilt. The blade is of flattened hexagonal section, the single groove incised at the forte with a series of small crosses or saltires; strong ricasso, which has been lengthened (or supplied with a new tang). It bears a maker's mark (possibly a crowned M) twice repeated on each side.

    L' Art Ancien, I, no. 26; De Beaumont Catalogue, no. 15 and pl. 4

    Norman and Barne, 1980, pp. 143 and 237.

    The hilt is of a type drawn by Filippo Orsoni in his book of sword designs in the Victoria and Albert Museum ( J. F. Hayward in Livrustkammaren, V (1959), Fig. 3; and in Mannerist Sword-hilt Designs). A similar series of small crosses in the central groove occurred on a hand-and-a-half sword in the Hefner-Alteneck sale, 1904, lot 75, together with two other marks, and is on a rapier in the Royal Armouries, no. IX, 56, signed Caino. A625 is illustrated by de Beaumont in Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 1867, p. 163. Cf. His description of A635.

    The decoration includes silver flowers amid the gold arabesques, all in overlay. The ends of the quillons, the faces of the pommel, and the centres of the guards are chased with addorsed scrolls enclosing diamond-shaped panels containing silver plates, each embossed with the winged head of a child. Several of these plates are later replacements. The pommel is a very weak reconstruction based on the guards, and probably made out of a pommel of about 1550. A pommel of the correct form and with the same decoration, formerly in the collection of C. von Schwerzenbach, is now in the Waffensammlung, Vienna, inv. no. A2086 (Forrer, Die Schwerter und Schwertknäufe, 1905, pI. XXI, 2).