The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Rapier
  • Johann Wirsberger
  • Solingen, Gemany
  • 2nd quarter of 17th century
  • Steel, chiselled, blued and filed
  • Length: 124.4 cm
    Length: 107.7 cm, blade
    Width: 1.8 cm
    Weight: 1 kg
  • Inscription: Designs and 'IOHANNES WIRSBERGER' and motto 'SOLI . DEO . GLORIA' Etched
    Inscription: 'IOHANES'
    Stamp: Pincers mark
  • A640
  • European Armoury III
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Rapier, the swept hilt of blued steel comprised of a fluted, cylindrical pommel of oval section, with button; wire-bound grip of rounded, rectangular section (modern), the knuckle-guard of slender make with knots at intervals, branching symmetrically into three loops (one of which is snapped); slender quillons curved alternately upwards and downwards, hilt-arms and guards incorporating a pair of fluted shells, double side-rings on the forward side of shells. Narrow blade of diamond section, broadening towards the point to deliver the stramazzone, a slashing cut across the face delivered with the point rather than the edge, and etched with designs in the Solingen manner, including the signature of:


    and the motto:


    (written on one side SOLIDE GLORIA and IOHANNES on one, and IOHANES on the other); the pincers mark used by the Wirsberg family is also stamped on the long, square ricasso.

    Norman and Barne, 1980, p. 136.

    The same mark occurs on a rapier in the K. Livrustkammer at Stockholm (no. 592) and on one in the collection of Prince Schwarzenberg at Frauenberg.
    Johann Wirsberger was a member of a long line of Solingen bladesmiths of that name. Other examples of the work of the family in this collection are nos. A594, 653, 1050. A rapier in the collection of the late M. Pauilhac (now in the Musée de l’Armée, Paris) bears a similar cartouche and pincers, but with the name of Wilhelm Wirsberg and the date 1630. See also Weyersberg, Solinger Schwertschmiede.

    Compare the hilts of nos. A599, 605, 807, 841 and 843.

    In 1640 a Johann Wirsberg, with others, took the oath to keep the laws and regulations of the Swordsmiths' Guild in Solingen. In 1649 a Johannis Wirssberg was sworn in as a member of this Guild. In 1664 a Johannes Weyersberg was sworn in similarly. In 1671, 1681 and 1683, men of this name became burghers of Solingen. In 1687 and 1699, men of this name are recorded as dying in the city, aged 60 and 58 respectively (Weyersberg, Solinger Schwertschmiede, 1926, pp. 47-55).