The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Cup-hilt rapier
  • Cup-hilt rapier
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Hilt- Spain; blade- Solingen, Germany
  • probably 3rd quarter of 17th century
  • Iron and steel, pierced, chased and etched
  • Length: 119 cm
    Width: 1.4 cm
    Weight: 0.94 kg
  • Inscription: 'CLEMENS WIRSBERG / ME FECIT SOLINGE[N]' With scrolls and oval panels
    Inscription: 'FIDE SED CUI VIDE / SOLI DEO GLO / RIA / PRO ARIS ET FOCIS / VITA SPE AUT MORI'
  • A653
  • European Armoury II
Commentary
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Cup-hilt rapier, the hilt made up of a round, flattened pommel, solid and spirally fluted, with button; wire-bound grip; straight quillons, round in section; plain, except at the ends, which are chased and terminate in rosette-headed knobs; cup, with edge turned over, pierced and chased with scrolled foliage, berries and birds, plain hilt-arms and knuckle-guard en suite with quillons, chased in the centre; long, narrow blade of diamond section, becoming flatter and wider at the point, and so capable of giving a slashing cut (delivered from the wrist with the extreme edge of the blade and as known as the tramazone or stramazzione); it is etched on each face with the scrolls and oval panels inscribed:

    CLEMENS WIRSBERG

    ME FECIT SOLINGE[N]

    It also bears the usual mottos:–

    FIDE SED CUI VIDE

    VITA SPE AUT MORI

    SOLI DEO GLO/RIA

    PRO ARIS ET FOCIS

    The cup probably did not originally belong to the rest of this hilt, nor to this blade.

    About 1660; cup Italian (Neapolitan); blade probably Spanish (Toledo).
    Boccia & Coelho, Armi bianche, 1975, fig. 697, 'about 1670-80'; Norman & Barne, 1980, pp. 176 and 337. For other examples of the work of the Wirsberg family, see A594. There was more than one Solingen swordsmith of this name. A sword of Johann Georg I, Duke of Saxony, dated 1638 and signed by Clemens Wirsberg, is in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum at Munich.

    There is also a rapier at Madrid (G 61) by Wilhelm Wirsberg bearing, in part, the same inscription. See also the rapier A594, by Clementes Wisperch.