The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Rapier
  • Possibly Antonio Piccinino (1509 - 1589) , Swordsmith
  • Milan, Italy
  • c. 1570 - c. 1630 (pommel)
    possibly c.1585 (guards)
    c. 1560 - 1589 (blade (Italian))
  • Iron and steel, blackened
  • Length: 110.8 cm
    Width: 2.3 cm
    Weight: 1.07 kg
  • Signature: '**ANTONIO** / ** PICININO**'
    Incised mark: Mound of three parts under a crown
  • A540
  • European Armoury II
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Rapier, the hilt composed of a flattened mushroom-shaped pommel, closely ribbed or fluted, and finished with an eight-lobed rosette; wire-bound, spiral grip; horizontally re-curved crossguard of flat section; side-ring, hilt-arms, almost meeting the side-ring, the usual transverse guards at the back; all the guards of blackened steel and oval section, the ends of the crossguard and counter-guards and the centre of the larger ring decorated with fluted shells, the rest of the guards incised with flat roping; the double-edged blade is of flattened diamond section, grooved the whole length and signed at the hilt:


    The ricasso stamped on each side with a mark, which resembles that upon the rapier A626.

    The mark here is of a mound of three parts under a crown.

    The Milanese bladesmith, Giovanni Antonio Marliani, called Piccinino (c. 1504- 7 October 1588), stamped his blades with various marks, the earlier form being a castle encircled with his name, the later, a castle crowned (Boeheim, p. 162). The mark on A540 resembles the latter (and compare that on A626). A great number of very well made blades exist by this celebrated bladesmith and by his son, Federico. Morgia, writing in 1595, in his Nobilita di Milano, said that Giovanni Antonio Piccinino 'was the first man not only in this Italy of ours but also in the whole of Europe to make a blade for a sword, or dagger, or knife, or any cutting weapon, which would cut through any type of iron without damaging the blade; he was therefore not only known but very well known indeed by the most important Christian Princes and other masters of arms' (Lib. V, chap. XVII). A blade signed by G. Antonio Piccinino is fitted in the famous enamelled gold hilt at Vienna, given to the Emperor Maximilian II by Wratislav II von Pernstein between 1549 and 1554 (Waffensammlung, inv. no. A588; Thomas, Gamber and Schedelmann, 1964, pI. 37). Boeheim records a blade then in the collection of Archduke Franz d' Este in Vienna, signed 'Antonio Piccinino me fecite in Milano 1584' (Meister der Waffenschmiedekunst, 1897, p. 163).

    The form of signature found on A540 is not the one usually employed by Piccinino, which normally resembles that of his son Federico on A646. However, Boccia and Coelho do accept as genuine a blade at Turin with the name extended along the blade as on A540 (1890 cat., no. G42; Boccia and Coelho, 1976, fig. 565, n. on p. 396). For Federico, son of G. Antonio Piccinino, see A646. The Carlo Piccinino, presumably a hilt-maker or steel-chiseller, who signed a cup-hilt in Spanish fashion in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (no. 11.89.2), may also be a member of this family. The celebrity of G. Antonio Piccinino's blade led to numerous forgeries of his name, and that of his son, in the second half of the 17th century (see A629, 661, 685, 788). G. Antonio was also the father of Lucio, the goldsmith-armourer (see A51, 52, 325), who was in fact his eldest son but not his heir; Lucio waived his rights as heir in 1565, upon the granting of his majority.