The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Rapier
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • France
  • early 18th century and 19th-century
    early 18th century (blade)
    probably 19th century (hilt)
  • Iron, steel and silver, blackened and etched
  • Length: 114.8 cm
    Width: 3.2 cm
    Weight: 1.64 kg
  • Inscription: 'VIVE LE ROY' In Roman capitals
  • A632
  • European Armoury II
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Rapier, the semi-swept hilt made up of a pommel in the form of a stylised African head bound about the temples with a band encrusted with silver spots; spirally-fluted, wire-bound grip; slightly recurved quillons of flattened octagonal section terminating in heads similar to the pommel and applied separately; double ring-guard, and hilt-arms, joined by a loop to the knuckle-guard, also finished with another head, the whole blackened. The escutcheon and ring guards have medallions containing heads in low relief and spotted with silver. Broad blade of hexagonal section etched with scrolls and inscribe on one side in Roman capitals:


    Fluted ricasso. The original tang of the blade has been built up to form a ricasso by brazing blocks of steel onto each side of it.

    Hilt probably 19th century; blade Savoyard or French, early 18th century.

    De Beaumont Catalogue, no. 23

    Head pommels are not uncommon. For a genuine ‘blackamoor’-head pommel see A821.Compare Forrer, Schwerte und Schwertknaufe, 1905, pl. XXXVIII and p. 49; Vienna, Böheim Album, I, pl. XXVIII; a dagger with similar negro pommel is A821 below, and a rapier in the possession of Mr. H. L. Blackmore. Compare also the rapier at Copenhagen (A. Bruhn, Godfried Leygebe, 1945, p. 49). There is probably here no allusion to the arms of Pucci of Florence, as has been suggested. The inscription, VIVE LE ROY, is found on swords with the arms of Savoy as well as with the royal arms of France, sometimes in the form: VIVE LE ROY DE SARDAIGNE. Examples are in the Museo Stibbert, Florence, and at Turin. Cf. also the same inscription on A553.