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English Rapier Circa 1640

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Price: £2,850

Ref: 057.17

Item Description

An English duelling rapier dating to the Civil War years mounted with a fine delicately chiselled steel hilt. Rapiers of this type were very popular with civilians on both sides of the divide in the mid 17th century. This example is decorous, light in hand, well balanced and utilitarian. The removal of excess weight,  whilst achieving an attractive and fine quality appearance in its design and construction, seems to have been a major consideration. The rapier was most likely manufactured for a gentleman well acquainted with the practicalities of duelling rather than for show. Whilst many of this type are assumed to have been made, few have survived due to the delicacy of construction, and this is a rare survivor.

The dish guard is made from one piece. From the outside the tang aperture is centred on a solid plain roundel.  From this sixteen segments radiate outwards, widening towards the ends, each with a raised border, and terminate in convex crescents giving an attractive scalloped edge to the perimeter of the dish.  Each segment is pierced with uniform lines of teardrop shaped apertures running alongside the borders with filed lines to the middle.

The quillon block is fluted, as is the tall ovoid pommel, which is forged with an integral  pronounced neck and button. A pair of straight square section quillons with downward scrolling terminals project from the block and are secured to the edge of the dish mid way by a pair of scrolled arms of the style seen on other English sword types of the period. The attractive grip is formed from a wooden tubular core covered with alternate layers of twisted wire of different thicknesses. Woven “Turks” heads are applied top and bottom.

The long slender tapering blade is of strong, stiff, hexagonal section with a deep fuller either side for part of its length. An armourers mark is punched on both sides which resembles a pair of pincers and is similar to the marks of some Milanese and Toledo trained smiths of the early 17th century. The blade retains its original length of 39.5 inches (just over 100 cm) and overall the length is 46.25 inches (117.5 cm). The condition is fine with one minor chip to the edge of one perimeter crescent on the dish guard.

The hilt is very similar to one illustrated by Stuart C Mowbray in “British Military Swords”, Mowbray Publishing, 2013, page 281.

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