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North Italian / German Swept Hilt Rapier Circa 1600 to 1620

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Price: £3,900

Ref: 007.18

Item Description

An elegant and boldly constructed swept hilt rapier probably from a North Italian or South German workshop in the early 17th century, its manufacture coinciding with the beginning of the 30 Years War period in Europe. The rapier retains its original long blade length of 43.5 inches (110.5 cm) and is well balanced and comfortable in-hand. The overall length is 48 inches (122 cm).

The complex hilt is formed from smoothly rounded bars which give an elegantly contoured appearance. The platform for the hilt construction is the strong quillon block from which extend the front and back quillons which swell towards their terminals and short downward facing pointed langets cut with vertical decorative parallel lines. To the front, a bold knuckle bow extends upwards from the top of the quillon and is formed in a similar manner.

From midway along the knuckle bow, counterguards extend downwards either side. One joins with the uppermost and largest of three loop guards, the smallest, at the base of the ricasso, being infilled with a plate pierced with a pattern of ovals and smaller circles. On the other side the side guard trifurcates into three curved bars. These, as well as the loop guards, join onto the ends of pas d’ ane rings at the end of the ricasso.

The truncated cone shaped pommel is of bold form of oval cross section and multifaceted with ten sides and cut with vertical parallel lines at the extremes  similar to  those cut into the langets. The pommel has a waisted button on top and pronounced swollen ribbed neck beneath.  The grip is bound with alternately spaced ribbon and twisted lengths of  white metal wire and mounted with “Turks’ Heads” top and bottom.

The fine quality blade is of stiff construction. It has a ricasso 2.5 inches (6.5  cm) long of shallow concave form with an elliptical  pattern of oval shapes each side, reminiscent of the infill pattern to the guard plate, further indicating that the sword parts are from the same workshop. From the end of the ricasso the blade tapers gently to its tip. A broad central fuller extends from the end of the ricasso for 8 inches (20 cm) and on each side is cut with the name DETOMAS DEAIALA with a mark resembling an anchor beyond on each side. Beyond the fuller terminal the blade is of flattened hexagonal section to its tip.

The rapier is a good example of the early 17th century armourer’s craft with attractive flowing curves to the hilt which complement the strength of its construction. The surface condition is homogeneous across the main iron and steel parts with a light dusting of salt and pepper pitting and small patches of blackened age related staining and pockets in parts.

For a similar example see “The Price Guide to Antique Edged Weapons”, Leslie Southwick, Antique Collectors’ Club, 1982, page 40, Fig 76.

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