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A typically elegant 17th century English military rapier, of pleasing balance and proportions, dating to the early Civil War years. Uniquely English in its architecture and workmanship, the hilt is well contoured, driven by function, and attractively decorated with pierced and incised designs. The bars are solidly forged together to form a robust and stylish weapon mounted with a high quality Solingen blade.
The bowl shaped guard is made from one piece. The convex exterior is decorated around the tang aperture with a continuous pattern of 12 chiselled tear drop and heart shaped panels, emphasised with border lines, which radiate from the centre. The middles of the panels are pierced with patterns of blunt four pointed star shapes. Outside the panels the bowl is strengthened with a sturdy rim with a continuous pattern of arches around the edge.
The quillon block is of bold tapering form with short pointed langets. The quillons emanate horizontally from near its top and extend symmetrically across the bowl and terminate in tight downward facing scrolls. The underside of each quillon is forged onto a raised flange formed from the edge of the bowl which secures the parts. The knuckle bow extends from midway along the front quillon and tapers to its top where it terminates in a counter-curved scroll which touches the pommel. The bow is decorated with a knop half way along.
The tall rounded diamond shaped pommel is decorated with deeply formed vertically fluted lines with rounded ridges and mounted with an integral waisted pommel button and flared neck beneath. The knuckle bow has two secondary bars which extend downwards from halfway and attach to the edge of the bowl in scrolls of similar form to the quillon terminals. The attractive grip is formed from a diagonally fluted wooden tubular core covered with layers of twisted copper wire and woven “Turks” heads top and bottom.
The long, tapering blade is of strong, stiff, lenticular section. It has a short ricasso from the end of which two deeply incised narrow fullers extend in parallel either side for 7 inches (18 cm) after which an anchor-like armourers mark is incised on each side. With the blade point facing to the right, the upper fuller on each side has the inscription of the name IAVLVS S H, accompanied by ME FECIT SOLINGEN, in the fuller below, the words interspersed and overlain by very fine and diminutive orb and cross armourers marks. The blade retains its original length of 39.75 inches (101 cm), and the overall length of the rapier is 48.25 inches (122.5 cm).
The rapier is in fine condition with minor age blemishes and a light salt and pepper patination overall consistent to all of the iron and steel parts. The hilt conforms to Norman type 87. Similar examples are illustrated by Stuart C Mowbray in “British Military Swords 1600 to 1660”, Mowbray Publishing, 2013, pages 262 to 264, one example of which is in the Victoria & Albert Museum Collection (Ref: M.2774-1931). Our rapier is particularly similar to that illustrated on page 264 (in York Castle Museum Ref: CA 794) which has hearts incorporated into the chiselled designs on the outside of the bowl guard (engraved rather than pierced) which is an unusual feature. Other features indicate that the hilt could well be by the same hand.