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A representative and nicely balanced example of the distinctive Italian “crab” hilted sword dating to circa 1620 – 1640. The hilt is so called because the double drooping quillons seen from the front or back resemble the splayed legs of a crab. These swords in general were munitions grade military rapiers which although regarded as Italian, and could well have been manufactured in Milan and other North Italian centres, many, most certainly found their way into the escalating conflicts of the 30 Years War for use by infantry.
Typically, the hilt is made in three sections rivetted together. The quillon block is the centrepiece formed from a robust flat cross widest at its middle area. From this a single quillon is forged each side to bifurcate into the double quillon crab-like features. The quillon terminals are slightly swollen at the curved ends and decorated with incised lines. Integral with the quillon block an outer ring guard is forged of thick flat iron, decorated with a panel of incised crossed lines to the front, and sets of triple grooves either side. Of separate manufacture, below, a scalloped shell guard precisely matches the contours of the ring to protect the hand from blades protruding through it. This defensive design is further enhanced with the addition of a smaller ring beneath the shell, decorated same as the outer ring, the role of which is a “blade catcher”. Two rivets attach the blade catcher and the shell to the underside of the quillon block and tighten the assemblage together.
The blade is of flattened hexagonal section and has a short fuller extending from the hilt in which the blade smith’s mark is present in capitals in the same form on both sides, “I O H A N N I S”, followed by a trefoil of dots and a stylised cross. The large solid pommel has an integral button on top, flared neck below, and is of flattened hexagonal section like the blade. It is decorated with deeply incised simple geometric patterns. The wooden grip is wrapped with wire. Overall the sword is 38 inches long (97 cm) and the blade 32.25 inches (82 cm).