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Fine English Military Rapier Circa 1640 to 1650

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Price: £6,500

Ref: 008.18

Item Description

A fine English military rapier dating to the early Civil War years mounted with an intricately chiselled and pierced hilt. The rapier is an elegant representation  of the mid 17th century armourers craft and of pleasing proportions. The hilt is typically English, unique in its architecture and workmanship, well contoured  and driven by function, its bold bars solidly forged together to form a robust hilt mounted with a high quality “ANDRIA FERARA” blade.

The bowl shaped guard is made from one piece. The convex exterior is decorated with two concentric circles of chiselled segments which radiate outwards from the centre. The inner circle of sixteen segments widen towards their outer scallop shaped terminals, each highlighted by a ridge and lines of pierced dots towards the edges. The outer circle consists of thirty two smaller panels with border ridges, each finished with a uniform pattern of small chiselled holes forming three aligned quatrefoils separated by larger pierced circles at the edges. The edge of the bowl is an attractive scalloped shaped rim.

The quillon block is of bold tapering form and vertically fluted. The quillons emanate horizontally from near the top and are fashioned in rounded hexagonal section, terminating outside the bowl in swollen fluted knops, with a grooved neck beneath, and a small raised button at the end. The front quillon is curled upwards and the rear quillon downwards. The underside of each quillon is secured onto a raised flange which emanates from the edge of the bowl for this purpose. The knuckle bow tapers in width to its top where it is secured to the pommel with a screw and is forged with a fluted knop midway similar to the quillon terminals.

A guard ring follows the shape of the bowl rim and is formed in two halves which commence from the rear quillon and attach to the base of the knuckle bow at the front. These are formed with raised knops in the middle similar in form to others. The ring is further secured to the bowl below by four scrolled bars.

The large, slightly flattened decorative pommel is mounted with an integral button. Underneath this a band of foliage is present beyond which sixteen pairs of vertical lines are incised with rows of small punched circles in the middle. At its base the pommel is boldly chiselled with a vase shape of eight scrolls, decorated with further punched circles, in which the pommel is depicted as sitting in a bud-like manner. Beneath this an integral flared pommel neck is chiselled with four further scrolls depicted as supporting those above.

Clearly, the engraved patterns to the hilt are chiselled to a conscious mathematical  sequence involving two times multiples of the number four. The pommel neck has four scrolls, with eight above, followed by sixteen sets of fluted lines above this. The inner pattern of the bowl has sixteen segments and the outside thirty two.

The long, tapering blade is of strong, stiff, diamond section, with the central ridge obscured by a deep and pronounced fuller which extends from the hilt almost to the tip. A short ricasso with deep grooves extends from the  block to the bowl aperture with deep fullers and a bold “man in the moon” Solingen armourers mark imbetween on either side. Further along inside the fuller on both sides is the name “ANDRIA FERARA”, each letter separated by diamond shaped punched dots, and flanked towards the hilt  by a quatrefoil of dots, and a stylised anchor mark towards the point. The blade retains its original length of just under 39.5 inches (100 cm) and the overall length is 46.25 inches (117.5 cm). 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 rapier is in fine condition with minor age blemishes. The hilt conforms to Norman type 88. A very similar example is illustrated by Stuart C Mowbray in “British Military Swords”, Mowbray Publishing, 2013, page 260, which is in the Victoria & Albert Museum Collection (Ref: M.2765.1931).

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