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An attractive early English rapier dating to the first part of the 17th century. The rapier is of elegant construction and in fine original condition. It retains its overall length of 46.5 inches (108 cm). The guard is of typical English construction mounted with a floral guard plate. The blade is of fine quality with a slotted fuller at the ricasso.
The hilt is of a high standard comprised of well executed and rounded bars which give a smoothly contoured, elegant and well balanced appearance to the hilt. A boldly formed quillon block of oval section has a rear quillon which curls downwards towards its swollen knopped and ribbed terminal. The front quillon curls upwards into a knucklebow flattened and angled at the top where it is secured to the pommel with a screw. At the base of the bow a second quillon extends downwards and terminates in the same manner as the first.
Two symmetrical side rings emanate from the quillons near the block, with knops ribbed front and back in the middle. A similar knop is present near the lower middle of the knucklebow. Two curved bars extend downwards from just below this knop and terminate in scrolls forged onto the side rings to strengthen the hilt structure in the English manner. The block at the sides is chiselled with English “Green Man” masks with donkey / ass-like ears.
The dish guard is formed in one piece as an oval floral shape with six petals which are rounded to the edges and cut with low relief framed panels inside. The two petals directly to the sides of the block are slightly larger than the others as fitting for the oval shape. The larger petal panels are pierced with a lattice of pierced ovals whist the smaller ones are pierced with circles.
The pommel is of solid onion shape with an integral raised button on top and a waisted neck beneath. The cylindrical grip is of spirally fluted wood decorated with contra-twisted ropes separated by a single width of thin rounded brass wire sunken into the spiral grooves on the grip. Brass woven ropes form “Turk’s Heads” top and bottom.
The exceptional 39.5 inches (100 cm) long blade is of stiff construction designed mainly for thrusting. It has a pronounced 7 inch (18 cm) ricasso with rounded blunt sides and terminates with defined shoulders after which the blade is of tapering flattened diamond section with an edge to both sides to the tip. A deep fuller extends from the hilt on each side along the middle and terminates 4 inches (10 cm) beyond the ricasso. It is pierced with decorative keyhole slots, circles and rectangles. Two further fullers flank the first within the ricasso. The blade on both side is incised in the fullers with the maker’s name “TOMASO AYALA ME FECIT”. This is the mark of an accomplished Toledo blade maker working in the late 16th and early 17th centuries who was well known at the time. His mark was copied by other lesser bladesmiths hoping to add a spurious mark of quality to their work. The high quality of the blade discussed here strongly suggests it was made by Ayala himself.