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Spanish Rapiers

Recently we had to pull several weapons to photography, including several that are on display. For four of them, three rapiers and a sword, this was the first time any of us were able to get up close to them as they have been on display in Age of Exploration since the early 90’s. The three rapiers are attributed as Spanish, but one of our curator’s has pointed out that this is most likely inaccurate.

This first one is a composite rapier with tapering blade, iron hilt, comprising vertically recurved quillons, arms, and a pair of asymmetrical shells framed by a double ring, knuckle guards, globular pommel and later wire bound wooden handle, ca 1600’s. Its origin is unknown though, and we haven’t found any markings to give us any clues.

This next one we affectionately refer to as Curly Bits due to the handle. It is a composite swept-hilt rapier, the tapering blade with central fuller stamped “IHS” on each face of the forte, iron hilt with guard of flat bars comprising arms, knuckle-guard linked by curved bars to rings and framing a pair of scallop-shaped shells, ovoidal pommel, and later wooden grip, ca 1600’s. It is possibly Italian.

The third is a composite spanish cup-hilt rapier, the slender blade with central fuller on both sides at the forte stamped with an inscription, iron hilt with deep cup chiselled in low relief with double-headed displayed eagles under an arcade, the upper edge bordered by a ring linked to the slender knuckle-guard and long straight quillons, rosette-shaped guardapolva, comprossed globular pommel, and copper wire bound grip. Late seventeenth century. It has a German blade, which we were able to discover after doing some research and sorting out what the inscription (which is on both sides of the forte) said. It is marked on one side “xx HEINRICH xx BRABENDER xx” and “xx MEFECIT xx SOLINGEN xx”. This means that Heinrich Brabender made this sword in Solingen, Germany, a city known for its blade-making. Neat thing to discover!

Our fourth piece is a 17th century Spanish Navy Hanger Sword; iron guard and quillon with side guard ;etched and chiseled in high relief; iron plates on each side of grip and knuckle bow; iron plates parallel to blade and point towards tip. The heart decoration is quite lovely. Unfortunately we haven’t found any markings on this piece either.

If anyone knows more about these types of weapons we would love to hear from you. We are constantly doing research on our artifacts in an effort to understand them better. All the photographs were taken by our photographer, Brock Switzer.

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