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Ben Peter W.





Joined: 02 Mar 2011

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PostPosted: Wed 02 Mar, 2011 10:37 am    Post subject: Inherited Morion and Rapier - but what exactly? Please help!         Reply with quote

Hello!

Since I am new to this forum, I'd like to introduce myself, before coming to the "real" post:

My name is Ben, I am from Vienna, Austria. Like most students, my financial power is more or less non existent. For that reason, I started selling some of the old objects I inherited from my grandparents.

My grandfather was very much interested in military history, so he collected lots of "army stuff", usually with a low budget. Somewhere along the road, he picked up an old Spanish helmet and a Rapier Sword.

To be honest, I never even thought about the possibility that these items could indeed be old and genuine.

Before selling it as reproductions, I decided to google around a bit, and I was surprised: I found a very similar (though more amply decorated) helmet in this forum: http://pics.myArmoury.com/view.html?morion1585c.jpg

Comparing the helmet with others online, I do believe that there is indeed a chance these items (at least the helmet) could be genuine.

Now, I will definitely not sell these items if they are "real". A big "IF" for me.

That's exactly what I am humbly asking of you: Can you please help me in finding out:

-if these items are genuine
-how old they approximately are
-where they came from and who made them

I am grateful for any kind of information.
I seriously hope, I am using this forum in the appropriate manner, since this is my first post here. Please tell me, if I am offending any rules here by asking for identification though the members here!

Thank you very much!

Bes regards,

-Ben



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Ben Peter W.





Joined: 02 Mar 2011

Posts: 5

PostPosted: Wed 02 Mar, 2011 10:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

and here are the pictures of the helmet.


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Marc Bloom




Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Joined: 22 Feb 2011

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PostPosted: Wed 02 Mar, 2011 11:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben
Do not sell these without getting them appraised. The Helmet looks like it is hammered out of one piece of steel. The sword blade does not seem to be cut down from the marks on the blade. If you have any of your grandfather's papers that show where he got these pieces, that would be helpful.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 02 Mar, 2011 12:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would guess that they're either genuine or high-quality 19th century reproductions.
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Allan Senefelder
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Location: Upstate NY
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PostPosted: Wed 02 Mar, 2011 12:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The morion appears to be genuine showing internal hammer marking, punched rather than drilled holes and grinding marks consistant with old school tredel or water driven wheels rather than modern abrasives ( they rotate much more quickly leaving deeper slotting ) that I would be looking for. It is in fact whats called a morion cabasset as the peaked skull has the small stalk and shape of a cabasset with the low slung brim of a morion. Date, second half of the 16th century most likely.

The rapier which looks more like a broad or backsword to me based on the blade may be legit but I would want a hands on closer inspection to be certain. I would go with Sean on this, it is either original or a very well done 19th century example, possibly using some original components. How long is the blade?
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Ben Peter W.





Joined: 02 Mar 2011

Posts: 5

PostPosted: Wed 02 Mar, 2011 12:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you for your replies, Marc and Sean!

Unfortunately, there are no records where he got the items from.
But I am sure the helmet is hammered, and definitely out of one piece. There are at least 4 different kinds of "nails" or bolts in the row of holes that goes around. One of them even seems to be made of lead. The others are made of steel, bronze, and one is made of reddish copper. Too bad there are absolutely no marks or stamps on both the helmet and the blade.

About the Rapier:
I forgot to mention: there are some nicks along the blade on both sides, so I guess it has seen some action. Also, the tip is a little bent. The edge must have been very sharp once, at some points it still is.

Concerning an eventual sale:
Unless I am sure the items are NOT genuine, I will not sell them.

-Thank you again for your reply! any comments or thoughts are very much welcome!

-Ben
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Ben Peter W.





Joined: 02 Mar 2011

Posts: 5

PostPosted: Wed 02 Mar, 2011 12:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dear Allan,

Your reply just came up while I wrote the last reply above.

Thank you very much for all the useful information! Unfortunately I am at the university now, so I can not check on the lenght of the blade right now. I will do so when I'm home in a few hours.

It's great to hear, that the morion seems to be "the real thing", over 400 years old. Unbelievable! It has been hanging on the wall over the oven for decades. I never thought it might be more than a decorational item until I had it in hand. It's much more solid and heavier than a modern-day steel helmet. (It was even heavier when I took it from the wall. It was almost filled up with dust)

Is there a chance to find out the age/producer precisely? Can you maybe recommend a book or other source to me?

And one more question: Is it common for a Rapier of that age, that there are no producer's marks on it?

I hope I am not tearing you to pieces with all my questions. I'm just curious. And delighted. ;-)

Thank you again!

-Ben
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Allan Senefelder
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PostPosted: Wed 02 Mar, 2011 12:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Unless theres a stamp of some kind on the helmet there not much you can do to determine the shoppe of origin of the morion and even then the stamp may not be that of an armourer but that of a city of ownership or an armoury ( as in a place where arms are stored ) control mark which were common on munitions armour in this period. The helmet is of a common style and was more than likely one of a large batch ordered for a city or fortress armoury.

Its not uncommon for swords to bear no makers mark from any period. In fact makers marks are something of a rarity on swords.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 02 Mar, 2011 1:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

See if somebody at the Kunsthistoriches Museum will look at them. If not, it's worth a trip down to Graz to have the folks at the Landeszeughaus examine the pieces. If nothing else, you can compare to their extensive collection of the same period.
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Eric Hejdström




Location: Visby, Sweden
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PostPosted: Thu 03 Mar, 2011 3:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have to agree with the rest, the morion seems to be original. Apart from what's already mentioned, the grindingmarks looks just like the real thing. Also, the thickness of the metal looks real. 19th century copies are often way to thin. I wouldn't sell it at all. Have it conservated and put it on display. But get it appraised and get an insurance until you eventually sell it. Unless it's appraised (try at elast three different companies) it's very difficult to get it insured properly. I also agree that the sword looks real. there's something about the blade finish in comparison to the hilt that bugs me but it looks like an original sword in general. If so it's quite some start to a collection you have there...
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E.B. Erickson
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PostPosted: Thu 03 Mar, 2011 4:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, both pieces look good to me.

I'd date the helmet to circa 1580. I see nothing at all to indicate that it's modern.

The sword might be a little later - maybe 1620s at the latest? If someone has a copy of Normans rapier book handy, we should be able to get an accurate time frame on the hilt. The only detail that I find odd is on the hilt of the sword: the quillons are flat on the right side, but beveled on the left! This was usually done the other way around, with the more decorated (beveled) surface on the right of the hilt. The grip is probably replaced, or at least partly restored, as I'd expect to see Turk's heads instead of ferrules. I am also in agreement with everyone: if the sword is a later reproduction, it's an exceptional one!

It's always good to see genuine pieces turn up!

--ElJay
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Robert Weis




Location: Munich
Joined: 03 Mar 2011

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PostPosted: Thu 03 Mar, 2011 4:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, I can only agree, both helmet and sword seem to be fine authentic pieces. I would also localize them as being southern German or Austrian from the late 16th century, I know many similar pieces in collections in this area.

I personally would consider cleaning the blade carefully, the guard and pommel are ok as they are. I am not 100% sure if the hilt and the pommel do belong with the rest of the sword, but without being able to handle it myself, I give them the benefit of the doubt.

I do not know if it allowed in this forum to talk about value, but if it is, I could give you an estimat, since I am working as an auction house expert for arms and armour.
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Thu 03 Mar, 2011 11:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Norman classifies the sword hilt as his Type 26, common from 1560 to about 1640. The sword looks original except for the grip which I strongly suspect is a victorian era replacement. Given the points profile I think it might have been broken at some time in its life.
"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Thu 03 Mar, 2011 12:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are a few things that make me hesitate on the sword.

The quillons of the guard have a flat backside. This is a very good detail, that is present on originals. It is only that the flat side is facing the side of the guard that is normally the front, and the back side with the typical swept "cage" is combined with the shaping of the quillons to be the facing side.

This kind of mistake is not unusual on later era replicas.

Another thing is the shaping of the pommel. The swelling at the stem, or neck is rather big. And the neck itself is overly long. It has the look of something that was made on a lathe, rather than forged in a set of dies or shaped free hand.
I may be wrong here. It s just what it looks like in the photos.

Instead of turk head knots at the ends of the grip, there are rings of sheet metal. This is somethign that can be found on originals, but usually at a later date (and not very common). It is very common on later era replicas, however. When present, these rings may be cause for some pause and thought.

The blade looks pretty good, but there is something with the shaping of the ricasso, that makes me wonder.

I say all this without being dead sure about it. It is just that these details make me wonder...

If it is a replica from the 19th C, it is well made. The guard is well shaped and looks like it is forge welded. It just happens to be made back side front. Strange.

The sword could be a composite of ancient and newer parts. A pretty common thing.

I would suggest the same as has been said by others already: take these items to a museum and ask someone to have a look at them.
It is a very different thing to have the items actually in front of you, rather than looking at photographs.

If they turn out to be later era replicas, they are in any case well made and cold be a source of enjoyment for you. Good enough to represent the real thing, and something that connect to your own personal history. A good thing regardless the actual age of the objects.
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Vincent C




Location: Northern VA
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PostPosted: Thu 03 Mar, 2011 1:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I know very little about complex hilts, but here's my initial impression.

That looks like a reitschwert to me and not a rapier.

I don't know if those types of sword are in the same family, but it has the look of a cut-and-thrust, especially with the rounded tip.

The hilt design also looks like a number of complex-hilted longswords I've seen that I think were made somewhere in Saxony, or someplace in that area.

Like I said I'm not the most learned about this, but that's what I get off of it.

Even if it's not authentic, it's a lovely sword.

Honor, compassion, knowledge.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 03 Mar, 2011 1:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

High end Victorian reproductions can also be considered as valuable and collectable in themselves so don't be too disappointed if the sword turns out to be a reproduction but it may still be earlier period or at least a mix of earlier and later parts, but as said, it would be good to get it professionally authenticated ( With maybe a second or third opinion if there is still cause for doubt about it's age and origins ).
You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Ben Peter W.





Joined: 02 Mar 2011

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PostPosted: Thu 03 Mar, 2011 2:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

First of all, I'd like to thank you all very much, for your help, all the useful information and explanations. Thank you, for sharing your expertise with me.

I definitely will bring them to the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna and see what they can do. I will of course share the information with you, if it is of interest to you.

I really hope, the blade will not turn out to be a reproduction.

@ Robert:

Thank you very much for your offer! Indeed I would like to know, what these items are worth - Although I am not going to sell them, it is still interesting to know.

Again; Thank you all & Best regards from Vienna!

Ben Peter
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James Arlen Gillaspie
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Location: upstate NY
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PostPosted: Sat 05 Mar, 2011 8:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would like to see a CLEAR picture of the inside of the helmet. The blurred photo looks promising, though.
jamesarlen.com
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Hadrian Coffin
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PostPosted: Sat 05 Mar, 2011 9:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello,

I only just noticed this topic. The helm appears from the photographs to be original. The execution of every component is consistent with originals I have handled from this period. That being said I would not give wholehearted confirmation of its authenticity without seeing it in person.

The sword interests me more than the helm... as swords often do. The markings on the blade do appear to have been put in properly, they do not appear to be acid-etched or put in with power tools. Very consistent with originals. The bars on the guard appear to be forge welded, but the beveled edges on the cross are off. Odd indeed. The grip appears to most definitely be a replacement, if you notice the colouring of the wood underneath the wire it appears to have very little age. The colouring could be off due to the lighting/camera/flash... without seeing it firsthand I cannot say. The ferrules on the grip are uncommon, but not unheard of. The pitting/patina on the ferrules does appear to be slightly different than the guard and pommel (again a trick of the photos perhaps, or my eyes). The fuller on the blade does look correct, usually these are done poorly on Victorian reproductions. There is an odd cut on one side of the ricasso... I have never seen this before, and the shaping of the pommel is a bit odd... the proportions are off. It is very difficult to determine wether this is actually an original piece, it is close enough that it deserves examination by someone knowledgable in person. If it is not original it is at least Victorian. Perhaps an amalgamation of the two, or an original restored in the Victorian period.

Finally, do NOT try to clean, polish, or restore it yourself. I see that above me someone mentioned cleaning it... don't. Unless this is done properly it will devalue the piece. I have seen people destroy antiques with angle grinders, wire brushes, etc. In some of the photos the sword does appear to have live rust... this should be taken care of, but by a professional.

Cheers!

Historia magistra vitae est
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