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Dave Housteau





Joined: 20 Oct 2006

Posts: 10

PostPosted: Tue 31 Jul, 2012 1:15 pm    Post subject: The Time of the Long Rapier?         Reply with quote

Most 17th century rapiers had a decent length to them, but there was a short slice of time where it was the fashion to have extremely long blades. These would have reached well into the low to high 50 inch total weapon lengths. It may only have been a span of 10 - 20 years or so, but I just can't recall exactly when that was. I am thinking they were around 1620 - 30 and mostly Italian in origin. Does anyone here have any thoughts on this?

I ask because I have recently come across one that measures 55 inches and it has characteristics that match another sword known to be Italian.

Dave
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 1,835

PostPosted: Tue 31 Jul, 2012 4:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Actually, 16th century swords were regulated in England to be no more than about 40" of blade, so the length of "long rapiers" certainly lasted more than a decade. During the 17th century, the blades seem to get shorter and shorter with the transitional swords to even shorter blades begins by mid century.

I am sure some others may be able to speak more definitively on the subject but it was Elizabeth's 1566 proclamation that comes to mind. Even then, we are looking at swords with 40" blades quite near that 50" mark and certainly longer before the proclamation.

A brief here, as the first Google hit I came across in remembering this.
http://www.zipworld.com.au/~zebee/length.htm

Cheers

GC
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Christopher Treichel




Location: Metro D.C.
Joined: 14 Jan 2010

Posts: 268

PostPosted: Tue 31 Jul, 2012 8:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Your Italian Rapier authors of the mid 16-early17th century usually refer to the cross being arround your naval with the point on the ground.
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Lloyd Winter




Location: Los Angeles
Joined: 27 Aug 2011

Posts: 172

PostPosted: Tue 31 Jul, 2012 8:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I just went through my new Wallace digital catalog and I counted 12 rapiers over 130cm in total length.
All of these are 17th century and almost all of them seem to fall into the 1620-1650 range

The 2 longest are
A668 @ 139.7cm overall and 123cm blade, 1650
and
A570 @ 139 overall and 122.7cm blade. 1620-30

of the rest of the over 130cm crowd 115cm seems to be the average blade length. 1.3k seems to be the average weight.


There are a lot more in the 120-130cm range, dated from the 1580s through the middle of the 17th century. Most of those seem to average 105-115cm in blade length.
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
Joined: 23 Mar 2008

Posts: 423

PostPosted: Tue 31 Jul, 2012 9:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Philip II of Spain chose to pass a law limiting sword blades to a length of 41" English (source). I think there were other similar laws in other jurisdictions. The English masters circa 1600 also make it clear that blades longer than most masters who published books recommended were in use.
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Dave Housteau





Joined: 20 Oct 2006

Posts: 10

PostPosted: Wed 01 Aug, 2012 5:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lloyd Winter wrote:
I just went through my new Wallace digital catalog and I counted 12 rapiers over 130cm in total length.
All of these are 17th century and almost all of them seem to fall into the 1620-1650 range

The 2 longest are
A668 @ 139.7cm overall and 123cm blade, 1650
and
A570 @ 139 overall and 122.7cm blade. 1620-30

of the rest of the over 130cm crowd 115cm seems to be the average blade length. 1.3k seems to be the average weight.


There are a lot more in the 120-130cm range, dated from the 1580s through the middle of the 17th century. Most of those seem to average 105-115cm in blade length.



Thank you Lloyd and everyone else.

What was the date for the one at 139.7? That is the length of the one I am looking at. I should have been more specific in my post by describing what sort of rapier I was referring to, since that term especially in period covered a wide range of weapon types. The one I am interested in is 17th century and of the pure thrusting variety.

For a blade of that extreme length it needs to be very narrow, yet somewhat thicker in the middle to maintain some strength, yet still hold a good balance. This blade profile does not a cutter make. The wider bladed rapiers had both the strength and profile to make better cutters. Shorter bladed weapons also lend themselves better to cutting.

It would be a mistake to assume a particular sword predated another just by looking at it, since various hilt and blade designs existed side by side, and some did not follow the historic logic as we think they should have. Country and customs, civillian and military had their preferences, as did individuals.

Dave
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Lloyd Winter




Location: Los Angeles
Joined: 27 Aug 2011

Posts: 172

PostPosted: Wed 01 Aug, 2012 6:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A668 is dated c. 1650

http://wallacelive.wallacecollection.org/eMus...T&sp=0


Link no longer works. Just use the advanced search function on the Wallace Collection site and search for A668 in the Museum Number field.
Or buy the digital catalog for yourself, I highly recommend it Happy
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Dave Housteau





Joined: 20 Oct 2006

Posts: 10

PostPosted: Wed 01 Aug, 2012 9:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you.
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Dave Housteau





Joined: 20 Oct 2006

Posts: 10

PostPosted: Thu 02 Aug, 2012 7:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I finally made it back home to be able to post a few photos to help this discussion. It does measure to be just slightly over 55 inches in total length. I generally first associate cup hilts with being Spanish, although some were of German and Italian origin. The grip and pommel look more descriptive of being Italian and so that is why I am leaning in that direction. My guess is that this may be more mid to later1600s rather than earlier.

It really is incredibly long that is hard to appreciate until you pick it up and also have it side by side with others of around the same time period. Unfortunately my camera died and I can't post a photo of the entire length. However, just add a few inches to that one photo and that will give you an idea. The blade is also stronger and more rigid than I was expecting for its length. The grip is elongated just a bit to correct the balance for this longer blade. A weapon like this would take some getting used to if one was more familiar with the more standard length variety of thrusting rapier and I can't imagine someone actually having this as a daily wear accessory.



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Cornelis Tromp




Location: Holland
Joined: 03 Jan 2010

Posts: 83

PostPosted: Thu 02 Aug, 2012 12:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I hope that I do not offend anyone and I am more at home in medieval swords, but I believe that this cup hilt rapier can be made in the 19th century; the broad rings on the grip instead of turkish knots are characteristic for a 19th century piece.
Furthermore, the long ricasso above the cup does not have a function and it has a pommel in a different form as the terminals of the quillon.

would it be possible to place some more pictures preferably also of the inside,gardapolvo?, of the cup.
thanks and best,
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Dave Housteau





Joined: 20 Oct 2006

Posts: 10

PostPosted: Thu 02 Aug, 2012 2:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Cornelis Tromp wrote:
I hope that I do not offend anyone and I am more at home in medieval swords, but I believe that this cup hilt rapier can be made in the 19th century; the broad rings on the grip instead of turkish knots are characteristic for a 19th century piece.
Furthermore, the long ricasso above the cup does not have a function and it has a pommel in a different form as the terminals of the quillon.

would it be possible to place some more pictures preferably also of the inside,gardapolvo?, of the cup.
thanks and best,


You are not offending anyone and It certainly could be from that time period. I have come across a few rapiers made in the 1800s that look and feel pretty darn good, but there was something of a tell somewhere to them. I was not aware of the band on the handle being one of them. I have seen replicas with turks head knots that look right as rain as well. So, these things can get tricky.

It was the blade on this one that got my interest. I was not aware of any period replicas made in the 1800s with the extremely long blades. The blade is fairly strong for its length, but I don't think it would not do well against a heavier bladed weapon. So I was thinking that the forward ricasso section is there, as it is on many other swords, to act as a meeting point to those heavier blades.



It is very clean and that does bother me a bit. But, I am fortunate to own several very clean absolute originals and so that by itself is not enough to trouble me too much. I like these forums because they can be a great source of knowledge with all those who take part. I have not yet had the chance to bring this to my local expert for his thoughts, so all the info I can gather here is of benefit.

In truth, this is a very nice weapon whichever way it turns out to be, but I certainly prefer originals. So, if these doubts are strong enough then I will be sending it back. The person I picked this up from had no intention of misrepresenting it. He went by what his expert (don't know the background) told him.

Dave
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Dave Housteau





Joined: 20 Oct 2006

Posts: 10

PostPosted: Wed 08 Aug, 2012 2:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

With a few other people having a look at it, the growing consensus is that what I have here is a composite piece with the blade and possibly pommel being of the proper time. It has definately been regripped, but that is not an uncommon thing to have been done in the 1700 - 1800s to older weapons. The crossguard and cup are still in question as to age and being original to the blade. Hopefully I will be able to bring it in to my specialist next week for his thoughts.
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