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Daniel Parry




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PostPosted: Tue 29 Jan, 2019 11:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Type 5

Cross section becomes thicker diamond still, very thick ricasso. Blade has no edge. Pure thrusting rapier. Very stiff. Light and so not blade heavy at all.1620/30


And a spread of examples of 1-5 left to right to give an idea of comparative size.



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Kai Lawson




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PostPosted: Tue 29 Jan, 2019 8:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That last photo is perfect. What a nice spread. It’s helps put them all in perspective too. That first Type 1 looks nearly like a side sword!
"And they crossed swords."
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Daniel Parry




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PostPosted: Fri 01 Feb, 2019 10:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Kai. Yes the first one on the left is a good example of the question of what is a rapier. It has a rapier hilt, and it is in some ways rapier dimensions and handling.

But it is also very like many other double edged cut and thrust swords. In some ways so are the other type 1 edged rapiers I have seen but the difference I think is in the additional length and the blade heavy balance. They seem more designed for a specialist purpose or fencing style. Whereas that first one is more of a general swept hilt sword. That's what I find interesting - the variance and the cross-overs.
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PostPosted: Sat 09 Feb, 2019 1:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

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Sam Gordon Campbell




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PostPosted: Tue 12 Feb, 2019 5:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I just have to ask, because what is up with the English and just wacky looking hilts? I mean they are quite cool, but they almost look like fantasy rapiers!
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Daniel Parry




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PostPosted: Fri 15 Feb, 2019 3:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Sam

Some English rapiers of that period do look quite distinct from other rapier types. The black hilted English one with the mesh guard and the bars which connect top to bottom in almost a rectangle is unusual. It was sold at Christies many years before I acquired it and the specialist at the auction house noted it was an unusual feature, although the rest of the hilt is fairly typical of lightweight rapiers of the period.

The rapier with the steel bar blade and chequered pattern pommel and plates looks exotic but is a good example of a very English type adopted after swept hilts and before English dish hilts and mortuary-type hilts on cut and thrust swords came in. You can almost see the mortuary shape if you compress the bars together and flatten the guard in your mind (unless I am crazy !).


English rapiers in the early 17th century took a bit of an independent path from the rest of Europe I think. When types started to diverge from the swept hilt, in Europe you see the emergence of Pappenheimer and cup-hilt forms and other variants. I England you see the emergence of very light flat dish-hilts (like the petal guard one shown) with no knucklebow which have curled quillons and look a bit 'fantasy). I have had 4 of this type and none weighed more than 850g. You also have the English dish-hilts or 'Cavalier' type hilts with a knucklebow that you find on both lighter and longer bladed rapiers and shorter, more robust cut and thrust swords. But they are in my experience heavier than the simple dish-hilts with no knucklebow. The style of hilt of these then develops into the mortuary English hilt. The English dish-hilts also tend to be not that long: 371/2-40 inches from the guard (generally, I say, as as soon as you say that you find 10 examples that disprove the rule!).


England also developed the weird chiselled decorative style of the mortuary and early transitional rapier hilts of 1640s to 1660s, with the slightly haunting human faces and figures. I have a good transitional rapier in this style I got recently. Very distinct and slightly querky English style again.


But they do have a style of their own certainly. One of my friends had an English dish-hilt rapier which I nearly bought from him, and looking back probably should have. which had a pineapple theme throughout the hilt - pommel, guard, finials on the bars. It really was whacky, but a beautifully made sword.


Last edited by Daniel Parry on Sat 16 Feb, 2019 2:03 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Fri 15 Feb, 2019 5:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One thing that makes rapiers from this time period so interesting is the fact that there are swords with broader, diamond blades (your Type 3) that clearly can be used as military weapons and have obvious antecedents with medieval blades like Oakeshott Type XV and XVIII.

Here's a fine example from the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nürnberg.



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Daniel Parry




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PostPosted: Sat 16 Feb, 2019 9:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, I think that goes back to the question of what is a rapier. It's almost like don't judge a sword by its hilt. I think the breadth of style and function of these swords is wider than sometimes attributed. There are swords which appear civilian in use and possibly designed partly for duelling, swords in between that and military or at least more general use, and ones with rapier like hilts and appearance which are possibly military. Making clear distinctions is sometimes difficult. The military rapier or musketeer rapier I posted photos of has a very rapier-like blade with not much of an edge but is shorter and much more solid than most rapiers. Equally you find rapiers with an edge all along the blade, which are very different in potential function in terms of fencing style from the same period and they can be light-weight or heavier more robust swords closer to medieval swords in dimensions and handling. .


I think we have a love of categorising and compartmentalising things as I have been guilty of here but the reality is more fluid. I wonder often to what extent sword buyers at that time specified dimensions, type of blade and balance etc. Given they are so variable there seems to be potential for customer choice. But maybe not. Most of the English rapier blades I have had have Solingen marks just as the European ones do which are of different design. I wonder to what extent the blades were made for a specific market ?


I think what you are saying, Craig, is best illustrated in early 16th century swords. You see many examples of that period both in dimensions and balance and hilt design which are right in the middle of the medieval sword and the rapier. A friend picked up a beautiful early 16th century ring hilted one handed sword last year, it is light but a cut and thrust sword and it just sits in between whether it is a late medieval sword or an early rapier.
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Daniel Parry




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PostPosted: Sat 16 Feb, 2019 9:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I also realised how old my photo on this site is ! Add a beard and about 30lb. I was that young once. Big Grin
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Daniel Parry




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PostPosted: Yesterday at 5:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Continuing the theme of development of types, two examples of the last days of the rapier blade in the form of a transitional rapier and transitional smallsword. The difference between the two namings as far as I am concerned is they are transitional and one is closer to a rapier and one is closer to a smallsword overall.

First: English transitional rapier c.1660. This is one I recently acquired. It is a good example of its type. It has the characteristic grotesque figurehead work in that slightly rough style that is seen often in English mortuary swords. This is a distinct example in a transitional rapier. One of the advantages of this is that it dates it quite well at around 1660 or possibly a bit earlier putting it at the start of the transitional rapier period.


Blade is narrow type 2, the most long lived of the blade types I think and common in transitional rapiers which are the last form of rapiers.


Weight: 600gr
Blade length from guard: 331/2 inches
Slighly blade heavy as are almost all transitional rapiers I have handled of this period.



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Daniel Parry




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PostPosted: Yesterday at 5:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Second a transitional smallsword, about 20-30 years after the transitional rapier above. Blade is very rapier in form (narrow type 2 typical of this type and the last era of rapier blades) but getting shorter (30 1/2 inches) and the grip and quillons and shells are taking on the early features of the smallsword. Decoration is baroque and very well chiselled.

Apologies for the computer cables.

Weight: 349gr
Still a bit blade heavy but due to overall lightness of the sword and shorter dimensions it is hardly noticeable compared to the previous transitional rapier



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