Artifact of the Day

697

Rapier

Western Europe (about 1600-1650)

Steel, double-edged narrow fullered blade of flattened hexagonal section for almost all of its length, becoming flattened diamond section just before the point. There is a long, stout ricasso of rectangular section, with the obverse and reverse having shallow parallel fullers. Below these, at the necked shoulder, the forte on both faces has deep, narrow fullers side-by side, terminating in pointed ends at about 1/4 of the blade length. At this point the faces are cut and punched with a stylized cross; the fullers are cut with IVANI (Juani) between a pair of oblique lines at either end. The fullers on the obverse of the ricasso each have a small mark consisting of what appears to be a cross, to either side of which are reversed "SO", the whole within a shield-shaped frame, and surmounted by a crude crown. The reverse face retains traces of only one mark, but this seems to be reversed, ie showing the "SO" characters properly.

Iron, blackened hilt with traces of modern gilding, not of any immediately recognizable type in Norman, although there are similarities to his no. 46 et al. It consists of a stout quillon block with short, pointed ecusson on both faces, and crossguards vertically recurved in the plane of the blade, of diamond secton, with flattened, swollen terminals with necked oblated teats, and set off from the branches by low mouldings. The guards are linked by a large oval side ring of similar form, with a flattened baluster treatment at mid-length, made like the terminals. A pair of arms of the hilt extending from the base support large side rings fitted with bossed, pierced plates (rear lost), and bent towards the pommel. The front ring is fashioned en suite with that above, but that of the reverse is of stock that crosses over at the level of the quillon block, with an elliptical void between , then extends at nearly right angles to the plane of the blade and linked to the base of the quillons. The base of the hilt is pierced with an oval opening for the blade.

Extending from the base of the forward quillon, curving outward, then asymmetrically in again and terminated in a flattened rounded lug at the side of the pommel, is a knuckle guard formed similarly to the side-rings, with terminal riveted to the necked pommel with a button. The top of the guard is unusually secured by a rivet (perhaps a short stalk form the pommel, peaned over), rather than a screw.

The iron pommel is discoidal, flattish at the sides that are carved to represent graduated scales overlapping away from a central raised rib. The basal sides of the pommel curve inward to a necked base, and at the rounded top is a stout button, flattened above. The peaned tang is visible, and tool-worked.

Wooden grip of square section, slightly swelling to the middle, longitudinally grooved on four faces, wrapped with alternating plain and twisted iron wire, and having brass "Turk's heads" at the ends.

The hilt is blackend, now showing a deep brownish hue (subsurface rusting?). Traces of gilding are found overall, but this is definitely modern. There is isolated decoration on both faces of the pommel, but only on the obverse of the quillon tips, and mid-length of the knuckle guard and side rings. The obverse of hilt elements are decorated with foliate motifs and circles on a plain ground, and the pommel faces have floral motifs.