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Composite 17C / 19C Spanish-Italian Cup Hilt Rapier (Sold)

I believe this to be a composite 19th Century Italian hilt, 17th Century Spanish "two handed" blade, cup hilt rapier.

Composite 17C / 19C Spanish-Italian Cup Hilt Rapier17th / 19th Century Spanish-Italian Cup Hilt Rapier

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This is the largest sword I have ever handled. The blade is almost certainly 17th Century with a later 19th Century (strict) cup hilt replacing a likely old damaged stylized cup or even cross hilt. This is substantiated by the fact the blade has two types of engraving on it, one type on each side. On the one side the word “Honor” can clearly be seen stamped into the blade (with indeterminable wording before it), which is typically 17th Century. On the other side gold / gilt etched word “Pistorium” can be seen; the same gold / gilt as used on the pommel of the hilt. 17th Century blades were regularly stamped with honor statements such as “No me embaines sin honor” (Do not sheath me without honor), which is Spanish, so I suspect the blade is just that. The later gilt / gold etched word “Pistorium” is a Latin variation of the ancient town now called “Pistoia” in Tuscany, Italy; known to be responsible for the name “pistole” (a form of dagger) which then went on to become “pistol” (a hand gun). It is quite possible a merchant from Pistoia bought an old Spanish sword for the blade and had it re-hilted.

The blade is an almighty 47.5 inches (120 cm) long, with the sword a massive 57.8 inches (147 cm) in total length. It is hard to imagine how someone could even draw a sword like this from a sheath or scabbard, let alone fight with it, but blades of this length were made for combat and the Spanish and Italians of the day were considered to be the top sword men of the day. It is even possible the blade was originally in a so called two handed sword, as the 16th and 17th Centuries saw these massive swords being favored by many European armies for their specialist and very strong swordsmen. If you look into the cup of the hilt from the grip you will see the tang continues outside the grip (still within the cup) some distance before expanding as the blade once it exits the hilt. You can hold this sword with two hands as it is, although your second hand will rest on the pommel; but with that extra tang section length the former grip may well have been two handed in design (if the original sword was cross, not cup hilt).

The blade is actually in very good condition and you would not want to be on the sharp / receiving end of it even today. You can easily see a patterning to the blade which I do not think for one moment is caused by age; the blade was obviously very well made indeed. The blade is still firm in the hilt and the grip, though worn, is complete.

Further pictures available upon request. My item reference number 160 (15)

 

 

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