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Thread: Mortuary Swords and related hilts

  1. #26
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Roanoke,Va USA
    Posts
    1,625
    Mortuary swords...oh my. Been a long time since I've been to SFI and what a wonderful thing to see started by Eljay.
    billgoodwin333@yahoo.com

    "I was born for this" - Joan of Arc

  2. #27
    Hi Bill,
    I was wondering when you'd show up!

  3. #28
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    288

    Maidenhead Mortuary Rapier

    Hi Guys

    Sadly I have only two Mortuary’s in my collection, however I have two English rapiers that are close relatives and this is the first one.

    Date c1630-1640
    Nationality British
    Overall Length 98.1 cm (38.6 inches)
    Blade length 84.8 cm (33.4 inches)
    Blade widest point 2.162 (0.9 inches.)
    Hilt widest point 15 cm (5.9 inches)
    Inside grip length 7.2 (2.8 inches)
    Marks, etc. Blade makers name Peter Munsten and anchor mark

    Description
    Maidenhead Rapier, so called because of the female head forming the pommel, bears the mark of Nuremburg master Peter Munsten. The guard constructed of highly chiselled shallow shell guard on one side featuring a woman’s head and torso, female faces and decorative foliage. Quillions terminate in Maidenheads right one down, left curved up. The Shell is joined to the upper ring by two curing arms and the ring has another Male face at its centre. To the rear of the guard is a third quillion turned down towards the blade, again terminating in a Maidenhead. It appears to be an ornate thumb ring. Two edged slender blade with makers name in the fuller. Dark patina overall.

    General Remarks
    Munstan was one of many continental masters who were given royal sponsorship to establish their workshops in England to raise the standards of local production. The guard decoration is reminiscent of English civil wars swords featuring King Charles and Henrietta.

    References:
    BLACKMORE, David ARMS & ARMOUR OF THE ENGLISH CIVIL WARS pp 36 plate 49
    NORMAN, A.V.B. THE RAPIER AND THE SMALL-SWORD 1460-1820 pp193 plate 66

    Cheers Cathey and Rex
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  4. #29
    Nice rapier, Cathey! And interestingly, it's made to lie flat against one's body when carrying it.

  5. #30
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    288

    Maidenhead Rapier in Mortuary style

    Hi Guys

    This is the other rapier I have that has mortuary type hilt decoration.

    Nationality: British
    Date: c1621-1630
    Maker/Retailer: Blade Tomas de Aiala Toledo
    Overall Length: 38” 96.4 cm
    Blade length: 31” 76 cm
    Blade widest point: 6/8” 2.2 cm
    Hilt widest point: 7 5/8” 19.4 cm
    Inside grip length: 3 6/8” 9 cm

    Description
    Maidenhead Rapier c1621-1630
    Hilt in the Mortuary style with remints of engraved faces on the guard and a distinctive Women’s head pommel. The typical slender rapier blade is marked in the fuller Aiala for Tomas de Aiala Toledo.

    General Remarks
    Tomas de Aiala Toledo, Ayala or Aiala, Tomas De – Toledo and Seville, Spain, 1566-1620. Sword smith to Philip II and father of Luis De Ayala 1621-1630.

    References:
    BLACKMORE, David ARMS & ARMOUR OF THE ENGLISH CIVIL WARS pp36 Figure 49
    NORMAN, A.V.B. THE RAPIER AND THE SMALL-SWORD 1460-1820 pp 192 Plate 66

    Cheers Cathey and Rex Brimage
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  6. #31
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Kingston area, Ontario Canada
    Posts
    3,093
    My first Mortuary sword depicting a horseman holding a sword and wearing a sash flowing rearward. Faces on guard bars and bearded face with feather in cap/helmet possibly King Charles 1st.
    Double fullered 32 3/4 inch blade. Pommel has faces and the guard bars attached to it have old repairs.
    Any input greatly appreciated, this is an earlier period that I'm not well versed on.
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  7. #32
    Hi Will,
    That's a pretty decent Mort. What I like is the non-standard decoration of the cavalryman, the helmeted profile head at the knucklebow, and those really unique grotesque faces at the scrolled terminals of the side knucklebows!
    The blade may be military from the 1700s, but it's hard to tell for sure from the photos.
    Is the grip wire bound?

    --ElJay

  8. #33
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Kingston area, Ontario Canada
    Posts
    3,093
    Hello ElJay yes the grip has iron wire. The blade to me appeared a bit later but the large fuller starts much further down the blade then the later blade types I've seen Name:  101_0497.jpg
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    It has a false edge about 10 inches long beginning at the end of the thin fuller.. Faces and what looks like simplified figures on pommel.

  9. #34
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    288
    Very nice pick up Will, interesting variation on the design as well, thanks for posting.

    Cheers Cathey and Rex

  10. #35
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    288

    Cromwellian ‘Mortuary’ Sword

    Period: 17th Century

    Description:
    The ‘mortuary hilt’, was so called because it was thought that the head decoration they carried commemorated the martyred Charles I. These swords were widely used and would have been carried by Covenanters as well as both sides during the civil wars.

    A wolf mark on the blade of this one represents the town of Solingen where it was probably made. It also carries an inscription representing Andrea dei Ferari, a sword-smith of Belluno, near Venice, whose signature was widely copied at Solingen.

    Place of Production: Britain (hilt), Solingen, Germany (blade)
    Source: Dean Castle
    Accession number: MA/S120

    Cheers Rex and Cathey
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  11. #36
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    Hi all,
    Hoping these photos come through ok of a recent acquisition of what seems could be an older 17th cent Mortuary sword re-hilted with a mid 18th cent Sterling type basket hilt.
    The pommel although rather worn seems to resemble closely some of the Mort pommels here and others seen online.

    What do the experts think?
    Cheers Heath. (New Scottish military collector

    Mid 18th century highland back sword with globular pommel, wooden handle
    Weight 1.2kg
    Blade length 84cm
    Blade width 3.5cm at base
    Sword 101cm
    Centre balance 7cm from hilt base
    Last edited by Heath Mc; 03-08-2016 at 12:24 AM.

  12. #37
    A few more pics
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  13. #38
    Hello Heath,
    Interesting sword!

    The pommel on your sword probably does date to the ECW period, but I think that it's from a rapier rather than a Mortuary sword. One possible way to tell is to count the plugged screw holes in the pommel: if there are none, or there is only one, then it's most likely from a rapier. If there are 2-3 plugged holes, then a Mort origin is more likely.

    From the photos, I think that the blade and basket are both from the 1700s (typical 1700s English military blade with narrow and wide fuller), and the pommel is the only element from the 1600s.

    You should probably post this on the "Baskethilt" thread and see what others say.

    --ElJay

  14. #39
    Thanks very much ElJay, that info is very useful and sounds to be on the mark.
    There are not any plug holes in the pommel, however there is a single shallow indent half way up that looked like it could be from a screw tightening point? You can just make it out in the pommel photo. Or is this just a wear point as the screws had to go in much deeper?

    Will def post in the basket hilt thread.
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    Heath

  15. #40
    Hi Heath,
    There appears to be a plugged screw hole right below that odd indent. But this could just as well be a worn decorative element; it's tough to tell from the photos!

    --ElJay

  16. #41
    Hi ElJay,

    Yes you are correct! I've just returned from holidays and on closer inspection that is definitely a plug hole. I can't determine if there are any others due to wear.
    The reason I thought it could be a mortuary pommel is that there are a number of photo's I have come across of Mort swords with very similar dimensions and almost identical pattern, as per the attached.
    For my education benefit, what are the main characteristics that lead to thinking it is a rapier pommel?Name:  image.jpg
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  17. #42
    Hi Heath,
    I think that the main thing that made me think "rapier" is the size of the pommel. It appears to be rather large in comparison the the basket it's mounted on. I'm not saying that Morts all have smallish pommels, but yours just looks too big. Of course, this could just be an artifact of the photos, in which case I made a lucky guess!

    --ElJay

  18. #43

    I own this sword

    Hi Cathey and Rex,

    I thought you might be interested- In Feb 2009 I purchased this sword. According to a very good friend at the Royal Armouries in Leeds who authenticated it for me, the missing “ferrules” were more than likely silk - long rotted away.

    Being a fencer (retired) and being born within cycling distance of Edge Hill (1st battle of the English Civil Wars) this type of sword is of particular interest to me.

    Best wishes

    David
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  19. #44
    Hello David,
    NIce Mort in superb condition! Is this one the same sword that Cathey pictured on the first page?

    I'm an ex-saber fencer (I still teach it to students who want to give it a try), and fencing was what ignited my interest in antique swords.

    --ElJay

  20. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by E.B. Erickson View Post
    Hello David,
    NIce Mort in superb condition! Is this one the same sword that Cathey pictured on the first page?

    I'm an ex-saber fencer (I still teach it to students who want to give it a try), and fencing was what ignited my interest in antique swords.

    --ElJay
    Hi ElJay,

    It certainly is the same, I instantly recognised it when I was googling to see what was around. I had to join the sword forum and share it with Cathey. My friend at the Armouries (also a fencer) suggested I might like to donate it - he has a sense of humour.

    Epee was my weapon - when I fought Sabreurs they seemed to hate being hit on the wrist by the point - too much thrashing around for me lol.

    Dave

  21. #46
    I forgot to add - look closely at the blade, there are a number of “knicks” caused by contact with another blade (the angle etc is just right).

  22. #47
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Posts
    158
    Juan mentioned interesting Walloon influences. Probus in Stockholm had an interesting Walloon style mortuary sword, I think, in their November auction. I found the attached on the subject.
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