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Thread: Spanish sword

  1. #1
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    Spanish sword

    This Spanish sword seems to date to around 1700. Its overall length is 108cm, blade length 91.5cm and blade width where it meets the hilt is 2.5cm. It has a squashed ball shaped pommel, leather covered grip (looks like a Cuban cigar), double concha shells guard, and swept quillons. The ricasso has a different stamped mark in cartouche on each side which looks like Toledo marks? The blade has a single fuller at the centre and the tip is rounded which makes me wonder if it might have been broken off and re-sharpened. The end of the blade is very flexible/springy.

    To me it looks like a military cavalry blade because of the lenth and width of the blade. It looks like it belonged to a junior officer because it’s relatively plain but definitely not munitions grade.

    I would be grateful for any comments on this sword, which I find overall very attractive. Does anyone recognize the marks stamped on the ricasso?
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  2. #2
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    I think these are called Espada de Concha. When I saw your posts on Spanish colonial swords my eyes opened to the beauty of Iberian swords. The maker’s mark which I enlarged looks to me like the torso of a gentleman wearing a sash across his chest and ostrich plumes arranged above his head? I think I have seen this mark before but can’t recall where. The mark on the other side is very difficult to reach because of the angle of the concha shell. I will try to use a small mirror to get a better view.

    Also as correction, I should have referred to ”S” shaped quillon rather than ”swept” I guess.

  3. #3
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    The S qullion hilts seem to be an18th century style. It is a beautiful piece with my interest drawn to the pig skin grip, well or some similar skin. Very interesting indeed. I don't think military looking at the blade. What is the context of where it was found? Eric
    Last edited by Eric Fairbanks; 11-21-2017 at 06:39 PM. Reason: For magnus
    The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people." --- Tench Coxe

  4. #4
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    Hello, gentlemen.

    I think that you have a cavalry officer's sword, from mid-18th century as Eric stated. This hilt form, a bilobulate shell, is known in Spanish as 'espada de conchas', or 'de boca de caballo', the second name coming from a non-conclusive origin.

    The blade could be earlier, and perhaps made for a different sword, most likely a rapier. The mark could be a 'T' and an 'O' superposed (difficult to tell, I admit), under a ducal crown. A mark usually attributed to Toledo makers, but quite often counterfeited in Solingen.

    Ah! I think the grip is a later, quite crude restoration. Normally these swords had wire-covered grips, with more of an oval shape.

    Best,
    JJ
    SI, SI
    NO, NON

  5. #5
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    double post or web site trouble? I could not submit the reply with quote and pics in the same post.
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    Last edited by Magnus K; 11-21-2017 at 03:45 PM.

  6. #6
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    Many thanks for your comments Juan. I struggle to see the blade as a rapier but guess the definition is flexible. The blade doesn’t taper that much to the tip which is rounded. The edges are sharp although the blade is not rigid stiff at the end. At least the conchas and the guarda de polvo are made for the blade with the right width. I attach some more pics of the stamps, which I now reckon are the same on both sides. With some imagination I could say it looks like a crown above a blob which could be an O and something that looks like a T with hanging arms from the cross bar. I previously thought the O might be a man’s head and the T the torso.

  7. #7
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    It is my belief most of the Solingen and Toledo swords returned home with the Spanish troops when their service was up. Most of the pieces I find in Mexico are broken, rehilted in a different fashion or blades made in Oaxaca or San Louis Potisi. I am sure many of the old swords found in Spain from the colonial period could very well have saw service in Spains armys here. Eric
    The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people." --- Tench Coxe

  8. #8
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    I think I found it in Staffan Kinman’s excellent book on the subject!
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  9. #9
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    You got it! In a second thought I admit it didn't look like a real T + O...

    Please, please, let us know what the book says about the maker...

    JJ
    SI, SI
    NO, NON

  10. #10
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    Juan, Kinman’s book suggests that the maker is Juan Martinez of Toledo. He lists the mark, alongside the more commonly seen half moon symbol which was sometimes prominently displayed on the blade of German copies. This raises the question whether my blade is a German copy, and whether copiers would bother to stamp the ricasso with the cartouche mark in discrete places behind the conchas shells where they are not easily viewed? The blade may well be older than the hilt as you suggested earlier.

    I attach a couple of more photos of the distinctive fuller on the blade, and the rounded tip (where the blade is still a good 1.5cm before the tip).
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  11. #11
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    Well, I think that Kinman is a bit confused here. According to Palomares' list of makers, compiled in 1762 and not perfect, but a reasonable and almost contemporary reference, the half moon was attributed to Juan Martín, a different maker than Juan Martínez el viejo (the Elder), and Juan Martínez el mozo (the Young), and neither of them used a fleur-de-lis as a mark. Which in fact would have been quite strange, being France at 16-17th centuries a traditional enemy of Spain. The Young used a mark that may be confused with a fleur-de-lis at a distance, but it is in the shape of a chandelier with three candles, while yours looks like a real fleur-de-lis.

    However, Palomares lists in fact a mark with a crowned fleur-de-lis, but he simply states that the maker is from Toledo, but unknown. Probably a foreign maker (a French one?), I'd dare to say.

    Best,
    JJ
    SI, SI
    NO, NON

  12. #12
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    Juan, I can easily see how confusion can arise as people in the old days would often sign their names with different spelling, and would sometimes sign using local variations of their names depending on language used, etc. But one would assume that Palomares would know whether the people were different or the same. In any case Kinman would not have been the only one to confuse the Juan Martinez/Martin bladesmiths; I found this seemingly well informed article which also lists the half moon mark alongside the fleur-de-lis

    http://rcin.org.pl/Content/54821/WA3...uan-Mart_I.pdf

    Kinman’s book mentioned a sword belonging to Swedish king Karl X Gustav in the Livrustkammaren, which carries the half moon sign and the Solingen running wolf marks on the blade and is believed to be a 17thC German made copy. I see it as a positive that my sword is marked with the cartouche fleur-de-lis symbol on the ricasso, and not the widely copied half moon and running wolf symbols. The sword was found in Italy but looks Spanish to me.

  13. #13
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    I found this Spanish sword at the Hofjagd- und rustkammer (Imperial Armoury) in Vienna. It shows that some of these Spanish swords and rapiers had grips covered in leather.
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  14. #14
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    Hi Magnus

    I think the sword above has just lost it wire wrapping. I can't recall seeing rapiers of the high quality with plain leather grips.

    Cheers Cathey

  15. #15
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    Hi Cathey,

    It’s a possibility, but then we would see a wooden grip unless the owner decided to cover it in leather instead of restoring the wire wrapping? There may have been reasons for owners to sometimes prefer leather instead of wire covered grips. The owner would have been the Emperor of Austria who must have been one of the richest people on earth at the time. Then there’s the ”Black Swan” analogy: just because you haven’t observed any doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Leather covered grips might be more rare as this material is less likely to survive intact for so long unless stored unused in an armoury. I attach another (more plain admittedly) examle below from a recent Hermann Historica auction.

    Best wishes for the New Year 2018,
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