Object Title

Sword - Rapier

Sword - Rapier



Object Number



From the Liechtenstein collection (but not necessarily old Liechtenstein property), no. 1744 in the catalogue of arms and armour at Schloss Varduz prepared by Dr Camillo List of the Waffensammlung and Dr John of the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum, Vienna; part of a large purchase from this source by Bashdord Dean and sold on by him at the American Art Association Sale, 19-20 Nov., 1926, Lot 59; this lot bought by 'Leo', probably the dealer Ansel S. Leo of New York, whose remaining collection was sold at Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, on April 25-26, 1951 (but the present sword not identifiable in that catalogue); at some time after this in the Marzoli Collection, Brescia (CHK D. of D.). [This information supplied by Stuart W. Phyrr]

Physical Description

The iron hilt (Norman (1980) type 42) has a roughly circular pommel of lenticular section, the faces chiselled with incised radiating lines to resemble cockleshells (Norman type 12). The hilt has a pair of quillons which expand towards the blade at their junction to form triangular langets. The quillons support arms on the ends of which is a rectilinear side-ring at right-angles to the plane of the blade, outside the hand. The rear quillon is very much longer than the forward quillon and is twisted round until it touches the knuckle-guard. The forward quillon is twisted round until its expanded tip almost touches the centre of the side-ring. There is a right-angled peg, with a spheroid terminal, extending inside the hand from the end of the forward arm. The knuckle-guard is flattened at right angles to the plane of the blade and, like the quillons and the side-ring, has raised margins. The surfaces of all the guards, both inside and outside the hand, are decorated with a shallow linear, engraved design which has the remains of gilding and includes, on the wider guards, scale-work, scroll-work and winged head. Engraved lines also decorate the ribs of the pommel which also has remains of gilding. The wooden grip, now lacking its covering, has longitudinal grooves and a tapered ferrules at either end, the edges of which are decorated with single lines.

The straight, double-edged blade is of extreme flattened hexagonal shape for most of its length, tapering uniformly towards a somewhat rounded tip. There is a central fuller on each side extending for approx. 200 mm. and a ricasso approx. 40 mm long. At the ricasso the forward edge is cut to form a cusped profile, in order to accommodate the forefinger placed over the crossguard.

Condition, at July 2001 (presumed to be same as on acquisition): The hilt has been oxidised overall with corrosion or wear to the edges of some of the bars. The decoration has almost all worn off the inside of the arms of the hilt. The edges of the blade have a few minor nicks and the extreme blade tip is bent very slightly outwards.


Chiselled, Engraving, Gilding



OverallLength1115 mm
OverallWeight1205 g
BladeLength960 mm
BladeWidth38 mm

Inscriptions and Marks

A cross with thee small diamonds above giving the overall shape of a double cross (incompletely struck on inside).
On blade, on both sides, approx. 240 and 270 mm from hilt
Stamp (composite)


Places Italy/Europe

Bibliographic References

A.V.B. Norman and C.M. Barne, The Rapier and Small-Sword, 1460-1820, London etc., 1980, p. 111 ('collection of the Prince of Liechtenstein' - before acquisition by the Royal Armouries).

anon. [S. Bevan], 'Liechtenstein Sword reappears', The Armourer (Royal Armouries newsletter), Summer 1988 (small ill. showing hilt and top of blade).

Dorling Kindersley, Weapon. A visual history of arms & armour, Dorling Kindersley Ltd, London, 2006, p. 111 (col. illus, 2nd from top).


For the dating of the hilt and pommel types, for comparable examples and representations in paintings etc. see Norman and Barne 1980, pp. 110-11, 242.


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