Object Title

Rapier

Rapier

Date

1560-1600

Object Number

IX.1494 A

Provenance

Excavated from the River thames at Queenhithe, London, by Mr. D. S. Hunt in 1976.

Physical Description

Iron 'swept-hilt' consisting of a rear quillon and knuckle-guard supporting arms with a side-ring outside the hand, filled with a plate pierced with chevrons. a second larger side-ring mounted on the ends of the arms on the outside of the hand and inclined towards the hilt is linked to the knuckle-guard by a short loop-guard. the innerguard consists of three branching curved bars springing from the root of the knuckle-guard, one linked to the end of each arm and the other joining the rear arm, a little way from its end. The hilt is decorated on the outside with longitudinal mouldings, the knuckle-guard, and side-rings with central knops. The pommel is round in section with almost straight, fluted sides converging slightly towards the top. Wooden grip covered with longitudinal and transverse bands of multiple brass wire in a basket-work pattern.
The blade is long, straight, double-edged and with a pronounced, rounded, medial. ridge. The faces of the ricasso are slightly concave.

Materials

Dimensions

Dimensions: Overall length: 1280 mm (50 1/4 in), blade length: 1115 mm (43 1/2 in) Weight: 1355 gm (3 lb)

Inscriptions and Marks

None.

Associations

Places England

Notes

Hilts of this general type appear to have been used throughout Europe, including England from about 1585 to 1640 (see AVB Norman 'The Rapier and Small-sword', London, 1980, pp.127-9). This particular hilt is very similar to one illustrated in the portrait of John Shirley, British School, dated 1588 (MEt. Mus. of Art, N.Y.;Acc. No. 51-194-2). A hilt of Type 53 similarly decorated is on a sword (possibly excavated locally) in Christchurch Manor, Ipswich (Reg. No. R. 1945-90A). Another Type 53 hilt dated 1594, again very similarly decorated and with asimilar by-knife to that of IX.1494 was at the Museum of London in 1980. It also came from Queenhithe.
A Dagger with guards of sdimilar section and apommel of the same type, also ribbed and fluted, and also from Queenhithe, is in the collection of the Royal Armouries (X.589) It is dated on the blade (1595[?]).
A comparable hilt with a differnt type of pommel, dated 1589, is in the Tojhusmuseet, Copenhagen, Denmark (Inv. No. C237/42) while adagger, very like the Copenhagen sword is at Veste-Coburg and is dated in the guard 1587.
For another similar hilt in the Royal Armouries see IX.2086 and also IX.1018.
Found near the sword was a dagger, perhaps belonging to it and now in the collection of R. B. Smith (see photographs in BRITISH COLLECTIONS/PRIVATE/ RB SMITH). The dagger has arched quillons and side-ring, a square pommel, a similar grip to the sword and ablade with a pronounced medial ridge.
For previous location history, see general entry under this number.