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Rapier: HEN.M.214-1933

Object information

Current Location: Gallery 31 (Armoury)






Rapier, with mark on the blade. Italian, possibly Venetian. Conical pommel, lobed into five sections, each section carved into a series of upward overlaps. There is a strong well-shaped collar at the base. Grip of wood, bound with cord and covered with leather, with steel collars at top and bottom cut with vague acanthus shapes. Between these are baluster-shaped strips of steel which fit into grooves cut vertically into the wood core of the grip. Kunckle-guard, sharply out-turned at the top where it terminates in the head of an open mouthed and crested dragon's head. Halfway down, a counter-guard (loop-guard) runs diagonally downward to join the inside quillon. Just below the point from which this guard springs, the knuckle-guard goes into the mouth of another dragon's head. Vertically recurved quillons of oval section, each ending in dragons' heads en suite with those on the knuckle-guard. Well-formed cusped ecussons, with rather crudely carved floral decoration. Two branches of flat oval section. From the end of the outside branch, a short straight counter-guard projects forward, also ending in a dragon's head. From the end of the inside branch, a second smaller loop-guard joins the root of the back of the outside quillon. Each of these loop-guards has the same form as the knuckle-guard. Back-guard of two bars, the one a loop from the root of the back of the outside quillon to the end of the inside branch, the outer a short vertical bar joining the other back-guard. The end of this bar is carved into the form of a hand this loop-guard. Back-edge blade with an ill-defined ricasso and two narrow fullers running just over half-way down to the point.
There is a mark stamped on the ricasso on each side and a second one on each side of the blade.

Legal notes

J.S. Henderson Bequest

Measurements and weight

Length: 109.7 cm
Weight: 1.12 kg

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1933-03-16) by Henderson, James Stewart


16th Century, Mid#
Circa 1530 - 1560


Italian, possibly Venetian

The style of the hilt, particularly the form and decoration of the grip, suggests a Venetian origin, for these are several swords in the Doges Palace Armoury (the sale di Name del couriglic dei Dieci) which have similarities of construction. There is a sword in the Musee de l'Armee in Paris with a hilt of similar form. The style of its decoration is different, but the pommels are identical. (INV. No.P.O.1876). These hilts are of a type 32 in the Vesey Norman typology, and the pommels of pommel-type 25.

This sword has a magnificent hilt, the grip still has its original binding and the guards of the hilt have serpent head finials giving it a swirling movement reminiscent of the play of a sword fight.

Components of the work

Sword composed of steel
Grip Length 7.5 cm
Blade Length 95.1 cm
Quillons Width 15.5 cm
Blade At Hilt Width 3 cm

Inscription or legends present

  • Location: On blade
  • Method of creation: Inscribed
  • Type: Mark
  • Text: 214H
  • Type: Tag

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: HEN.M.214-1933
Primary reference Number: 18933
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 20 April 2021 Last processed: Thursday 3 August 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2023) "Rapier" Web page available at: Accessed: 2023-09-21 13:24:10

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{{cite web|url= |title=Rapier |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2023-09-21 13:24:10|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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