A Silver-Encrusted Rapier, c. 1610

2988 3 v2

Item ref: 2988

  • Possibly German
  • Steel, iron, silver, wood and brass
  • 124 cm /48.8 in


Dr Zwanger Collection, USA
Private collection, USA

Giles Duwes, in his English-French dictionary of 1532/3 translated the French word rapiere as ‘the Spannyshe sworde’. There seems little doubt that it was in 15th century Spain that the rapier had its origins. Spanish documents of 1468 and 1503 refer to it as the espada ropera or ‘robe sword’, suggesting that it was from the outset seen as a weapon intended for wear with civilian costume. By 1475 the Spanish term had entered the French language as espee rapiere which was in due course abbreviated to rapiere.

This rapier is an attractive and well-preserved example of a kind fashionable in Northern Europe during the first third of the 17thcentury. Its inner guard is of a form classified academically as 'type 30' and is recorded in portraits and paintings dating between 1577 and 1618.