Sword and scabbard

1600-20 (made)

Sadeler, Daniel

Length: 1193 mm, Width: 245 mm, Depth: 120 mm, Weight: 1.15 kg [Sword] Length: 118.8 cm whole, Width: 24.4 cm quillons, Depth: 12.2 cm guard, Length: 97.3 cm blade from guard

M.64-1950 MET

Sword with a chiselled steel hilt, blued against a gilt ground, by Daniel or Emanuel Sadeler, Prague or Munich, the blade signed 'Alonso Perez en Toledo', 1600-20

[Sword] The hilt of steel, chiselled and blued against a gilt ground, with mythological figures after the designs of Etienne Delaune. The swept hilt has a flattened oval pommel with button (button added at the V&A in 1950), straight quillons (crossbars) and knuckle guard. The chiselled decoration on the hilt consists of strapwork, foliage, masks, grotesques, fruit, trophies of arms and figures of: 1. Mars (pommel) 2. Diana (pommel) 3. Perseus (centre of knuckle guard) 4. Vulcan (centre of large side ring) 5. Ceres (centre of small side ring) The spirally fluted wooden grip is bound with twisted brass wire. The two-sided blade is straight and slender and is signed in the fuller (narrow groove near the hilt) on each side: 'DE ALONSO PE' and 'REZ EN TOLEDO'. The rectangular ricasso has two slightly concave faces stamped with the town mark of Toledo and a crowned shield bearing the letter 'S'. The Toledo mark is repeated on each side of the ricasso.

This is one of the finer swords in the Museum's collection. It may have originally come from the armoury of the Electors of Bavaria. The chiselling of the hilt is exceptionally fine and is based on designs by the French engraver Etienne Delaune. The blade is a high quality Toledo blade signed by the prestigious maker Alonso Perez. Perez worked at the shop of the famous swordmaker, Gil de Almau who produced several swords were for the Emperor Charles V and his son Philip II of Spain Swords were not just weapons but important decorative elements in masculine costume. They were symbols of honour and rank for their owners throughout Europe. The most common sword worn by gentlemen with their civilian dress from the middle of the 16th century onwards was the rapier. From 1560 it was applied almost exclusively to a fencing sword for civilian use. It was usual for rapiers to be accompanied by matching daggers. The rapier was a thrusting and slashing weapon with a slender light blade, while the dagger was more robust, used primarily for parrying and for thrusting in close. Rapier scabbards were suspended from a belt in a form of sling while the dagger was generally worn in a sheath on the left hip. The classic rapier of the period 1570-1630 had a ‘swept’ hilt like this one. This was made up of interlinked bars and rings in front of and behind the guard sweeping in an elegant curve from the rear of the hilt to the knuckle guard. It afforded much more protection for the hand than the older straight quillons but was still not immune from the thrust of a thin rapier blade.

Historical significance: This is one of the finer swords in the Museum's collection. It may have originally come from the wardrobe of the Electors of Bavaria as the Sadelers worked at the Court there. The blade is a fine Toledo blade by the prestigious maker Alonso Perez. Perez worked at the shop of the famous swordmaker, Gil de Almau who produced several swords for the Emperor Charles V and his son Philip II of Spain, several of which survive in the Real Armeria in Madrid.

Transferred from the Royal United Services Museum

Location: In Storage

View this object on the V&A website