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Old 24th July 2018, 08:23 PM   #1
midelburgo
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Default XVIIIth century Philippine Colonial sword

A year ago I found the sword below, stacked in an umbrella stand among walking sticks at a local antiquarian show in Spain, the seller did not know anything about it, including how to pick it in his hand.
For a while, I thought it could be from a former Spanish virreynato, maybe Nueva Granada (mostly Colombia now). Later, a few clues indicated these swords were coming from the Philippines. Maybe from the end of the XVIIth century to middle XVIIIth. The Estruch catalog from his collection (1896) described the entry 1312 as found in Bulacan (Philippines). The catalog is online now and it has a small collection of non-Europeans weapons, resembling that of Buttin.
The blade of this one could be a century older than the hilt or rather more. The long fuller is reminiscent of XVth century blades as the one of Fernando El Catolico. One can only imagine the places this piece of metal has been since abandoning Europe. Maybe it even took part in the undoing of the Aztec empire before embarking at Acapulco in a returning Manila galleon.
The ricasso is built with a brass piece. There is something illegible scratched on the blade. In other pieces, there are what seem to be unit markings. The grip is made of horn and the rings and the spiral ribbon that cover it are silver.
This sort of swords is not described anywhere as a group. They usually get the generic “colonial Spanish” what is not far from the mark.
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Last edited by midelburgo : 24th July 2018 at 09:27 PM.
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Old 24th July 2018, 08:24 PM   #2
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Up to now, I have located another 10 swords of this type.

1-Estruch Collection (Probably at Musee de l’armee, Paris, now).

2-Victor Balaguer Museum (Vilanova y la Geltru, Spain). A small collection with a room dedicated to the Philippines.

3-Musee de l’ Armee. I am not sure about the relationship with it but it surfaced in a Google search. It is not the one from Estruch.

4-From Fernando, in this fórum. I think that blade is also quite older than XVIIIth century.
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=5952

5-Hunting Auctions 2015. It has the “No me saques sin razón” motto.

6-Inscribed "Viva el rey de Espanna". Brass pommel.

7-Constructed from a 1728 Bilbo, with brass decorations on the guard.. Also "Viva el rey de Espanna". This picture was hanged in a discussion at swordforum. It has a unit code starting with BsB, same as number 4.

8-My umbrella finding.

9-Ref 1-1700-F from Vicente Toledo recopilation. Pipe back blade.
10-Ref 1-1700-E Vicente Toledo recopilation.
11-Ref 1-1736-A Vicente Toledo recopilation.

Even when these swords share a group of distinctive characteristics. Lobated dish, brass decorations in the hilt, horn grips with silver covers… They do not seem to come from the same workshop. They rather seem to be current Spanish swords that have been “philippinized”. Possibly to become part of a local institution, militia or whatever. Some are clearly infantry, others cavalry. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 9 have a characteristic troncoconical pommel. Numbers 4, 7 and 8, at least have what seem like unit identification or rack numbers.
Some blades look quite old, some need a brass ricasso what is weird for Spanish XVIth, XVIIth or XVIIIth centuries blades. Other are just state of the art for the middle XVIIIth century.
The older hilts could be from the end of XVIIth century, the newer from the middle of XVIIIth century. The one I numbered as 7 seems like a modified 1728 model cavalry sword. Number 11 seems like the last gasp of this type, only the spiral grip covered in silver is clearly there. It has a number 1736, that could be a date. The work seems to be native for the most part.
Somehow I think the end of the construction of these swords and possibly its dispersal came when Manila was taken by the British in 1762 and occupied for some 20 months. Something of an ill valued historical importance (Cook travels for example used the secret Portuguese and Spanish cartography found in Manila in the occasion).
I have searched for similar examples still extant in the Philippine museums, but I found nothing. Probably the Japanese occupation and the battle of Manila destroyed whatever could be left Intramuros.
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Last edited by midelburgo : 24th July 2018 at 10:13 PM.
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Old 24th July 2018, 09:18 PM   #3
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The last three swords come from the recopilation of Spanish swords made by Vicente Toledo.
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File Type: pdf ESPADA CAZOLETA DE PLACA1736 .pdf (422.9 KB, 249 views)
File Type: pdf ESPADA DE TAZA colonial 22.pdf (445.5 KB, 244 views)
File Type: pdf ESPADA DE TAZA colonial 21.pdf (453.5 KB, 252 views)
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Old 15th August 2018, 08:45 PM   #4
fernando
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Interesting. They may indeed come from different workshops, but the attitude follows identical standards; like the guard dish decoration in both (one of) Toledo's example and that of Fernando.

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Old 23rd January 2019, 04:33 PM   #5
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One of the swords from the posts above, which I numbered as 11 and it is described in Vicente Toledo article "Espada de cazoleta de placa" appeared in 2018 in an antiquities market web (not available anymore).

The interesting part is that there were included pictures with details not visible in Toledo's article. Unnoticed to the seller, I could see that the blade contains the logo of the Dutch East Indies company, VOC, section Amsterdam.

It is usual that the VOC blades from the XVIIIth century are dated, so 1736 must be when this one was made. It is not surprising that a VOC sword would be rehilted at Manila, in the style used there.

In my first post, I missed that in the Estruch catalog next to the sword 1312, there is another, 1311, not as peculiar, but which was also found in Bulacan, Phillipines. This sword (which I will number 12 for my purposes) seems very similar to the "1736".

VOC straight swords or sabers are not that common. I include some from 1749, 1742, 1771 and the second in the drawing (from Puype) is 1732.
Other threads about remounted VOC blades:
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...dies+Company%29
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...dies+Company%29
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Old 11th November 2019, 05:49 PM   #6
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A new example (number 13th) of these swords surfaced six months ago in Spain.

This has the inscriptions:

“POR MI LEY Y POR MI REY”.

And the name of owner, province, village and rack number:
“Dn. Pantaleon Espineli – Cavite – Yndang – Nº 26”.

I believe number 11 and number 12 have lost their brass decorations.
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Old 11th November 2019, 07:31 PM   #7
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Very ...very nice .
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