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Old 31st July 2022, 03:53 PM   #1
ulfberth
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Default A Bilbo with inscriptions on the blade

Although my period of collecting is 16th and 17th c, mainly swords and rapiers, I could not let this Bilbo pass I like the blade to much and I have decided to keep it.
I have a weak spot for the Spanisch and Portuguese type of swords and rapiers and I believe they are undervalued in the current market.
kind regards
Ulfberth
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Old 1st August 2022, 07:18 PM   #2
Jim McDougall
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This is truly a wonderful exemplar of this most important and as it has become apparent over the years, far more complex sword form than realized by collectors previously. While your particular areas are 16th and 17th centuries, and as you note this appears to be 18th century, it has been suggested somewhat convincingly that the hilt form actually had origins much farther back into the 17th.

I am so glad you shared this as it gives us the opportunity to not only examine this example, but to look further into the form overall. While I have been an avid student of these and most Spanish colonial edged weapons forms for many years, it seems I always have far more questions than answers.

Over the years we have had many discussions on the 'bilbo' type hilt as well as the various kinds of blades on them, and it seems that the most comprehensive insights presented have been from Fernando and Middelburgo,
Still, many questions remain.

On this, clearly the first question is regarding the outstanding inscription and what does it say. The 1720 date is interesting, is it saying the blade is Solingen, 1720? This would add impetus to the commonly held notion that the blades for Spanish swords were provided by Solingen prior to the establishment of the Toledo factory in 1761.

That leads to the question, just when did the blades acquire the 'Spanish motto'? and were they German produced or did these become popular in the new Toledo works post 1761? Obviously not pertinent to this example, but key I think in the study of the form.

The hilt style here is important also, and this is wire wrapped with Turks heads while the larger proportion of these carry the four retaining bars or posts over the wire wrap.

Attached in my example which has the Ayzavilla mark and the crown over T suggesting this is likely Toledo works c 1761+ and potentially one that was in the Louisiana-Florida sphere of New Spain.
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Old 1st August 2022, 10:13 PM   #3
ulfberth
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Thank you Jim , indeed it does raise more questions , as in general it is accepted this model to be 1728 if im correct, still the blade is 1720 and this is not a munitions type blade but it is the type of blade that fits the Bilbo.
So the sword type was probably around before 1728, should we therefore presume that the sword became model 1728 because on date date it was ordered in larger numbers for certain parts of the military?
kind regards
Ulfberth
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Old 1st August 2022, 10:50 PM   #4
Jim McDougall
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Originally Posted by ulfberth View Post
Thank you Jim , indeed it does raise more questions , as in general it is accepted this model to be 1728 if im correct, still the blade is 1720 and this is not a munitions type blade but it is the type of blade that fits the Bilbo.
So the sword type was probably around before 1728, should we therefore presume that the sword became model 1728 because on date date it was ordered in larger numbers for certain parts of the military?
kind regards
Ulfberth
From my understanding with Spanish swords the regulation patterns as far as classification were inclined to correspond with the year the regulations were instituted. With this being the case, it was not a form ordered or begun in that year, but the extant form(s) which were already in use, and in many cases they had been in use for some time prior to the regulation year. The idea was simply to standardize in some degree.

I think my example (posted) is more 'munition' grade, while yours is clearly for an officer or individual of standing.

These arming swords seem to have become virtually a standard type which prevailed for military forces, as noted, for virtually more than a century, from 17th into early 19th. In 'Pierce & Chamberlain' (1972) it is even described as a M1769.

It seems the term 'bilbo' for these was a colloquial term for them which became popularized in Great Britain, presuming these came primarily from the port of Bilbao in Spain. (Basque country). The term itself seems to have been in use as early as 16th c. for the Mondragon steel from these Basque regions which was used in finely tempered blades (as seen in Shakespearean use).

The blades which were produced for these swords were produced of course over that time, and seem to have been of various cross section and character but most commonly broadsword (DE). As these in use in the colonies were often kept by the troops as they left the service, the blades were often remounted and saw further use in different hilts.

With a sword form, and its blades, in use for such a long period, as well as in such varied areas of the Spanish colonies, not to mention those which remained in Spain and Portugal, the questions pertaining to the variations and nuances of these are pretty much innumerable.

All the better thats what makes them such fascinating swords!
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Old 1st August 2022, 11:37 PM   #5
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Both very nice examples! And an interesting date, being before the 1728 date when they became a standardized model. I was given to understand that the earlier Bilbo models used two screws instead of four to fasten the guard plates. 1720 seems fairly early, yet I see four screws... So is this assumption about the number of screws relating to the date incorrect, am I incorrect in thinking 1720 is early, or is the hilt from a later date?

And just for fun I'll add some pictures (in traditional poor lighting) of the bilbo I bought from Ulfberth last year, because it is one of my favorite swords. Super nimble with quite a lot of reach, a ton of hand protection, and the closest thing to a razor's edge I've seen on an antique sword. Definitely underrated. (Yes I'm aware that that is not a particularly safe way to lay a sword on a table but all the other space was occupied or not photogenic. P)
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Old 2nd August 2022, 10:34 AM   #6
fernando
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Default YNTE DOMINE EN PEXAVI ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by werecow View Post
... I was given to understand that the earlier Bilbo models used two screws instead of four to fasten the guard plates. 1720 seems fairly early, yet I see four screws... So is this assumption about the number of screws relating to the date incorrect, am I incorrect in thinking 1720 is early, or is the hilt from a later date?
Yes, it all indicates that the blade is older than the hilt, as often occurs ... and vice versa.
I notice that inscription has not yet been subject to discussion. Some kind of unintelligible expression in a Latin (Domine) approach, so hard, or impossible ?, to fully translate.
Even more unique is that, precisely the same inscription is in a sword (i think sold) out there, in what appears to be a Spanish double shell guard sword.
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Old 2nd August 2022, 11:31 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by fernando View Post
Yes, it all indicates that the blade is older than the hilt, as often occurs ... and vice versa.
I notice that inscription has not yet been subject to discussion. Some kind of unintelligible expression in a Latin (Domine) approach, so hard, or impossible ?, to fully translate.
Even more unique is that, precisely the same inscription is in a sword (i think sold) out there, in what appears to be a Spanish double shell guard sword.
In te Domine speravi non confundar in aeternum (Lat, “ In Thee, O Lord, have I put my trust, let me never be put to confusion”). See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psalm_31 .
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Old 2nd August 2022, 12:10 PM   #8
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Ah ... thank you so much, Victrix .
With that awkward spelling, i would never maket it ... neither would the translating engine.

Just to compare:

"IN TE DOMINE, SPERAVI, NON CONFUNDAR IN AETERNUM"

With:

"YNTE º DOMINE º EN º PEXAVI º , NO º CON º FUNDAN º YNETEXNU".

Thanks again .
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Old 2nd August 2022, 04:43 PM   #9
ulfberth
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Quote:
Originally Posted by werecow View Post
Both very nice examples! And an interesting date, being before the 1728 date when they became a standardized model. I was given to understand that the earlier Bilbo models used two screws instead of four to fasten the guard plates. 1720 seems fairly early, yet I see four screws... So is this assumption about the number of screws relating to the date incorrect, am I incorrect in thinking 1720 is early, or is the hilt from a later date?

And just for fun I'll add some pictures (in traditional poor lighting) of the bilbo I bought from Ulfberth last year, because it is one of my favorite swords. Super nimble with quite a lot of reach, a ton of hand protection, and the closest thing to a razor's edge I've seen on an antique sword. Definitely underrated. (Yes I'm aware that that is not a particularly safe way to lay a sword on a table but all the other space was occupied or not photogenic. P)
i should not have sold that one Antoher magnificent blade : IVAN MARTINEZ
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Old 2nd August 2022, 08:30 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by ulfberth View Post
i should not have sold that one Antoher magnificent blade : IVAN MARTINEZ
Actually this one was Sebastian Hernan(d)ez (although probably not really, of course, just the name on the blade). See the other side attached here for completeness' sake.

And yeah, it was a very nice birthday present, from you and me to me. }|;o) But take comfort in the fact that, from the looks of your posts here, you have no shortage of magnificent swords!
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Old 3rd August 2022, 07:06 PM   #11
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The SEBASTIAN variation on blades from Solingen seems to have had a reasonable occurrence, in my opinion mid to third quarter 17th c. On this Scottish basket hilt the Sebastian name with 'interpretation' on what may be a Wirsburg blade (by mark).
This hilt is Scottish 'Glasgow' in style and probably c. 1690s mounts. It seems to be reliably of that period per examination by an English authority hands on.
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Old 16th August 2022, 05:21 PM   #12
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I know of a similar sword to the one opening this thread. Hilt seems older with four screws but not frame. And the date is 1760 instead of 1720. What makes me think 1720 was a sales pitch (1760 maybe too).
Both blades are marked with a Toledo mark and Solingen (and in a period when Toledo was inactive). I take that as they are Solingen products intended to be sold initially as from Toledo, but later they decided to etch them.

For the crowned T swords /Ayzavilla, I have two alternative explanations. They could be from the original batches at the reinstalment of Toledo in 1761, when the new factory was not yet built, or they could be from Trubia in the 1790s. Trubia is known to have made bayonets for the 1757 model musket, but there are no notice about swords being ever made there. The problem with these swords is that they have a mixture of old (pommel) and new (more simplified hilt decorations) characteristics.

The Sebastian Hernandez (real mark is the bell atthe ricasso) example is a later officer sword. At some time (about Carlos IV reign from 1789), they also standardized the officer swords hilts, with a sunburst guardapolvo, a polyhedrical pommel and what I call a "lyre" at the cross instead of a semicircle piece. They used the same hilt for Guards de Corps rank and file. (a Guard de Corps soldier had the status of a sergeant in the regular cavalry).
I include another Sebastian Hernandez blade with a similar officer hilt. This one looks more the real thing, but probbaly is also from the XVIIIth century.
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Last edited by midelburgo; 16th August 2022 at 05:51 PM.
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