Apr 24, 2020



c. 1630–50

Steel; blued, gilded, and perforated blade

Overall: 100.3 cm (39 1/2 in.); Blade: 86.5 cm (34 1/16 in.); Quillions: 13 cm (5 1/8 in.); Grip: 12.3 cm (4 13/16 in.)

Weight: 840 g (1.85 lbs.)

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John L. Severance 1916.1498


The rapier was a sword worn with civilian dress and used in duels. The term rapier derives from a 16th-century French word rapière, which in turn derived from the Spanish espada ropera, or “dress sword.” The rapier was a light weapon with a straight double-edged and pointed blade that, with the development of the art of fencing in the 1500s and 1600s, gradually became narrower and lighter, and thus suitable for thrusts only. With the new technique of swordplay emphasizing the point of the blade, sword guards became more complex to protect the duelist’s unarmored hand. These elaborate guards were frequently decorated by various techniques—chiseling, bluing, russeting, and damascening.

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