This hilt construction incorporates a range of English design characteristics of the period 1620- 50. It is, however, an unusual variation in that it does not include a knuckle-guard, while in all other respects it conforms within the variety of structures of the hilt type 73 identified by A.V.B. Norman. This type is dated within the 1630’s on the basis of evidence in English portraiture of the period. A notable developmental feature of the type, which is included on the present hilt, is the strengthening of the cup-guard by the addition of bars shaped as C-scrolls, which are in turn joined to the ring-guards. The openwork cup-like construction of symmetrically scrolling slender flat bars is typically English and it appears on a range of rapier hilts up to about 1645. The Inclusion in the present hilt of the pronounced mouldings at the quillon tips, which are then repeated as a central feature of the outer ring is an attractive refinement. The strong form of the pommel is similarly impressive, lending itself well as a large surface for the silver decoration.
This style of silver damascening, referred to as ‘encrusting’ because it stands in low relief, is the subject of considerable debate. The techniques and the majority of the designs post-dating the 1620’s are essentially common to both England and German hilts of the second half of the 17th century. The detailed repertoire seems to have no national boundary, suggesting in the case of obviously English hilts (such as this present one), that the silver work was done by migrant German craftsmen. For a highly detailed commentary on this subject the reader is referred to the catalogue of the arms collection at Waddesdon Manor, in which a number of silver-encrusted hilts in the collection are discussed.
The present hilt, undeniably English, is preserved in exceptional condition.
With iron hilt of predominantly flat bars profusely decorated throughout with silver-encrusted designs of scrolling ballflower tendrils and beaded lines, in part suspending putti masks, husks and fruit, and all on a dark russet ground sown with silver pellets. Involving a pair of quillons vertically recurved towards the ends and with flattened knop terminals, cup-guard of unequally sized outer and inner halves, the cup formed of an outer side-ring interrupted by a double moulding en suite with the quillon terminals, a convex openwork cup of slender scrolling bars beneath, the quillons and cup joined by a pair of C-scrolls and the cup construction additionally supported by a pair of arms issuant from the base of the quillons. The inner half of the cup-guard supported by a single obliquely looped bar carrying a single C-scroll. With tall onion-shaped pommel drawn-up to a button, and with wooden grip bound with patterned copper wire between ‘Turk’s head’ knots. Mounted with a slender single-edged blade of hollow-triangular section and formed with a rectangular ricasso.