“Prove it, then,” your comrade cries, and takes up his rapier with a flourish.
You can barely recall how this row began, but it ends here, where they always do, with a duel a hair fiercer than jest, each of you eager to join in this dance of skill and steel.
Your instructor would despair, of course – is it not he who told you the best way to win a fight is to avoid getting into one? But perhaps he’s forgotten what it’s like to be young and hot-blooded.
You fight down a grin. It would not do to make explicit the pleasure you each take in these contrived after-class quarrels. Instead, you scan the rack of weapons, looking for something new. Something unexpected.
Your eye alights on a heavy, single-edge sword with a round, black pommel and a guard of two black rings. It is broader than the rest, shorter. Almost a cavalry sword. You slide your hand over the cord-wrapped grip and lift it experimentally from the rack.
Your eyes widen. The sword is authoritative, yes. Dominating, even. But its weight and wieldiness defy appearances. You turn back to the piste with a sly smile. Yes. This one might just do.
A fresh take on a perennial favourite – the Wallace Collection’s A535 – this broad, bladey war rapier features a single-edged blade and a simple yet imposing Norman type 43 guard with a thumb ring.
The A535 is a sword with a lot of presence in the blade, it seems to be a cutting blade with the stiffness of a thrusting blade. This rendition is stiffer, as the client requested, and handles well – but slowly. All moves flow as they should, but the large pommel and hefty blade act as a ready brake on quicker motions.
That said, it is more manageable than might be expected – particularly with the added control of the thumb ring. It would excel from the saddle, whilst still being useable afoot.
Adaptations to the original design include filled ports to the front and counter guards, significantly increasing hand protection, and a custom-sized grip, allowing the spherical pommel to sit snugly against the palm.
The historical sizing of the guard brings the weight a fraction under that of the original. The result is a present and forceful weapon, which feels surprisingly manoeuvrable in both the cut and the thrust.
A similar bespoke rapier would come to upward of £1000 plus shipping
The hand-forged, heat-treated guard is oil blackened to a matte finish. The front port is filled, and pierced with a historically inspired pattern of stars and crosses. The central section of the swept to the counterguard is likewise filled and pierced. The S-shaped quillons swell into knobs at the terminals – a motif which is repeated at the centre of each ring.
The oval grip is made from oak, then wrapped in a dark brown resin-soaked linen cord. The oil blackened pommel takes the form of a large sphere, and is finished with a rounded nut.
Has an extant sword caught your eye? Get in touch to discuss your ideas.