It's a ... sword. Yes.
June 19, 2006 12:34 PM   Subscribe

Help me identify this book... errr... sword! Bought it for 25 euros (30 dollars) in some junk shop and I really don't care if it's an antique or not because I just like how it looks, but I'm interested anyway.

A friend who has some knowledge of swords says its weight makes it "genuine" (i.e. not for stage fights) and that it's good for thrusting (not slicing) I guess the fleurs-de-lis on the hilt hint at french origin, but that's as much as I can say.
Have a look:
Photo 1,
Photo 2,
Photo 3


(Bonus question: any good ideas on how to get the rust off the blade?)

PS: I did not put it on the go table to show off, I swear. :)
posted by Skyanth to Grab Bag (18 answers total)
I'd hazzard a guess and say it was ornamental.
posted by popcassady at 12:42 PM on June 19, 2006

It looks similar to these Carlos III swords here and here, I'm not an expert in identifying sword types, just somebody who was curious and spent some time googling (just don't tell my boss).
It looks like it's a common type for replicas, but from the pics yours looks servicable enough.
posted by forforf at 1:15 PM on June 19, 2006

Check out Albion Armorers. I bet if you sent them these pictures, that they would be more than happy to help you out. I also believe that they restore swords for a price.
posted by tdreyer1 at 1:19 PM on June 19, 2006

In Conan the Barbarian, the mighty hero bangs his newly found rusty sword on a rock to knock the rust free. Of course, that is a sword made by follower of Crom, who knows the Riddle of Steel.
This site might have useful info, though. Or at least some place to buy another one.
posted by bastionofsanity at 1:23 PM on June 19, 2006

I think it's a rapier.
posted by epimorph at 1:30 PM on June 19, 2006

Looks like a basket hilted rapier to me, but we can't see the whole blade in any of the pictures.

Nice GO set!
posted by Justinian at 1:33 PM on June 19, 2006

Just wanted to say that is a rad sword.

My first guess was that it was also a rapier. The fleur-de-lis would seem to say it was french.

Look, my knowledge of swords comes from movies and D&D, so I'm not claiming to be an expert. I don't know what "rad" is either, but I know it when I see it.
posted by Hildago at 1:41 PM on June 19, 2006

The people of the Higgins Armory Museum would definitely know. Most of the staff are history graduate students. They would be delighted to procrastinate on their thesis to answer you. Contact them.

and, yeah, nice go table.
posted by gmarceau at 2:03 PM on June 19, 2006

Some sort of fairly old-style rapier or "cut-and-thrust" sword (the immediate antecedent to the rapier), most likely. Judging from the thickness of the blade at the base. It'd be easier to tell if we could see the whole thing from a bit more distance, it's hard to tell sword types from the hilt. Also, I'm not a super sword expert or ARMA devotee – maybe one of those will come along.
posted by furiousthought at 2:04 PM on June 19, 2006

I think we have a consensus; it would help if we could get a wider angle shot of the whole sword, perhaps with the cool GO table for scale.
posted by Justinian at 2:13 PM on June 19, 2006

The cast guard screams a modern to me. If it's a zinc alloy it's probably more recent, if it's brass or bronze it's probably older. There was a big medievalist fad in the Victorian era, but swords have been recognized as being cool shortly after they were invented.

How clean do you want it to be when you are done with it? I'd probably start with one of those "green scrubby" abrasive pads a la 3M.

If it's really bad you might want to get some 300 or 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper and work on it with that. I'd work it wet until the majority of the rust was gone, dry it, then hit it with the green scrubby and some WD-40.

When you are done, wipe it clean and oil it with something like sewing machine oil.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:13 PM on June 19, 2006

If it is an antique, you probably don't want to be cleaning anything off it at home.

I'd have it appraised first to be safe.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 2:22 PM on June 19, 2006

It's really hard to say for sure since we can't see the whole sword, but I think the blade is too wide to be a rapier. My reaction on seeing it was to wonder if it was a light cavalry saber, but I think the basket is wrong for that. (Also, a saber is slightly curved.)

The tip of the blade would tell us a lot.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 2:44 PM on June 19, 2006

For cleaning, you could try a wire brush made out of some wire softer than the blade's metal (brass, maybe?). But whoever ca identify it can probably also give you the best advice on cleaning/restoring it.
posted by hattifattener at 3:18 PM on June 19, 2006

I can't say much about the sword, but I *can* tell your friend that he doesn't know much about stage fighting, if that's any help! I've got years of experience in theatre props ('furniture, weapons, fire and blood' was our subtitle) and I can tell you that for an actual fight on stage, if your weapon isn't every bit as strong as the real thing or possibly stronger, it isn't going to last for the run of the show. Since it's a weapon, it's very likely that the item failing will also involve someone being injured, possibly seriously. Every sword we ever used in a fight was 100% 'real'. (Yes, we also used light weight mock-weapons, but those were for display purposes, never for fights. Ever.)

OK, looking a bit more at the sword, I'll say this: it looks a bit wide to be called a rapier, but I won't argue about the terminology. There almost as many sword types/names as there are for sailing ships and I'm not enough of a devotee to pick one over another!

As for the rust, I'd start with some steel wool and elbow grease! You can get chemical rust removers, but they are better for items with a *lot* more rust than that. Too much chemical action makes the metal weak... Straight abrasives are the simplest way to go. If you are worried about damaging the blade itself (I didn't see any engraving, but the shots didn't show that so much) then take it to a pro. get it appraised and let them recommend a restorer. You will pay through the nose for this...
posted by schwap23 at 4:01 PM on June 19, 2006

I'll add my voice to those who suspect that this is an ornamental piece, and to those who would like to see more of the blade.

I'd suggest you post those links to your pictures at both of the following two places:

Sword Forum International


Both places offer a huge wealth of information on swords and will also have a community of helpful people who can give you more information on what you have and offer suggestions on cleaning it up. There might even be some handy tutorials to that effect on

You might try this one for instance.

And welcome to the world of sword collecting.
posted by zueod at 4:33 PM on June 19, 2006

That sword looks a LOT like the ones you can buy in Toledo, Spain, as tourist souvenirs, from 25 -> 100 euros.
posted by wilful at 7:05 PM on June 19, 2006

One effective way to remove rust from steel and iron is Naval Jelly.
posted by plinth at 5:52 AM on June 20, 2006

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