Spanish 18th Century Smallsword, with Motto-Inscribed Blade
Double-edged blade with short central fuller, thereafter with hexagonal profile, and spear point. Steel late-style hilt with asymmetrical boatshell counterguard, long opposed quillons, slender knucklebow joined by a single sidebar from the guard. Steel ferrule, silver wire-wrapped grip with turk’s heads. Globular pommel with tang nut. Blade 27¾ inches in length, ¾ of an inch wide at the shoulder, its fuller extending 7½ inches. Sword 34½ inches overall.
The blade is stamped at the in the fuller on one side with ‘X NO X ME X SAQUES X SIN RASON X’ and on the other side with ‘X NO X ME X ENBAINES X SIN X HONOR’. At the end of the fuller on each side is stamped an anchor-like symbol, perhaps a maker’s mark. The stamped lettering is rough in places, the ‘R’ of ‘RASON’ for instance appears to have been lightly stamped once then more firmly stamped slightly off-centre of the first, creating a double image.
‘No me saques sin rason, No me enbaines sin honor’ translates to ‘Draw me not without reason, sheath me not without honour’. This phrase, suggesting that the weapon should not be recklessly drawn, but once drawn should be used bravely until honour was satisfied, is sometimes termed the ‘Spanish motto’ as it appears so commonly on sword blades of various types made in Spain or intended for the Spanish market. This includes a number produced in Solingen (Germany) for trade in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, many of which ended up in Spanish colonies.
This example is of basic construction, and the six-sided nut used to secure the tang suggests that it has been previously taken apart, so it may be a composite piece. The blade has some areas of light patination, no edge damage apart from the very tip, which has rolled (<1mm). The outside of the guard and hilt bars have mottled patination, the inside of the guard and exposed tang are darkly patinated with spots of pitting. The ferrule and pommel are uniformly darkly patinated. All the grip wires are present and tight, the grip is solid with no rattling when held.