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Tuesday 9 April 2024

Raffaello Schiaminossi, “Plate 31: Rapier and Dagger Combat”, 1610

Raffaello Schiaminossi (aka Raffaello Schiaminossi) (1572–1622)

“Plate 31: Rapier and Dagger Combat”, 1610, from the series of forty-three plates illustrating Ridolfo Capo Ferro’s (aka Ridolfo Capoferro; Rodulphus Capoferrus) (1558–?) instructional manual on fencing (Italian rapier combat), “Gran simulacro dell'arte e dell'uso della scherma” (Grand Simulacrum of the Art and Use of Fencing), published in 1610 by Silvestro Marchetti (fl.1602–1619) in Siena (see and

Etching on fine laid paper with full margins and letterpress text with woodcut border printed verso as published.

Size: (sheet) 20.5 x 27.4 cm; (plate) 14.5 x 22.9 cm: (image borderline) 14.3 x 22.8 cm.

Inscribed on plate: (upper left corner) “31”; (lower left corner) “F/[artist’s monogram] S/ RAF [ligature]. F.”; (lower right corner) “C”.

Letterpress Italian text verso: “FIGVRA CHE FERISCE/ DI QVARTA NELLA GOLA SOLO/ CON AFALSAR LA SPADA ET ABASSAR IL/ pugnale per parata mentre l'auersario caua di spada &/ cerca col pugnale per parare./ ROVANDOSI l'auersario in terza alta con il pugnale trauersato & vnito al comincia-/mento del suo sorte della sua spada alquanto obliqua, lo stringerai con la terza di fuora/ con il pugnale alto,e cauando egli di sotto, aiutandosi a parare con il pugnale per ferirti/ di quarta pararai col pugnale di su in giù verso le tue parti manche, e in un tempo caua-/ndo sotto al suo pugnale, lo ferirai di quarta nella faccia, o doue ti torna più comodo.”

([Transl.] “FIGURE THAT HITTS THE THROAT FROM THE FOURTH ONLY WITH SLASHING THE SWORD AND LOWING THE DAGGER TO PARRY while the opponent swings the sword & tries with the dagger to parry.

Having placed the opponent in the high third with the dagger crossed and having come to the beginning of his fate of his somewhat oblique sword, you will hold him with the third outside with the high dagger, and caundo [penetrate?] him from below, helping himself to parry with the dagger to wound you with the fourth you will parry with the dagger from up and down towards your left sides, and in a moment, falling under his dagger, you will wound him with the fourth in the face, or where it is most convenient for you.”)

Interestingly, this fencing manual was very influential in its time and the manual must still be influential and relevant as it has been republished by Greenhill Books/Stackpole Books in 2004. This recent reprint of the original plates and text (fortunately translated into English) is described with the following excellent account (of which this is an extract):

“The manual, illustrated with 43 striking illustrations, gives a very real flavour of the panache of this expert in swordsmanship and mastery of that most lethal of weapons—the rapier. Ferro examines different kinds of swords, their component parts and their suitability, before going on to discuss their actual use. There he expounds his theory as to the timing and direction of thrusts, the essential distances and the need for complete control. He also looks at defensive measures, guards, parries, the need for quick footwork. Capo Ferro's text is a practical guide to fighting and one which builds on the theory to show exactly how a superior form of swordsmanship could be learned by Europe's elite. His illustrations clearly show the best methods and also show how a rapier could be lethally effective when used with a dagger or with a cloak” (see

Condition: a strong and well-printed page (recto and verso) with full margins. The upper-left corner (recto) is chipped and there is a hole in the image at lower-left (above the artist’s monogram), otherwise the sheet is in a good condition for its age with no tears, folds, abrasions or significant stains.

I am selling this unforgettably graphic image of a “tough-love” rapier lesson, for AU$330 (currently US$218.69/EUR201.44/GBP172.53 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world, but not (of course) any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries.

If you are interested in acquiring this exceptionally rare etching from an important and unusual instructional manual—note that the advice given to opponents on the verso of this sheet is to wound him “in the face, or where it is most convenient for you” and clearly the throat seemed like a good idea to the illustrator of this image—please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

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