Our copy of an original 1771 dated Model 1728 Spanish 'Bilbo' Cavalry Sword. Original #7366 in the collections of the Arizona Historical Society, Tucson. This copy will be on prominent display at The Mission of San Juan Capistrano for their exhibit of the Life of the Garrison beginning Fall of 2018.
In 1728 a regulation sword pattern for cavalry troopers appears for the first time in Spain. This pattern, defined by Royal Ordnance of July 12th of that year, presents a double-edged straight blade (as all Spanish cavalry swords of 18th cent.), having a double-shell or Bilbo iron hilt with knuckle-bow and curved quillons, as this period engraving shows, along with the scabbard made in leather-covered wood. This sword would be carried by all Spanish Cavalry and Colonial units up to the 1790s, with some colonial governments holding onto them long into the 19th century.
This sword though designed for European wars found its way to the shores of America and in the hands of both the Spanish and later the Mexicans saw prominent use in what would become the South West of the United States.
As to The Mission San Juan Capistrano, it became the seventh of twenty-one missions to be founded in Alta California. Like the previous six missions, San Juan Capistrano was established to expand the territorial boundaries of Spain, and to spread Christianity to the Native peoples of California. Unlike the British colonies on the East Coast of North America, who brought people from their homeland to form colonies, the Spanish believed they could transform the Native peoples into good Spanish citizens. The idea was to make colonial outposts called missions, led by Franciscan padres and Spanish soldiers - these Spanish soldiers are documented to have carried the Model 1728 Sword.
We were honored to be able to work on this project for the museum of the Mission San Juan Capistrano! And with the great help of David Rickman and the Arizona Historical Society we were truly able to do the M1728 Sword justice!
Follow this link to see David Rickman's article on this project