Bilbo (sword)

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The bilbo is a type of 16th century, cut-and-thrust sword or small rapier formerly popular in America. [1] They have well-tempered and flexible blades and were very popular aboard ships,[2] where they were used in a similar role to that of the cutlass. The term probably comes from the Basque city of Bilbao,[3] where a significant number of them were made and exported to the New World. These swords were also sold to merchants of every European nation, including England.[4]


Bilbo (Basque: Labana Bizkaitarra, Spanish: daga vizcaína (Biscayne dagger)) is an English catch-all word used to very generally refer to the "utilitarian" cup-hilt swords, often found all over America. They usually had a wide, relatively short sturdy and well tempered blade, very practical and comparatively unadorned. The grip was often covered with wire, rather than plain nut.[4]


  1. ^ The encyclopedia of the sword, Nick Evangelista. page 55
  2. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary. "Bilbo". Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  3. ^ Kemp Kemp, Peter (1976). The Oxford companion to ships & the sea. Oxford University Press. p. 82. ISBN 0-19-211553-7.
  4. ^ a b Art of swords

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Bilbo" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.

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