Eduardo “Edward” Visconti, an Italian native, began teaching fencing in San Francisco around 1920 at the Unione Sportiva Italiana, a North Beach athletic facility and centerpiece for San Francisco’s Italian community. He started a large contingent of local fencers of note, including Gerard Biagini and Salvatore Giambra. As World War 2 neared, the Unione Sportiva was closed for a period of time and Visconti retired from teaching. In 1941, he gifted his now-unused fencing equipment to Hans Halberstadt to assist Hans in starting his own namesake club. Visconti opened a shop near Halberstadt’s club and made custom gloves, including fencing gloves. All the best fencers and masters in the West wore Visconti gloves.
The Latin meaning of that, according to Google Translate, is “Wine of the Spirit”. As a philistine in the ways of Latin, I’ll have to accept it. No clue. Truly.
A recent gift to the Archive has me dumbfounded. It’s existence was something I had speculated about in a vague way, but never dreamed of finding proof for. Much less, having the proof come directly to me as a donation to the Archive.
There is nothing in the world quite like Jerry Biagini’s greeting to me when I visited him about two weeks ago. Me: “Mr. Biagini, how are you?” Jerry: “I’m 90 years old and cranky!”
There is a great photo hanging on the wall at the Halberstadt Fencers Club on South Van Ness in San Francisco that I’ve always admired. It shows four fencing masters sitting and watching a tournament at the Funke Fencing Academy when it was on Geary Blvd in the City.
Tommy Angell was the type of person who overcame obstacles. It doesn’t seem to matter how challenging things may have been; she simply took them on and beat them. Not just took them on; she seems to have sought them out and demolished them.
I first became aware of Mr. Biagini as a young fencer, as he would invariably show up at tournaments at the Pannonia Athletic Club, back when it was still a going concern in San Francisco.
The year now gone we knew as 2015 saw the passing of long-time fencer, fencing master, fencing club founder and all around gentleman, Arthur Lane.
I return to the pages of The Fencer today, to reprint (actually, re-type) an article written by Pierre Paret for the February, 1948 issue. A portrait of Hans Halberstadt.
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