Small sword

ca. 1785 (made)

Unknown

Length: 610 mm, Width: 90 mm hilt, Depth: 65 mm hilt, Length: 451 mm blade, Length: 159 mm hilt

M.516-1956 MET

Small sword with a silver hilt set with pastes, pearls and enamelled plaques, France, ca. 1785

Small sword, with a hilt of silver consisting of oval pommekl, grip, flat oval shell and knuckle guard with single quillon. All parts of the hilt are set with rows of small pastes. On each side of the end of the quillon is a rosette made of pastes; four similar rosettes are on the shell.Oval sets of pastes are on each side of the pommel, centre of the grip, centre of the knuckle guard and quillon block. The grip and quillon block also include plaques of blue enamel, powdered with gold stars, while on the shell are two mounted pebbles. Some of the oval sets include imitation rubies and pearls glued into them, but possibly originally contained enamelled plaques. On one side of the quillon are unidentified silver marks. The blade is slender, of triangular cross-section at the hilt with a sharp point, and is engraved with scrollwork with traces of gilding and a defaced inscription. According to the object register, many of the pastes are missing, while the pearls and imitation rubies are replacements. The blade has also been shortened and re-ground.

This dress sword was made in around 1785. It is decorated with pastes, imitation rubies and enamels all designed to catch the sunlight and sparkle. Its triangular section blade is designed for thrusting and piercing clothing and flesh. The sword is a civilian weapon whose primary role by this period was as a dress accessory. This sword's blade has been shortened and would originally have been worn at the left hip in a leather scabbard with silver mounts to match those of the sword. From around 1640, light swords with short, flexible, pointed blades appeared in response to new fencing techniques that emphasised thrusting at speed. They were worn increasingly with civilian clothes as 'small swords', offering a means of self-defence but largely denoting status for the well-dressed gentleman. Small swords were items of male jewellery. By the 1750s, their elaborate gold and silver hilts, mounted with precious stones and fine enamelling, were the products of the goldsmith and jeweller rather than the swordsmith. They made fitting rewards for distinguished military and naval service and were worn at important royal, civic and family occasions. With their blades tucked away inside scabbards, it was their ostentatious and expensive hilts that carried their thrust.

This dress sword was made in around 1785. It is decorated with pastes, imitation rubies and enamels all deisnged to catch the sunlight and sparkle. Its tirangular section blade is designed for thrusting and piercing clothing and flesh. The sword is a civilian weapon whose primary role by this period was as a dress accessory. This sword's blade has been shortened and wouild originally have been worn at the left hip in a leather mounted scabbard. The custom of wearing a sword in public was still prevalent in France when this qsword was made, whereas in England from the 1750s the sword was gradually replaced with the decorated cane. From around 1640, light swords with short, flexible, pointed blades appeared in response to new fencing techniques that emphasised thrusting at speed. They were worn increasingly with civilian clothes as 'small swords', offering a means of self-defence but largely denoting status for the well-dressed gentleman. Small swords were items of male jewellery. By the 1750s, their elaborate gold and silver hilts, mounted with precious stones and fine enamelling, were the products of the goldsmith and jeweller rather than the swordsmith. They made fitting rewards for distinguished military and naval service and were worn at important royal, civic and family occasions.

Given by Sir Eric Millar

Location: In Storage

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