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Early 18th Century London Silver Hilted Small Sword With Maker’s Mark of Joseph Reason

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Price: £1,450

Ref: 070.16

Item Description

An early 18th century English silver hilted small sword. The makers mark applied to the pommel button is IR, most likely for Joseph Reason, a free cutler and hilt maker working in Burleigh Street, The Strand, London, who had two silversmith’s marks recorded, one in 1697 and the other in 1720. This mark, now worn at the base, seems to be the 1697 mark. The style of the hilt is fitting with a 1710 to 1720 date when this first mark was in use. There are no hallmarks on the hilt.

This sword is of plain early form which accentuates the smooth elegant curves of the hilt which consists of an asymmetrical double-shell guard with raised moulded borders, pas d’ane rings, knucklebow and rear quillon. The grip consists of alternate contra-twist wraps of roped silver wire mounted onto a wooden baluster shaped core.

The bright, sharply tapering, hollow ground, triangular section blade is decorated at the forte on one side with the etched labelled figure of Camilus, flowering foliage above, and on the other with traces of a panel of strapwork between foliage. Marcus Furios Camillus was a Roman soldier and Statesman of Patrician descent. According to Livy and Plutarch he triumphed four times, was dictator five times, and was honoured with the title of Second Founder of Rome. The blade is of colichemarde type and is unusually broad towards the hilt, clearly made for use, rather than as an 18th century fashion accessory.

For further information on Joseph Reason see “London Goldsmiths 1697-1837 Their Marks and Lives” by Arthur G Grimwade, Faber and Faber, 1976.

The blade is 31 inches (78 cm) long and the overall length is just under 37.5 inches (95 cm). The sword is in good condition overall, the engraving to the blade is a little worn. As there are no hallmarks on the hilt, the more sanitised contemporary label for the material is “white metal”, rather than silver, given that the proportion of silver in the metal is unknown.

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