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English Boat-Shell Guard Silver Hilted Small Sword by William Kinman hallmarked for 1764/5

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Price: £2,850

Ref: 11.70

Item Description

A remarkable mid 18th century English silver hilted small sword with hallmarks for London 1764/5. The maker is William Kinman, one of the foremost makers of silver hilted swords working in London, and whose work represents the highest standards of English craftsmanship at the time.

The silver hilt consists of a boat-shell guard, pas d’ane rings, knucklebow and quillons front and back, with attractive ribbed and moulded borders. The boat-shell guard, pommel, knucklebow and ricasso, are pierced and engraved with intricate compositions of musical instruments (cellos, violins, harps, flutes,  pipes and other wind instruments) set off against a pierced, complex and detailed foliate background.

The hilt is in fine condition and without any noticeable dents, bangs or bruises. There are no losses or repairs and the guard has maintained its original pleasing curved outline. The hallmarks and makers marks are clearly stamped on the pas d’ane rings. The grip consists of silver wire (alternating flat  and twisted) spiral binding applied around a baluster shaped wooden core.

The tapering, slender, hollow, colichemarde triangular section blade is 33.5 inches (85 cm) long and overall the sword is just over 40.5 inches (103 cm) long. The blade is decorated with foliate designs and sunbursts and is in good condition, slightly age spotted in parts and with an insignificant patch of pitting very near the tip.

A similar sword by William Kinman is illustrated in “London Silver-hilted Swords” by Leslie Southwick, Royal Armouries, 2001, Colour Plate 6. For further information on the working life of Kinman see Southwick also pages 159 and 160.

Silver hilted small swords were fashionable attire for mid 18th century gentlemen, and hilts were sometimes designed with features to suit the professions of the people that commissioned them, if requested, as a deviation from the more usual martial stands of arms. Given the variety of instruments on this sword the hilt may have been commissioned by a “classical era” composer, rather than a specific instrument player, and possible owners working in London at the time are: William Boyce, Thomas Arne (composed “Rule Britannia”), John Hebden and John Alcock, to name but a few.

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