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English Silver Hilted Small Sword by William Kinman Hallmarked for 1772/73

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Price: £2,450

Ref: 054.20

Item Description

A very fine English silver hilted small sword with hallmarks for 1772/73. The silversmith is William Kinman, one of the finest makers of silver hilted swords working in London in the second half of the 18th century. Silver hilted small swords were fashionable attire for gentlemen in the 18th century, and despite the stylish delicacy of their construction were formidable duelling weapons. The sword was retailed by Cullum of Charing Cross in London.  

The hilt consists of a shallow dish guard, pas d’ane rings, knucklebow, front and rear quillons plus an ovoid pommel. The hilt parts are exquisitely engraved and pierced with intricate patterns of scrolling foliage. The quillons and the knuckle bow are formed as intertwined serpents which terminate in a grotesque reptilian head at the pommel. The same pattern is applied to the perimeter of the dish guard. The grip consists of alternate bands of flattened and roped silver wire of contrasting thickness mounted onto a wooden baluster shaped core with engraved silver cap terminals top and bottom. The sword retains its original scabbard with its silver mounts engraved with the same decorative scrolling style as that applied to the hilt. The name of the retailer is engraved on the back of the mouthpiece.

The bright, tapering, hollow ground triangular section blade, is decorated with engraved panels of foliage on each side near the hilt interspersed on one side with a classical figure of a man holding a sword aloft with a sun in splendour above his head. The blade is just over 30.25 inches (77 cm) long and the overall length of the sword is just under 37 inches ( 94 cm).

William Kinman was one of the most prominent and influential makers of silver hilted swords in London. He was a leading member of the Founder’s Company of London and served in all the major offices of the guild including Master. His work represents the highest quality of the silversmiths’ craft. He was active in the trade by 1750 and registered his first mark in the Smallworkers’ Book at Goldsmiths’ Hall in 1759. William registered a second mark in 1790 and he is  last recorded in 1806. The hiatus of his work is between 1750 and 1790.

For further information see “London Silver-Hilted Swords”, their makers, suppliers and allied traders, with directory, by Leslie Southwick, 2001, Royal Armouries, page 159-160 for Kinman’s biography and pages 286 – 292,  and colour plates 4, 6 and 8 for examples of his work.

His mark of “W K” in raised relief with a pellet between is stamped inside a rectangular panel on one of the pas d’ane rings with the lion passant next to it. The crowned leopard’s head mark of the assay office and the date letter stamp are on the other.

The scabbard is formed with a wooden core over which a thin brown leather  covering has been stitched. Overall the sword and scabbard are of fine quality and condition.  There are no losses or repairs and the guard has maintained its original pleasing curved outline.  It is rare to encounter swords of this type with original scabbards.

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