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An English silver mounted hanger dating to the late 17th century made by the silversmith and cutler Thomas Vicaridge of London.
In the 17th and 18th centuries when swords were a popular weapon for gentlemen, hangers were a robust secondary side arm used for self defense when hunting and travelling. They were also used in parts of the British Army and Navy. Hangers appear in some military portraits of the time. Towards the end of their popular use, they were slimmed down and refined for wear as a gentleman’s fashion accessory. The high quality and expensive hanger described here was most likely a gentleman’s weapon.
The knuckle bow is stamped with Thomas Vicaridge’s first pre-Britannia maker’s mark of “T V” in raised relief inside a shield, with a crown above, and a pellet below.
Vicaridge lived in exciting times as London was remodelled after the turbulence of the Civil War period, the Great Plague of 1665 and the Great Fire of 1666. The city was more outward looking, international trade was growing through London port, military success was being achieved abroad and more interest and investment was being expressed in art and culture. Vicaridge was one of the leading craftsmen of his day and the quality of his work represents the style and fashions of late 17th and early 18th century Baroque London.
The hilt is comprised of a bold faceted quillon block, downward facing rear quillon, and a bold knuckle bow swollen in the the middle, all lightly engraved with foliate designs and the figure of a naked woman between the foliage on each side of the knuckle bow.
The pommel-cap is fluted around its folded edge and embossed on top in raised relief with a circular panel of foliage against a punched background. The natural roe buck antler grip has a silver basal ferrule. The sword retains its black leather scabbard with its silver locket with frog hoop plus its chape which has a button terminal. The edges of both mounts are moulded as scallops engraved with foliage.
Thomas Vicaridge completed his apprenticeship to Joseph Jones, a London Cutler, on 25th April 1682 when he was sworn “Free” upon completion of his term of servitude at a well attended meeting at Cutler’s Hall. Until 1697, along with other silversmiths, Vicaridge used his own mark as described above and stamped onto this sword. Two examples of this mark are struck onto a copper plate still preserved at Goldsmith’s Hall in London. In 1697, with the advent of the Higher, or “Britannia”, Standard for silver, smiths were required to record a new punch mark bearing the first two initials of their surnames. As a result, Vicaridge recorded the mark “VI” with a crown above and pellet below inside a shield. This mark was used from 1697 onwards.
Only a few surviving edged weapons signed by this maker are known and all are of high quality. An article by Leslie Southwick published in the Royal Armouries Yearbook (Volume 5 in 2000) discusses Vicaridge’s life, his “pre” and “post” Britannia standard marks and illustrates examples of hangers by this maker which are housed in various national collections including the Victoria & Albert Museum and the National Maritime Museum.
The slightly curved single edged blade is 19.5 inches long (just under 50 cm) and the sword is 25 inches long overall (just under 64 cm). It has a double fuller running underneath its spine from the hilt each incised with an indistinct inscription flanked by orb and cross marks.
The sword is in good condition. The lightly applied engraved decoration has survived the centuries well. The pommel has a small dent towards the front on one side but otherwise the hilt has retained its attractive shape and contours. The blade has a light layer of blackened pitting but otherwise is in good condition. It is unusual for hanger scabbards to survive in such good condition.
Provenance: The Per T. Norheim Collection sold at Bonhams in London , 29 April 2010, lot 41