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A very fine English silver hilted small sword with London hallmarks for 1778/79 by Thomas Dealtry. Dealtry was one the most important and influential makers of silver hilted small swords in 18th century London which was a centre of quality at the time. Silver hilted small swords were fashionable attire for gentlemen in the 18th century, and despite the stylish delicacy of construction, were formidable duelling weapons. The sword retains its original scabbard with its silver mounts.
The hilt consists of a double shell guard, pas d’ane rings, knucklebow, rear quillon plus an ovoid pommel with integral button. The hilt parts are exquisitely engraved and pierced with intricate patterns of scrolling foliage. A key feature of the hilt decoration is a spray of flowers pierced into both sides of each shell guard, repeated on both sides of the pommel, both sides of the ricasso and engraved onto the scabbard mouthpiece. The grip consists of alternate bands of flattened and roped silver wire of contrasting thicknesses and alternate twists mounted onto a wooden baluster shaped core with engraved silver cap terminals top and bottom.
The scabbard mouthpiece is engraved with “DEALTRY” and “Royal Exchange” underneath. Thomas Dealtry first enters the records as a free cutler having completed his apprenticeship in 1749 and produced and retailed swords and related accoutrements until his death in 1783. In 1763 he moved his main business operation to the Royal Exchange area of London where he remained for the rest of his life.
The hallmarks and makers mark are arranged as four stamps on the upper part of the knuckle bow near the pommel. As can be seen in the photos below, the series starts on the left with the letter “C” for the date which is not well struck but can only refer to 1778/79. The crowned leopard’s head mark of the assay office and the lion passant follow with the maker’s mark being the last one to the right. The mark is not well struck but is almost certainly “T D” in scrolling style (Grimwade 1990 mark 2735) a mark registered in 1765.
The bright, tapering, hollow ground triangular section blade, is decorated with engraved panels of foliage on each side near the hilt. The blade is just under 32 inches (81 cm) long and the overall length of the sword is 38.5 inches (just under 98 cm).
The scabbard is formed with a wooden core over which a thin leather covering has been stitched then painted over with black lacquer. 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.
For further information on Thomas Dealtry see “London Silver-Hilted Swords”, their makers, suppliers and allied traders, with directory, by Leslie Southwick, 2001, Royal Armouries, page 88 for his biography and plate 65 for an example of his work which is of similar proportions to our sword.