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An Imposing Silver Hilted Small Sword with Boat Shell Guard and London Date Stamp for 1756 / 1757

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Price: £2,350

Ref: 120.20

Item Description

An exceptional smallsword mounted with a heavy silver hilt and an imposing  colichemarde blade. The hilt is boldly engraved in pierced and raised relief with musical instruments and stands of arms. The strength of the sword and quantity of material involved in its manufacture indicates that it was made to withstand more than normal civilian wear and probably belonged to a military officer. The sword is of significant substance and well balanced in hand.

The boat shell both inside and out features cannons, banners, halberds, lances, trumpets, drums bugles and a violin. A green man visage of old English myth and folklore is present on one side of the ricasso between the pas d’ane rings. The hallmarks are stamped onto the pas d’ ane rings which are narrow and difficult for the maker to stamp clearly. The crowned leopard’s head assay stamp and date stamps are clear. An unclear lion passant seems to be present on the opposite pas d’ ane and possibly a maker’s mark nearby.

The baluster shaped wooden grip is spirally bound with silver strip interspaced with a double length of twisted wire with thinner twists on each side and mounted with silver cap terminals top and bottom engraved with floral designs. The top ferrule is also incised on the inner hilt side with the initials “I S” separated with a dot which are presumably those of the owner.

The hilt is an example of the high standards of design and execution required of the 18th century London silversmith as well as an example of one of the most effective weapons of the 17th and 18th centuries. Silver hilted small swords were fashionable attire for 18th century gentlemen. Mostly worn for effect, someone wearing such a sword was also announcing to the world that he was able to use it. Despite the stylish and often delicate appearance of these swords they were formidable dueling weapons.

The triangular section, stiff, hollow ground, colichemarde blade is a strong example of its type. Originally it was lightly and crisply engraved at the forte with patterns of scrolls and foliage inside panels and beyond on each of the three faces of the blade. These are now worn due to the friction of drawing and sheathing the sword in its scabbard over a long period of time but still visible in part.

The sword is in fine condition overall with some light age staining to the blade which is smoothly and lightly patinated.  There are no losses or repairs to the hilt which has maintained its original pleasing outline. The overall length of the sword is 39.75 inches (101 cm) and the blade 32.75 inches (83.75 cm) long.

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