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An English silver mounted hunting hanger stamped with the maker’s mark “D H”. The style of the hanger is very similar to others known to have been made by silversmiths working in the City of London towards the end of the 17th century. The maker of this hanger is not yet identified.
The guard of this sword is furnished with silver mounts. A bold faceted quillon block forms the basis of the cross guard from which extend horizontal quillons swollen at the ends with vertically counter curved flattened terminals finished with ribbed knops. One quillon is marked with the maker’s initials “D H” in raised relief inside two conjoined circles. The pronounced pommel cap is formed with a raised dome on top with an integral ribbed tang button in the middle. The tapered neck is grooved and ribbed below the edge of the cap. The same maker’s mark is stamped onto the cap.
The grip is of roe buck antler with pronounced pearling. The pommel cap is shaped to sit neatly onto the coronet. The grip is mounted with a ferrule at its base which is ribbed top and bottom in the same manner as the pommel cap. The original scabbard is in very poor condition but retains its silver mouthpiece which is decorated with two bands of ribs and cut with crescent shapes at the base.
Assuming the initials “D H” represent the maker, the hanger most likely dates to before 1697, which is the date of the advent of the Higher, or “Britannia”, Standard for silver at Goldsmiths’ Hall in London, when smiths were required to record a new punch mark bearing the first two initials of their surnames, rather the usual practice of two letters representing the first letters of their christian and surnames. When the requirements for punch marks changed again in the 18th century makers reverted to recording their initials but in bolder type accompanied by date and hallmark stamps. As it is unlikely that the maker’s surname would begin with the letters “D H”, it seems most likely that these initials date the hanger to before 1697.
The slightly curved, single edged, unmarked blade is 19.5 inches long (49.5 cm). It has a short ricasso and a pronounced fuller running from the hilt underneath the spine for 12 inches (30 .5 cm) after which it is double edged for the remainder of its length. The overall length is 25 inches (63.5 cm).
In the 17th and 18th centuries when swords were a popular weapon for gentlemen, hangers were a robust secondary side arm used for self defence 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, styles were slimmed down and refined for wear as a gentleman’s fashion accessory. When the popularity of these hangers declined completely towards the third quarter of the 18th century many were dismantled and the mounts melted down for other uses. The hanger described here would have been an expensive item in its day and most likely a gentleman’s weapon.
For further information on English silver hilted swords and hangers see Leslie Southwick, “London Silver – Hilted Swords, Their makers, suppliers & allied traders, with directory”, 2001, Royal Armouries. For similar contemporary examples see Plate 17 for two late 17th century hangers by William Badcock and Plate 18 for one by Richard Fuller dating to circa 1690.
Condition: The hanger is in fine overall condition with only light small patches of age staining to the blade. The scabbard is fragmented and in very poor condition but retains its original silver mouthpiece.