Artifact of the Day

1997.03.2

Smallsword

France (probably Paris) (about 1775-80)

Acutely tapering blued steel blade of triangular section, etched full-length with gilded groups of trophies, strapwork & scrolling foliation. At shoulders are remnants of felt washer. Hilt (Norman's type 112) of dark steel, carved with groups of leaves & oval medallions tied with ribbons & filled with pendant trophies of arms, musical instruments, human & animal elements. Bivalve shell of moderate size, rimless, & similarly symmetrically decorated. Short sleeve, slightly baggy at base resting on molded, faceted flat plinth. Arms of hilt are small & slender. Rear quillon is straight & short, with swollen terminal with teat. C-shaped knuckle-guard decorated to match, swollen at mid-height, with a slightly scrolled terminal that plugs into basal side of pommel. Pommel is Norman's type 89. It is olive-shaped & oval section with strong, balustered button & short, necked base. Gilded ground of hilt elements is diapered, scored as lozenges, at the intersections of which are punched quatrefoils. Grip is 4-sided, tapering to ends. Wood core wrapped in flat silver & iron wire (this punched at intervals, with gilded dots) & twisted & coiled silver wire. Braided "Turk's heads" are coiled silver wire on cord core.