The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of June 28, 2017

Small Sword, c. 1780

forged steel blade; partially gilt and russet steel hilt; steel wire, leather bands, wood core, Overall: l. 103.5 cm (40 11/16 in); Blade: l. 86.1 cm (33 7/8 in); Guard: w. 8.3 cm (3 1/4 in). Gift from the Bascom Little Estate 1974.57

During the 1700s, the small-sword emerged as a light, quick weapon. Like the rapier it was carried by unarmored civilians, the noblemen of the upper classes. Over time this delicate sword became more an accessory of male attire than a weapon essential to life and death. The sword hilt, which shows even when the blade is sheathed, became the ground for elaborate decoration. These small-swords thus represent the final stage in the evolution of the sword, from the edged weapons of antiquity to the elegantly refined blades of the 1700s and 1800s.

The Cleveland Museum of Art (09/10/1998); "Armor Court Reinstallation"

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

Detail Views