Small Sword

Small Sword

c. 1780

Forged steel blade; partially gilt and russet steel hilt; steel wire, leather bands, wood core

Overall: 103.5 cm (40 3/4 in.); Blade: 86.1 cm (33 7/8 in.); Guard: 8.3 cm (3 1/4 in.)

Gift from the Bascom Little Estate 1974.57

Description

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.

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