Hilt: gold with blue translucent enamel; blade: etched, blued and gilded steel
Overall: 97 cm (38 3/16 in.); Blade: 81 cm (31 7/8 in.); Hilt: 16.5 cm (6 1/2 in.)
Weight: 430 g (15.17 oz.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 2002.1
This example shows the small-sword at its latest and most refined stage of development. Though highly reflective of French taste, it was probably fashioned in a Swiss workshop under French influence or by a French craftsman working in Switzerland. Worn publicly as an emblem of social rank, this sword was likely custom-made for an affluent individual to use on formal or court occasions.
So-called because of its short blade, the small-sword emerged as the light and quick weapon of choice for aristocratic civilians during the 1700s. Such a sword was traditionally suspended at about mid-thigh from the left side of a belt, the hilt exposed through the opening of the gentleman's coat. Highly visible, the hilt invited lavish decoration through precious materials such as gold and enamels, as seen here. Considered a type of masculine jewelry at that time, small-swords featured a variety of hilt styles that went in and out of fashion. Many were decorated to match personal costume, and jewelers worked on the finest small-swords of the day.
The information about this object, including provenance information, is based on historic information and may not be currently accurate or complete. Research on objects is an ongoing process, but the information about this object may not reflect the most current information available to CMA. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email email@example.com.
To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.
Is something not working on this page? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Request a digital file from Image Services that is not available through CC0, a detail image, or any image with a color bar. If you have questions about requesting an image, please email email@example.com.