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Fine late 18th C. European Silver-gilt Smallsword

( ID: es1280 )

This is a fine example of an early 18th C. European smallsword, likely dating to the period of 1700-1740 judging by the early form and the use of a 17th C. Spanish rapier blade.  Overall mounted entirely in solid silver with two color gilding used to show discrete elements on the hilt, which features hunting images and village scenes.  

The hilt of exceptional quality, entirely pierced and chiseled, with no losses, the original peening, and only with minuscule looseness to the crossguard.  The crossguard is decorated with four different scenes on each of the quadrants.

The smallsword is a light one-handed sword designed for thrusting and evolved from the longer and heavier rapier of the late Renaissance. The height of the small sword's popularity was between mid 17th and late 18th century and it is believed to have appeared in France and spread quickly across the rest of Europe.  This example is most likely German though smallswords are notoriously difficult to pinpoint in origin except for those with distinct characteristics. This one of very fine quality exemplifies the style of hilt popular in the early 18th C. and could have been south German through to Italian.

The small sword was the immediate predecessor of the French duelling sword (from which the épée developed) and its method of use—as typified in the works of such authors as Sieur de Liancour, Domenico Angelo, Monsieur J. Olivier, and Monsieur L'Abbat—developed into the techniques of the French classical school of fencing.  However most small swords were also used as status symbols and fashion accessories; for most of the 18th century anyone, civilian or military, with pretensions to gentlemanly status would have worn a small sword on a daily basis. 

This sword typifies that approach though the blade, of 17th C. vintage is powerfully contstructed with a diamond cross-section that would have made it a dangerous thrusting weapon.

The sword retaining its original silver mounted scabbard with the two top fittings. The chape now lost but we can have one constructed for the new owner, in silver, as part of the terms of purchase.  Please inquire.

Overall length 42", blade length 35".

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