Chiseled French smallsword
The smallsword was the weapon of choice among gentlemen and slowly replaced the traditional rapier during the late 17th century. It was worn by the military, but also among civilians, in first instance for self-defense or dueling, but later on more as a status symbol to show their social rank. In addition to the rapier, the smallsword was shorter, light weighted and therefor much easier to thrust with.
Smallswords were often heavily decorated with precious materials to show the owners social rank. The basics of the hilt are made of steel, silver or bronze and often show a decoration pattern custom to its age. British smallsword hilts are often made of plain steel and decorated with steel beads or pearl rims, usually made in the region of Woodstock and Birmingham. The Dutch hilts were mostly made of chiseled steel and show French influence. The French hilts were commonly made of chiseled steel, depicting military or fashionable figures. What all origins have in common is that in many cases, the blades were imported from Germany and especially Solingen. Our example shown here has a typical chiseled steel hilt with an imported Solingen triangular blade.
Of classical form, consisting of nothing but steel. The hollow openwork pommel is revised to the blade and has a knuckle guard which ends in the ricasso with a single quillon and two ‘pas d’âne’ rings. The guard consists of one piece which has a shell-form and the entire hilt is chiseled in rocaille motifs, a French courteous fashion design which was seen in the mid 18th century and is known by the name ‘rococo’. The grip is made of steel, bound in fine braided metalwire.
Of triangular form, a feature that was adopted in the early 18th century, usually seen as an improvement compared to the double edged blades, early and transitional smallswords had. However, both type of blades including experimental blades were made during the entire 18th century and beyond. This example has an unusually wide forte and ends in a spiked triangular tip. The blade is decorated with an etched floral design, but is not marked with a makers mark. I assume this blade was made either in France of Germany. The blade is protected with the original scabbard which is made of wood and parchment and features plain iron fittings.
Condition: Excellent condition, including its original scabbard, which is rare due to their frangibility.
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