Sword

ca. 1760 (made)
Sword thumbnail 1
Sword thumbnail 2
+6
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91 to 93 mezzanine, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

From around 1640, light swords with short, flexible, pointed blades appeared in response to new fencing techniques that emphasised thrusting at speed. They were worn increasingly with civilian clothes as ‘small swords’, offering a means of self-defence but largely denoting status for the well-dressed gentleman.

Small swords were items of male jewellery. By the 1750s, their elaborate gold and silver hilts, mounted with precious stones and fine enamelling, were the products of the goldsmith and jeweller rather than the swordsmith. They made fitting rewards for distinguished military and naval service. With their blades tucked away inside scabbards, it was their ostentatious and expensive hilts that carried their thrust.

Decorated with garlands, ribbons and triumphal military emblems this is a classic presentation small-sword of the mid-18th century. The finger loops and the shell guard offers little protection for the hand. The hilt is finely pierced and was probably the work of a gold-box maker. The sword's strength is as a work of art rather than as a weapon.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.
(Some alternative part names are also shown below)
  • Sword
  • Small Sword
  • Scabbard
Materials and Techniques
Hilt cast, chiselled and pierced gold
Brief Description
Small sword and sheath, French or Swiss, about 1760
Physical Description
Cast, chiselled and pierced gold, unmarked
Dimensions
  • Height: 95.5cm
  • Width: 8cm
  • Depth: 6.8cm
Credit line
Bequeathed by E. Fairclough
Object history
Decorated with garlands, ribbons and triumphal military emblems this is a classic presentation small-sword of the mid-18th century. The finger loops and the shell guard offers little protection for the hand. The hilt is finely pierced and was probably the work of a gold-box maker. The sword's strength is as a work of art rather than as a weapon.
Historical context
From around 1640, light swords with short, flexible, pointed blades appeared in response to new fencing techniques that emphasised thrusting at speed. They were worn increasingly with civilian clothes as ‘small swords’, offering a means of self-defence but largely denoting status for the well-dressed gentleman.



Small swords were items of male jewellery. By the 1750s, their elaborate gold and silver hilts, mounted with precious stones and fine enamelling, were the products of the goldsmith and jeweller rather than the swordsmith. They made fitting rewards for distinguished military and naval service. With their blades tucked away inside scabbards, it was their ostentatious and expensive hilts that carried their thrust.
Summary
From around 1640, light swords with short, flexible, pointed blades appeared in response to new fencing techniques that emphasised thrusting at speed. They were worn increasingly with civilian clothes as ‘small swords’, offering a means of self-defence but largely denoting status for the well-dressed gentleman.



Small swords were items of male jewellery. By the 1750s, their elaborate gold and silver hilts, mounted with precious stones and fine enamelling, were the products of the goldsmith and jeweller rather than the swordsmith. They made fitting rewards for distinguished military and naval service. With their blades tucked away inside scabbards, it was their ostentatious and expensive hilts that carried their thrust.



Decorated with garlands, ribbons and triumphal military emblems this is a classic presentation small-sword of the mid-18th century. The finger loops and the shell guard offers little protection for the hand. The hilt is finely pierced and was probably the work of a gold-box maker. The sword's strength is as a work of art rather than as a weapon.
Collection
Accession Number
M.40:1, 2-1973

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdMarch 15, 2000
Record URL