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Sword

Sword

  • Place of origin:

    London, England (made)

  • Date:

    1798-1799 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    James Morisset (maker)
    Green and Ward (supplier)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver-gilt, steel, leather, set with transluscent medallions

  • Museum number:

    274:1, 2-1869

  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, room 91 mezzanine, case 80, shelf 6

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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.

This sword is inscribed: ‘PRESENTED by the Committee of Merchants &c OF LONDON to LIEUT.T FRANCIS DOUGLAS for his Spirited and active conduct on board His Majesty’s Ship the REPULSE. Ja.s Alms Esq.r Commander during the MUTINY at the NORE in 1797. Marine Society Office, May 1o 1798 } Hugh Inglis Esq.r Chairman’

Francis Douglas was rewarded for his role in suppressing a violent mutiny among sailors at the Nore, a Royal Navy anchorage in the Thames Estuary in 1797. According to an account by an eyewitness, published in The Sheerness Guardian 70 years later, the ship, Repulse, made a 'miraculous' escape from the mutineers reaching shore despite receiving 'as was calculated two hundred shot'.

James Morisset, one of London’s most celebrated makers of enamelled gold dress-swords and boxes, was commissioned to produce this sword.

Physical description

Small sword and sheath, the hilt silver-gilt, set with transluscent medallions, with maker's mark of James Morisset and London hallmarks for 1798-99 and supplied by Green and Ward.
[Scabbard] Leather scabbard with steel mounts
[Sword] The silver gilt hilt enriched with transluscent enamels, London hallmarks for 1798-9 and maker's mark of James Morisset of London

Place of Origin

London, England (made)

Date

1798-1799 (made)

Artist/maker

James Morisset (maker)
Green and Ward (supplier)

Materials and Techniques

Silver-gilt, steel, leather, set with transluscent medallions

Marks and inscriptions

London hallmarks for 1798-99
Mark of James Morisset
This sword is inscribed: ‘PRESENTED by the Committee of Merchants &c OF LONDON to LIEUT.T FRANCIS DOUGLAS for his Spirited and active conduct on board His Majesty’s Ship the REPULSE. Ja.s Alms Esq.r Commander during the MUTINY at the NORE in 1797. Marine Society Office, May 1o 1798 } Hugh Inglis Esq.r Chairman’
[Sword] mark
[Sword] maker's mark

Dimensions

Length: 106.1 cm sword in scabbard, Weight: 55 g sword and scabbard
[Scabbard] Length: 87.2 cm Scabbard, Weight: 8 g Scabbard
[Sword] Length: 86.7 cm Blade, Length: 18.2 cm Hilt, Length: 104.9 cm Sword, Width: 10.5 cm Hilt, Width: 2.5 cm Blade top, Depth: 7.6 cm Hilt, Weight: 47 g Sword

Object history note

This sword is inscribed: ‘PRESENTED by the Committee of Merchants &c OF LONDON to LIEUT.T FRANCIS DOUGLAS for his Spirited and active conduct on board His Majesty’s Ship the REPULSE. Ja.s Alms Esq.r Commander during the MUTINY at the NORE in 1797. Marine Society Office, May 1o 1798 } Hugh Inglis Esq.r Chairman’

Francis Douglas was rewarded for his role in suppressing a violent mutiny among sailors at the Nore, a Royal Navy anchorage in the Thames Estuary in 1797. According to an account by an eyewitness, published in The Sheerness Guardian 70 years later, the ship, Repulse, made a 'miraculous' escape from the mutineers reaching shore despite receiving 'as was calculated two hundred shot'.

Historical significance: James Morisset, one of London’s most celebrated makers of enamelled gold dress-swords and boxes, was commissioned to produce this sword.

Historical context note

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.

Descriptive line

Small sword and scabbard, the hilt silver-gilt, set with transluscent medallions, with mark of James Morisset and London hallmarks for 1798-99, retailed by Green & Ward.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

North, Anthony, An Introduction to European Swords, Victoria and Albert Museum, London 1982, p. 40, No. 83
Wood, Stephen, "...in Defence of the Commerce of Great Britain ... A Group of Swords Presented to the Officers of the British Navy in the 1790s", in Smith, R.D., (ed.), ICOMAM 50: Papers on Arms and Military History 1957-2007, Leeds, 2007, pp. 202-4
(Copy in object file)

Materials

Enamel; Leather; Steel; Silver gilt

Categories

Metalwork; Arms & Armour

Collection code

MET

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Qr_O97345
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