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  • Place of origin:

    London (hilt, made)
    England (blade, possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1676-1677 (hallmarked)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Badcock, William (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Hilt of cast and engraved silver; etched blade

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Eric M. Browett, in memory of his wife, Ada Mary Browett

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 54, case 2

Object Type
This type of sword is known as a small sword, basically a light rapier (pointed sword). The solid, well-made hilt (handle) and short double-edged blade indicate that it was almost certainly made for an English officer. It closely follows in design the brass and steel hilts of the period that were carried by soldiers in the field.

Ownership & Use
The sword would have been worn in a sash from the shoulder and carried at an angle so that the cast and engraved ornament could be seen. In England, a silver-hilted sword was one of the marks of a gentleman.

William Badcock, the maker of this hilt, was a working goldsmith. He was admitted to the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths of London in September 1668, and was also a member of the Longbow String Makers' Company of London. He was the author of a book on the gold and silver trade, A Touch-stone for Gold and Silver Wares, published in 1677, which was enlarged in 1679 as A New Touch-stone for Gold and Silver Wares. In the second edition he drew attention to the many fraudulent practices current in the trade at this period. He specifically mentions sword hilts, so this must have been a substantial part of his business.

Physical description

Small sword

Place of Origin

London (hilt, made)
England (blade, possibly, made)


1676-1677 (hallmarked)


Badcock, William (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Hilt of cast and engraved silver; etched blade

Marks and inscriptions

Blade incised with religious mottoes and emblems


Height: 93 cm, Depth: 10 cm maximum, at hilt

Object history note

The hilt made in London by William Badcock (active 1668-1679); blade possibly made in England

Descriptive line

The silver hilt cast and engraved, the blade etched with mottoes, English, London hallmarks for 1676-7 and a maker's mark WB; Arms and armour

Labels and date

British Galleries:
A sword with a silver hilt was one of the marks of a gentleman, worn for fashion and, less often, self defence. About 1680 a sword was worn on a wide belt across the body. It hung low, almost at the coat hem, angled to show the decorated hilt. [27/03/2003]


Arms & Armour


Metalwork Collection

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