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Thread: Cult of the Small-Sword

  1. #776
    That would be very exciting if it was from the late 17th century! I hadnt considered the possibility. I guess that would explain why I didnt find any 18th cen. examples of that style hilt. One of the first things I did was look at various other pics of the sword that he sent me personally and I didnt find any holes to recieve a knucklebow either. It does sort of remind me of a heavy-duty scarf or pillowsword. Do you think it could be military?
    What about the decoritive motiffs on the hilt points to the 17th century may I ask?
    If anyone has any examples of this type of sword I would like to see them.
    Last edited by morgan butler; 09-01-2009 at 09:47 AM.
    Peace, Love, SWORDS!

  2. #777
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    My new small sword/rapier

    Hello all,

    This seems the thread to be asking such questions, so I wondered if you would care to pass comment upon my latest purchase. The hilt seems to retain quite a large proportion of its gilt wash, blade is of a trefoil form, culminating in a needle point. Very light weight and lively to wield, all in all a very elegant weapon.

    Any observations as to origin, style, date, etc would be much appreciated!
    Attached Images Attached Images      
    Last edited by Christopher J G Scott; 09-01-2009 at 10:18 AM.

  3. #778
    It seems to be a loop-hilted smallsword with a hollowground blade. I'm not sure if it is first half of the 18th cent or 2nd half. Is that grip squared?
    Peace, Love, SWORDS!

  4. #779
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    Hello Morgan,

    Many thanks for your speedy comments!

    The grip is indeed squared-is this unusual? Does the loop on the hilt perform any particular function, or is it purely decorative?

    Are there any particular texts which deal specifically with small swords?

    Regards,

    Chris

  5. #780
    Two books I recommend are The Small-Sword in England by J.D. Aylward and The Rapier and Small-Sword by A.V.B. Norman. The first title is out of print and can be pricey, but not terrible. I overpaid for my copy a few years ago--$100 US on Amazon. The Norman title has been reprinted but I cannot find the site from which I bought my copy. The only ones I can find currently start at $150 US. I would buy the Aylward title first, personally.

    Jonathan

  6. #781
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    Many thanks Jonathan.

    I have a hunt around for those titles. This sword sort of fell into my lap, so it makes the perfect excuse to learn a little more about them!

    Chris

  7. #782
    Chris,
    In the mean time this site has made available a rare and out of print book:

    http://www.swordlinks.com/courtswords/courtswords.html

    Jonathan

  8. #783
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    Many thanks indeed Jonathan,

    I shall spend some time browsing that in the morning!!

  9. #784
    You can also just google Loophilt smallsword
    or search it on this site and myarmoury.com.

    I havent really seen a squared grip on a smallsword before. It makes me wonder if it is a replacement. The knucklebow is interesting. Could the hilt be early 19th cent? Anyone?
    Peace, Love, SWORDS!

  10. #785
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    Hi Morgan,

    Thanks, i'll try that, I did not know the generic term was "loophilt".

    The grip I believe to be original to the sword, judging from wear and appearance, but will of course bow to superior knowledge.

    My guess at age is circa 1740, but again, these swords aren't my area!

  11. #786
    Quote Originally Posted by morgan butler View Post
    You can also just google Loophilt smallsword
    or search it on this site and myarmoury.com.

    I havent really seen a squared grip on a smallsword before. It makes me wonder if it is a replacement. The knucklebow is interesting. Could the hilt be early 19th cent? Anyone?
    Small-swords did have squared grips, too. I think it is definitely 18th century, but I don't know enough about them to give a specific date. I'll try to remember to have a look at the Aylward book and see if there are clues therein. Neumann's Swords and Blades of the American Revolution may also have some relevant information.

    Jonathan

  12. #787
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    Hi all!

    I think this loop hilt is c. 1770 based on the form of pommel (elongated, approaching the vase form) and grip (squared section, generally a marker of 2nd half of 18th c. small swords) and blade which speaks for itself. Also, the knuckle guard with the insert "medallion" is found in such loop hilts of the period--is it cut steel or brass? The loop hilt is considered as a functional type of small sword, not just a decorative sword. Looks like you have a nice one here!

    Morgan,

    As to decorative motif, I was referring to the radiating fluting.
    Tom Donoho

  13. #788
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    I'd be obliged to you, Jonathan.

    I have Neumann, but am currently away from home, so don't have it with me-if only they made these out of print books in easy ebook format.

  14. #789
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    Hi Tom,

    Many thanks for chiming in! I guess I was only 30 years out!
    The medallion is steel I believe. What was its purpose-purely decorative?

    Is there any way of knowing its country of origin?

    Regards,

    Chris

    [QUOTE=T. Donoho;1086820]Hi all!

    I think this loop hilt is c. 1770 based on the form of pommel (elongated, approaching the vase form) and grip (squared section, generally a marker of 2nd half of 18th c. small swords) and blade which speaks for itself. Also, the knuckle guard with the insert "medallion" is found in such loop hilts of the period--is it cut steel or brass? The loop hilt is considered as a functional type of small sword, not just a decorative sword. Looks like you have a nice one here! [QUOTE]

  15. #790
    I recieved my new smallsword yesterday, it is quite nice and has no more weight to it than a childs pair of scissors! There is scroll work on the blade but it is far too gone to make it out. I believe it mostly foilage patterns, however the blade is quite nice and very wide. I found the perfect way to mount it. I found a very nice scarve, hung it on the wall, tied a bow in it and put the sword thru the bow. It looks very period and makes the brass of the hilt really stand out.
    I looked for other swords of the same hilt pattern and only came up with these few. The first two pics are of my sword, then a french example circa 1680's and an earllier dutch example.
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    Peace, Love, SWORDS!

  16. #791
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    Hi Chris and Morgan!

    Nice sword, Morgan--nice way to display it--how about a pic for us to see? I do think, perhaps, your sword is English given that it's hilt is rather robust (compare to the other pics you posted of this type of sword--notice the quillons, not so robust and they don't fold in so much either)--the German and Scandinavian states and England (an Anglo-Saxon state) tended to like swords with closely folded hilt elements--look at English swept hilt rapiers that follow this style as well--they look kind of chunky. These states also tended to like heavier blades on their small swords (at the beginning a least--certainly not in the period of that gem, the English cut steel hilt, one of my favorite styles of small sword)--they had a tradition of a love affair with the edge it seems--and I remember reading somewhere that some masters would find themselves admonishing English gentlemen to rely on the point of the small sword.

    Chris,

    I think yours is probably English. The inset medallion was decorative--these are even found later with cameos or jet insets--and the roundness of the loop seems to be an English thing when compared to loop hilts of small swords c. 1760 of the German states where the loops are rather compressed along the side of the hilt. Here it seems, the English were asserting their independence and not following Germanic taste in the loop hilt. The German loop hilts sometimes do away with the circle of the loop altogether and the "loop" is then essentially a branch of somewhat squashed form.

    Nice swords, guys! Enjoy!
    Last edited by T. Donoho; 09-04-2009 at 11:09 AM.
    Tom Donoho

  17. #792
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    Many thanks indeed Tom.

    One last question: Are these blade forms usually plain, or decorated, or a mixture of the two?

    Mine appears to be plain, although there is a large amount of gunk on the blade, so my fingers are crossed for a makers name!

  18. #793
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    Chris,

    They show up with all sorts of blades--hollow ground, double edged, colichemarde, and even so-called heirloom blades (cut down rapier blades). You might find the blade manufacturer's sign when you remove the gunk--nothing wrong with a cleaning--but remember that under rather than over doing it is always best, shoot for preservation rather than bright and shiny if you want to preserve its value as an antique. Most blades were not signed and when we say it is likely an English piece that is an educated assessment--but who of us knows for sure?--we weren't there when it was crafted! This to me is one of the thrills of collecting civilian swords--we don't have models or patterns to go by and there is latitude for who might have actually carried this kind of sword, even an officer is possible as they did adopt small swords--dress examples and more robust working pieces that I would dread being pierced with!
    Tom Donoho

  19. #794
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    Never fear Tom-I'm firmly in the "Conservation" camp!!!

    I actually wondered if these hollowground blades were always plain, or were some decorated? Apologies, I probably did not phrase the question clearly!

    Chris

  20. #795
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    Plain or engraved or etched blades are found with this style--same variety as blade types.
    Tom Donoho

  21. #796
    Thanks Tom,
    You are as always, a fountain of info on these type of swords. I'm glad to have you as a resource. I'm still pretty excited about having a 17th century blade from the period of Marlborough! I'll get a pic and post it next week of its new home on my wall. I have a question as well: The blade on that sword is very wide and seems to be pretty damn close to sharp for the last half. Any examples of wide hollow-ground smallsword blades being sharpened?
    Chris: I really think your sword is very interesting! Ive never seen a squared grip before. And the knucklebow is a real standout to me. My smallsword blades are a mix of all 3 of your descriptions. Decorated, plan and a mix of both.
    Have you ever considered using Rennaissance Museum De-Corroder for the "gunk" on your blade. Its kind of expensive but does a good job and wont harm the blade. Ive used it before and been impressed with the results. My blades are cleaned up but still look "plenty old." with no harm to whatever etching is on it.

    Here is an amazing link for smallsword lovers. It is HermanHistorica. They have a great selection of smallswords. If you click on a pic you will get several shots of it and a seperate screen that gives you a magnificent close up of wherever your cursor points to. Its the closest thing to actually holding these beauties in your hands and studying them. Pretty amazing! http://www.hermann-historica.de/aukt...db=kat56_f.txt

    P.S. Jonathan, I'm really enjoying the Catalogue of European Court Swords.
    Peace, Love, SWORDS!

  22. #797
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    Morgan,

    I believe that the earlier SS blades were rolled to wider and thinner edges than the later ones--I have one c. 1740 that is etched to the point (early low etching) with remnants of bluing to the point--must have been a beauty--it has such "edges" and would leave a nasty cut if one tried to grip it and force it out of the holder's hand if the holder yanked on it or gave it a twist. Aylward or North I believe comments on how these blades would show small fractures in the edges--it seems that they were trying to have the best of both worlds in a blade (cut and thrust) but it was simply to light and the edges suffered. Still, the one I have is very ridged and would easily pierce coat and shirt and body--it's frightful when you think of it. I think that one of these writers also mention the situation of period sharpening to such blades and I have seen examples that certainly seem to confirm this.

    Morgan,

    Go to that link you gave here and examine some of the SS c. 1700 and you will see how the central spine on the obverse side of the hollow ground blades is quite high and how the blade spreads out to approximate edges. Ouch!

    Chris,

    The same link has an Austrian example of a loop hilt with that "squashed" appearance I mentioned. Also, one attributed as English similar to yours.
    Last edited by T. Donoho; 09-04-2009 at 03:50 PM.
    Tom Donoho

  23. #798
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    Quote Originally Posted by T. Donoho View Post
    Plain or engraved or etched blades are found with this style--same variety as blade types.
    Many thanks indeed Tom- I'll report if I find anything interesting!!

    Quote Originally Posted by morgan butler View Post
    Thanks Tom,

    Chris: I really think your sword is very interesting! Ive never seen a squared grip before. And the knucklebow is a real standout to me. My smallsword blades are a mix of all 3 of your descriptions. Decorated, plan and a mix of both.
    Have you ever considered using Rennaissance Museum De-Corroder for the "gunk" on your blade. Its kind of expensive but does a good job and wont harm the blade. Ive used it before and been impressed with the results. My blades are cleaned up but still look "plenty old." with no harm to whatever etching is on it.
    Morgan,

    Thank you. As to the decorroder I haven't tried it, I clean all my swords by hand, using 0 grade wire wool, and a mixture of other methods taught to me by various collectors and conservators.
    After cleaning I use renaissance wax, and regularly monitor the blades, but i've never needed to do anymore to them. Less really is more when it comes to sword maintenance!

  24. #799
    Here is a nice ebay sword that is safely "inert" now and suitable for posting. It still has a good deal of gold on it but also appears to be in rough shape. I watched it with interest for some time. I think it is late 1600's. But I could be wrong
    Attached Images Attached Images     
    Last edited by morgan butler; 09-29-2009 at 12:20 PM.
    Peace, Love, SWORDS!

  25. #800

    JAAS article on Boulton

    The most recent copy of the Journal of the Arms and Armour Society fell through my mailbox this morning.

    Most of it is taken up with a new study by Leslie Southwick on Boulton.

    "Matthew Boulton's smallsword hilt designs, his links with the London Sword trade and new light on cut steel hilted swords""

    Haven't read it yet but thought you might like to know

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