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Old 12th October 2017, 02:50 PM   #1
RobertGuy
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Default Steel Hilted SDmallsword

Up for consideration and comment is a steel hilted smallsword. Faceted steel hilt with cross guard and chain. Small pays d'an, bosses and indented decoration to inside of shell guard. The front face of the guard is polished steel with no trace of blacking or blueing left (if there ever was any). Blade is traingular cross section, fairly stiff with a wicked point but no real edges. No etched decoration, makers mark or name. I am thinking English or French circa 1790? Anybody like to confirm that? Italian, Spanish, 21st century Chinese? All opinions and thoughts gratefully received.

Some stats:
Weight, sword: 12.7oz (0.36kg)
Length overall: 37'' (94cm) Blade: 31'' (79 cm)
POB: 2.5'' (6cm)
Profile taper: 0.89'' (22.6 mm) at ricasso, 0.45'' (11.4mm)at mid blade, 0.25'' (63mm) 2 inches from tip.
Distal taper (measured across triangle forming fuller) 0.39'' (9.9 mm) at ricasso, 0.23'' (5.9mm)at mid blade,. 0.13'' (3.5mm) 2 inches from tip.
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Old 16th October 2017, 04:53 AM   #2
M ELEY
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Definitely 21st century Chinese!

Jus' kiddin'. You are spot-on with your summation, ca. 1790-1800. Could be French, British, etc. Very nice piece!
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Old 16th October 2017, 05:40 AM   #3
Jim McDougall
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To me this seems a British cut steel example c. 1790 as noted. These are especially intriguing as regarded as of the final days of the small sword, yet they have a magnificent austerity to them. The faceted steel of this example is one style which ran alongside many which had an almost mechanical looking beaded motif.
See : "The Smallsword in England" J.D. Aylward, London, 1945

Cap'n Mark, ya 'bout got my ticker with that Chinese zinger!!!
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Old 17th October 2017, 03:15 AM   #4
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Old 17th October 2017, 08:10 AM   #5
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Thanks all. I have one more question. I have been looking at a lot of smallsword images online and see very few with a chain instead of a knuckle bow. The few that do have chains are usually spadroon type smallswords. The chain seems more decorative than functional and seems a fashion item. Were they common and do they help to narrow the date range for the sword?
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Old 17th October 2017, 08:42 AM   #6
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my english black 'cut steel' mourning sword had a chain. i'm guessing they were mostly decorative, but could keep you from dropping it if your grip slipped...thanks for posting, now i know what the chain may have looked like.
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Old 17th October 2017, 05:39 PM   #7
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These swords were very much fashion accoutrements, and the chain was entirely decorative, not intended to be functional. The use of chains in place of knuckle guard was very common by the end of the 18th century, where the age of the small sword was closing, and hilt elements such as pas d'ane were entirely vestigial.

The chain is not a component which might be relied on for establishing date or any other factor. Such estimations are based more on the nature of the actual hilt structure and elements and design character. For example Dutch and English often run very closely, while French seem to have the subtle indicators which set them apart. I am certainly no authority on these, but have had the J.D. Aylward book for many decades, and this is about the best book to learn more.
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