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Old 6th September 2021, 10:30 AM   #1
Radboud
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Default English Smallsword for Comment

This is my second smallsword. Described as an English silver hilt smallsword c.1770 it, unfortunately, has no discernable silver hallmarks. I haven't had it tested for silver, but it isn't magnetic.

The blade is hollow ground triangular cross-section without a makers mark. It is decorated with a mix of etching and engraving on the forte of the blade. Regrettably, the blade has a slight warp to it.

LOA: 922mm
Blade: 763mm
Weight: 330grams
POB: 80mm

Would welcome any feedback on the style possible maker.
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Old 6th September 2021, 11:29 AM   #2
fernando
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Beautiful .
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Old 9th September 2021, 01:53 PM   #3
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Yep, English, from the end of 18th centrury would be my guess (maybe contemporary to mine so the estimate of 1770 seems reasonably correct).

I would still look for the silver marks as English silversmiths were pretty thorough with their markings (see for example the arrow in the photo).

Very nice piece.
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Old 9th September 2021, 03:13 PM   #4
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If it's English and silver it should be hallmarked. It was (and still is) a legal requirement. Even the 2" blade of a fruit knife would be marked. It is almost impossible for something like this to be made of silver in England and not be marked.
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Richard

Last edited by Richard G; 9th September 2021 at 03:28 PM.
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Old 9th September 2021, 11:57 PM   #5
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Thanks for the replies.

Mariusgmioc, unfortunately, that is part of the decoration.

Richard, was there an obligation to display the hallmark? Could it be covered by another part of the guard?

Thanks
Bas
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Old 10th September 2021, 08:50 AM   #6
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This is the closest I could find to what might be a hallmark.

Located at the top of the knuckle bow where it joins the annelet. The other photo is for comparison for the detail that is on the obverse side.
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Old 10th September 2021, 02:09 PM   #7
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What I find funny is that initially, the point of this style of decoration was that the owner was able to pay for the time of somebody cutting tiny parts of hard steel and put them together.
If it is made of silver this effort is something else. Now, the point is in the value of the material.
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Old 14th September 2021, 04:09 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by midelburgo View Post
What I find funny is that initially, the point of this style of decoration was that the owner was able to pay for the time of somebody cutting tiny parts of hard steel and put them together.
If it is made of silver this effort is something else. Now, the point is in the value of the material.
I am not aware of the existence of such technology.

Can you please provide more details?!

From all I know this kind of pattern was made by punching and chiseling.
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Old 14th September 2021, 06:55 PM   #9
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Pinning down the nationality of an unmarked smallsword is always something of an enigma The component parts were available to furbishers from various sources and international trade was well established in the 18th C. Most of the makers / retailers engraved their details on the top scabbard mount, most of which are long since lost.
With regard to the sword being discussed, I have one which is engraved on the blade with a Dutch address, that has an almost identical crenulated silver grip.
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Last edited by Mel H; 14th September 2021 at 07:07 PM.
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Old 14th September 2021, 10:26 PM   #10
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That's a nice sword you have Mel, thanks for sharing.

This style of grip binding I've seen on a few other swords, including one by William Kinman posted by Marius in my other thread.
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Old 16th September 2021, 10:13 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Radboud View Post
That's a nice sword you have Mel, thanks for sharing.

This style of grip binding I've seen on a few other swords, including one by William Kinman posted by Marius in my other thread.
Yes, I've seen the Kinman one, very nice, I do have a couple of others with similar crenulated foil grips, I think one of them is French.
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Old 17th September 2021, 01:44 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Radboud View Post
Thanks for the replies.


Richard, was there an obligation to display the hallmark? Could it be covered by another part of the guard?

Thanks
Bas
I don't know, but logic seems to indicate it had to be visible. You wouldn't want to dismantle a sword to find out if it was hall marked or not.
Hall marking of silver in the UK has been ongoing for 700 yrs. It is ingrained in the culture to the extent anything not hall marked is viewed with distinct suspicion. Indeed, the suspicion I'm displaying now!
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Richard
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Old 17th September 2021, 03:26 PM   #13
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Hallmarks are sometimes found on the top of the guard close to the pommel.
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Old 19th September 2021, 07:10 PM   #14
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A possible explanation for lack of hallmarks would be if the hilt were made from pewter or Britannia metal. It would also explain the slightly greyish tone that I thought was probably a photographic distortion. If it is made from these metals this may not be the disappointment you might think it is. Whilst not as valuable a metal as silver it would be a lot rarer sword.
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Old 21st September 2021, 06:43 PM   #15
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Silver is not the hardest of materials but pewter being lead derived wouldn't be a good choice, Britannia metals are a little harder. Paktong, the mystery metal from China may be more be suitable, it was used for pistol barrels. I'm not aware if it was ever analysed but was similar to German silver or Nickel.
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Old 22nd September 2021, 02:20 AM   #16
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I don't think the hilt is made from pewter, but it could well be another tin derivative.

Thank you all for the ideas and feedback.
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Old 22nd September 2021, 08:43 PM   #17
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While I claim no special knowledge on small swords, I have been familiar with Aylward and notes on these passim, and whenever I see 'cut steel' I think of Matthew Boulton.

I found the photo of this silver hilt small sword by William Kinman (hallmark 1774-75) which is based on a cut steel pattern of Boulton's , in fact it is termed 'Boulton pattern'.

Boulton of Soho had huge production factory for many items , buttons, buckles and metalwork items.

In the article I found the photo in, "Matthew Boulton's Small Sword Hilt Designs, His Links with the London sword Trade and New Light on Cut Steel Swords", Leslie Southwick, JAAS, Vol.XIX, #6, Sept. 2009.

I had hoped to find more on the metals used, but the focus was on designs, however this 'pattern' is distinctly Boulton's. While there seems to be a hestitation to associate cut steel designs with precious metal work, it is noted that James Morisset(1738-1815) of London was sometimes employed and consulted with Boulton's 'particular work', whatever that was.

It is also noted that many of these cut steel swords were made at Boulton's Soho works for retailers, who would then place their own names on them.
I am unsure of why this sword would not be magnetic if indeed cut steel.
I wonder if a percentage of non ferrous alloy present in the metal being worked would render the item non magnetic?
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