Steel, blued, with gold encrusted decoration; chased and engraved; silver wire
Support: Gilt and blued shell
Overall: 94.5 cm (37 3/16 in.); Blade: 77.2 cm (30 3/8 in.); Grip: 13.2 cm (5 3/16 in.); Guard: 8 cm (3 1/8 in.)
Weight: 320 g (11.29 oz.)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John L. Severance 1916.1097
The decorative design of the hilt was often carried down onto the blade, which could be chased or etched with designs, and gilded or blued as seen here.
During the 1700s, the small-sword emerged as a light, quick weapon. Like the rapier it was carried by unarmored civilians, the noblemen of the upper classes. Over time this delicate sword became more an accessory of male attire than a weapon essential to life and death. The sword hilt, which shows even when the blade is sheathed, became the ground for elaborate decoration. These small swords thus represent the final stage in the evolution of the sword, from the edged weapons of antiquity to the elegantly refined blades of the 1700s and 1800s.
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