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David Cooper




Location: UK
Joined: 27 Apr 2008
Likes: 2 pages

Posts: 110

PostPosted: Thu 13 Feb, 2014 6:43 am    Post subject: 5 Blades No 5 - Small-Sword         Reply with quote

For the last of my 5 blades a rather nice small-sword. The original sales description states:
'The small-sword was a popular gentleman's weapon from the late 1600s as was worn as an item of costume, it was light to carry and could be deftly moved with a flick of the wrist and was an extremely deadly weapon.'

My stats
Weight, sword: 14oz (0.39kg)
Lengthoverall: 38.5'' (98cm) Blade:32''(81cm)
POB: 2'' (5cm)
Profile taper: 0.86'' (21.9mm) at ricasso, 0.38'' (9.7mm)at mid blade, 0.23''(6mm) 2 inches from tip.
Distal taper (measured across triangleforming fuller) 0.33'' (8.4mm)at ricasso, 0.23'' (6mm)at mid blade,. 0.14'' (3.7mm) 2 inches fromtip.

Triangular section blade with hollow ground like edges. Carved ebony wood grip. There is line etching to the first third of the blade, foliage, scrolls and crossed swords and drum. The pas d'ane are functional rather than decorative.

Does anybody have any idea of the likely age and country of origin of this sword. Do the functional finger rings indicate an early date? Does the ebony grip indicate a mourning sword?


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Shahril Dzulkifli




Location: Malaysia
Joined: 13 Dec 2007
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 1,265

PostPosted: Fri 14 Feb, 2014 8:07 am    Post subject: 5 Blades No 5 - Small-Sword         Reply with quote

I think we need an expert to verify this sword's ebony hilt indicate whether it is a mourning sword or not, David.
“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength”

- Marcus Aurelius
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Tom L.




Location: Toronto, Canada
Joined: 20 Jun 2008

Posts: 31

PostPosted: Fri 14 Feb, 2014 10:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Is there any sign that the rest of the hilt has been blackened (e.g. pommel, guard, quillon block, knuckle bow)? If the entire hilt shows signs that it has been blackened, chances are then that you do have a mourning sword. I have one myself. Very simple hilt like yours with an etched blade. The grip on mine is just twisted cord with turks head knots also done in cord. The cords where black.
I have a cunning plan Mr. B.
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Don Stanko




Location: ohio
Joined: 27 Apr 2004
Likes: 1 page
Reading list: 478 books

Posts: 233

PostPosted: Fri 14 Feb, 2014 7:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

At first glance the sword appears to be early to mid 18th Century, either English or French. But the wooden grip bothered me. Then, as I was reading through a few books, I found a very similar sword on page 165 in Les Epees by Jean Lhoste. Plate #273 has a near identical sword, listed as an Infantry Sergeants sword, circa 1760. It is listed as having a carved ebony grip, quite similar to yours. So, my guess is French, circa 1760.
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David Cooper




Location: UK
Joined: 27 Apr 2008
Likes: 2 pages

Posts: 110

PostPosted: Tue 18 Feb, 2014 7:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you all. I have taken some more detailed pictures to try and further narrow things down. Firstly is there a more definitive test for ebony than - wood+black+hard? Happy The inside of the shell guard looks black but I cannot tell if this is paint, lacquer or just age and dirt. The outside of the shell seems to be clean. I have included a couple of better pictures of some of the etching. This does seem military in nature but I must admit I would have expected a more substantial spadroon like blade for an army sword. Anyway see what you all think.


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Tom Donoho





Joined: 18 Jun 2010

Posts: 47

PostPosted: Fri 28 Feb, 2014 3:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Blackened/Japanned hilts are not necessarily mourning small-swords--it was a common method of protecting small-swords with iron/steel hilts--any somber-looking sword could be carried while in mourning, even dull bronze or dull blued hilts with a dull grip would be acceptable--grips don't necessarily denote a mourning hilt--somber small-swords were a favorite for informal wear about town, as were hunting hangers--mourning small-swords were often produced cheaply (rough/cheap hilts that would be dressed up by wrapping with black ribbon and low quality blades)--black horse hair or cord-wrapped grips seem to indicate mourning small-swords and tend to be found on cheaper swords--I have a Victorian small-sword meant for mourning wear as it has a browned hilt with a black crepe "poof" attached to it. You have a nice sword!
Tom
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Tom Donoho





Joined: 18 Jun 2010

Posts: 47

PostPosted: Fri 28 Feb, 2014 3:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Military motifs are found on civilian small-swords and civilian motifs are found on military small-swords, so they are not necessarily an indicator of a military or civilian sword.
Tom
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David Cooper




Location: UK
Joined: 27 Apr 2008
Likes: 2 pages

Posts: 110

PostPosted: Fri 07 Mar, 2014 4:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Putting together replies on a couple of forums I am now satisfied that this is a sword of a French Sergent de Ville late 18th early 19th century. What I did not realise was that a Sergent de Ville is in fact a French city policeman, not army at all.
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