A Gold-Hilted Small-Sword Set with Diamonds and Enamels, with its Scabbard, Presented in 1762 by Generalfeldmarschall Prince Ferdinand Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenb├╝ttel to Lieutenant-General Sir George Howard, c. 1750

2253 2

Item ref: 2253

  • Germany
  • Gold, diamonds, enamel, steel, lizard skin, wood and brass
  • 95 cm / 37.4 in


Field Marshal Sir George Howard K.B. (1718-1796)
To his grandson, Richard William Vyse (1784-1853), later a general in the army also and who in 1812 changed his name by royal sign-manual to Howard-Vyse
Thence by descent to Richard Howard-Vyse, Esq
The National Army Museum, London (Acc. No. 6311-186), prior to its sale by Richard Howard-Vyse in 2011

C.  Blair, 'An unrecorded diamond-hilted small-sword', Connoisseur, CLX, 1965, pp. 77-8
A.V.B. Norman, The Rapier and Small-Sword 1460-1820, London 1980, p.192, plate 123 

'VN DIOS - VNA LEI (sic) - Y - VNA REI'

In addition to its unmissable intrinsic splendour, this sword is made the more compelling as a very rare memento of the significant British role in the military campaign in Germany which shaped Northern Europe in the mid-18th century. The surviving jewelled swords of the mid-18th century are today almost exclusively those of royal provenance and these are preserved appropriately within the historic collections of great institutions, namely: Windsor Castle, Rosenborg Castle in Denmark, The Louvre in Paris, the Moscow Kremlin, the Swedish Royal Armoury in Stockholm, and the State Art Collections in Dresden.

It is therefore further remarkable that this prized possession of a distinguished British senior officer, a noted participant in the North German campaign of the Seven Years War, should have remained unrecorded until its eventual publication in 1965.