A Silver-Hilted Small-Sword made for a Child, together with its Scabbard c. 1720

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Item ref: 4153

  • England, probably London
  • Iron alloy (steel), silver, wood, leather
  • 62.5 x 8.5 cm


Private collection, United Kingdom

This early Georgian sword one imagines to have been worn in Hogarth’s London, by the young son of a gentleman dressed in his father’s image. In London society, a silver sword hilt was the most desired, with iron hilts the mark of the merchant class and brass beneath them both. The present hilt is formed with a shell-guard of asymmetrical kidney-shaped segments supported by a pair of very slender C-scroll arms, two among the subtle constructional characteristics which identify it as a hilt of the early Georgian age. As a miniature this sword projects significant charm and the spirit of the age.

The measured restraint of the relief decoration is again a characteristic of London silver small-work of the earlier period, in this case involving a series of pseudo-classical figures set between small masks, the generally classical flavour of the subjects being familiar to the educated class in Georgian England. In this respect the present hilt would have changed little over the previous twenty years or so, but on balance it is likely that a sword made for a child would err on the conservative. The silver locket at the scabbard mouth expands upon the cherubic mask motif and is an infrequent surviving feature.