Peter Finer

A French Silver and Enamel-Hilted Small-Sword, c. 1785

Item Ref: 1741 Price on application

1741 1
1741 9
1741 10
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France. Silver, gold, steel, brilliants, aventurine, glass and cobalt.


Dietrich Stürken collection, Portugal

The use of brilliants exhibited on our sword is typical of the best quality of late-eighteenth century French small-swords – there being an example of this style of decoration on a small- sword hilt in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The use of a combination of aventurine and blue glass in the hilt’s panels is an extremely rare feature. Aventurine glass, also known as ‘sunstone’ and formed of glass incorporating copper filings, was perfected in Murano, Venice, in the seventeenth century and was an expensive and rare material that was exported for use in much the same way as the fashionable non-precious hardstones of the period, in cameos and intaglios for example. In the case of the panels on our sword, the aventurine has been mixed with glass stained with cobalt to imitate a combination of quartz and lapis lazuli and to create a sword hilt of remarkably eye-catching quality.

The hilt of silver-gilt, the grip, knucklebow and arms of the hilt decorated with facet-cutting, the pommel, grip, knucklebow, sleeve and upper side of the shell all set with oval and disc- shaped panels of aventurine and blue glass. The panels themselves encircled with borders of brilliants; lines of brilliants also decorate the grip, border the upper side of the shell and form discs on the upper side of the shell and quillon terminal. The lower side of the shell with a raised polished border enclosing a chiselled ground decorated with polished ovals and discs containing florets. The blued and gilded blade of hollow triangular section, bearing a gold crowned cypher LER, applied to the forte on the near-side.

Size: Length 99.5 cm / 39.2 in