Silver and Enamel-Hilted Small-Sword
- Dated: circa 1785
- Culture: French
- Medium: steel, silver, enamel, blue glass, aventurine, brilliants
- Measurements: overall length 99.5 cm / 39.2 inches
The hilt of silver-gilt, the grip, knucklebow and arms of the hilt are decorated with facet-cuttings while the pommel, grip, knucklebow, sleeve and upper side of the shell are all set with oval and disc-shaped panels of aventurine and blue glass. The panels themselves are 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 comes 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. The use of brilliants exhibited on our sword is typical of the best quality of late-18th century French small-swords while 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 17th 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.
Source: Copyright © 2013 Peter Finer