The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Smallsword
  • Smallsword
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Italy, possibly Brescia
  • 1645 - 1680
    c. 1645 - 1655 (guards)
    c. 1680 (pommel)
  • Iron or steel, chiselled and pierced
  • Length: 96.5 cm
    Width: 1.9 cm
    Weight: 0.55 kg
  • Inscription: '. PRO . CHRISTO . ET . PATRIA .'
  • A684
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
Further Reading
  • Smallsword, the hilt composed of a hollow, spherical pommel with button, pierced with scenes of a couple carousing with a monkey behind, and the drunkenness of Noah (?); spirally fluted, wire-bound grip; short straight quillons terminating in large, hollow, pear-shaped knobs; diminutive hilt-arms and two oval shell-guards bounded by a pair of knobs, like those on the quillons, meeting in the centre on each side; quillons and guards elaborately pierced and delicately chiselled with masks and conventional foliage. Short blade of diamond section, the single groove at the forte is inscribed on either side:

    .PRO . CHRISTO . ET . PATRIA.

    The short ricasso is covered by a pierced extension of the hilt. The pommel is pierced for a knuckle-guard and therefore does not belong. One of the figures decorating it is in the costume of the last quarter of the 17th century.

    Pommel about 1680; guards North Italian (Brescian ?) about 1645-55; blade of uncertain date.

    Boccia and Coelho, Armi bianche, 1975, fig. 643, 'Brescian about 1640-50'; Norman and Barne, 1980, pp. 58, 200 and 201. This type of hilt is discussed by C. Blair (1974, no. 37). Narrow blades of diamond section with a narrow fuller near the hilt are found from the late 16th century until the second half of the 18th century in Southern Europe.