Object Title

Hanger and scabbard

Hanger and scabbard

Date

1830-1870

Object Number

IX.5407

Provenance

Purchased from Andrew Lumley (dealer), 20 March 1995. Formerly Deposit No. A.257. Previously sold at Sotheby's New York Sale, 6th June 1995.

Physical Description

With silver hilt cast as one piece and finely chiselled. The combined grip and pommel in the form of a poacher, in late 18th-century dress, his head thrown back and clasped by his hands in pain and his right leg caught in man-trap above the forward quillon. The recurved guard extends further outside the hand than inside and has two short scrolled quillons recurved in the plane of the blade. Inside the hand, on the side towards the blade, the guard is engraved 'FROMENT-MEURICE'. The guard is decorated with a dead game bird, ivy tendrils and flowers over finely pierced scroll-work. There is a worn textile buff-piece.

The short, two-edged blade has two medium fullers, rising 25.4 mm (1 in) from the hilt and extending almost to the tip, and is decorated on both faces for most of its length with a panel of relief etched oak leaves and acorns.
The black leather scabbard has a locket and chape both chased with oak leaves and acorns and with decoratively cut opposing edges. The locket has a frog-stud in the form of a wolf's head.
Condition on acquisition: Good, sound & complete; scabbard leather possibly a later restoration.

Dimensions

Dimensions: Sword: overall length: 570 mm (22.5 in), blade length: 405 mm (15.9 in), blade width: 310 mm (1.2 in), Scabbard: overall length: 425 mm (16.7 in) Weight: Sword: 675 gm (1 lb 8.0 oz), Scabbard: 90 gm (0 lb 3.0 oz)

Inscriptions and Marks

On the rear quillon, on the side inside the hand, stamped: JW between two mullets (above and below) in a lozenge, the mark of Jules WiÞse (see Notes).

Associations

Places France

Bibliographic References

See Provenance and Notes.

Notes

This sword is possibly that exhibited by Froment-Meurice in the London Great Exhibition of 1851 ('Official Catalogue' of the Great Exhibition, London 1851, No. 1720; repr. in H.L. Blackmore, 'Hunting Weapons', London, 1971, pp. 77, 78, fig.26); though there are slight differences, these might be due to the engraver of the illustration. For the makers, Jules WiÞse (1818-1890) and F-D Froment-Meurice (1802-1855), see J. Rudoe, Franþois-DÚsirÚ Froment-Meurice and Jules WiÞse, collaborators', in M. Kock 'et al.', 'The Belle Epoque of French Jewellery 1850-1910' (London, 1990) [originally publ. as 'Pariser Schmuck... (Munich, 19890], esp. pp. 44 (fig. 2a - mark of Jules WiÞse)), 45 (photocopies on inv. file), also 'ibid'., pp. 81-82, 94 (summary of their lives); and Sotheby's (New York) Sale Cat., 6th June 1995.
The mark on the present sword was apparently used by Jules WiÞse from 2 November 1844 to 24 March 1849 and from 24 March 1858 to 1 September 1890, the year of his death (Rudoe 1989, p. 44, fig. 2a).
'Franþois-DÚsirÚ Froment-Meurice was born in 1802, the son of a Parisian goldsmith, Franþois Froment. After his father's early death his mother married Pierre Meurice, also a goldsmith. Franþois-DÚsirÚ attended his step-father's 'atelier' which he left to complete his apprenticeship in 1815. In 1839 he showed at the Paris exhibition and was awarded the silver medal; the jury recorded that he employed the celebrated 'ciseleur' Antoine Vechte. Five years later, at the Paris exhibition of 1844, [Froment-Meurice] won a gold medal and became known as the leading jeweller and goldsmith in France. A measure of [his] success is the record of his employment of 120 asssitants by 1848. He died at the height of his career in 1855 whereupon his son ?mile continued the business in the same Mannerist-revival style until late in the century.' (Sotheby's (New York) Sale Cat., 6th June 1995).
'Jules WiÞse trained in Berlin... before settling in Paris... in 1839 he entered the Froment-Meurice workshop, where he became workshop manager ('contrema¯tre') in 1844. In the same year he set up an independant atelier, working initially for his former employer only. (Rudoe 1989, p. 45). '...the vast majority of recorded Froment-Meurice jewels, while bearing the firm's signature in full, are stamped not with the maker's mark of Froment-Meurice, but with the maker's mark of Jules WiÞse or of other unidentified manufacturers. This raises the question of whether the Froment-Meurice workshop ever executed jewellery or whether it was all contracted out to WiÞse or to other workshops.' (Rudoe 1989, p. 43). For further information on Froment-Meurice and Jules WiÞse see Rudoe 1989 and further refs in letter from J. Rudoe, 1 April 1998 (on inv. file).
'Generally similar hilts':
Wallace Collection, no. A707, presented to the Marquess of Hertford by Napoleon III, with the grip in the form of an American Indian struggling with a lion and a second shot lion forming the guard; the hilt signed Jeanisset (sic.).
Offered for sale at Sotheby's (Billingshurst), 24th and 26th July 1995, Lot 328 (col. ill. in cat.) - with the grip in the form of a huntsman bludgeoning a fox pinned at his feet, the hilt engraved Janisset, Paris.
Rather less similar but in the same genre, is a sword with a silver hilt, the grip in the form of a hunter in 'medieval' dress with a short sword and blowing a hunting horn, 'with hounds baying at his feet and, on the ground, a dead boar, stag and heron ... The silver parts were struck with the St Petersberg marks for 1851, maker's mark of Karl Tegelsten, and the assaymaster's mark of Aleksandre Mitin' (L Southwick, 'The sword of General Sir William Fenwick Williams, Baronet of Kars, in the Royal Armouries (IX.1841) and aspects of High Victorian design', 'Arms & Armour', vol. 9, no. 2, Autumn 2012, pp. 101-153, at pp. 119, 120, 149 (note 50), where the illustration of this or a similar sword in the 1851 Great Exhibition catalogue (see above) together with two other swords from Froment-Meurice's Paris manufactory, illustrated on the same page of the 1851 catalogue, are reproduced and discussed).
A hanger with an apparently identical hilt, but in bronze and with differently decorated scabbard mounts was offered for sale at Hermann Historica, Munich, 28 October 1999, Lot 879.


Froment Meurice intentionally oxidised the surface of some of his products in line with contemporary fashion (see J. Rudoe, 'Oxidised Silver in the 19th Century: the documentary evidence', in S. La Niece and P. Craddock (eds), 'Metal Plating and Patination. Cultural, Technical and Historical Developments', Oxford, 1993, pp. 161-170 & Pls 14 and 16.1 - copy on inv. file), so cleaning should be approached with extreme caution as many pieces with original oxidised finishes have been lost through over-cleaning.