Object Title

Sword, scabbard and belt

Sword, scabbard and belt

Date

1770-1780

Object Number

IX.2171

Provenance

Purchased from Peter Finer (dealer), December 1981 (formerly Deposit 75). Possibly worn by Price Octavius, son of George III (see Notes).

Physical Description

(A) Sword:
The cut steel pommel of Norman type 109 has an ovoid facetted pommel (Norman type 89) with a prominent tang-button. The knuckle-guard is of diamond section, widening in the centre which is facetted to form two large and two small elongated diamond-shaped panels; the end, which is pegged into the pommel, has a vestigial flourish. There is a complete side-ring, outside the hand, of flattened oval section, widening towards its centre to form a facetted panel. A loop-guard joins the side-ringto forward half of the knuckle-guard. There is a short rear quillon with a lobate terminal and, towards the blade, a prominent triangular washer. The wooden, rectangular-sectioned grip widens towards the centre and is spirally bound with alternating broad and narrower 'bands' of silver (and silver-gilt?) wire respectively. The narrower band comprises a medium wire twist, itself spirally bound with fine wire and then over bound by a narrow ribbon, flanked by two spirally bound fine wires; the broader band consists of eight fine wires. There is a Turk's head ferrule at either end.


The three-cornered, hollow-ground blade is etched in line for its full length and parcel gilt; outside the hand there is a panel of symmetrical scroll work on a hatched ground 'A la Test noire Sur le / pont St Michael a Paris'; lengthways, a Blackamoor's head (the 'teste noire'), a basket of flowers, a simulated monogram under a coronet of three fleurons, a folitae flourish, a trophy of arms, a knot, and, at the slightly blunt tip, a feather-like ornament. The inside has a similar series of decorations and the same inscription. There is a a faded crimson felt washer around the base.


(B) Scabbard:
The vellum scabbard has top and mid-lockets (each supporting a loose split-ring) and a chape, all decorated with transverse grooves. The upper original suspension ring is facetted. The lower ring is in two halves and is a replacement. The mouth is lined with a coarsely-woven light fabric.


(C) belt
The light cream chamois-leather belt has lines of stitching up each side to which a silk or satin covering was attached, one small fragment of which remains by one end. A spring-clip was originally mounted on a bar at either end (one is now detached from the belt).


Condition when catalogued in Dec. 1987: generally fair/good.
Sword: Some rust pitting on hilt and blade (one especially bad patch on outside of blade).
Scabbard: Some rust-pitting to mounts. Glued seam on inside has pulled away through shrinkage. Some rust-staining to vellum by mounts, especially mid-locket.
belt: Some rust-staining and a tear and a hole on opposite sides just over half-way along. The end from which the mount has become detached is also torn.

Dimensions

Dimensions: Sword: overall length: 589 mm (23.2 in), blade length: 457 mm (18.0 in), blade width by hilt: 16 mm (0.6 in), Scabbard: length: 475 mm (18.75 in), Belt: length: approx. 805 mm (31.75 in), width: 21 mm (0.8 in) Weight: Sword: 180 gm (6 1/4 oz), Scabbard: 35 gm (1 oz)

Component parts

Inscriptions and Marks

None visible

Bibliographic References

Sotheby's, Childhood. A loan exhibition of works of art (exhib. cat.), London 1988, p. 74, no. 117 (illus. hilt and top of scabbard).

B. Clifford, 'Items from the Royal Armouries: my favourite piece', The Armourer, July/Aug. 2001, p. 49 (incl. illus. - overall view).

Royal Armouries, An introduction to princely armours and weapons of childhood (authors: B Clifford and K Watts), Leeds, Royal Armouries, 2003, p. 31 (illus. - full length).

Notes

A manuscript, brown card label formerly attached to the sword (now on inv. file) reads, 'Court Sword of Prince Octavius, Son of George 3rd. Born Feb. 23 1779. Died May 3 1783'. Octavius was the eighth son (thirteenth child) of George III. He died at Kew Palace and was first buried at Westminster Abbey but his body was later moved to Windsor (Clifford 2001).
For swords with similar hilts and for this type od decoration see A.V.B. Norman and C.M. Barne, 'The rapier and small-sword 1460-1820', London 1980, 191, 281; the latter includes reference to the Matthew Boulton designs of about 1775 (photocopy in Curatorial office) of which the pommel and knuckle-guard of no. 999 are similar to IX.2171.
For a sword with a similar hilt, see P. Carrington Peirce, 'A hanbbook of court and hunting swords 1660-1821', p. 30, fig. 16.