Object Title

Hanger and scabbard

Hanger and scabbard

Date

1696-1697

Object Number

IX.2654

Provenance

Purchased from Mr A. Cook (dealer). Formerly Deposit 227.

Physical Description

Silver hilt dated 1697/97; possible maker's mark (illegible). The silver hilt has a pommel with a scalloped lower edge, the cap of which has a scalloped edge, and is depressed to form two 'ears'; the tang-button is cast to show a negroid ('blackamoor') head blowing a 'trumpet', into which the scrolled foliate terminal of the knuckle-guard is pegged; the mid-point of the knuckle-guard widens slightly and is cast on both sides to resemble an elongated fleur-de-lys; the short rear quillon terminates in a flattened finial, inclined towards the blade and cast to resemble a claw. The stag horn grip has a silver ferrule towards the blade which is decorated en suite with the pommel cap. Traces of etching remain on the inner and outer faces of the quillon block.


The curved single-edged blade has a false edge for the last 140 mm (5.5 in) The quillon block is decorated on each face with a panel of foliage, punched and etched with substantial remains of gilding.


The black leather scabbard is lined with red velvet at the mouthpiece and has two silver mounts. The locket is decorated with three raised bands of annular mouldings near the mouthpiece and a scalloped edge. The chape is decorated en suite. The leather scabbard is tooled for half its length with panels of horizontal lines and lines crossed in saltire. Inside the hand, near the mouthpiece are traces of tooled letters which read 'M C [or O] H O L'.


Condition: The ferrule on the grip is loose. The leather is worn, especially on the forward edge, near the hilt.

Dimensions

Dimensions: Sword: Overall length: 616 mm (24.25 in), blade length: 483 mm (19.0 in), blade width: 31 mm (1.2 in), Scabbard: Overall length: 476 mm (18 3/4 in) Weight: Sword: 460 g (1 lb 1 oz)

Inscriptions and Marks

On hilt, on the knuckle-guard, inside the hand, stamped: (reading from pommel) an illegible maker's(?) mark; the London assay mark; the lion passant (Sterling standard); 't' in a shield (the date letter for 1696-1697).On blade, on both faces, about 76-102 mm (3-4 in) from guard, stamped: a left-facing crescent moon.

Associations

Bibliographic References

H.L. Blackmore, 'The blackamoor swords', Royal Armouries Yearbook, III (1998), pp. 67-76, at pp. 73-5 (incl. figs 11-13).

Notes

A small number of hangers with similar hilts are known. One, bearing the mark of Thomas Vicaridge (entered in 1697), was photographed in the Armouries in January 1985 (Deposit 216) and is now in a private collection (publ. Blackmore 1998/9, pp. 73-5, incl. fig. 15; L. Southwick, 'Thomas Vicaridge...', 'Royal Armouries Yearbook', 5, 2000, pp. 47-8, figs 5-7). Another in a private collection has London hallmarks for 1702 (silversmith's mark illegible; publ. Blackmore 1998, pp. 73-4 (figs 14 a & b)). Another, with Britannia standard marks for 1697, was offered for sale at Glendinnings (London), 23 March 1995, lot 436 (illus. in cat.). Another, in relic condition and with an agate hilt, was apparently sold in the Portobello Road around 1996 (inf. H.L. Blackmore, August 1996). A detached agate grip with negroid head pommel and ferrule (only) from another example was formerly in the collection of H.L. Blackmore (publ. Blackmore 1998/9, p. 75, figs 16, 17; offered for sale at Christie's South Kensington, 12 July 2000, Lot 288 (illus. in cat.)). Another example with a hilt cast in brass instead of silver was sold at auction 'some years ago' (Blackmore 1998/9, p. 75, ex inf. Anthony R. E. North).
Blackmore (1998/9) says that this group of hangers represent the end of a fashion for blackamoor pommels. He suggests that 'they were made for members of a family made bearing such a crest in their arms' and the one with a brass hilt (see above) 'could have been made for a family retainer. Alternatively, as the early 1700s were noted for the proliferation of secret societies and bizarre clubs, it is possible that blackamoor hangers could have been worn by members of such a society.'.
For other negro-head pommels in the Royal Armouries see entry for IX.739, under Notes.