COLLECTION: Mechanical Arts & Arms

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Sword Hanger

1775-1800
Origin: Britain
OW: 4 3/8" OL: About 8"
Iron and steel.
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 2015-142
Removable sword hanger meant to be worn on a waistbelt. Main component is a broad-fronted sheet metal hook with a narrow plain back. Its front is openwork, and exhibits floral and geometric designs. Suspended from either end are suspension chains of unequal length. Each chain is composed of oval steel rings joined by circular split rings and terminating with spring clips (one is a working-life replacement).
Label:Before the Revolution, gentlemen and officers often wore their swords suspended from a pair of adjustable straps affixed to their waistbelts, worn under the waistcoat. Though this setup worked fairly well, if one wanted to remove his sword, it often necessitated taking the belt off entirely, in order to avoid having loose straps dangling on the hip.

With the appearance of the British steel hilted smallswords that became highly fashionable after 1780 came the removable sword hanger. Substituting chains for straps and buckles, these new devices included a decorative hook which allowed the entire sword rig to be put on and taken off at will. Furthermore, the split rings incorporated into the chains could be adjusted at will to enable the wearer to carry his sword at any angle he pleased.