COLLECTION: Mechanical Arts & Arms

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"Smallsword" infantry hanger

1720-1750
Origin: England
OL: 36 3/4"; Blade: 30 7/16" x 1 3/16"
Iron/steel, brass & wood
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 2001-840
English infantry hanger of the "smallsword" type.
Label:During the first half of the 18th century, British infantrymen often carried swords which imitated gentlemen’s smallswords but were of far lower quality. Regardless of the ornate designs cast into the hilt elements, they were poorly finished and stood in stark contrast to finely crafted, true smallswords.

Many different designs were created during the period, and this example is amongst the most common. All the brass hilt components are cast with classical figures, foliage, globes & cornucopias. Its wooden grip would have originally been covered with spiraling strands of twisted brass wire. The straight, double edged blade is also of a very popular form.

No less than three identical quillon blocks (the piece below the grip) and a knucklebow were found by Colonial Williamsburg's archaeologists at sites around town, including the Geddy and Wray sites and the Governor's Palace. These relics are likely remnants of the 134 brass-hilted smallswords removed from the Governor’s Palace in June of 1775.