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The Digital Vault

Small Swords

This was the popular civilian pattern accepted as part of a gentleman's normal attire. It is believed to have evolved in Holland during the first quarter of the 17th century and to have gained widespread acceptance in France and Central Europe during the mid-1600's. Britain was introduced to the small sword through Charles II, following his restoration in 1660. It continued in wide popularity until the 1780's.

The thin straight blade was designed only for thrusting, and required considerable training. In cross section its shapes were primarily triangular, hexagonal, elliptical, or diamond. The hilt usually included a simple knuckle-bow, pas d'ane, and bilobate counterguard. Although firearms and uniforms were becomming standardized during the 18th century, the officer's sword design remained his personal selection after the Revolution. Most had at least two swords - one for cceremonial occasions, such as the small sword or cuttoe, and another for fighting (usually the saber or broadsword). The small sword appears to have been the most common style among American officers because of its availability from civilian life.