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Dressing in Steel: Part Two


Smallsword Hilt and Scabbard Mounts

James Morisset (English, London, active 1768–1800)

hallmarked for 1797–98
British, London
Silver-gilt, enamel, paste brilliants
(a) Length 10 1/4 in. ( 26.04 cm) (a) Width 4 1/2 in. ( 11.43 cm) (b) Length 7 1/8 in. ( 18.08 cm) (b) Width 1 in. ( 2.54 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Stephen V. Grancsay, 1942
Accession Number:
42.50.36a, b
  • Description

    The patriotic and nautical subjects of the decoration suggest that this was made for presentation to a naval hero, as were the similar hilts by Morisset also in the Metropolitan Museum's collection (acc. nos. 26.145.315, 42.50.35).

    The components of the hilt and scabbard are shown as they would have left the goldsmith’s shop prior to being mounted by the cutler or retailer with a blade and a vellum-covered scabbard.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: [1] lion passant guardant
    [2] leopard's head crowned
    [3] Roman capital B (London date letter for 1797-8)
    [4] I M in rectangle (?) (maker's mark) (Mark of John Moore, entered 1778 ? See Refs.: Jackson)
    [5] king's head, profile to right
    Location of marks
    [1] and [4] on guard; [1] and [4] on grip; [1] on pommel; [1],[2],[3] and [5] on knuckle guard; [1] and [5] on top chape; [4] on ring chape; [1] on chape.

    Inscribed: (twice, once on either side of blade) La fidelité me conduit Me fecit Sohlingen (Faithfulness guides me. Sohlingen made me.)

    Marking: Arms: Quarterly of four:
    1. gules, three lions passant-guardant or (England) impaling, or, a lion rampant within a bordure fleury-counterfleury gules (Scotland)
    2. azure, three fleurs-de-lys or (France)
    3. azure, a harp or stringed argent (Ireland)
    4. Arms of Hanover: a) gules, two lons passant-guardant in pale or (Brunswick); b) or, semé of hearts proper, a lion rampant azure, armed and langued gules (Lunenberg); c) gules, a horse courant argent (Saxony); over all on an inescutcheon of pretense gules, crown of Charlemagne or.
    Coat of arms surrounded by the Garter, inscribed: Honi soit qui mal y pense; beneath shield, on banderole: Dieu et mon droit.
    This was the coat of arms borne first by King George I of England, and later by King George II until 1801 when the fleur-de-lys were dropped from the arms of England.

  • Provenance

    Ex coll.: Clarence H. Mackay, Roslyn, Long Island

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History