Comparing smallswords with historic originals

Today we take a look at two smallswords we've just completed for orders, one blued and one bright, and compare these to two original smallswords from the Oakeshott Institute collection.  Smallswords are an early modern civil weapon from the 18th century.  They were one of the last type of civilian sword in widespread use in Europe and the Americas.  In fact, a small sword was in many ways an obligatory part of gentleman's fashion from around 1700 right through the American and French revolutions.  

small sword

Arms and Armor Smallsword

The small sword derived in many ways from the earlier rapier, retaining much of the form of these iconic swords, but in a much reduced size and weight, making them faster, more nimble, and much easier to carry about.  These smallswords sacrificed reach and cutting ability when compared to rapiers, but the increased availability and reliability of firearms probably made this rather a moot point.  Smallswords were for dueling, and they were ideal for brawling with their relatively short blades that could be drawn and used in confined spaces, from taverns to the interiors of carriages.  

smallsword hilt

Detail of Arms and Armor Smallsword hilt

We make these swords in many configurations, as sharps with triangular or diamond sections, or as practice swords in either blade shape.  If you are interested in commissioning a piece please check out this page and contact us if you'd like to discuss the design.  Here are a couple links for more information on smallswords, "light and fast", "smallsword spotlight", "American Swords"

Check out the video below and behold the splendor or the smallsword!

divider swords

Nathan Clough, Ph.D. is Vice President of Arms and Armor and a member of the governing board of The Oakeshott Institute. He is a historical martial artist and a former university professor of cultural geography.  He has given presentations on historical arms at events including Longpoint and Combatcon, and presented scholarly papers at, among others, The International Congress on Medieval Studies.

Craig Johnson is the Production Manager of Arms and Armor and Secretary of The Oakeshott Institute. He has taught and published on the history of arms, armor and western martial arts for over 30 years. He has lectured at several schools and Universities, WMAW, HEMAC, 4W, and ICMS at Kalamazoo. His experiences include iron smelting, jousting, theatrical combat instruction and choreography, historical research, European martial arts and crafting weapons and armor since 1985

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