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Maker(s):Potwine, John (attributed to)
Culture:American
Title:sword
Date Made:ca. 1750
Type:Armament
Materials:silver, base metal: steel, gilding
Place Made:United States; Connecticut; Hartford; Europe; France (possibly)
Measurements:overall: 33 5/8 in x 4 1/4 in x 2 3/4 in; 85.4075 cm x 10.795 cm x 6.985 cm
Accession Number:  HD 58.196
Credit Line:Gift of Vincent Andrus
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield
1958-196T.jpg

Description:
Silver-hilted dress sword, a short sword or smallsword (maker unknown) engraved on underside of the quillon: "Edward Dorr Hartford, No. yr. 19. 1756." Edward Dorr (1722-1772) was born in Lyme, Connecticut, graduated from Yale in 1742, and received his license to preach from the New Haven Association in 1744. He first preached in Kensington (now Berlin, Connecticut), but left there because of factional disputes in the parish; Dorr moved to the First Congregational Church in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1747 where he was the Pastor from 1748 until his death. In 1747 or 1748, Dorr married Helena Talcott (1720-1797), the youngest daughter of Joseph Talcott (1669-1741) of Hartford, Governor of the Colony of Connecticut from 1724 to 1741. They were childless, and after his death it is assumed that Helena gave the sword to her niece, Ann Talcott Smith (1735-1784), the daughter of John Talcott and Abigail Theobald and the wife of Dr. Solomon Smith (1724-1786). In his 1790 will, Daniel Smith (1761-1790), Ann and Solomon's son, left a "silver hilted sword" listed in the inventory as "Silver Hilted Sword...1.10." to his son, John Talcott Smith; the sword descended in the family until it was sold in the 1950s. Short swords made of fine metal and workmanship were more than a weapon: they were also symbols of social rank and means. Silver-hilted smallswords were popular weapons for gentlemen as well as officers in the French and Indian War and throughout the American Revolution when George Washington carried one. However, battlefield experience doomed the smallsword; by the 1800s, it was superseded by the sabre for officers and pistol for gentlemen. This example has a cast silver hilt which begins with a capstan rivet on an ovoid pommel; grip wrapped in fine silver chain; nucklebow terminating in decorative molding; silver quillon (crossguard); pas d'anes (fingerings); and pair of shells as counterguard. Similar hilts were made by John Coney (circa 1722), John Edwards (circa 1740), and John Hurd (circa 1740, 1745, 1750) of Boston, and Jacob Ten Eyck (circa 1740) of Albany, New York. The colichemarde-type blade is made in Demascus steel, half of which is blued, etched with stylized floral designs, and gilded. The term "colichemarde" refers to the blade shape, which is wider directly in the front of the hilt (the forte) for a quarter of its length, tapering abruptly to a narrow cut and thrust blade with an acute point. This term is often used to distinguish between this type of early smallsword and the later form with its uniformly narrow thrusting blade and smaller, nonfunctional pas d'anes. The attribution to John Potwine is made based on a marked example in the Lattimer Collection of New York. The blade was made in continental Europe, possibly France.

Link to share this object record:
https://museums.fivecolleges.edu/detail.php?t=objects&type=ext&id_number=HD+58.196

Research on objects in the collections, including provenance, is ongoing and may be incomplete. If you have additional information or would like to learn more about a particular object, please email fc-museums-web@fivecolleges.edu.

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