REVOLUTIONARY WAR SILVER HILT EAGLEHEAD CUTTOE

$3,950.00 SOLD

Quantity Available: None

Item Code: 1117-94

This elegant silver hilt is right on the cusp of the transition of the eagle on sword pommels into a national symbol. Originally intended as a sword to dispatch wounded game, the cuttoe or hunting sword often had a pommel modeled as helper in the hunt, such as a dog or horse, or a predator, like a lion or eagle. As a type, the sword became popular among officers from the mid-1760s or so and is frequently carried by officers in the Revolution not just because it might be at hand and was intended for easy use in the field, but because it indicated the owner was a gentleman and wealthy to enough to pursue hunting as a sport. And, of course, the owner’s social status might be further indicated by the quality of the weapon. Eagle pommels later became popular as a national symbol, and this is a nice Revolutionary War period forerunner. Neumann illustrates an example firmly dated to 1769 and Christie’s sold an example made by Richard Humphreys of Philadelphia, firmly dated to 1776, carried by an American officer captured at Fort Washington.

The eagle’s head and features are well defined, with raised brow, eyes, and feathers, being cast and chased by the maker or sword-mounter. The beak is closed and curves down, giving it a frown, and closes around a link for a silver chain guard that would have extended down to the upturned quillon of the S-shaped crossguard. The grip is carved spiral channels that likely held a silver tape and is made of green dyed ivory that has shifted slightly to a mixed green and caramel tone. It shows smoothness from handling, but no chips or cracks. The crossguard is cast and chased with a mix of feathery floral motifs on the quillon block and terminals with a raised geometric design running along either side of crossguard arms. The quillon block has a round cartouche with a raised border at center on either side. The revere is cross-hatched to form diamonds. The obverse has seven bands of raised diamonds running across it. If one were to count only the intermediate recessed areas as bands, and forget about any space at the bottom, one might come up with a suggestive thirteen, as on some early Revolutionary flags, but we hesitate to push similarity too far.

The flat silver cap to seal the scabbard when the sword is sheathed is present. The blade is a muted silver gray with some darker gray areas, with smooth surface, good edge and good point. A single narrow fuller runs along the back edge of the blade from the guard. This is a very nice example that would enhance a Revolutionary War collection or display related to the nation’s founding.  [sr]

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