BRITISH CLAMSHELL GUARD INFANTRY HANGER 1740-1760

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Item Code: 1186-02

A munition-quality hanger (cutlass, or short-sword,) typical of those purchased privately by British colonels to supplement the musket and bayonet supplied or funded by the government, or imported here for militia and provincial troops by colonial governments. Neumann illustrates the identical sword, though with narrow fuller, as 19.SS in Battle Weapons of the American Revolution, identifying it as an English Hanger ca.1740-1760.

The sword is a simplified version of a gentleman’s hunting sword. The brass hilt uses a plain, cylindrical wood grip with domed pommel and secondary smaller mound to anchor the peened tang of the blade. The knucklebow is likewise simple, having just a small flare next to the pommel, decorated with just two grooves at the midpoint, and simple quillon with a small flat disk, all cast in one piece with the down-turned clamshell counterguard. The blade is full length, flat, slightly curved, with good edge and point. It is has some scratches, drag lines and stains as show, but mainly smooth metal with one small chip or delamination spot about ¼ by 3/8 inch, on the reverse about 4 inches down from the guard.

The sword’s simple form makes it also a good candidate for those privately purchased by colonies for issue to militia or provincial troops of the French and Indian War period. At least two of the clamshell guards have been excavated in American Revolutionary War contexts, likely carried into that conflict by veterans of the colonial wars. Often mistaken for a poor man’s small sword or hunting sword, infantry hangers don’t get a lot of respect, but were standard infantry sidearms throughout much of the 18th century.  [sr][ph:L]

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