Cross Hilt Sword

Bladesmith: Blade signed by Clemens Horn (German, Solingen, 1580–1630)

Date: 1600–1625

Geography: London; Solingen

Culture: hilt, British, London; blade, German, Solingen

Medium: Iron, silver, wood, copper alloy, steel, gold

Dimensions: L. 39 1/4 in. (99.7 cm); L. of blade 30 1/4 in. (76.8 cm); W. 8 3/4 in. (22.2 cm); Wt. 2 lb. 6.5 oz (1093 g)

Classification: Swords

Credit Line: Purchase, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Gift, 2010

Accession Number: 2010.165


This rare and finely made sword comprises a silver-decorated cross-hilt by a London silversmith or cutler and a richly etched and gilded blade by the bladesmith Clemens Horn of Solingen, Germany. It represents a style that was fashionable in England in the early seventeenth century and is associated with the court of King James I. Related examples include swords made for the king himself and for his sons, Charles and Henry, Prince of Wales. The extensive and accomplished figural designs on the hilt rank this sword among the very best examples of the style. The iron pommel and cross-guard are covered with inset silver plaques or friezes decorated with miniature masterpieces of relief sculpture showing putti riding long-necked sea monsters and dolphins through the waves. Further research may eventually connect this sword with one of the royal cutlers—such as Robert South, John Cradocke, Thomas Cheshire, and Nathaniel Mathewe—who are known to have made or supplied similar swords to the royal family and other English noblemen of the period.