Presentation Smallsword with Scabbard

Goldsmith: James Morisset (English, London, active 1768–1800)

Date: hallmarked for 1797–98

Geography: London

Culture: British, London

Medium: Silver, enamel, steel, paste brilliants, wood, fish skin

Dimensions: L. 41 1/2 in. (105.4 cm); L. of blade 34 in. (86.4 cm); Wt. 1 lb. (453.6 g); Wt. of scabbard 3 oz. (85 g)

Classification: Swords

Credit Line: Gift of Jean Jacques Reubell, in memory of his mother, Julia C. Coster, and of his wife, Adeline E. Post, both of New York City, 1926

Accession Number: 26.145.315a, b

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 376
English smallsword hilts in gold or silver-gilt, set with colored enamels, were the specialty of the London goldsmith James Morisset. The majority were created for presentation to British naval officers during the Napoleonic wars. This example is inscribed on the underside of the shell: "The Committee of Merchants of London presented this sword to Lieutenᵗ John Burn for his active and spirited conduct on board His M.S. the Beaulieu during the late mutiny at the Nore in 1797. Hugh Inglish Esq., Chairman."
Marking: On the grip: the rampant lion and IM mark of James Morisset; on the washer between the grip and quillon block: the rampant lion; on the knuckle-guard/rear quillon: the rampant lion, crowned lion's head, date, letter C, profile head, and a bird's head (?) (possibly a French import stamp?); on the washer between the quillon block and shellguard: the rampant lion; on the shell guard: the rampant lion and maker's mark IM; on the two scabbard mounts: the rampant lion and profile head.
Jean-Jacques Reubell, Paris, France (until 1926, his gift to MMA).
Brussels. Exposition Nationale Belge 1880. "Exposition Nationale Belge: IVe Section: Industries d'Art en Belgique, Antérieures au XIX siècle," 1880, no. I 261 (exhibited by Arthur Slaes).

Christie, Manson & Woods. Celebrated Assemblage of Works of Art and Vertu, Known as the Shandon Collection, Fourth Portion. London: Christie, Manson & Woods, 1877. no. 3103.

Exposition Nationale, Ive Section, Industries D'art En Belgique, Antérieurs Au Xixe Siècle: Catalogue Officiel. Bruxelles: Typographie Ve Ch. Vanderauwera, 1880. no. I 261.

Dean, Bashford. Catalogue of European Court Swords and Hunting Swords: Including the Ellis, De Dino, Riggs, and Reubell Collections. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1929. p. 56, no. 117, pl. LXXXV.

Davis, Frank. "The Royal Navy's Darkest Hour." Country Life (April 23, 1964), p. 976.

Blair, Claude. Three Presentation Swords in the Victoria and Albert Museum, and a Group of English Enamels. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1972. p. 47, no. 18.

Norman, A. V. B. The Rapier and Small-Sword, 1460–1820. London: Arms and Armour Press, 1980. p. 207.

Nickel, Helmut. "Arms and Armor from the Permanent Collection." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, (Summer, 1991), pp. 39, 64, ill.

Southwick, Leslie. "New Facts About James Morisset and a Revised List of His Known Works, With Others by his Successors John Ray and James Montague." The Journal of the Arms and Armor Society (Sept. 1997), pp. 328–29, no. 25.

Smith, Robert Douglas, and Stuart W. Pyhrr, eds. ICOMAM 50: Papers on Arms and Military History, 1957–2007. Leeds: Basiliscoe Press in association with ICOMAM, 2007. pp. 171–206, figs. 25–28.

Wood Stephen. "... in Defence of the Commerce of Great Britain ... A Group of Swords Presented to Officers of the British Royal Navy in the 1790s." In ICOMAM 50: Papers on Arms and Military History, 1957–2007, edited by Robert Douglas Smith, and Stuart W. Pyhrr. Leeds: Basiliscoe Press, 2007. pp. 171–206, figs. 25–28.