About this artwork
In the late 18th century brilliant-cut steel beads became highly fashionable. The style, which may have originated in England, quickly spread to the French and Russian courts. These beads were set into walking sticks, buckles, buttons, and hilts like this fine example made by Thomas Prosser, an eminent cutler in Bloomsbury, London.
The decorations added a bedazzling effect as flickering candlelight reflected off the hilt in dimly lit rooms. Caricatures from the period lampoon this flashy style by showing a lady overcome by the bright light emitting from a gentleman’s cut-steel accessories.
- Thomas Prosser (Craftsperson)
- Smallsword and Scabbard
- England (Object made in)
- Made 1775–1795
- Steel, two gold alloys, gilding, brass, parchment, and wood
- 101 × 10.2 cm (39 3/4 × 4 in.)
- Pauline Seipp Armstrong Fund, through prior acquisition of the George F. Harding Collection